Main Content

Home » Blog » Top Strategies When Investing in a Vacation Rental in Marathon, Florida

Top Strategies When Investing in a Vacation Rental in Marathon, Florida

Marathon, Florida lagoon

Why invest in vacation rentals in Marathon, FL? Apart from the lucrative returns you can earn by renting out your property, there’s also the fact that you can use the property as your own vacation home. By the time you’re looking to retire, you’ll have the option of either selling the property and using the sizable equity to purchase another property or better yet, using the property as your permanent retirement residence. After all, this is the the Keys in Florida, a place of great natural beauty and for many, the perfect place not just for vacations, but to call home.

If you’re interested in exploring vacation rentals in Marathon, FL, we share the top strategies for finding your ideal property, marketing your rental, and maximizing your investment.

Welcome to Marathon, FL

Nestled in the heart of the Florida Keys, Marathon is a picturesque and popular destination in Florida’s premiere vacation hotspot. Known for its sparkling blue waters, vibrant marine life, world-class fishing, and relaxed island atmosphere — it’s the perfect getaway location.

And Marathon is quickly emerging as a new vacation top spot in the Keys. Previously, visitors looked at Key West, Key Largo, and Islamorada as places to go to for a vacation, but the Middle Keys is growing its own tourist fanbase.

All indicators show that Marathon will continue to grow as a tourist destination in the coming years. Marathon is putting in the work and seeing the rewards and more real estate rental investors are looking at Marathon as an alternative investment location. 

Understanding the market

Before you start looking for real estate investment properties, let’s take a moment to understand the market. Overall, as a tourist destination, Florida is a safe bet, with the Florida Keys ranked second in Tripadvisor’s 10 Most Popular Destinations in the United States for 2022 based on user reviews. 

The current state of Marathon’s vacation rental market

In 2019, Monroe County conducted an analysis of the vacation rental market and its impact on the Florida Keys with some eye-opening results.

The study showed that of approximately 120 million households in the United States, 63%, or 76,600,000 households, reported that they visited a beach tourist spot within the last five years. Of these households, 74% rented vacation homes and were likely to do so again in the future. 

Beach homes are the most in-demand home rentals in the market, with 83% of travelers interested in renting a beach home as opposed to 47% interested in mountain home rentals and only 34% looking at urban home rentals.

Marathon, Florida houses

The analysis also found that the Florida Keys were amongst the most popular destinations, with up to 75% of travelers indicating that they would be interested in renting a vacation home in the Keys. When pressed to choose, many travelers opted for vacation home rentals over more traditional lodgings such as hotels. 

Marathon is seeing the benefits of these outcomes. In 2022, AirDNA gave the vacation home market in Marathon a score of 79 or “Good,” with a 91 rental demand score. Rental growth has increased by 17% in the three years leading up to 2022, with forecasts pointing toward continued growth. With the vacation rental home market growing and Marathon becoming a new favorite in vacation destinations, it is an ideal time to look at investment properties in the area.

The growth of your property value

As with many markets, there will be peaks and dips in terms of how much the median value of a home is worth in Marathon, FL. However, Marathon over the last 3 years has seen considerable growth in home values. 

The median price of a home sold in Marathon, FL in November 2020 was $678,250. By October 2023, this figure had risen to $1,127,500. In a little under 3 years the median had risen by almost 50%. Bear in mind that this time period also includes 2022 when high interest rates impacted many markets across the country, making the appreciation levels even more impressive. 

Essential property selection tips

When looking for vacation rental properties to invest in, ensure that the location, time requirements, and house amenities are aligned with your target audience’s expectations and requirements. 

  1. Location – The most important factor for choosing a rental property is location. For tourists, a vacation rental with good access to beaches and tourist hotspots is a top priority. 

    In Marathon, everything is just a few minutes away and easily accessible. Tourist spots, retail, dining, as well as the beautiful white sand beaches are all nearby. Plus, visitors can easily access the Seven Mile Bridge if they want to visit other spots in the Florida Keys.

  2. Home amenities – Ideally, you’ll want to provide the best amenities you can without overstretching your budget. Of course, the amenities you provide should be up to par for the home you’re renting out. Relatively functional plastic tables and chairs may cut it for standard homes but if you’re looking at renting out a luxury home, you’ll want to invest in better amenities and features. Kitchens should be fitted so guests can prepare meals for a group of friends or family and you may also want to create a very inviting outdoor space where guests can entertain. 

    If you plan on moving into the home as a permanent residence within the near future, it then becomes more viable to furnish and decorate as you’d wish your home to be. This will not only give you a premium property to rent out but also save you from upgrading before you take permanent residence in the home.

  3. Marathon allows weekly rentals. Almost uniquely in the Keys, Marathon allows for weekly or short-term rentals. This puts Marathon at a distinct advantage for investors when compared to other areas of the Keys such as Key Largo and Tavernier where the minimum rental time is a month or 28 days. 

Marketing and Branding

Having a great property to rent out is only part of the equation for a successful venture. You’ll also have to ensure that it’s marketed properly. This will give you the best chance to maintain high levels of occupancy throughout the year and maximize your ROI. 

When planning your marketing strategy, be sure to follow these three essential steps:

  1. Invest in professional photography – If you want visitors to rent your property, you need to showcase it in the best possible light. In a competitive market, you need to make your property stand out. This is where professional photos come in. While it may be an initial investment, the returns will be worth it. 

    Some online rental sites report up to a threefold increase in views leading to rentals of listings when the property used professional photos. So book a professional photographer and share beautiful photos of your house and its best features. If possible, take enchanting photos of the surrounding area.

  2. Utilize online booking platforms – Easily, one of the most effective vacation rental marketing strategies is to utilize online booking platforms. Up to 53% of travelers will likely consult vacation rental websites when deciding on their accommodations and many prefer the convenience of booking accommodations online. 

    According to Monroe County research, the most popular platforms in the area include VRBO, Airbnb, HomeAway, and, so it’s important to be on these platforms.

    Encourage reviews from your guests. Good reviews are one of the most powerful marketing tools. Offer incentives or special gifts for guests who leave verified reviews on your listing.

  3. Develop your online presence – Don’t rely solely on booking sites to showcase your rentals. Apart from being listed on popular booking sites, developing and increasing your online presence can also boost your rental income. There is no reason why you shouldn’t launch your own official website for your rental property or properties.

    Ensure your website has an intuitive multiplatform design that expertly showcases and highlights all your rental’s unique amenities. If guests can book directly via your website, all the better.

    And don’t forget to invest in social media. Create social pages for your rental properties that enable you to interact with your target audience. Research shows that Facebook, Tripadvisor, YouTube, and Instagram are the platforms most commonly accessed by travelers, so be sure you are present on these platforms with engaging and relevant content. Always be sure to respond to comments and inquiries in a timely manner.

  4. Offer incentives and exclusive deals – A great way to market your vacation rentals in Marathon, FL, and gain new and repeat bookings is to offer incentives and exclusive deals. 

    Consider providing discounts for extended stays or incentives for booking during off-peak season. These can help draw in guests and give your property an edge. Or you can offer complimentary services and experiences unique to your property and area.

    Additionally, try partnering with local businesses in the community to cross-promote your businesses and offer exclusive deals to both of your guests. This can work with tour operators, restaurants, shops, and even transportation services. Doing this adds more value to your property and strengthens your ties to the community. 

  5. Hire a property manager – If all this sounds like too much effort and hassle, hire a property manager who can take care of all the marketing, cleaning, and maintenance for your property. It will cost you in the region of 8% to 12% of the rental fee however, it will leave you free to passively earn without effort, headaches, or stress. 

    couple looking on the tablet

    A property manager can also act as a concierge service extending the value you give to guests and making them much more likely to enjoy their stay and recommend your property.

Pricing strategies for maximum returns

Getting the pricing right for your vacation rental in Marathon, FL is not always a simple straightforward process. Charge too much and you’ll soon feel the pinch of having your property remain vacant. Charge too little and you’re leaving money on the table. Keep these 2 considerations in mind when pricing. 

  • Consider the competition – When considering the competition, you have 3 choices. 
    • You can charge the market rate. This is generally a sensible strategy that should keep your property in contention. 
    • You can undercut and offer your rental at a slightly lower cost. This is a fair strategy when you’re looking to ramp up the volume of your bookings. Use this strategy with caution as it eats into your profit margins and in the long run can help lower the value of the market. 
    • Alternatively, you can offer more premium services and amenities (like breakfast or concierge services) and charge higher. This is a good strategy during peak season when you want to go after higher profit margins. 
  • Different seasons, different rates – A shrewd investor will often employ these 3 strategies at different times and not just stick to one rate throughout the year. You have to consider peak season and off-season rates. When tourism is high, you can charge higher, and when it’s off-peak season, you can offer lower rates or discounts to entice more tourists to book.

Invest in a Marathon, FL vacation rental with Angel Digiorgio

Are you ready to invest in vacation rentals in Marathon, FL? To help you navigate real estate in the Middle Keys, there is no better agent to work with than one with extensive expertise in the area. Angel DeGiorgio is a Florida Keys resident of over 25 years, five of them helping people find their ideal home or investment properties in this unique place. With her deep local knowledge, 24/7 availability, proven methods, and outstanding service, she is perfectly positioned to help you realize your investment goals in this competitive market. 

Start your vacation investment journey with Angel DiGiorgio’s elite team of luxury realtors in Marathon, Florida. You can call the team at 305.509.0971 or send an email to angel(at)angelfloridakeys(dotted)com. Together we can find you your better place in the sun.