You can charge whatever you like for rentals. The key question is "what are people willing to pay?" If this property has not been rented previously, and has no customer base, you are going to have to steal tenants from someone else. Adding a property to the rental market does not increase the number of tenants available, so initially, at least, you are going to be able to get bookings at prices at or below those for similar properties. I do not think that central air is your first investment, as long as you have window a/c in each of the bedrooms and one in the main living area. I have rented the lower half of my beach block duplex for more than 10 years, and I can tell you that people want decent kitchens and bathrooms, a spotless property, and decor that makes them feel like they are on vacation. This means that chlorox and paint are your new best friends. If the kitchen is dated and/or hard to keep clean, put some money there. Are the beds in good shape? Comfortable seating in the living room? A table and enough chairs to sit at for dinner? Keep in mind that most people look only online before they select a vacation property, and you will be competing against those properties that are already listed. We have a large north end rental inventory, and you can go to monihan.com and search our rentals by location and amenities to see what your competition looks like.
With respect to insurance, your flood insurance depends on the elevation of your first floor and the distance to the beach more than any other factors. If you are financing the deal, your lender may require specific amounts for your homeowner policy. Regardless, it makes sense to have your place insured for replacement cost, and you want liability insurance that covers tenancy as well.
The sooner you settle, the better. You want to get the place into shape and get it listed with local realtors and live on their websites as soon as possible!
Monihan Realty Inc.
717 Battersea Road
Ocean City NJ 08226