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I would love some advice on this topic from those more experienced with running an airbnb.
Basically I have agreed to buy my family home from my parents (where I grew up) as they plan to move back to where they grew up. I still have a massive affinity with where im from (Ireland)although I live abroad (Netherlands/Portugal). I intend to use the house personally when I am back in Ireland 1-2 months a year and run an airbnb the rest of the time. I would love some advice on the practicalities and indeed the feasibility of doing this. I am guessing I would need to find a reliable cleaner and possibly get a friend to check people in, or if I set up a self check in system would that work?
Its a great house, 5 bed, 5 bath, huge, garden and in the countryside very close to a lake.
I am also considering adding some amentities that I would love when im home such as a pool table, hot tub, sauna, ice bath. These are things that I think could make it a more desirable place to stay and I would love to use when I am home also, but could it add more hassle to the airbnb? Lead to the wrong type of customers?
If anyone has any tips,advice or a similar experience that they could share with me I would be very grateful.
You would definitely need a co-host, not just someone available to check guests in, and no, having self-check-in won’t eliminate that need. There needs to be someone close by that you employ to attend to any issues that might come up during a stay, be prepared to deal with guests who take advantage (sneak in extra people, pets, throw a party, etc.), check to make sure the cleaner has done a good job, contact and deal with service people, like plumbers or electricians should the need arise, etc.
Also, before you even consider listing the place, delve into local laws and regulations, as you might not even be able to run an Airbnb in the area, there will likely be licensing and possibly inspections you need to comply with, or there might be certain restrictions as to how many days a year you can rent, or length of bookings you can accept, etc.
For starters, my wife and I would love to visit your space when you get it running. Never been to Ireland!
I’ll double down on everything that Muddy has posted. Keypad entries are great, IF you change the code for each guest. This allows people to check in without someone needing to be present. But it also requires you to document any and all things your guests need to know. The quirky door latch on bedroom 3, for example.
Since you’re going to live in it part-time, I’d also use or have built a shed, garage, or something that you can securely lock up to keep certain personal things in while you are not in residence. Only you would be able to know what you’d need to put there to prevent theft or destruction. Also having a locked-off place in the house.
I like your amenities thoughts, but be aware of certain specific regular frequent maintenance required for things like hot tubs and pools. But you could definitely develop this home into a premium STR.
Read through all the old posts here on this forum, as well as the new ones, for an unbelievable trove of helpful info and food for thought.
If it was me, knowing what I know now (after eight years) I would look for a local partner. A five-bedroom house with a huge garden can only work well if the person on-site is involved in a labour-of-love and that only comes from having a sense of ownership.
I would be looking for someone close by and make them a proposition: “Let’s be partners: I’ll supply the house (and cash for set-up**), you supply the on-site passion, the Irish charm, the commitment, the ingenuity, the imagination and the endless, endless, endless hard work (both inside and in the huge garden), and we’ll split the revenue on a predetermined formula.”
**cash for set-up: new sheets? new comforters? spruce-up painting before first guest? spruce-up new curtains.rugs etc New set of dishes? Add new dishwasher to kitchen? inventory of toilet paper? Your place is going to be reviewed from the very first guest, and if you want to get five-stars from the word “go” the place has to be a showpiece. If your initial reviews are lukewarm, it’s hard to make a go of it.
Are you planning to rent each of the bedrooms separately, or are you thinking “whole house”? If separate bedrooms… I personally would not attempt this without a live-in host (not nearby – but actual live-in). If I was operating a five-separate-bedrooms Airbnb without a live-in host I would expect it was only a matter of time before a reputation-killing incident of some sort occurred.
Also, as you are going to be using the place yourself part of the year, be aware that guests are not always going to be careful and respectful with the contents and furnishings. Best to assume they won’t be. (As a home-share, living in my home where I rent out a private room host, I have never had any damages, but entire place rentals are different)
Airbnbs should be fairly bullet-proof. You don’t want to put a beautiful wooden dining table in, only to find that the guests have burned the surface by putting hot pots down on it, or provide some lovely set of dishes that you can’t replace by the piece, and then find that half the set has been broken. Think sturdy and indestructible, and easy to clean surfaces. Any upholstered furniture should have removable, washable covers, tile and wood floors, with throw rugs that can be thrown in the wash, are easier to keep clean and refinish if necessary than having carpeting that will get stained.
At a place I used to property manage for some friends of mine, the owners had their own sets of bedding, towels, dishes, utensils, and furniture covers that they packed away and locked up when they left, with a “renter” set that went back in.
And while pools and hot tubs may be attractive amenities allowing you to charge more, they also require a lot of maintenance and there are safety considerations, like fencing to prevent children from accessing the area on their own.
Oh, and don’t for a minute believe that Airbnb will cover you for damages, nor that they screen guests- you can never depend on that, you would need your own STR insurance, which can be pricey.
You’ve gotten good advice and I want to emphasize that it takes more work than you think, particularly if you are “managing” it, meaning you are handling the communications and the details…and doing this from abroad will make it even more challenging.
You really need a co-host – either someone you hire or one of the property companies that do this. In the US there are several to choose from, but remember your home will just be one other property that they want to fill with guests…so if you want to discern who stays there at all, then you would opt for a co-host you hire, who is only beholden to you. And don’t put anything in there you don’t mind replacing…no one is saying to go cheap, but know that accidents will happen so plan for that too.
“Cheap” to me, means shoddily made. Definitely not a good choice for an Airbnb to have flimsy stuff, as far as furniture, that won’t hold up to heavy usage. better to have a well-made, sturdy couch that you have washable slipcovers for, than some cheaply made thing that will collapse when some 300 pound guest plops themselves down on it. There are ways to protect things like nice wooden furniture surfaces, like for instance, putting a piece of tempered glass on top.
But when it comes to things that are easily stained, like linens and towels, or will eventually get broken, like dishes, it’s best to look for things which aren’t expensive, but still look nice, because those things have to be regarded as needing replacement on a regular basis. No sense using a $300 duvet cover, or putting anything in the rental that you’d be devastated to lose. Guests have no idea whether you spent $100 on the dishware set, or found it for $10 at the second-hand store.
Your cleaner will make or break your listing you will be replacing things a lot more often than you expect
I also have tradesman / contractors on speed dial, who will come NOW!
I have a stock of replacement electrical items including a washing machine- but I have 5 listings.
You are on duty/ available 24 hours a day, my husband jokes that I am underdressed if I don’t t have my phone!
My business is mostly direct, but you need to be listed with all the OTA’s so people see you real reviews
Patrick I use a retired villa manager from one of the local resorts, who not only looks after maintenance and cleaning, but generally welcomes the guests and helps them with any questions or issues. However, I do have a friend with a similar (but less well maintained) villa in Phuket who took the opposite approach of just having a cleaner, and getting his guests to literally pick up and leave the key under-the-mat. Maintenance occurred when a guest reported a problem and the cleaner brought her handyman boyfriend in to fix things up. For me the former approach is less stressful as I know my property will be in tip-top condition when my own family visits. I’m also asking significantly higher rates versus my friend.
Weighing in since my husband and I are in precisely the same situation. Living in NL in an old property where we offer in-home STR.
But originally from UK and still have a central London home that we use sporadically when visiting friends and family. And that we let out for 90 days or less on Airbnb as a whole place.
We follow and agree with the excellent advice above:
Charming (Irish!) cohost on call with skin in game, excellent cleaners and handyman available. Also cohost does personal check in
High quality furnishings (since it is our home and that is what we like). But eBay is often your friend when it comes to furnishings for robust and affordable high end items.
If you have any emotionally precious things, lock them up. We have the top floor of the London house locked away and everything personally priceless stays there
Notwithstanding my agreement with the advice above, we do actually have some ridiculously unsuitable (ie expensive or fragile) stuff that could get damaged by guests. But nothing we would be truly devastated to lose. And we accept damage might happen. It’s the price we accept for enjoying sitting on our fancy couch lol
If you can make the situation work, it’s a good way to cover costs of a house that you get to use.
But I’d say, don’t be greedy for every single booking and be picky about guests if possible. Especially as big places like yours can attract partiers, unlike our small house in central London
And don’t underestimate how much work this all involves btw!
There is lots of good advice here already. Basically I would maximize fun and comfort but balance that with potential maintenance and liability issues. Check out any insurance needs and requirements too.
I wonder if it would work for you to do longer term rentals. I rent by the month now and it’s very hands off for me and very low wear and tear on the place. Most of my guests/tenants are relocating, remodeling their homes, traveling for work, or in town because of a relatives’ new baby. One month stays in teh summer at a higher rate, usually 2-6 months stays the cooler half of the year. An approach that works best in a urban area, I suspect.