With its mild weather changes, world-class beaches, and great outdoor activities, the Outer Banks is a beloved vacation destination for thousands across the country. While many only visit the Outer Banks, some are lucky enough to own or purchase property on the beautiful barrier islands. The Outer Banks is not only an attraction for visitors, but the long string of barrier islands also offer a strong appeal to investors. One of the top reasons for this is the increased income for owners due to the desirable location.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not you want to invest in an Outer Banks vacation home, then keep reading! We compiled some important information to consider and ultimately help you decide the best route to go for investing in an Outer Banks vacation rental home.

One of the most important questions investors should always keep in mind is, “How well will this house rent?” With so many choices on the Outer Banks, from luxury to rustic, it is easy to lose sight of what is most important to the target customers of your vacation rental home. Every amenity must be carefully considered to make sure it is satisfying guests and not draining your pockets. It is not necessary to have every amenity to get loyal guests and a fully booked calendar.

Location, Location, Location!

The lead attraction for visitors coming to the Outer Banks is the ocean, and understandably so. The proximity to the water, whether it be to the sound or the beach, will always be an appealing feature for visitors. Vacation rental numbers by area show Corolla as a lead choice for vacation homes. Corolla offers fun and relaxation for everyone in the family with an ideal combination of nature, activities, and amenities — a rewarding location!

Private Pool and/or Hot Tub

A swimming pool has a way of encouraging families to get together. In-ground pools add to the value of a home and real estate agents say pools increase the market for a home and allow a seller to ask for about 10 percent more for the house. A vacation rental home with a private pool is ideal when ocean conditions are not conducive to swimming. You can beat the heat by cooling off in your swimming pool with family and friends.

A home with access to a community pool or other community amenities can reduce the cost compared to a private pool.  Private pools and hot tubs need to be serviced about two times a week in season, and these fees can add up.

A Gas Grill

While some may not consider it as important, the majority of renters have this at the top of their must-haves. A vacation home without a grill leads to disappointment more so than not. Some owners believe a charcoal grill is adequate, but most guests will appreciate the convenience of gas. The gas is usually included with the rental, and the additional cost is minimal when compared to the level of satisfaction provided to guests. Be sure to locate the grill in a safe place and make sure guests do not use the grill on decks or enclosed areas.

Wi-Fi Internet

By far, having Wi-Fi internet at your vacation home is a must-have for the majority of guests. From entertainment and keeping in touch with work or home to finding directions to local attractions, Internet access has become more a necessity than an amenity. Vacation homeowners can save money with plans only activated during the rental season.

Gourmet Kitchen 

There is nothing like having a kitchen that offers all the appliances and space to cook for a large group. Custom kitchens are the best to maximize kitchen efficiency and storage capacity. The island in a fully stocked kitchen is like having a second kitchen in the middle of your kitchen. It has plenty of counterspace, its own sink, cabinets, and drawers for storage, and other features like additional ovens, microwaves, and a second dishwasher. An island with bar stools or chairs also provides an environment for easy conversation and gathering that your renters will certainly enjoy on their family vacation. Many vacation homes are shared by multiple families with multiple cooks. A large kitchen allows for multiple meals to be cooked simultaneously. 

Top-end appliances will not add as much value if you don’t have good-quality pots, pans, glasses, dishes, and cooking utensils. Keep in mind all of the items needed to stock your vacation home kitchen as thoroughly as your permanent home kitchen. Your guests will appreciate your attention to detail and thoughtfulness. Many homeowners include specialty items like slow cookers, wine coolers, and a stand-alone ice maker.

Dining Area

The dining area of the vacation home should adequately seat all of the guests enjoying the home. After all, the guests came on vacation together to enjoy one another's company and probably do not want to eat in shifts. This is especially important if you intend to rent your home over the holidays, where the meal is the focus of the day.

Washer and Dryer

A washer and dryer is a standard feature in most Outer Banks vacation homes. There are few laundromats on the Outer Banks. Families with children view a washer and dryer as a necessity while on vacation.

A Theater Room

A home theater room is a popular amenity in many of the larger vacation rental homes. These rooms, featuring high-end video and sound, “lazy-boy” chairs, and a popcorn machine are a thrill for young and old alike. Gather all of the kids on a rainy day for a Disney movie marathon. 

If you are considering a home theater for your vacation rental home, keep the controls easy to understand and simple to use. Otherwise, you can incur higher expenses from guests unable to use the equipment and additional calls for maintenance techs to reset the equipment.

Frequently, just having large, up-to-date TVs in multiple rooms in your vacation rental will allow each guest to enjoy the type of entertainment they are looking for without the steep investment of a high-tech theater room.


Accepting pets at your vacation home is growing in popularity by attracting more guests who just can’t bear the idea of traveling without their four-legged family member. If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should adopt a pet-friendly policy, consider alternating the amenity a few months at a time and comparing the overall results of the two options. Did your home attract more renters with or without the policy? 

Before adopting a pet-friendly policy, keep in mind weekly cleaning can take more time and cost more to make it ready for the next guest. On the flip side, you may increase your number of renters because many vacation homes have a no-pet rule. If you decide to go pet-friendly, you can always implement certain pet rules for guests and their four-legged family members to abide by.

The small things

Sometimes the best way to make your guest feel welcome is in the small things that make them feel at home. Books, videos, and games for the kids will provide hours of engagement when the weather is not nice and do not cost a lot.  Similarly, beach chairs, bikes, and kayaks can be the icing on the cake when a guest is selecting from similar homes. Toys for the beach and pool are great for families with children and who have no room to pack and travel with these items. 

The downside of providing these small items is the need for frequent replacement. Sometimes, it is best not to advertise the small items and have guest be pleasantly surprised that they got even more for their money. Also, this avoids guest complaints should something be missing or broken.

The best way to decide which amenities to offer is to focus on whom you want your vacation home to appeal to. If you have a theme, you can build your amenities around that theme and appeal to the clientele who will respond to the theme.  A home with a gourmet kitchen can appeal to “foodies." Add a gift of a local wine or pickled specialty to make a lasting impression. 

If you are in the market for a vacation rental home either as an investment or a second home, contact the pros at Eillu.  Each community on the Outer Banks has different rules and attracts a different demographic. We will show you the different areas and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.