Using Airbnb to make money

@Magyarphile

It's the same here in Sofia. I rent a nice place for 400 lewa (200 Euro) and rent it out for 200 Euro a week. I have a different angle on that, because I normally live in the apartment. Meaning I only rent out one week a month, sleep at friends or girls places and my rent is covered. I will set up something similar in Varna and Burgas though in the summer, at the seaside.

I wanted to visit a girl in Budapest anyways which was couchsurfing here in Sofia. If you're interested in teaming up to get something really nice in Budapest, or at Balaton for summer, just PM me. Split risk is not too bad in anything real estate related, and if it works out you can still set up more apartments on your own.
 
GyopoPlayboy said:
My friend and I are putting money together to lease a beautiful pad that would be in the hottest area with all the nightlife and action. We are doing this for the sole purpose of putting it up on airbnb so that we can charge upwards of $150-250/night (rent on the 2bd apartment itself is $2800).

Inspiration for this idea came from reading on article online about how people worldwide are raking it in by turning their couches or unused bedrooms into hotel rooms for paying customers.

Have any of you tried this route? What are your thoughts? We are looking at 2 places right now.
Interesting idea, I think New York City actually banned this type of activity. Cool idea, alot of people do this when big events come to town like Olympics, big sporting events or festivals, etc.

Other problem is you have a very limited market. Most people going to a city to party are going to look at hotel rooms, you really have to educate the consumer of your existance. Also, your price seems a bit steep when in Chicago at least, I could get a hotel room for say $50 more than your charging even in the hottest areas.

I like how your thinking though. I have always wanted to do something similar but more of a hostel. The appeal isnt a hostel b/c hostels are a dime a dozen but if you create a cool atmosphere and concept people could gravitate towards it.
 

elabayarde

Pelican
Gold Member
I actually did this in DC, but my lease ended earlier than I thought. I made a Killin. My rent was about $1350, and I charge 150 a night on weekends, $200 on event weeks. When things werent busy, I charged $100. I dropped it down to this price when I needed to put someone in it.(rarely)
 

Isaac Jordan

Kingfisher
Gold Member
I've been using Airbnb for the past three months and it's been fantastic. I'm averaging about $1200 profit per month, although I travel a lot for work and have family/a girlfriend in a nearby city, so I take every opportunity to rent the place out (between 12-16 days per month).

Some pieces of advice for those looking to rent out their pads:

Consider outsourcing the cleaning to a maid service.

Most services clean a client's home about twice a month; if you can offer them more business they'll be willing to give you a better price. I pay $60 per cleaning and charge my guests a $20 "cleaning fee" after each stay, so it's only a $40 net cost. I charge between $100-130 per night, so it's definitely worth it, especially if I can book a two- or three-night stay instead of just a single.

Take quality pictures.

Like in online dating, pictures can make or break you. Airbnb offers free professional photography to those with qualifying locations, and if you live in a bigger complex you can lift pictures of courtyards, pools, gyms, etc. from the complex's website. At the very least, make sure you clean the apartment and adjust the lighting before taking pictures, and edit them before uploading. Adding captions to your pictures provides a nice touch, as most people neglect to do this.

Work hard up front to score a couple good reviews.

When I first started, I had a buddy of mine "book" my place for $10 just so he could leave a glowing review (he never actually stayed). Since then, the more good reviews I've earned, the more rental requests I've received. Make sure you communicate promptly and do your best to accommodate the first couple guests you have (although really you should do this for all of them). Little things, like leaving a welcome note on the counter or fresh breakfast food in the fridge, go a long way towards making a good impression. For guests with longer stays (or those that I know won't have a car), I'll offer to stock my fridge with a couple of their favorite items. I also provide them access to my bar and assorted coffees/teas, although most guests tend to go out enough to where they don't really use that much.

Take advantage of concerts, sporting events, trade shows, conventions, and festivals.

I'm three blocks away from a major football stadium, and my usual weekend price of $130/night doubles for game days. I've already booked two of them in September, and one couple (season ticket holders) told me if they like the place they'll probably want to book the rest of the home games this season. If your place has good logistics, stay abreast of any upcoming events and take advantage of people who will pay more to be closer to the action.

Consider geographical arbitrage for longer stays.

A three-week rental at my place would earn me about $2k after Airbnb takes their cut. I could easily book a $500 plane ticket to Central America, find a cheap place to stay for $400/week, and after food and other expenses just about break even. Even if you don't want to rent out your place that often, it's nice to have a vacation pay for itself.

Use a lock like this and/or a thermostat like this to enable your location independence.

When you start to rent out your place this often, the two biggest concerns become 1) logistics and 2) cleaning time/effort. A cleaning service solves the second problem, and this lock solves the first. Instead of being there in person to pass off the keys, or hiding them under the doormat, consider a programmable lock. You can change it whenever someone leaves, and have different codes for different people (yourself, the cleaning service, family, etc.). Only issue is you may not be able to modify the existing lock if you yourself are renting; this may be better suited towards owners.

The thermostat is great for those who live in more extreme climates and need to manage utility costs. Combined with the lock and a maid service to clean the place for you, you've got just about everything you need to manage your place from abroad.
 
Great idea for a hustle, I thought about doing it myself as well. I would probably opt for a studio just because why pay for the extra space and extra bedrooms when most people are probably in town on business or just looking for a place to store their stuff and crash while vacationing or partying in a new city.

My one hickup on this is how do you handle getting keys to people? I doubt your buildings door guy is going to want to be bothered everyday giving and collecting keys and it would be kind of a hassle having to do it myself.

My other concern with the Airbnb thing is though it would be a huge money maker if you could have it rented every day of the month I'm guessing its primarily weekends and maybe a couple weekdays with business travelers. Unless you have the place occupied all the time it's probably easier just to rent it to a individual on a standard lease and have more of a gurnatee.

The one flip side I thought about would be buying a two flat in a cool area and living in one and renting the ohter via airbnb and that way getting people keys and stuff is super easy.
 
speakeasy said:
I think something like this could possibly work. My main concern would be making sure that your landlord would approve of it. I know that neighbors would probably hate the idea of seeing strangers constantly coming and going and may complain, especially if it's a building with secured access. If they do any serious damage to the unit like start a fire or something, the landlord is coming after you. I wonder if there is any insurance you can buy that would cover such a mishap.

This is an interesting idea and something I may even have to consider trying myself. If you could get several of these going at once, it could be enough passive income to not have to work.

Some things to keep in mind, it must be in a high demand area where you will have few vacancies. You will want to have great decor and amenities there to make the place very attractive visually so you stand out.

Edit - -

What do you guys think would be more profitable? A studio, one bedroom or two bedroom?

And some other questions, if you are out of town, how would the renters get the keys? Is there a convenient way of doing that without having to drive out every few days? What about cleanup and washing sheets? Do you do it yourself or hire someone? Insurance if one of them forgets to lock the door and all your shit is stolen?
You bring up a great point. Though I know business travelers use airbnb in my experience a good percentage of people who use it are younge rpeople traveling in groups looking for a place to party for the weekend in any given city. I imagine probably 50% on the low side or more of your "tenants" are younger people pregaming in the room and heading out to the nearby night spots. I can only image what the neighbors will think of noise, strange people comming and going, pizza boxes clogging the garbage shoot, etc.

Also the issue of getting keys to people I mentioned in a previous post unless your going to be meeting up with all these people on a daily basis and cleaning the room yourself you'd probably have to cut the doorman in on hte action to let this fly.
 

Isaac Jordan

Kingfisher
Gold Member
Three months later, my Airbnb hustle continues to pay dividends. Just wanted to update this thread with a few more suggestions:

Communicate promptly.

Airbnb keeps a record of both your response rate (a percentage describing how often you respond to inquiries and requests) as well as how quickly you respond (within an hour, within a few hours, within a day, etc.). Both of these stats are posted in the "About the Host" section of your listing.

Not only will having good stats encourage users to contact you (because they know they're likely to receive a quick response), but they can also help you beat the competition. Airbnb hosts can reject any request for any reason, so many users will send out multiple inquiries and then go with the host that responds first.

Airbnb also considers response time in their search results; responding promptly can help bump you up a few places in your city's rankings.

Here are some things you can do to improve your communication:

1) Answer every inquiry and request. Even if you aren't interested in hosting the person, shoot them a quick message to keep your response rate at 100%.

2) Download the Airbnb app to your smart phone. I try to answer any messages immediately, and have received praise multiple times for responding within minutes.

3) Keep a word document containing your commonly-used responses. Templates for things such as check-in and -out info, post-stay thank yous, or a generic rejection will save you hours of effort and ensure that you don't forget any details.

Set your weekly and monthly prices to encourage longer stays.

Airbnb doesn't require you to set weekly or monthly prices, but I'd highly recommend adding them. Longer stays might entail a slight discount on your part, but you'll reduce cleaning time/fees as well as the effort spent looking for new guests. Renting to fewer people also reduces your risk and the potential for problems.

Update your calendar every day, and keep it as accurate as possible.

Your homepage will show the last time you updated your calendar, and the act of updating it also improves your ranking in the search results. You don't have to make any real changes-the simple act of visiting your calendar page renders it "updated".

Keep your calendar as accurate as possible to avoid having to cancel on someone. Canceling a reservation hurts your communication stats as well as your search results ranking.

If you know your place will be available, keep the calendar open three to six months into the future. I've had folks book dates months in advance, and they're often easier to work with than the usual guest because they put so much thought into the trip.

Monitor similar Airbnb rentals in your area to adjust prices.

In the beginning, trial and error counts for a lot. If you're receiving a lot of inquiries, try raising the price until you're just managing to fill your calendar. If no one's booking, lower your price and/or improve your marketing (more/better pictures, more details on the place and its amenities, a more specific title, etc.). You'll likely need to price the place lower until you get a few good reviews, at which point you should slowly raise prices.

Also, try pricing a date higher when it's far into the future, then reduce the price as the date gets closer. This will help you get a feel for the true value of your rental.

Every so often, pretend you're looking to book a place in your area and get a feel for your competition. Airbnb hides rentals that are already booked for your selected dates, so try a few different options (weeknights, weekends, long weekends, an entire week, etc.):

What are similar places charging compared to you?
How many reviews do they have, and what are folks saying about them?
How do their amenities (parking, pools/gyms, Wifi, freebies like coffee and tea) compare to yours?
Can you change the title of your rental to better reflect your advantage(s) in the area?

This information will help you determine your place in the market. You'll get a feel for your niche, and can compensate for weaknesses you might not have noticed before looking at what others are offering.
 
Am interested in this. Good article I read today.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/magazine/the-business-tycoons-of-airbnb.html

The London market seems to be very active.

Let's list good and bad cities for doing this. Please add your city ideas to the list.

Good places should give good rates relative to the price of the property and should be busy year round and not seasonal.

Bad places are obviously places where it is illegal or legally questionable like NYC.

Good
====
London (very busy and rates are very good especially weekends. Seems to be busy year round).
 
It would be interesting to know how many RVF members are landlords, and while reading this are wondering if their tenants are screwing them and turning their property into an unlicensed hotel.
 
A girl I know is doing this on a hipster area here in Mexico City. She checks the apartment and occupants daily (e.g. small, quiet parties, no smashing doors). The landlord and neighbors do not like the idea, but so far nothing has gotten out of control.

She leased the apartment on the same building where she already leases, paid the security deposit, bought beds, key-locks, dishes, mattresses, basic furniture, etc. She will recoup such costs in about a year. Average occupancy rate is about 60/70% per month.

Once she recoups the initial costs, her profit should pay for her share of her main lease with some change to spare, but she still has to live with 2 roommates.

Considering the initial capital costs and the amount of time required to manage and promote the rooms, I think an Airbnb hustle should work if you (i) lease a place within very short walking distance from your main place, (ii) the leased apartment is already equipped and furnished and/or (iii) you spread the risk with a co-leaser.

If you already own a place and it is not located in an extremely expensive global city (i.e. NY, London, Singapore) I think a standard lease should give you way less headaches for about the same yearly income.
 

Irish

Kingfisher
Gold Member
Now my tenants have moved out, I took some time out to fly back from Asia to Glasgow, UK to do up my old apartment to rent out on airbnb. This thread is full of gold information, particularly from Isaac Jordan (which I have duely +1'd)

I have just about got the place finished off with new carpets and painted walls. Planning to go live with the advert tonight. I will keep this thread updated on how it does

Apartment is a 2 bedroom ideal bachelor pad, great open plan kitchen living room ideal for having a few people round to pre game before going out on the town. The real selling point is the location however, on the doorstep to Glasgow's Merchant City which is one of the best areas in Glasgow for bars, restaurants and general nightlife. It is also about 5 minute walk into the city centre, while 2 minutes in the other direction is the Barrowlands, one of the prime music concert venues. While Celtic Park is a half hour walk away. Thus I am now following Celtic's fortunes a lot closer, particularly in Europe. (Now I certainly have extra reason to cheer them on versus Inter on Thursday)

There's another dude renting out his place in the same building, bar the decor it is practically a carbon copy of my place. So I have a rough idea of what to charge. He just put his prices up from 150GBP per night to now 175GBP midweek and 200GBP at the weekend.

Living room photo below. Let me know what you guys think of the place.

(note: that couch has seen some serious action...)

 
Irish said:
Now my tenants have moved out, I took some time out to fly back from Asia to Glasgow, UK to do up my old apartment to rent out on airbnb. This thread is full of gold information, particularly from Isaac Jordan (which I have duely +1'd)

I have just about got the place finished off with new carpets and painted walls. Planning to go live with the advert tonight. I will keep this thread updated on how it does

Apartment is a 2 bedroom ideal bachelor pad, great open plan kitchen living room ideal for having a few people round to pre game before going out on the town. The real selling point is the location however, on the doorstep to Glasgow's Merchant City which is one of the best areas in Glasgow for bars, restaurants and general nightlife. It is also about 5 minute walk into the city centre, while 2 minutes in the other direction is the Barrowlands, one of the prime music concert venues. While Celtic Park is a half hour walk away. Thus I am now following Celtic's fortunes a lot closer, particularly in Europe. (Now I certainly have extra reason to cheer them on versus Inter on Thursday)

There's another dude renting out his place in the same building, bar the decor it is practically a carbon copy of my place. So I have a rough idea of what to charge. He just put his prices up from 150GBP per night to now 175GBP midweek and 200GBP at the weekend.

Living room photo below. Let me know what you guys think of the place.

(note: that couch has seen some serious action...)

Which part of the Merchant City is it in? I've only seen a couple of places in the area, but they've usually been well done.

Are you getting good business on the flat? I always thought the prices for Glasgow were far-fetched on AirBnb, but if tourists are biting then why not.

Shame about the result as well, at least the treble is on. :banana:
 

pitt

Hummingbird
Gold Member
I see that Jamaicabound has been unbanned, that's great news, he is a very valuable member.
 

sammybiker

Sparrow
The freshen up looks great @irish, would like to hear an update as to how it's going.

Don't forget to incorporate expenses into your calculations gents...taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance & repairs are very real things. As a good rule of thumb, take your gross rent, multiple it by .5 and you'll have your net rent after expenses and a conservative maintenance & repair fund. Then you can subtract your mortgage payments and you'll have your net cash flow.

If you're managing yourself and can handy man a bit, you may be able to increase your cash flow a bit - but gross rents * .5 is a good, long term, conservative rule of thumb.
 
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