The Essential Guide to Emergency Preparedness for Short Term Rental Owners in Gatlinburg, TN

 Emergency Preparedness for Short Term Rental Owners in Gatlinburg, TN and the surrounding areas

In light of the recent uptick in unbecoming weather as we are nearing the anniversary of the Gatlinburg wildfires in 2016 we thought now might be a good time to pull together resources for you, a short term rental property owner, about emergency preparedness relative to Sevier County, TN. 


Understanding Local Risks

Sevier County is very fortunate to experience all four seasons, but that often means weather comes along with those seasonal changes. Below are a few natural occurrences to be aware of: 

  • Floods: The mountainous terrain and bodies of water in Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas make it prone to flooding, particularly during heavy rains and rapid snow melts. Flood risks are higher in low-lying areas and near streams or rivers. It’s important that you check the flood zoning for your property and understand the potential impact heavy rainfall or snowmelt may have on your property. 
  • Severe Storms: Gatlinburg experiences severe storms, including heavy rainfall, lightning, and sometimes hail. These storms can cause damage to properties and disrupt essential services, like electricity. 
  • Wildfires: The Great Smoky Mountains are susceptible to wildfires, especially during dry seasons. Factors contributing to wildfires include the region’s forest cover and sometimes human activities. 


Importance of Staying Informed About Local Risks Through Reliable Sources

Reliable resources allow you to respond effectively to natural disasters. Here are a few resources that will allow you to stay in the know, even when you are not in town. 


Developing Your Emergency Plan

There are a few steps that you can take to begin developing an emergency plan for your short term rental property. 

Complete an assessment. 

    • Determine what specific risks might be associated with your property, considering its location, structure and surrounding environment. 
    • Determine what resources you may need to stock your property with such as safety equipment, supplies, and communication tools. 

Develop a Strategy 

    • How will you mitigate risks?
    • Will you improve exterior materials?
    • Will you provide additional safety equipment?

Create Response Procedures

    • How will you communicate with your guests and/or property manager?
    • In what ways can action be taken in the event of an emergency to mitigate damages? Are those steps clearly outlined and displayed?


The Sevier County Sheriff’s office provides an extensive resource for developing your emergency plan.  Here are just a few components you might want to include. 

  • Evacuation routes 
  • Shut off procedures for utilities 
  • First aid measures
  • Safe shelter locations 
  • Communication plans

It’s important to continuously improve and update your emergency plan based on feedback from these authorities to ensure it aligns with local standards and practices.


Communication with Guests During Emergencies

It’s important to ensure you have a way to communicate with your guests about what to do in case of an emergency and during emergencies. 

You can prepare guests for potential emergencies by designing a Guest Information Packet

This packet can include information like 

  • Emergency procedures 
  • Maps showing evacuation routes and safety equipment locations.
  • List local emergency resources, including hospitals, pharmacies, and shelters.

Utilize a way to communicate digitally with guests via email, SMS, or property management apps to provide real-time updates on weather alerts and emergency situations.


 Additional Measures for Guest Comfort and Confidence

Equipping your property with items like emergency lights, blankets, and basic supplies adds an additional layer of comfort for guests during unforeseen situations.

Taking a proactive approach to emergency preparedness is an investment in the safety and well-being of your guests and property! Remember, preparedness is an ongoing process, evolving with the changing landscapes and weather patterns of Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas.

3 Common Pests Found in East Tennessee Short Term Rentals and How to Prevent Them

As a short-term rental property owner in East Tennessee, it is important to prevent pest infestations. Pests not only damage your property, but they can also negatively impact your guests’ experience. In this blog post, we will explore how to prevent their infestations in short-term rental properties.

East Tennessee’s warm and humid climate provides an ideal environment for various pests to thrive, including flying insects. Some common insects found in short-term rentals in East Tennessee are:

  • Carpenter bees are a common pest found in East Tennessee homes. They look similar to bumblebees but can cause significant damage to wooden structures, including decks, fences, and outdoor furniture. 
  • Carpenter ants are another common pest found in East Tennessee homes. They can cause significant damage to wooden structures, including walls, floors, and furniture. 
  • Eastern subterranean termites are a common pest found in East Tennessee homes. They can cause significant damage to wooden structures, including walls, floors, and foundations. These termites live in the soil and feed on wood, so it’s important to maintain proper moisture control to prevent infestations. 

It’s important to address any pest infestations in your home promptly to prevent damage and avoid further costly repairs.

Regular cleaning, maintenance, and inspection practices are essential to prevent pest infestations in short-term rentals. 

Below are some tips to help keep insects away:

  • Seal entry points and install screens on doors and windows. Gaps and cracks in walls and doors allow insects to enter.
  • Close doors and windows when not in use to prevent insects from entering.

In addition to regular cleaning, maintenance, and inspection hiring a professional pest control service can help eliminate pests and prevent future infestations. 

Benefits of hiring professional pest control services are:

  • Experienced technicians who can identify and eliminate pests effectively.
  • Customized treatment plans to address your property’s specific pest problems.
  • Regular inspections to prevent future pest infestations.
  • Pest control companies may set up pest monitoring stations to detect any signs of pest activity before a full infestation occurs.

Pest control companies can help prevent future infestations and keep your property pest-free. It’s important to work with a reputable and experienced pest control company to ensure that they use safe and effective methods to prevent pest activity.

Preventing pest infestations in short-term rentals in East Tennessee is crucial to ensure the comfort and safety of your guests. By following the preventative measures discussed in this blog post and utilizing professional pest control services, you can keep your property pest-free. 

CNBC – Top States for Doing Business

Expounding on our email from last week!

Last week we shared an article from Area Development, “The 2021 Top States for doing business”,  

This week we’d like to share with you an article from CNBC, “America’s Top States for Business”

In 2021, CNBC names Tennessee the #5 state! 

CNBC scored all 50 states on 85 metrics in 10 broad categories of competitiveness. Each category is weighted based on how frequently states use them as a selling point in economic development marketing materials.

You can read more about their methodology here.

See where your home state falls here.

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development shares with us the reasons they believe you should select Tennessee’s business-friendly environment: 

  • No personal income tax on wages and salaries.
  • A right-to-work state.
  • A long history of fiscal responsibility that crosses party lines.
  • Lowest state debt per capita in the country, per The Tax Foundation.
  • Second lowest in the U.S. for state and local tax taxes paid per capita, per The Tax Foundation.
  • Triple A rate by all major rating services.
  • Successful overhaul of our tort and workers compensation laws.

Second Home FAQ



Thinking of financing a second home or investment property in the Smokies? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions from our buyers purchasing their first vacation home:

1. What is the minimum amount I can put down?

For second home properties, our buyers can put as little as 10% down. If you are putting less than 20% down, there will be private mortgage insurance included in your monthly payment until your loan balance reaches 80% of the home’s original value. As of October 2018, the rates for mortgage insurance have remained as low as .30% annually (or $75/month for a $300k loan amount) for borrowers with good credit. Investment property loans require at least 15% down.

2. What do rates look like?

Like all correspondent lenders, we get new rates sheets every day when the market opens. We start with the base rate and add adjustments for loan size, loan term, down payment, and credit score when calculating a client’s rate. Second home rates are now slightly higher than primary residence and higher rates apply for investment property loans.

Note: The conforming loan limit is $548,250 which means loans over that amount are considered jumbo loans and have their out separate guidelines to qualify on.

3. If rates are higher, why would I use the investment property product? What’s the difference?

Certain buyers are better suited for an investment product. This might include someone who:
* Requires future rental income from the property he or she is purchasing to qualify for the loan
* Already owns a second home in the Smokies
* Has no intention of using the home for personal use (this would include renting the property out on a long-term lease)
* Intends to use a property management company that will not give the owner control of when they can stay in the home.

4. Can I do overnight rentals if I use second home financing?

Yes! Just make sure that you maintain the ability to block out time for personal use. Black-out dates for peak seasons and holidays are a deal breaker.

5. I have decided that the second home product is best for me, but I noticed that my seller included language in our sales contract requiring me to use a specific management company. Will that cause any problems with my loan?

It could! If that language is present we will be required to review the management company’s contract to determine that you will be able to use the home for personal use at your discretion per second home guidelines.

6. What’s the minimum credit score needed to qualify?

The minimum credit score for investment and second home purchases is 620. If you are unsure of where you stand, give us a call and we can go over this with you. If you are short of qualifying, we may be able to increase your score within 7 business days!

7. Ok, I’m pre-qualified and I found my dream house. When can we close?

You and your seller will negotiate a closing date at the time your sales contract is signed, but most purchase and sale agreements set closing for about a month after the contract is bound. This allows time for you to collect and submit your credit documentation to us, the appraisal to be completed, and for title work to be completed.


Why now is the time to sell and buy vacation homes in the Smokies

Why sell now and why buy now?  

Many of our clients are investors or have second homes in our area.  Is now the time to sell your rental cabin or buy one?

The market is strong for cabins and currently under-supplied.

January and February are strong sales months.  We tend to get serious investors in those months because they know cabins are easier to show with less occupancy.  They understand buying earlier in the year means they’ll receive spring break, summer, fall and holiday income.  That type of educated buyer is of the highest quality and they are more prevalent in the first quarter.

If you’ve been thinking about selling let us know.  We’ll be happy to evaluate your property free of charge.  Together we can determine if now if the right time for you.


Featured Properties:

Fantastic Cabins, Amazing Views

3 BD/3.5 BA 2434 sq.ft log cabin with a terrific mountain view,  $70,000 in rental income last year, making it one of those rare finds. Sure to sell quickly.   More Info
$349,90  ID#: 213840
4 BD/2 BA, nearly 1,900 sq ft, log cabin, located off Ski View Drive, complete w/amazing views of Mt. LeConte, the Smokies, & Ober Gatlinburg.  Ideal as a permanent or 2nd home, or as an overnight rental.  More info

Tools for Real Estate Investment 101: Self-Directed IRA’s and Your Real Estate Investment Needs

Real Estate Deals

As home prices continue their gradual trend of rising during 2013, there are various investment tools that can be utilized by potential buyers and/or sellers in considering whether or not to invest in real estate, especially here in the Great Smoky Mountain real estate market. Today, we will focus on one of these investment tools, which has gained popularity in recent years, namely that of the self-directed IRA (Individual Retirement Account).

A Self-directed Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is not your typical IRA since it allows the account owner to invest in a wider set of assets than those offered by custodians and trustees of traditional IRAs. This separates a Self-directed IRA from other types of IRAs since the account holder can decide what permissible investments to put his or her money into without having the custodian or trustee set a limit on what investments to pursue, hence the term “self-directed.” In other words, the account holder is limited only by the rules set by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and of course, his or her choice of investments. In addition, the custodian or trustee is also in charge of facilitating all other transactions that involve the Self-directed IRA.

Some potential advantages of using a Self-directed IRA include, but are not excluded to, the following:

1.) Having a Self-directed IRA allows an account holder to purchase properties anywhere that’s allowed by law. Almost every type of real estate is permissible such as residential and commercial property, real estate options, and the like.

2.) Purchasing property can also be done without paying all the required capital. For example, account holders can participate in a limited liability company (LLC) that directly invests in real estate.

3.) Many account holders have already taken advantage of the current buyers’ market where property prices are low and foreclosure rates are high. They can attest to how they’ve benefited from their diversified portfolio within their Self-directed IRA.

4.) Usually, real estate investments purchased within a Self-directed IRA are intended as long-term investments. This means that once an account holder buys a property, they will hold onto it until its value appreciates and is ready to be sold. In other words, the “buy-low, sell-high” concept is well suited for this type of IRA.

5.) Selling an IRA-owned home lets the owner avoid paying capital gains tax if the proceeds are rolled back into the IRA. This especially applies to those who rehab properties in rundown condition and flip them for quick profit.

However, there are limitations as to what a Self-directed IRA can do, including, but not excluded to, the following:

1.) The Self-directed IRA cannot purchase real estate from a “disqualified person” either directly or indirectly. It also prohibits a “disqualified person” from using a property purchased within a Self-directed IRA. A “disqualified person” includes, but is not excluded to: Your spouse, your lineal ascendants/descendants and their spouses, plan fiduciaries (including advisors, custodians, and administrators), an entity (i.e., estate, corporation, etc.) where you own at least 50% of the voting stock, directly or indirectly, and anyone providing services to the plan.

2.) The purchased property cannot be used by the account holder – not even for a night. Only qualified people may use it and this does not include one’s relatives. Unless the account holder is 59 and a half years old and retired, then living in the investment property is deemed illegal.

3.) Account holders and family members cannot buy or sell property directly from their IRA. Likewise, it is also forbidden to buy or sell directly from the companies or enterprises that they own.

4.) Borrowing or lending money from the IRA is not allowed, and the IRA cannot be used to lend money to family members or as collateral for any type of loan.

5.) IRA funds and personal accounts cannot be combined or co-mingled.

6.) Those involved in the servicing of the Self-directed IRA account are not allowed to participate in any transaction that involves the account.

With a Self-directed IRA, you will have to find a reliable custodian or trustee to open an account and comply with the IRS requirements, and set up the account with a bank or other financial institution. When an investment property has been selected, the account holder would then authorize the custodian to pay a deposit from the Self-directed IRA by signing an authorization form. After which, the account holder must complete the necessary documents and forward them to the custodian or trustee. The closing agent will then coordinate the remainder of the transaction and release any additional funds required.

Finally, Self-directed IRA’s, like any other investment in real estate, do involve a lot of risk. First, it is recommended that one invests only 25 percent at the most if you are not inclined to be a “risk taker.” With the prices of properties at their current levels, you can probably find one that you may like. Second, keep in mind that the Self-directed IRA is making the investment — not you or anyone else. You can’t simply take the cash flow that you earn from your investment property since the custodian or trustee is in charge of it through your IRA. Third, be sure to leave enough funds in your Self-directed IRA to cover unexpected expenses related to your property, such as tenant turnover, maintenance and repairs. This will put you in a safe position should you incur any “additional” costs. Finally, please always seek the advice of qualified real estate investment professionals that can help you find the properties that would be best suited for your overall retirement goals. Like anything else, always ask questions, and make sure to get as much as information as you can before using this investment tool, or any other investment tool, before deciding to act on it.

With this basic knowledge and understanding of a potentially powerful investment tool for real estate, why not see what the Great Smoky Mountains real market can offer you today? Please feel free to browse our available properties, and let one of our buyer specialists help realize your home ownership dreams today! Come and see what the Great Smoky Mountains can offer you today!

Here Are A Few of My Featured Listings:

Nice Ranch-Style Home in Sevierville! Beautiful, well-maintained, 1,300+ sq ft, 3 BD/2 BA ranch-style home located in Sevierville, is walking distance to the nearby Pigeon River, along with being mins. to Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, and downtown Sevierville! Type: Single Family Home Location: Sevierville,TN Price: $159,900 Get more information >
Beautiful Private Cabin w/City View Beautiful, private 4 Bedroom/3 Bathroom cabin located just below Ober Gatlinburg w/a 20-mile view! Type: Single Family Home Location: Gatlinburg,Tennessee Price: $195,000 Get more information >
Great Views & Privacy This three level cabin has consistently produced right at $30k a year in rental income every year since 2007! Located on a private lot it features a great view and a lot of windows and deck space for enjoying the scenery Type: Single Family Home Location: Pigeon Forge Price: $279,900 Get more information >

The Jason White Team
Century 21 Four Seasons Realty
1441 Wiley Oakley Dr
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Toll Free: 877-678-2121
Fax: 865-436-7227