Rent out your Louisville home on Kentucky Derby weekend

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Yesterday's conclusion to Churchill Downs's Fall Meet isn't the only reason Louisvillian's thoughts should be turning to the 2010 Kentucky Derby. If you're a homeowner looking to profit from Louisville being one of the world's premier travel destinations that first weekend in May, now is the time to list your home as a vacation rental. (The pitchy tone of that last paragraph is my homage to Billy Mays.) And as you'll no longer be competing with me for boarders (I signed a contract last week to rent out my house), here are some suggestions for how to go about it.
  1. Own a desirable home in the Louisville area.
  2. Clean your house, make sure it's well lit, and take photos of every room and the outside.
  3. Decide on your asking price and policies (for example, regarding smoking, pets, the maximum number of people who can stay there, and dates available).
  4. Advertise your home online using the photos and a brief description of the house, including the number of rooms; your neighborhood's proximity to Churchill Downs, the airport, and other area attractions; your policies; and the cost. Post this info on your own website (here's the one I designed for my Kentucky Derby home rental), Craigslist, a vacation home rental website or with a Louisville Realtor. If you create your own website, you'll have to do some search engine optimization work to make sure your page appears in search engine results--or buy ads. The easiest and cheapest option is to use the free Craigslist, but that'll make it harder for your house to stand out from other listings. Home rental websites and real estate agents will promote your home for you, but their fees will cut into your profits.
  5. Wait for interest. We started receiving inquiries about a month ago. In the time between when I listed my house and when we rented it out, I checked on the website's status in search engine rankings every other week to make sure it still appeared.
  6. Send the prospective renter a contract that outlines all of your policies for him or her to sign. Then sign it and return a copy with both signatures to the renter.
The terms of the contract will be up for you to decide. Many of them require a 50 percent deposit upon signing the contract with the balance and a 10 percent refundable security deposit due 30 days before Derby weekend. As for determining what to charge, scout out the other listings, see what your competitors are asking and price accordingly. The two main factors are how many people your house sleeps and its proximity to dining and entertainment options. For more information: Churchill Downs has added another reason to head to the track--Hullabalou. (Photo: ZachEverson)
About Zach Everson
I'm the travel news/travel buzz editor at MapQuest. Previously, I was a freelance writer, contributing to The Wall Street Journal, Air Canada's enRoute, USA Today, Condé Nast Traveller, BlackBook, Curbed, Gridskipper, Deadspin, and Fox News. I also was the founding editor of Eater Louisville and the director of content and editorial strategy for Louisville.com.
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