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How do I rent my house out for Derby weekend?

How can I advertise my home to rent for Derby weekend via this site?

Email zach@louisvillederbyhomerental.com:

  1. a description of your home, including highlights of your neighborhood, specifics about your house, the cost, terms (such as check-in and check-out times; whether smoking, pets, and parties are permitted; any required deposits; and when payments are due), and your contact info (best to have both an email address and phone number)
  2. photos of your house—ideally no more than 15 so your ad doesn’t take too long to load, and they should be at least 800 pixels wide (best to just attach no more than three to an email so they don’t get compressed)
  3. a signed advertising agreement
  4. a one-time payment of $250—there is no commission—payable via PayPal to zach@louisvillederbyhomerental.com; credit card, which I can accept over the phone (502.526.5217) through Square, an app you’ve probably seen coffee shops and food trucks use; or check/money order payable to Derby Home Rental (please email me for the mailing address)

On behalf of louisvillederbyhomerental.com, to help you rent your house for Derby weekend, I

  • post the home on this site (and edit your ad copy) within 24 hours of payment—it’ll have its own page and a link and photo on the home page too
  • promote your ad on Facebook, FlipboardGoogle+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Twitter, as well as to interested potential renters who subscribe to our email alerts
  • supply a sample draft contract between homeowners and renters—while it’s based on the contract I’ve used, I’m not providing official legal advice
  • supply a list of what we’ve done to prepare our home for renters, although what you do is up to you)
  • send you a welcome letter template to update and leave for your renters with important info, such as the nearest grocery store, hospital, and liquor store

The cost is a flat $250 to advertise your home for the upcoming Derby weekend, regardless of whether you rent your home or not. There is no commission. You’ll be fielding any inquiries from potential renters yourself. Your home will remain on the site until it rents or after this year’s Derby, whichever comes first. I limit the site to just 40 active rentals at a time. After the site has 40 current advertisers, I’ll add prospective ones to a waiting list. When a home rents, I’ll contact the person at the top of the waiting list to see if he or she is still interested.

And while it’s never been asked, just to make sure you’re aware: Derby Home Rental LLC and this website are not in anyway affiliated with or endorsed by the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, or any of its affiliates.

 

How successful has this website been renting out houses for Derby weekend?

  • In 2017, 33 of the 70 homes that advertised rented.
  • In 2016, 35 of the 63 homes that advertised rented.
  • In 2015, 38 of the 56 homes that advertised rented.
  • In 2014, 24 of the 52 homes that advertised rented.
  • In 2013, 24 of the 44 homes that advertised rented.
  • In 2012, 11 of the 23 homes that advertised rented.
  • In 2011, five or six of the nine homes that advertised rented (two went the week of Derby).
  • In 2010, I only advertised my home; it rented.

When considering these stats, please keep in mind that the homeowners themselves set the price of their home and the rental terms.

 

When should I advertise that my home is for rent on Derby weekend?

The earlier you advertise your home, the better your chances of finding a renter. Every year, the Sunday after Derby, I receive several inquiries from potential renters looking for homes for the following year. But, as mentioned previously, in 2011 two homes that advertised the week of Derby found renters.

 

How much should I charge to rent out my house for Derby weekend?

The choice is up to you, although I’m available to give you my thoughts. Homes advertising on this site have asked in the range of $2,500 to $16,000 for three-night (arriving Thursday, departing Sunday) stays, with proximity to bars and restaurants and the number of bedrooms being the main determinants of cost. Most homes advertise for between $4,500 and $6,500.

Homes in the Highlands, Crescent Hill, and Old Louisville have fared the best; residences in St. Matthews and the East End have rented, but at lower prices than those other neighborhoods. Homes in Floyds Knob, Anchorage, Prospect, and New Albany have found renters too.

To help attract Derby weekend renters, some homeowners have offered extras like concierge and chauffeur service, additional nights, or supplying groceries (if allowed in your city); some have bundled them in one package, others have offered them à la carte. The choice is yours.

As our sample draft contract lays out, you may want to request payment for 50 percent upfront and the remaining 50 percent 30 days before Derby. At that time, consider having the renters send a 20 percent security deposit or an amount roughly equal to the deductible of your homeowners insurance (check with your insurer about your coverage). Deposit all checks immediately. If you find a renter within 30 days of Derby, consider requesting all the money upfront.

All transactions are between you and the renter; Derby Home Rental LLC is not involved in that process—although we’re happy to answer your questions at any time.

 

How do I know if the renters are trustworthy?

Google them, look at their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. And, keep in mind, they’ll likely have similar questions about you (one year, our renters asked us for references, which we provided).

 

What do you do to promote the site?

I monitor search engine rankings to make sure that this website is among the top results for terms like Louisville, Kentucky, Derby, home, and rental. From May 8, 2016 to May 6, 2017 (a full Derby year), the site had 15,034 visits and 44,686 page views. The average visitor spent 2:26 on the site and viewed 2.9 pages, evidence that the site is attracting interested potential renters.

I also try to get the site mentioned in articles about traveling to Louisville for Derby. On April 26, 2013, for example, USA Today’s travel section mentioned this website as a good place to find last-minute Derby accommodations in the article, “At Derby time, Louisville’s hospitality hits its stride.”

 

Do you rotate which ads appear at the top of homepage?

No. Homes appear in the order in which they advertise. Being at the top of the page though doesn’t seem to be of any advantage in finding a renter. The main factors are price, location, quality of the home/photos, and how far out you advertise.

 

Any tips for photographing my home to make it more appealing to Derby weekend renters?

Of course!

Professional-quality pictures are one of the best ways to attract renters—and maximize your income. Louisville-based photographer Jessica Fey at Craft & Record offers a special rate for Derby Home Rental customers (Derby Home Rental does not get a cut of her fee; we just want your home to have the best chance of renting).

If you’re interested in taking your own photos, here are some pointers:

  • turn on all your lights, open all your shades, and take photos on a sunny day
  • declutter your home
  • depersonalize your rooms to help possible renters envision themselves in your home
  • horizontal/landscape photos look better on the site than ones with vertical/portrait orientation
  • aim your camera into a room’s corner to make the room look as big as possible
  • make sure the photos are at least 1,000 pixels wide—as long as you don’t reduce your camera’s default photo size, you should be fine

Include a photo of all common rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms, as well as of the front of your home, backyard, and any special features you have that may differentiate your home from other advertisers’.

 

What can I do to help my chances of finding a renter after my ad is posted?

The best ways to improve your odds are to
  • regularly check your email’s spam folder
  • make sure your contact info on the ad is current and checked regularly—and include both an email address and phone number in your ad
  • share and like your post on social media—more than just putting it in front of your friends (and maybe their friends too), Google and Facebook seem to think that content that gets shared and liked is more interesting, therefore making it more likely to appear higher up on social media searches
  • similarly, follow Derby Home Rental—and like and share our posts—on
  • monitor the market to make sure your price is still competitive (the easiest way to do so is to subscribe to our email alerts)
  • replace any outdoor shots taken during the cold months (especially of the front of your home) with ones showing the yard in bloom

 

What about advertising my home for the golf tournaments at Valhalla Golf Club, triathlons, or other area events?

This site is optimized to attract visitors through search engines looking for rentals on Derby weekend. To do likewise for the days of  another event would require creating and promoting an entire new site. I just haven’t seen the interest from Louisville-area homeowners to do that for this one-time event.

What I have been doing though—at no additional charge—is allowing homeowners who’ve paid to advertise their homes for Derby to also mention they’re renting out their homes during other events in their ad.

 

Why should I advertise with Derby Home Rental as opposed to another website or a realtor?

  • This site only publishes 40 active ads at a time, meaning there’s less competition for your rental ad on this site.
  • When potential renters search Google for phrases like “Derby home rental,” this website is one of the top results. I launched my first website in 2001 and am well versed in website design and how to attract visitors (in this case, potential renters). I’ve learned how to draw in website readers via experts at BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post. And I stay current with web-design and search-engine developments
  • Your home is guaranteed to be advertised on this website’s front page—and at no additional charge—so potential renters won’t have to dig to find it.
  • We don’t require potential renters to register to see ads. Why would we want to make it difficult for people to view your home?
  • I don’t charge a commission.
  • I’ve been running this business for seven years, renting out my own home as well. I have the experience with Derby home rentals to answer your questions.
  • I post your ad for you. You don’t need any more tech savvy than knowing how to use a digital camera and send an email.
  • Advertising homes to rent on Derby weekend is all this business does. We don’t use your home-rental ad as a way of trying to sell other goods and services or advertise other businesses.
  • My experience as a writer and editor also means your ad gets a good edit before being published.
  • Derby Home Rental isn’t a faceless company. If you need me, my name is Zach Everson and you can reach me at zach@louisvillederbyhomerental.com or 502.526.5217.

 

What about short-term rental and other laws?

Lousiville’s short-term–rental regulations came into effect in August 2016. Homeowners are solely responsible for ensuring their homes meet any legal or other requirements for short-term rentals. Derby Home Rental will not issue any refunds to homeowners who advertise but later determine their home is not eligible for a short-term rental. Derby Home Rental does not provide legal advice. They are described at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/planning-design/short-term-rental-information. Again, adhering to these regulations is solely the responsibility of the homeowner.

 

What if I still have questions?

I’m happy to answer any other questions you have, email zach@louisvillederbyhomerental.com or call 502.526.5217.

For more background, read this article I wrote about my experience renting and advertising homes for Derby in Louisville Magazine‘s April 2012 issue: “What’s Mine Is Theirs.

 

Sounds great! How do I proceed to advertise to rent my home for Derby weekend?

Wonderful, thanks for your business! Please download, read, and sign this advertising agreement and return it to me along with your description and photos via email. And I can accept the $250 payment via PayPal to zach@louisvillederbyhomerental.com; credit card, which I can accept over the phone (502.526.5217) through Square; or check/money order payable to Derby Home Rental (please email me for the mailing address).

Thanks again!

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