More often then none, I get the call that a client wants to convert their property into an Airbnb home. I first have to ask them what their motives are. After all, Airbnb is not a passive income industry and relies heavily on quality & responsive customer service and hospitality.
Many of these are landlords are renting out the rooms by the week or month. They usually own a slew of properties and some of the homes have even gone into disarray.
The conversion process from landlord to short-term rental host can be quite tricky and not what one is accustomed to. So, if you are a seasoned investor looking to convert a few of your rental properties or deciding whether its worth it to put thousands of dollars to renovate one of them, it would be a good idea to keep the following in mind:
1. RENTING ROOMS ON AIRBNB CAN BE TRICKY
Many landlords make the mistake of thinking that Airbnb is as easy as being a landlord. The reality is that being a landlord is much more passive then the duties of an Airbnb Host. I often have to remind them that not only do you need to be aware of quick turnover times, you have to offer impeccable service and be available non-stop since Airbnb does not reward lazy hosts. The turnover rate (time from which guests checks-in and out to the next guest) can be daily which requires you to be on call most of the time. The quicker response time an Airbnb host has, the better search visibility a host gets. There is some good news however and that is that there will be NO MORE LEASE WRITING and no more 30 day, 6 month or 1 yr contract-writing. All terms and guidelines are required to be accepted upon signing up for Airbnb for both the host and the guest.
2. YOU CAN’T HALF-ASS AN AIRBNB HOME
If you’re really considering this, then you need to know that you must use your full ass to list on Airbnb and never half your ass. The biggest mistake of landlords is to think that your mistakes won’t be discovered. On the contrary, everyone is watching. If you make a mistake, say leave a hair, run out of toilet paper, forget to empty the trash, a guest could notice and interpret that as you not caring for your rental. When a guest leaves a review it is considered “their opinion”, so Airbnb does not make it easy to remove these. Remember, an Airbnb home is like a boutique hotel and 5 star-service is generally expected, if you want to nail 5 stars every time and get great reviews (which equal more visibility and higher nightly rate and more bookings for your rental).
3. YOU CAN’T BE CHEAP ON RENOVATIONS
Never go the cheap route. Many landlords make the mistake of defaulting to what they are used to, cheaper products that can be replaced more frequently. But instead of thinking in this way, its best to think of giving your property a more expensive appeal. In the end this strategy may cost you a few more up front, but will allow you to be able to ask for slightly higher nightly rates. Instead of renovating cheaply with formica, get granite. Instead of carpet or vinyl, invest in wood or laminate that will last longer.
4. NO, YOU CAN’T LEAVE YOUR EXTRA CARS IN THE DRIVEWAY
Your entire property should be available for the guests and look like it is too. It a mistake for a landlord to think that he/she can leave their possessions all over the property. You really need to clean out the garage, clean up the porch and backyard. Also clean out the drawers and get rid of extra junk. Most Airbnb guests love the hotel feel, but with the amenities that you are offering in your home such as a the kitchen, living room, entertaining area, porch and grill space in the backyard. A sparse, minimal home is always a good idea for an Airbnb home. If you are thinking of leaving an office on-site, think again. The time & energy you will waste asking your guests for permission to stop by for something you need in your office will just not be worth it the end. Additionally, you risk interfering with a guest’s privacy and again this could lead to a poor review.
5. YOU CAN’T LEAVE YOUR PHONE FOR A MINUTE
Nope! Not possible. You won’t be able to leave your phone for very long. In fact, if you run an Airbnb home you will need to be able to answer your phone, or a text, at most hours of the day and night, 7 days a week. Many landlords make the mistake of offering business hours to tenants, but unless you automate this one piece for your Airbnb listing with a manager or an online service, you will need to be able to communicate quickly with guests.
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About the Author:
Rachel Prince is a licensed real estate broker living in Indianapolis, Indiana. Rachel works as an Associate Broker for F.C. Tucker & Company at the downtown Mass. Ave. office located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. She helps her clients make smart Airbnb Home investment decisions. She can be reached for consults here.
F.C. Tucker Company
Indianapolis, IN 46204