Archives May 2019

3 reasons I’m looking forward to increased short-term rental legislation

Last week I led a debate with my ESL students about the pros and cons of allowing increased immigration. It was a lively discussion, and I enjoyed it so much. It’s amazing to see people grow and flourish, especially in a language that isn’t their native tongue. 

But I digress. 

A similar debate is happening in states and cities all across the country. And it may affect you a whole lot more than the immigration debate would.

What am I talking about?

The short-term rental debate. 

For the past few years, local governments have had their hands full dealing with Airbnbs that cause problems and create unhappy neighbors. Many cities have considered banning short-term rentals altogether (some actually have). 

It’s an unsettled (and sometimes unsettling) time to be an Airbnb host. But I’m really not worried about it. 

In fact, I’m excited about it. 

Here are 3 reasons why I think increased regulation around short-term rentals is a good thing:

Increased revenue for cities

A lot of people have expressed concern that legislation would be bad for Airbnbs, because it opens the door for short-term rentals to be banned completely. And it’s true that some areas of the country and world have done just that.

But local governments are starting to see the benefit to them of allowing short-term rentals with restrictions – increased tax revenue.

If they allow STRs with restrictions – annual permit fee, percentage of bookings remitted to the government, etc – they’ll get a piece of the pie. If they outlaw them completely, they get nothing.

Most governments are starting to realize that they want a piece of that pie.

In my own city of Atlanta, one of the local city governments recently banned all versions of STRs, no exceptions…only to do an about-face a few months later.

Our world is changing and local governments are starting to realize that they need to get on board, or get left behind.

Legitimacy and stability

That brings me to my second point – legitimacy. Defined, codified guidelines about what’s allowed and what isn’t allowed brings an air of legitimacy and stability to your STR that has previously been absent.

What does that mean in practice?

It means that when you call the cops on your guest who won’t leave they’ll have something they can legally do to help you.

It means that when a neighbor gets angry about an unauthorized party they’ll be able to report it and actually expect local law enforcement to have the teeth to back them up.

It means that you’ll get a lot less “not my problem, figure it out yourself” when you’re trying to get help from cops or other local government officials.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds really amazing to me.

More barriers to entry

I was trained in economics in college, so using this term is definitely the econ nerd in me escaping. But the principle is important, even if you don’t know the actual phrase.

A barrier to entry is anything that would keep you from entering into a certain industry. It can be required certifications, start-up investment capital needed, zoning restrictions or other governmental regulations, etc.

Right now there are almost no barriers to entry for starting a STR. Whether you have a house, a spare room, or just a tent in your back yard, you can be up and running with an Airbnb listing in less than an hour.

This means that in many areas of the world, the market is getting flooded.

Hosts, like local governments, all want a piece of the pie.

But oversaturation of the market is making it harder and harder to make decent money. I’m looking forward to increased legislation because it will make it harder to become a host…which also means that if you are still able to get into the market, you’ll find it a lot less crowded than it currently is.

So there you have it. Three reasons I’m looking forward to increased regulations in my market.

What about you? Do you have other reasons you think this will be good in the long run? Do you think I’ve lost my marbles? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Check out this treasure trove of insight into how to be successful on Airbnb

A few months ago, I was approached by a guy named Julian Miyata. He’s was asking me if I’d like to be interviewed for a podcast he does on people who have had success with short-term rentals.

Honestly, my first thought was “who, me?”

Although I know I have had a lot of success in this world, sometimes it’s still strange to think of myself in that way.

But once I got over the initial surprise, I happily accepted his invitation. We did the interview a few months ago, and it finally aired last week.

You can listen to the interview here.

But I’m not writing this just to toot my own horn.

Really, I’m trying to toot Julian’s horn.

His stuff is really good. Since I was interviewed 2 months ago, I’ve been listening to every single weekly episode, and I’ve learned something on every single one.

He’s good at finding people who have carved out their own unique niche, and at asking them the right questions to help tease out the best and most informed experience for the listening audience.

If you like podcasts, I’d highly recommend checking his Short-term rental Success Stories podcast out. He’s the bomb!

Happy listening!

10 cheap and easy details to help your Airbnb space stand out

Do you have a space on Airbnb or another similar site? If not, are you considering doing so?

It’s a tough market out there. The advent of the sharing economy has made people realize how lucrative hosting on sites like Airbnb can be, and with every year the market becomes more and more flooded.

When Airbnb first started, you could list any old space, with crappy pictures and no thought to interior design or layout, and still do well. Not so anymore.

To succeed, you have to stand out.

When I tell this to my clients, this often induces waves of panic and dread. All sorts of concerns and excuses flood their minds. “I don’t have the money to buy new furniture…I’m too busy to bother…I don’t have an interior designer’s eye.” The list goes on and on.

But you don’t have to be rolling in the dough or have loads of spare time to hunt down bargains to make your space attractive and memorable.

Here’s 10 easy things you can do to make your Airbnb space better:

  • Buy some succulents. It’s amazing what a little greenery can do. And they don’t even have to be real! Buy plastic succulents and stick them on tables or in corners of the house to brighten up any room.
  • Paint an accent wall. Most people hate painting. But a single wall is much less daunting. And it can do wonders for perking up a room. Go from sterile and boring to bold and exciting in just a few hours!
  • Put a bathtub tray over the tub. I’m talking about those little trays (usually wooden) that can be placed on top of a bathtub and allow people to place their phone, book, tablet, etc above the water while they’re enjoying their bath. Simple luxury that’s so easy to achieve. A great addition.
  • Buy a sign or map with your local city name on it. People love feeling like they’ve come to some place special. So make them feel like it’s a special place worth celebrating!
  • Hang a chalkboard and write some great local restaurant recommendations on it. This is another great way to celebrate your city, as well as make guests feel more at home.
  • Put in warm-colored light bulbs. It’s amazing the difference light can make in the feel of a room. Switch out your bright or fluorescent bulbs with warm or LEDs. You’ll be astonished at the result.
  • Leave bottles of water or granola bars for your guests. This is a great way to show your guests that you’ve put thought into their experience.
  • Have an umbrella on a hanger by the door for your guests to use if needed. I’ve only ever stayed at 1 place that did this. And boy was I grateful for it! (And also super impressed. That one gesture was probably the clincher; I’m now a happy repeat customer for life.)
  • Put out makeup removal wipes in the bathroom. This will not only make your guests feel like they’re special and worth investing in; it will also save all your hand towels from the ravages of eyeliner and lipstick.
  • Make sure the kitchen is equipped with the necessary basics. No one wants to wake up on vacation and go to make coffee, only to realize there aren’t coffee mugs in the kitchen!

Alternatives to short term rentals

Have you been hosting short term rentals for a while and are unhappy with your results? Maybe you’re thinking of getting into in, but are worried about getting pigeon-holed into something that doesn’t work out. Well it’s important to know that, either way, there are plenty of alternatives to short term rentals out there. 

For many, short term rentals can far more lucrative than the traditional long-term rental market.

The unusual Airbnb horror story aside, most short term renters also cause far less wear and tear on the house than you would expect to see with a long-term tenant. 

This is not to say anything negative about long-term renters. But someone who lives in the same place for a year is just by default going to use the appliances more, use more water and electricity, etc, than people who are only there on vacation for the weekend. 

In this brave new world of investing in real estate with the express purpose of renting it out as a short term rental, many people think that that’s the only option. They get so focused on that, that they might miss other opportunities out there. 

But what happens if short term rentals simply aren’t panning out?

This can happen for a number of reasons. Undesirable location. Inefficient pricing. Bad cleaners or host/guest interaction. Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that you have other options. There are plenty of alternatives to short term rentals.

One of the best alternative options is corporate housing. Corporate housing is basically any traveling professional who needs accommodations for their work of at least 30 days or more. It can be traveling nurses, business guys in town for broker a deal, people in the film industry, etc. You’d be surprised how many different fields have employees who regularly move around for work, and many of them are willing to pay far above going long-term rental rates. It might take some legwork to find people to connect you to those types of clients, but once you do it could be well worth it!

Another similar niche you could look into would be student housing. This is especially good if you’re near a college or university. The rates won’t be as high as they would be with corporate housing, but you’ll still get consistently booked. 

You could also look into hosting events or photo shoots, particularly if you have an above-average looking space. Many hosts get several hundred dollars a day for only a few hours’ of use!

Also consider posting your short term rental listing on other sites. This will increase your visibility and make your space more likely to be booked. Just make sure your sync all your calendar so you don’t get double-bookings! 

When it comes to alternatives to short term rentals, the sky really is the limit.

You’re only hampered by your creativity and how much time you want to invest. Think outside the box and get those bookings!