Life on Baldy Mountain During the Corona Crisis

Eerie is the word I hear so many of my local friends use to describe the way it currently feels in Breckenridge. It’s likely been at least 30 years since the town has been so quiet. Six months ago, if you’d asked me to bet a million dollars that the mayor of Breckenridge would never tell people to pack up and go home the week of Spring Break, I’d have lost it all by taking that bet.

With two-thirds of the homes on Baldy Mountain being second homes, our neighborhood is extremely quiet. The only traffic is from residents occasionally leaving their homes for groceries and a few die-hard locals parking at the Baldy Trailhead to skin up the mountain. With the current regulation banning short-term rentals and the mayor asking that not even second-homeowners be here, it’s easy to tell which homes have year-round residents and which ones are empty.

I’m proud and happy to say that the crime rate is very low in Breckenridge. Historically, the occasional burglaries and vandalism most often occur during our mud season. Many seasonal workers are left without jobs and a few who are uncertain about their next paycheck or move turn to desperate measures to make ends meet. Our community Facebook page typically alerts everyone of where thefts are taking place. In the face of our current nationwide crisis, thousands of our residents are unexpectedly out of jobs. Sadly, it seems the mud season crime spree is beginning a bit early this year. However, the vast majority of our residents are good and kind-hearted people who are looking out for others as well as themselves. I’ve seen countless acts of kindness and concern from our community towards each other. We are of the attitude that this crisis is going to pass quickly, our visitors will return, and our beautiful mountain town home is going to be filled with mountain lovers once again.

If you have a home on or near Baldy Mountain in Breckenridge that needs a welfare check, maintenance, or home-care task of any kind, please consider letting us help you out! There is no contractual obligation or commitment to our service.

If you are not a permanent resident, but care about our community, please consider making a donation to the Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC). FIRC provides a variety of assistance to workers and residents of our county- the ones our resort community depends on for their contribution to our workforce. If you own property in Summit County, I know you want to see the community stay steady on its feet. We want our visitors back so that the beauty and peace of this incredible place can continue to feed the souls of those who love it.

Your Breckenridge Vacation Home

Your Breckenridge vacation home is not only one of your most valuable possessions, it’s also likely one of your most beloved. Security and inspections are key factors for your peace of mind, even if you live just an hour away in the Front Range. You know as well as we do how often I-70 or 285 can be closed year round, especially during the winter months.

In-town personnel is essential in our high-altitude environment and resort-minded culture.  Because our staff lives and works here, we know the toll our climate has on our homes, what to look out for, and what preventative measures need to be taken.  A vacation home in Summit County is subject to damage from wildlife, squatters, snow, ice, freezing temps, and neighboring rental guests. Security cameras are wonderful, but if you don’t have someone nearby to act quickly in response to unwanted activity captured by your camera, the main result will be increased anxiety.

While guests, cleaners, and vendors are in and out of your home, they cannot be relied upon to ensure your home is locked with all windows and doors secured.  Typically, cleaners are the first ones in the home following guest departure, but quite often they have multiple homes to clean in one day on a tight timeline.  A post-clean inspection with a fresh set of eyes that are also familiar with your home is crucial for noticing anything amiss as well as checking every single window and door. Summit Spy believes that post-stay inspections are one of the most critical areas in maintaining meticulous care of your home.  Having someone who knows your home well enables them to recognize damage or missing items.

If your second home is not occupied by your family or rental guests on a regular basis, you need someone to go in and flush toilets, turn faucets on and off, inspect crawl spaces and boiler rooms, and run appliances like the dishwasher to protect the seals (just as one example).

Summit Spy loves the properties in our care as much as we love our own homes. We are fiercely protective of our client’s property. Providing your home with TLC makes us happy!

For other homeowner tips, please see Tips for Choosing a Property Manager, Guest Management, and Marketing Your Vacation Home.

Marketing Your Vacation Rental Home

Do you know there are approximately 4000 private vacation home rentals just in the town of Breckenridge, Colorado?  That number does not include homes outside the town limits in unincorporated Summit County (Baldy Mountain, for example). Googling the words “Breckenridge Vacation Rentals” will produce over 600,000 results.  How do you make your home stand out among the rest?  We will cover the basics of marketing your vacation rental property here.

Unless you have a deep-pocket marketing budget or are listed with a well-established existing website, ranking for the keywords “Breckenridge Vacation Rentals” is an extremely difficult task. Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) such as Vrbo and AirBnB currently dominate in the game of keyword search on Google (although Google itself is aiming to get a piece of the pie with its own booking engine). Both homeowners and property managers alike are at the mercy of these OTAs in order to secure the bulk of yearly gross rental income, not only in Breckenridge, but around the world. Until the next enormous progression in the industry comes along, having your property listed on multiple OTAs is the most effective way to maximize rental potential. 

Within each OTA that your property is listed, another ranking system exists. For example, Vrbo will show the highest-ranking property at the top of search results and the lowest ones last, which could potentially be the last home on page 23 of someone’e search results. Vrbo wants to book properties so the most book-able homes will be shown first. Rates, reviews, speed of inquiry response, photo quality/quantity, listing quality, and availability are all factors taken into consideration in the ranking algorithms. In a future blog post, we will delve into each of those in more detail.

Having a database of past guests, potential guests, or a way to target Breckenridge visitors through means other than lodging searches are additional ways to market your Breckenridge vacation rental property. A good manager who is familiar with Breckenridge can help you achieve this. Almost everyone who plans to visit Breckenridge will do some research on activities, possibly even before securing their lodging. Snagging these guests outside of the OTAs not only maximizes revenue, but is the best way to earn customer loyalty.

Please email us to subscribe to our blog so that you will not miss out on future blog posts. We will be covering OTA ranking in further detail and offering additional tips on making your Breckenridge vacation property stand out among the thousands on the market.

Also see Guest Management for Your Vacation Rental, Tips for Choosing a Property Manager, and Your Breckenridge Vacation Home for more helpful homeowner information.

Summit Spy specializes in care of vacation properties on Baldy Mountain in Breckenridge, Colorado. We are a new company, but not new to the industry and have our sights set high on providing phenomenal service to our homeowners.

Guest Management for Your Vacation Rental Home

Today’s vacationers expect full service even while renting a private home.  While some guests are self-sufficient, many others require and/or desire a great deal of attention from wanting to know what brand of coffee maker is in the home to assistance with booking activities and specific restaurant recommendations.  Some guests have never sat in a hot tub, have never experienced high altitude, and are intimidated by lockboxes or door keypads.  Local personnel are essential for dealing quickly and efficiently with any problems the guests may experience with the home such as the modem needing to be re-booted, technical issues with the TV, or a flipped breaker. 

As the homeowner, you are responsible for ensuring your guests have the information required by the Summit County Short Term Rental Regulations ordinances. These include a copy of the Good Neighbor Guidelines and instructions about trash, noise, parking, and pets.

While it may not seem life or death, it’s important to keep in mind that for many families their vacation is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Some families have saved for years or might have spent many months coordinating how to get the entire family together from different parts of the country.  Understandably, they want everything to be perfect!  A broken-down hot tub or wobbly bed frame can “ruin” the vision of their perfect vacation.  They want their issues addressed immediately and to their satisfaction.

Knowledge of the area is also essential for guest satisfaction.  Anyone can stop by a brochure stand and read about area activities, but personal tips and suggestions from a local host is always best. Our Summit Spy staff loves sharing insider tips with our guests including our favorite trails, easiest parking spots, and best times of day to partake in a particular activity. Answering these questions alone requires a great deal of time, research, and partaking in the activity ourselves to provide first-hand experience.  How can a guest be expected to get detailed information on current weather conditions (fires or snowstorms in particular) while talking to someone who does not even live in the area? The simple answer is, they cannot.

Who are your guests? Why are they coming to Breckenridge and why are they choosing a vacation rental versus a hotel or resort? Breckenridge is an extremely popular destination for weddings, family reunions, and corporate events.  Even if your guests say they are a family of 6, how can you be sure they aren’t planning on hosting a gathering for a larger group while in your home?  While you can place cameras on the exterior of your property, do you want to spend your time watching security feed?  If your guests do break maximum occupancy rules, would you know how to legally and ethically handle the situation?

Vacation Brain:  A “syndrome” we jokingly blame for the cause of innocent guest mishaps. Some of the adverse effects caused by Vacation Brain include but are not limited to leaving town with house keys, garage door openers, and maybe even an appliance (yes, this has actually happened); leaving combustibles against a baseboard heater, and carelessness with all liquids, especially the red ones that stain.  Most often a security deposit is required to protect against damages of these types, but do you know that you cannot legally withhold the deposit after the guest checks out? What will be your recourse if a guest causes hundreds of dollars in damage and is savvy enough to contact their credit card company regarding the deposit that you are illegally withholding?

Homeowners must accept a certain amount of wear and tear when renting their homes to vacationers, but outright damage caused by guests can most often be handled by a good management company through damage protection insurance carried by reputable companies and not available to individual homeowners without exorbitant cost.

Lastly, guests expect a minimum start up supply of bath tissue, shampoo, and other sundries.  High quality linens, towels, and body products are also part of a great guest experience.

Summit Spy has the answers and assistance you might need for every issue mentioned above. We can consult with you if you want to be a full service, do-it-yourself homeowner, or we can do the work for you.

This is the second in a 5-part series on homeowner tips. For more helpful information see Tips for Choosing a Property Manager, Marketing Your Vacation Rental, and Your Breckenridge Vacation Home.

Summit Spy is Born

breckenridge property management

With over 4000 vacation rentals in the town Breckenridge and surrounding unincorporated area of the county, it’s easy to see why there is a  huge variety in the types of services needed by the individual homeowners. Some homeowners do not rent their properties in between their own visits, some may want to rent for a few weeks or months at a time, while others need a full service management company to handle every detail of year-round guest reservations and care of their property.

For those homeowners who don’t want or need full service management (along with their hefty commissions), Summit Spy aims to fill the gap with a very customized, boutique style service by a provider with a small inventory of homes in our care.

Summit Spy is like having a knowledgeable and trustworthy neighbor,  the nosy neighbor who sees and hears everything, lives nearby full time and can be called on when needed for all of your home-related issues.

Most management companies have properties that may span a 30-mile radius or greater with employees who don’t always want to make the drive up Boreas Pass or Moonstone. Summit Spy specializes in the Baldy Mountain area of Breckenridge only. We are already up here at 10,000 plus feet, know the neighborhood well, and can be at your home in minutes.