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3 misconceptions about hosting I learned this summer


#92

I think the ROI calculation works best for investment properties and is tough to apply to your own home that you are renting out a bit of while your are living there or while your vacationing. That’s not the same decision as yes or no on buying a property to rent out. If it’s your primary residence, whatever you are paying to live there (mortgage interest, maintenance) is sort of a sunk cost. Or another way to look at it, you’ve got some idle capital that you can put to work after the kiddos move out. I look at income minus increase in utilities, extra insurance, supplies, wear and tear, taxes and fees, imputed labor cost for cleaning. You also have a utility cost of losing some use of the the place, and the cost of added worry about guests’ behaviors, if you’re the worrying type, that only you can value.
I think one can do well building up a portfolio of LTR rental properties (start with buying the duplex and renting out half), particularly if you’re handy, a relentless saver, and can avoid deadbeat tenants you have to evict with careful screening and a bit of luck, but it’s a lot of work and not for the faint of heart! My understanding is that it’s easier to hit your ROI targets with rental units in in transitioning or moderate income areas for LTRs. Some blogs, etc., make you think it’s easy to rake in the dough doing STR, but I think it would be super difficult to hit a sweet spot of a well-priced property, in good repair with location, furnishings and amenities that attract short term renters (if you’re not planning to violate a rental or condo agreement). I can’t think of a property in my market where the financials would work out. Maybe a vacation or resort area, or near a university to STR to parents and conference attendees, but generally not in my high-priced metro area.


#93

I felt really sad for you reading this. You overextended yourself and got little reward in return- that isn’t the guest’s fault that is yours. I look at Airbnb as working for ME. If I have an issue I call Airbnb and have them figure it out. They’ve called guests for me, given me an entire night’s pay to stay up an hour after my bedtime for an unwelcomed late check-in, they’ve paid me for damages when a guest trashed my apartment. But I also treat it like a business. You are in the business of hospitality whether you know it or not. I give guests an experience- complimentary (cheap) local coffee in their room and a big fat smile on my face. They get recommendations, tips, and local info (in a binder in their room so I don’t have to repeat myself.) I’m sorry you don’t see enough self-worth in yourself or your business. Without Airbnb you are SOMETHING! You can put it on your own website and with some SEO could probably still maintain high occupancy but then YOU are your own support system. You could go to craigslist. VRBO. The list actually DOES GO ON. You need a serious pep talk with yourself. Stop giving yourself away for free and know that you are totally worth every penny. I’ve worked in the corporate world too, and I never ever let myself fall into the trap of thinking that my skill set was so niched that I couldn’t do anything different…you ARE the skill and a sum of all your experiences- THAT is your greatest asset.


#94

I agree. I put an effort in to say hello to my guests as I live separately on the property. I try to keep it below 30 minutes when exercising the dog. I get comments like “a kind and generous host”. From reading posts here over the years I get the impression different countries, locations and set ups attract different sorts of guests.


#95

Great post! Be careful what you wish for I guess. My dream business 15 years ago was owning and running a plant nursery. When I was made redundant and had some seed (pardon the pun) money I signed up to receive notices of businesses for sale, read books on plant retail and did some serious research. I had this idea that every morning I would come to work surrounded by plants and people keen on gardening and it would be my own little Eden. After 6 months I decided it would be like selling shoes and I would just end up hating plants and gardening.
With AirBnB I went in with some trepidation and caution and because I needed the money. I thought I might be like my favourite fictional hotelier Basil Fawlty and end up shouting at guests. But it has turned out quite well and I built the business up over four years. The worst guests I’ve ever had left their tea cups on the coffee table! I mean, really! Perhaps I am lucky I am not in a tourist area so don’t suffer from high expectations. I used to work in investment banking so it is nice to meet people for whom money is not the highest value of worth. Some of them have even become friends which I never expected.
My only tip is not to look at the guests’ star ratings, read the reviews but not the details. Now I am on a solid 5 stars I just check the SuperHo stats when they come around.


#96

One business I looked at buying was a caravan park or motel. They are very popular with retirees with a redundancy. And consequently the published ROIs tend to be about 2-3% without taking into account one’s own “wages”. it is called “buying a job”. Generally also “mom and pop” businesses as they call them in America meaning you really need two people to run it, one to hold the fort and do phone bookings (back in the day) and the other to do odd jobs, emergency repairs, deal with guests and pick up supplies and clean laundry. Not to mention having to clean all the rooms not just one or two as with AirBnB. And that also means staff. 24/7/365. Sounded like a badly paying nightmare.


#97

Like “pissed” and “wanker” you need to be careful using those terms in UK.


#98

@summerfun I agree with you whole heartedly concerning asking for reviews. I host in the US and have NEVER asked for one (been hosting for 5 year) and when I was a guest and was asked once for a 5 star review, and like you @summerfun I gave one because the house deseved it but I was annoyed by being asked. So I have on occasion asked for a “review” - not presuming it should be 5 star - from guests who have expressed delight at being at our very high quality River House Waterfront Apartment and this is how I ask: “I know you are asked to review many things these days but reviewing your stay helps my small business and assists other guests with determining the quality of our River House and I am sure the reviews on my home helped you to decide to stay with us.” This usually works BUT I recently had two guests stay from VRBO and one from Airbnb that left me no reviews though their notes in my guest book were glowing. Thanks for this post and I have other comments concerning hosting.


#99

@Magwitch I agree with being friendly and helpful. I have really not changed any of my “extras” since I started hosting over 5 years ago. Fresh flowers, homemade cookies, eggs, English muffins, butter and milk in fridge and of course coffee and tea. We really keep our distance with most of our guests and since we have a separate apartment in our home with its own entrance and parking we never really “have” to see our guests. Having said that we recently had a family from Germany that we invited for dinner with their friends - turned out to be 8 people for dinner. We had a grand time and they are returning for a week in October and we will visit them next spring in Germany!


#100

I am no native speaker so to be honest, I don’t know if there is a good word for it in American English.


#101

Jess1’s response was spot on in explaining the differences.


#102

I thought wanker meant the same all around the world.


#103

My UK dictionary of expletives , for what it’s worth;-

“I’m really pissed” means I’m really drunk.
“You really pissed me off this morning” means Mr Joan’s alarm went off at 5.45 am but he went back to sleep, and I didn’t.

Wanker is a bit more nuanced. Not to be used to someone’s face unless you want a smack in the gob, but it does convey utter contempt for the person being told they are. Usable in company to describe someone who is not present: not necessarily conveying utter contempt but simply meaning the person is a complete tosser, sorry, idiot. They have probably said or done something stupid to their own detriment.


#104

@summerfun has churned up a LOT of comments concerning our relationship with Airbnb and why we rent our rooms, homes, apartments and “tree houses” to strangers with very little security or backup from the rental platforms. I have to say that the advent of Airbnb has been a total windfall for me and my family. I had two sons in college and law school for the past 8 years in the US and though they received generous academic scholarships to undergrad and law school, hosting has allowed us as a family to avoid hefty loans. I consider my STR to be a business and not a job so I agree with most of the comments here. I have offered the same amenities since we started over 5 years ago and always found them to be most appreciated. Yes I have had creepy and demanding guests, but all in all we have had a very positive experience. So here’s the rub, I live in rural Maryland and our location is not considered a “destination” so without these STR platforms I would not be able to rent our River House Waterfront Apartment, nor have guests find our little farm on the river and enjoy the ospreys teaching their fledgelings to fish from our dock. I believe that my experience would be totally different if I was renting in the city or offering a room in our home since I think I would not be able to tolerate other people in my kitchen! I also rent our “chalet” - translate cottage - in Quebec Canada and that experience as a remote host has been very interesting. We have trusted friends that clean and maintain the property, and we are not able to offer the little touches like fresh flowers and home baked cookies but other than that it has been a very positive experience with little to no damage to our property. We have had to modify when we rent it since keeping it open in the winter is way too expensive for both wood and electricity. There is also the issues with water freezing and Internet going out when you are very far away but so far guests have been understanding and our reviews have been almost exclusively 5 star. Again being able to rent our chalet has paid for the upkeep and taxes which is very helpful. Am I going to do this forever - heck NO - but for now it seems to fit our lifestyle and our pocket book. Thanks for this discussion!


#105

You nailed it.

As a real estate broker and investor I sit out the highs of the market and so far so good. My STR is stand alone with a mortgage, but I bought it right and am currently adding a second unit on the property, and then a guest house next year I am building it myself as owner builder and paying my carpenters by the hour. No contractor between us with his hands in my pocket. When I am finished the property will be worth more than twice what I paid for it and if all goes well no new debt for the construction. I am fortunate that I do not have a mortgage on my primary residence so I can afford to carry the STR if needed. I am always blocking dates and Air is punishing me by burying me in the listings, once the construction on the other units is finished hopefully it starts to pay for itself!

RR


#106

tosser, wanker, jerk (off). they all technically mean the same thing I guess.


#107

or “you massive Boris” (UK only)


#108

Yes in theory, but wanker is really pretty rude in the UK. I’ve often chuckled at some US shows that would eschew even the mildest swear word and then “wanker” is said in a ‘how funny are the Brits’ scenario. Honestly, it is not the same as saying someone is a “jerk”.
I can’t think of any situation where calling someone a wanker in the UK would be seen as humourous by the recipient!


#109

Honestly, that’s an insult to wankers. :rofl:


#110

I am a wanker since teenage years, only I did not know it until now!

RR


#111

In Capitals please. … You MASSIVE Boris you (UK only)


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