This forum is dedicated to connecting hosts with other hosts. Sign up to get the latest updates and news just for AirBnb hosts! Note that we are not affiliated with Airbnb - we are just passionate hosts!
Hello airbnb hosts! I am currently in the process of selecting the perfect real estate market for my first Airbnb venture. I have heard the advice to “stay in my own backyard,” and since I am located in Atlanta, I am considering starting here/in nearby markets. However, I would greatly appreciate your insights and advice on how to stand out in a more saturated market like Atlanta. Additionally, I am seeking guidance on finding reliable cleaners, building a trustworthy team, and locating a property with an owner open to signing a lease for rental arbitrage.
Here are a few specific questions I have:
How can I make my Airbnb listing stand out in a saturated market like Atlanta? Are there any unique features or strategies that have worked well for you in similar situations?
What are some effective ways to find and hire reliable cleaners and handymen for my Airbnb property? Are there any platforms or services you would recommend for connecting with trustworthy cleaning professionals and handymen.
Building a reliable team is crucial for smooth operations. How did you go about assembling your team? Are there any specific roles you found particularly essential beyond cleaners, such as property managers or maintenance personnel?
In terms of rental arbitrage, how did you find and approach property owners who are open to signing a lease for Airbnb purposes? Are there any specific negotiation tactics or resources that have proven useful in securing such agreements?
How did you decide on what market? I am spending so much time doing market research to find the best location. Any recommendations?
What are some key steps that you took when setting up your airbnb business model?
I greatly appreciate any advice, tips, or personal experiences you can share on these topics. Your guidance will undoubtedly contribute to making my first Airbnb endeavor a success. Thank you in advance for your support!
o Have you hosted before? Rented property as landlord?
o Will you be the Host and managing the property?
o Have you looked where in your Atlanta backyard you’re looking to host ? [If you don’t know you might want to consider signing up for AirDNA, just for a month for starters.]
o Do you have any sense of what marketplace you want to target?
o What research have you done so far on understanding Airbnbs?
o What comparative advantage do you think you personally bring to this business? [That will shape your strategy and./or maybe who you hire or partner with.]
o Do you have the time to startup and then manage a short-term rental? And you’ll by physically close all year (e.g., you don’t have a job that has you on the road three days a week? If you do have such a job, that’s OK; you’ll just need a co-Host).
On your questions:
For me the strategy would start out with the property, its location, amenities, decor as well as the Host’s hand-on style of managing that comes out in the property, listing and communications. What’s worked well? Playing to our strengths and the strengths of our property and location, getting up to speed (this forum is a part of that), hiring the right help and managing them is working for us so far.
For us this was the biggest challenge. It’s been an iterative process done through networking, not platforms for us. YMMV
Our team is: Vision – Host; Operations – Co-Host; Routine Turnover Cleaning: Cleaner (with two backups); Gardener/PoolMaster; Maintenance/Non-Turnover Cleaning: Handyman/Cleaner; Gig Workers for Spring and Fall Gardening Cleanups; Contractors (Appliance Maintenance/Repairs etc.). We hired people we found through networking and Craigslist/Nextdoor until we found and developed our team. For us, all these roles are essential.
Since we were never satisfied with our cleaners (although amazingly our guests always were) what worked for us is to have a turnover cleaner for things that need to be done at each turnover. But for cleaning that doesn’t have to be done each turnover or tasks that are not typical for a cleaner to do (e.g., fill the Jet Dry in dishwasher, descaling the coffee pot, waxing the doors, washing the windows/screens, removing everything from cabinets/cleaning/putting back etc) we have our Handyman/Cleaner do that.
Not Applicable for us. Homeowners here.
We took the home we owned. If I were you I’d look at AIrDNA (but don’t rely on what they say the expenses are).
Key steps for us were developing a team, playing to their strengths, and being on-site – a huge advantage for us. Beyond that I’m not sure what you’re asking as Airbnb basically sets the model. You might be referring to how you might structure the deal with a property owner, and we don’t have experience with that.
You won’t find many hosts on this forum who practice rental arbitrage, nor approve of it. Most hosts here own the places they list or are co-hosts for the property owners.
Buying up or renting homes for the sole purpose of using them as short term rentals takes housing off the market for locals and is one of the things that leads to bans and restrictions on strs.
There is plenty of good advice here. My only comment is to not stop your research once you open. Markets change. Also when I started I had very brief questionnaires in my rooms for guests asking what single amenity would improve their stay, were the directions clear, etc. It helped us refine our offering.
Sorry I can’t be of any help. I’m an “old fashioned” AirBnb Host who believes that AirBnb Hosting should be home sharing for the love of hosting and meeting people (and making a few bucks on the side) – not a profit driven “business venture” with a “team”, rented properties, and all the other things you’ve detailed in you message.
For you very first one I’d like to emphasize “in your backyard” isn’t a euphemism. Do you have a room in your apartment or house you can rent out? Maybe a mother in law suite? Could you build on your property a tiny house? If you are in an apartment, and have been a good tenant, could you go to your landlord and ask to rent a second unit for you to run as an Airbnb?
When we first started up the thing that saved us was being able to be there for everything. At the beginning we had several cleaners we had to re-clean after, or clean for because they flaked. It took awhile to get reliable cleaners. We also found our first stabs at furnishing were often off base for our guests, and we had to replace furniture and furnishings frequently, and quickly. Turns out looking good in pictures might get you bookings, but sturdy furnishings keep those bookings.
Building a team is very important, and takes time. And until that team is in place, the backup is always you, being on site.
My advice is - this is not the time to enter the AirBnB market unless you have a very unique property. If you do, make sure you can make the payments even if the property does not rent out.
Second piece of advice - if you don’t know the difference between revenue and income, or expenses and capital, take a class on how to run a business before you get into business, because that’s what running an “AirBnB” is - a business.
Don’t believe AirBnB’s marketing. It’s in their interest to get lots of new hosts. But many of those new hosts are finding that the hospitality industry isn’t as lucrative or as easy as AirBnB made it out to be.
As Muddy says, this isn’t the forum to get much help with this. The range is from the “one host, one home” folks here who have no idea because they don’t do it to the hostile and judgmental. There are ad-laden sites with subscription models who have self described experts who will be happy to help with articles on your interests… for a fee.
Not that many people are willing to do all your research for you for free.
My suggestion since you don’t seem to have the capital to buy your own place is to start small with the rent your spare room model first. Do research while you also learn from your mistakes. Becoming a host, learning how to deal with guests, networking with other hosts in your area, learning Airbnb policies, etc., takes time. Once you know what you are doing you could co-host for others learning about different properties, different business models and markets, etc.
Welcome to the forum, you can learn a lot here, it just might not be what you think you want to learn.
@Atlnative and @Hampton are two hosts who come to mind that host in your region but outside of the city.
Hi, @KKC tagged me so I thought I’d pop in and add my two cents. I spent my entire life in Atlanta so I know the area well. I don’t live there anymore but have been hosting since 2016 and I’m a on-site host.
I applaud you for going down the entrepreneurial path, and you’ve gotten great advice. The main thing is many many hosts are less booked than ever before so if you can’t afford the payments on your own stop right there! You need to plan to be vacant. “Failing to plan is a plan to fail.”
Atlanta has so many options and it will be incredibly hard to stand out especially if you don’t know how to generate demand on your own, either through social media, or digital marketing, which also costs money.
The best options are near the tourist hot spots, especially since Atlanta has little in the way of mass transit. Shameful I know.
Don’t fall for those “it’s easy” stories people market to be a host. And don’t fall for the “do it cheap” either because what you pay for is what you get. Price to low and you get cheap guests who don’t take care of your place. Price too high and you don’t get guests.
Personally I think arbitrage is the worst way to begin. That ship has sailed as more landlords are prohibiting it outright and municipalities are legislating it out or making it so expensive or limited that only the wealthiest or most connected get approved.
If after all this you think you still want to do it then do it with your own property and see if you are any good at it.
First find out if the township has an ordinance in regards to short term rental. Secondly, be aware that if there is none, it’s very possible that the following year or two there might be.
Also contact an insurance broker to inquire about homeowner’s insurance for short rental properties.
If there is no ordinance and no issues with insurance, the third thing to look into is becoming a LLC to protect yourself from personal liability.
Then run the numbers. Even if you only have a couple of weeks booked monthly, will you make any money or just break even? When thinking about the numbers, take into account utilities, property taxes, mortgage, cleaning fee, maintenance of property and wear & tear of furnishings. Remember that off season you’ll still have bills but no income from bookings.
@Airbnbhost12 As others have pointed out, rental arbitrage means you need to be able to come up with the rent each month whether you have bookings or not. Aside from the fact that full occupancy is in no way guaranteed due to over-saturated markets, there are all kinds of unexpected things that can happen, like regs limiting strs, which has been mentioned, but also natural disasters, pandemics and such. You also have to factor in things like guests destroying things you have to repair or replace, the plumbing springing a leak or getting stopped up, the water heater going on the blink and needing to get a new one installed on a long holiday weekend when you can’t find a technician. All of which could mean you have to cancel upcoming bookings or refund or discount.
When Covid hit, Airbnb cancelled all bookings with no warning and fully refunded all the guests. Those who own their own listings were pretty much able to weather the storm, either because their mortgage is paid off, it’s their primary residence, or they went to long-term rentals, while the rental arbitrage hosts were freaking out about not being able to pay the rent, the utilities, nor pay their “teams”.
They were yelling about how it wasn’t “fair” that Airbnb cancelled the bookings, felt they should get paid even though guests couldn’t travel, while small-time hosts were mostly in the “Hey, it’s a pandemic, folks, of course guests shouldn’t have to pay for a booking when they aren’t even allowed to leave their house, and why would we want guests who think it’s a big hoax to travel anyway, spreading a deadly virus around?”
The markets are saturated now. There are too many short term rentals out there combined with too few travelers. It is a foolish time for you to jump into STR, especially without experience. You will get booked…at the lowest rates, and then find out that you cant keep up with expenses you forgot to plan on. You talk about “building a team”…this is a fantasy combined with your dream of a rental arbitrage. You will be the team. You will have to get permits and learn about taxes. You will do repairs and follow up on the cleaners. You will clean when the cleaners fail to show. You will do the bookings and painfully learn the ins and outs…all while not letting your “regular” life fall apart. You will be at your rental, taking care of it to ensure it is the best it can be. I hope you look hard at this and find something else to fill your time.
My first Airbnb host experience in AZ was the best. I was not experienced but was in a tiny town that attracted lots of snow birds and birders. Making my yard attractive and interacting with guests was right up my alley. I was the team, the cleaner, booker, organizer. When I went away for a month or two I had a fabulous co-host and it worked out well.
Now, I’m in a market where winters are cold and we just don’t attract that many people then. There have been so many new STR’s on the market in the last year so competition is greater.
I live in my house, do not have a mortgage so it works for me, but if I needed to pay a mortgage it would not be possible.
Just sold my house and am still looking for another closer to where I grew up. I would host again, but hardly anything comes up that would work as a STR so I’m probably out of the Airbnb world.
In my estimation now is not the time to launch into the STR world and having to pay a mortgage. I’m afraid what was a fabulous way to make extra money is going the way of the dinosaurs.
“The team”- you hear that used so much now- it irritates me as much as “reaching out”.
I watched a video where body language and speech experts dissected an interview with Elizabeth Holmes back when she was still convincing investors that Theranos was the best thing since sliced bread. She uses “the team” over and over again. It rolls off Chesky’s lips, and is found throughout Airbnb CS language, and that of all the other dot com billionaires and wannabe billionaires.
It is like neuro-linguistic programming, also heavily employed by these folks, and of course by politicians who are coached in this- body language and speech techniques designed specifically to give your audience, be it a board room full of shareholders or a potential private investor, an impression of you and your company or project based not upon what you are saying or doing , but upon the perception of your sincerity and dedication. Of course, everyone uses these “convincing” techniques to some degree, starting when we are kids and put on a sad or hurt or cute face in order to convince our parents to let us do what we want or have just one more cookie.
“The team” conveys that you are someone who cares about and works well with others, that you welcome input from others and don’t dictate policy, work conditions, etc, even if you are the boss (which is often far from the reality), that you have higher goals than your own personal advancement or enrichment, and that any possible mistakes (or fraud), or whatever, can’t be considered your responsibility, because it was a team effort, and “the team is working on it” . It also is used to keep employees in line- if you complain about working conditions or workloads, you are letting down the team, throwing a wrench in the workings and letting your team members down, who are supposedly all selfless busy bees working overtime for no pay, wanting the company to succeed for the good of all and society at large.
These Silicon Valley words and phrases seep into the language, so that everyone starts using them, even when they aren’t employing them in order to impress or bamboozle anyone.