Tips for Remodeling Your Maui Vacation Rental Condo

If you’re thinking about buying a vacation rental condo, or if you have already bought your vacation rental condo, you might want to do some updating. I have seen everything from basic updating, like simply changing the fixtures, repainting, and maybe some newer furniture. Others will do a total gut job down to the studs and everything in between.


The renters of today are looking for and expecting clean, updated units to rent. If you do not update your unit, you not only will have more difficulty in renting it, but you will be getting more complaints than you should. Trust me, the last thing you want to hear from a renter is a complaint. 

The renters of today ask questions like, “what kind of TV does the unit have?” Meaning they expect a flat screen TV, no more of those old behemoths of yesterday. When you own your own unit and rent it out, you need to be listening to those types of questions, it will help to guide you and let you understand what the renters of today are expecting. You are competing with many other owners and hotel chains that are in a constant state of update.

Tip: When Remodeling a Vacation Condo, Keep it Simple

When you do a remodel, one of the first rules is to keep it simple. A lot of owners know they are going to be spending time in their “piece of paradise” and would love to have new fancy appliances to enjoy for themselves. But sometimes “bells and whistles” may not be the best choice and can not only be expensive to buy, but also expensive to maintain and repair.

For example, with the new washer and dryers that are front loading and super high efficient, who would not want that? But in a rental condo the last thing you want is to put in a washer or dryer that has lots of electronics, buttons, “bells and whistles.” The less the better. Not only for ease of use to the renter, but also the purchase price will probably be less, and breakdowns can occur less often and be less expensive for replacement parts. 

In one case I know of an owner who bought a high efficiency dryer and for some reason it just would not work right, maybe because it was on the first floor and the vent system went through several floors before actually venting out. But in the end they had to return it (after several service calls that did not resolve it) and ended up putting in a basic model that worked great.

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Simple vs. not so simple

Even dishwashers can get complicated. Another owner I know put in a fancy name brand dishwasher with lots of buttons. One of the buttons had a secondary use, which was to lock all the buttons rendering the dishwasher non usable. I think the purpose of it was a child proof option. The renters did not realize they accidentally were locking the dishwasher, and of course, then they could not operate it. After about the 3rd time a renter called the owner to report the dishwasher was not working, but in truth they had accidentally “locked” the dishwasher. The owners took it out and replaced it with a super basic but good quality dishwasher.

Because the renters thought the dishwasher was broken they were getting frustrated, and so were the owners. You want to do all you can to keep all frustration down for owners and renters alike. So keep things simple but nice, renters will be happy that you have a new appliance that is simple to operate and you will hopefully not hear from them unless it is for any praise of how great your place was.

This “keep it simple” policy should also extend to special order items. For example, I see a lot of small dishwashers installed due to limited space, but if there is any way to add a few more inches to put in a standard size dishwasher you will save yourself lots of money. Not only is the smaller dishwasher double the price, here on Maui you will not even find them in stock, you are waiting 2-6 weeks for a special order. That is fine if you are doing a remodel, but when it breaks down in the middle of a rental period you will have very unhappy renters.

This goes for whether you rent out your own unit or use a property management company. If you use a management company you may not even realize that your unit may not be getting rented as much as other units due to the level of its condition. Be sure to ask your property manager about these issues as well, like “what can I do to improve my occupancy?” And “does my unit get any complaints and what are they?”

Buying a Maui Vacation Rental Property

Happy renting and congratulations for letting all these renters help you buy your piece of paradise. If you are looking to buy a vacation rental property in Maui, the more popular areas are the South Side, which includes Kihei and Wailea, and the West Side, which covers several areas including Lahaina, Kaanapali, Honokawai, Kahana, and Kapalua.

Be sure to give me a call to help guide you in the process of finding and buying your condo. There are lots of things to be aware of before you buy, important things, like not all complexes will even allow short term or vacation rentals. I have owned rental condos here in Maui for 15 years and can answer most of your questions.


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