Airbnbs: Short-term Rentals for Long-term Goals

One example that has run through the last several blog entries has been Airbnb hosting. Unlike senior cohousing, roommates or other housing income generators, Airbnbs are short-term rentals. An Airbnb can be a way to ease into the notion of sharing your home with someone else or practical protection against potential loneliness.

Seniors comprise the fastest growing segment of Airbnb hosts. A range of models are being used, including using properties that are leased expressly for Airbnb use. How’s that for testing the waters before leaping in?! Older women especially are finding hosting an attractive and often familiar activity, well worth their effort to launch as a “side hustle.”

Income Potential is High.

Airbnb rental often is more lucrative than longer-term rentals because as a short-term vacation rental, hosts can charge more per night than long-term rentals. According to turnoverbnb.com, a fully rented Airbnb can generate double the income produced by a long-term rental. That is a bit of an idealized figure: vacation rentals rarely are rented out every week of the year, particularly in northern, cooler climates without such winter attractions as ski slopes. Most Airbnb listings start slowly and increase in popularity over time. Another variable to consider is the amount of money that has to be spent to make and keep an Airbnb attractive to potential renters. Here are some expenses to keep in mind:

  • Stars matter. Successful Airbnb listings have high ratings. High ratings come from happy renters. So before listing a rental, turnoverbnb suggests furnishing it with high quality furniture, décor, appliances and amenities. These items will “sell” a rental property because the property will look and feel unique and upscale. Providing welcome amenities to each new renter — e.g., snacks, a welcome basket or other items — also leaves renters with a good impression, which will result in better reviews.
  • Channel your inner ‘Mr. Clean.’ Rental homes or rooms need to be spotless before each new client. Hosts unable to perform all cleaning duties because of a health issue should hire a cleaning service to ensure the entire house is fresh and clean prior to the arrival of a new guest. Sometimes this cost can be worked into the rental price.
  • A picture is worth 1,000 words. Photos make a lasting first impression that often can’t be reverse no matter what the accompanying wording states. Great photos in an Airbnb rental listing can influence a renter’s decision. Bankrate’s “retiree’s guide to hosting airbnbs” recommends researching tips on how to make your smartphone photos look good. Some Airbnb hosts hire professional photographers to capture their rentals in pictures.

Regulations and Taxes.

Houses that are part of a homeowners association or condominium association are bound by specific rules regarding rentals. Some don’t allow rentals at all. Others place minimum and/or maximum stay requirements. Parking, number of guests allowed on site, and other stipulations also may apply. Older adults considering becoming Airbnb hosts should check all local regulations before listing a property. Additionally, some cities have restrictions on the percentage or type of short-term rental property allowed.

Tax implications are another consideration in determining if Airbnb hosting is a good fit. Depending on the home sharing rental service, hosts receive either an earnings summary or a Form 1099-K (payment card and third party network transactions). The income needs to be declared on tax filings each year. Many income tax services have guides for Airbnb hosting.

It’s All in the Details.

Airbnb hosts, as a general rule, respond to questions and reservation requests within 24 hours. Not doing so decreases the chance of rentals and quality reviews. Additionally, the Airbnb listings that succeed include accurate listing details, followed up by impeccable properties and hosts who treat guests with respect. Some hosts even cook dinner for the renters once during their stay, which the hosts find benefits everyone: hosts get a chance to meet a wide range of people, while renters are able to easily find out about local attractions worth visiting.

Security also is an issue. While most listing services do excellent screening of both hosts and renters, it’s still a good idea to lock away important documents and expensive items, particularly if the rental is a room of a host’s home. Additionally, set up “house rules” regarding what guests can and can’t do during their stay. Most host sites allow hosts to set up listings so that a reservation can be accepted or declined. This is an important way to additionally screen potential guests.

With proper planning and thought, Airbnb hosting can be the avenue by which a Baby Boomer attains their Third Chapter Living dreams. As the finale of The Rocky Horror Picture Show reiterates, “Don’t dream it, Be it.”

Third Chapter Living celebrates, challenges, informs and promotes conversations about housing issues affecting the Baby Boomer Generation. Check out our website to learn more about our work. Our Facebook Group is a resource center with tips and recommendations on navigating those issues. Share experiences with others who are looking for Housing Downsizing Tools that allow them to successfully age-in-place.

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