Teachers/Realtors. Both need a reality check from time to time!


I used to teach junior high and high school. It was a lot like selling real estate. In that whole classroom there were a couple of great (students/properties) and a few who are just not cut out for it (lazy people/bad properties) but the majority of them (students/properties) just needed a little attention and some practical advice.

Take a beach house with a great view, just a short stroll to the beach in need of a little love and you have a gem in the rough. You can purchase one of these, put in a little "sweat equity”, rent it out for a few weeks a year, use it a few weeks yourself and begin to "grow” some value. Always put a little of the profit back into upgrading the cottage. It will pay off many times over.

A little paint and elbow grease on a cottage is like a compliment and some extra credit to a hard working student. It will change the entire outlook. New bedspreads and pillows along with an upgraded décor, larger flat screens, brighter colors, trendier furnishings and expected amenities like Wi-Fi, cable TV, updated modern pots, pans and kitchen utensils along with eye pleasing table ware are all a prescription for a successful vacation rental property.

Like the student with good basic skills who just needs some practice and expansion of the skills he/she already has, a structurally sound beach cottage in a good location, already has a great head start. It just needs a little encouragement to "graduate with honors.”

Frequently as a listing and selling broker I hear "It’s never been a rental property.” Well…that is a double edged sword. If it has never been a rental property it obviously has no customers for rentals. It will need to "build a client base” exactly the way a new business does. You are starting from scratch. If your friend or relative loans you his/her beach cottage for free would you complain about the hard bed or the lack of Wi-Fi or the condition of the pots and pans? Probably not. A paying guest will. So get ready for the cold hard facts. A rental property kept in tip top shape will build a group of "guests/customers” who will have a great time, tell all their friends, leave a good review and book it again for next year. If you are a vacation rental property owner this is the kind of repeat customer you want.

The unprepared property is like the unprepared student. Both will be a big disappointment. Sometimes you just need to "cram” for the exam. Go ahead, put in the Wi-Fi and the upgraded cable. Get that larger flat screen for the living room. It is exactly the same thing as memorizing that list of Spanish verbs. It may not be exciting but your hard work will pay off.

When your property manager sends your "check” at the end of the month it will be a reflection of your hard work. That is a reality check that will not "bounce.”

Cathy Medlin


Cathy Medlin is a lifelong resident of Topsail Island. She is involved with the listing, selling and managing of rental properties on Topsail Island. 40+ years of experience with island resort property has allowed her to share her knowledge with those who ask.

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