Real Estate

How Real Estate Agents Can Help Clients ‘Airbnb’ Their Home

Agents can play a valuable role ensuring their clients are set up for rental success by identifying homes that might be great rentals, suggesting improvements and updates, and informing owners of local rules. Here’s what to know.

The ubiquity of short-term rentals means “Airbnb” is now a verb, much like “Google.” It represents not just the service but also the action of either renting an Airbnb for personal use or offering a residence on the platform.

As Airbnb and other short-term rental companies expand their footprint in local real estate markets with over 5.6 million listings worldwide, real estate agents can play a crucial role helping owners host their own homes.

The growing popularity of short-term rentals and promise of lucrative listings gives agents the opportunity to help new homeowners maximize a home purchase and grow the relationship with your customers.

Providing home modification tips to accommodate renters, guidance on ever-changing and stringent local regulations on short-term rentals and tips on the current market forces, and recommending trusted contractors and property management companies create tremendous value-add for customers renting their homes.

What to look for in a home

Airbnb guests crave reliable and exciting experiences. When looking for a home for Airbnb, clients should lean toward clean and open designs filled with natural light. These homes photograph well and provide a calming environment for guest travelers.

According to a survey of more than 2,000 Airbnb renters, the most important amenities (in order) are strong Wi-Fi, kitchen access, private bathrooms, AC, free parking, heating, washer, private entrance and family friendliness. The more boxes a home can check, the better.  

If your client intends to live in the home and rent out a room or section, ideally, the home will have a separate dedicated entrance. Perhaps the home has a basement with an outdoor access or an ADU that provides guests with a cozy and private retreat.

While owners can certainly list individual rooms, many guests opt for entire-unit rentals for privacy and are willing to pay far more for it. 

Outdoor space is important. Clients should consider the home’s backyard appeal and functionality in terms of their own enjoyment and the potential draw it might hold for guests. Add cost-effective amenities like a fire pit, outdoor lights and vegetation to increase the curb appeal for renters who book through online pictures.

The “location, location, location” mantra holds true for Airbnb rentals. Out-of-town visitors want to be in close proximity to a city’s amenities.

Even if a home is not quite walkable to attractions, agents know how to sell homes. Agents are particularly adept at featuring a home and neighborhood’s attributes, such as describing updates, locating guest parking, highlighting local businesses, parks and more. 

The remote workforce opportunity

According to Airbnb’s data from Q1 2021, stays of 28 days or longer now make up 24 percent of the booked nights through the platform — a major increase from 14 percent pre-pandemic. While the exact reason is speculative, the rise of flexible or fully remote work is certainly at work.

For many remote workers, the new work office dynamic offers greater opportunities for homeowners who may prefer longer-term tenants. After all, longer-term rentals require less home flipping and wear and tear by short-term renters.

Owners can cater directly to the “working nomads” by offering dedicated laptop desk space, fast and reliable Wi-Fi, home gyms, cooking areas and other amenities.

Investing small details will pay dividends and increase their stellar reviews, such as buying quality office chairs with ergonomic support, coffee and tea stations, simple office supplies and even extra tech such as a monitor, device chargers, and a printer or scanner. 

While there’s considerable opportunity for offering short-term rentals, longer rental stays also reduce the risk of regulatory noncompliance. 

Understand the local regulations

The regulations governing Airbnb rentals vary from city to city, and many homeowners don’t follow local real estate news. For example, many top rental city destinations, like Denver, Colorado, implemented new short-term rental regulations.

In Denver, if owners rent their primary residence for one to 29 days, they need a short-term rental business license. All short-term rentals must be the primary residence of owners. City residents also need a Lodger’s Tax ID which comes with a small fee, and the actual business license requires the owner to provide proof of primary residence for any short-term rental. 

Breaking these rules can be punishable significant fines and penalties. Many cities utilize software that cross-references all short-term rental licenses with active listings on the websites.

While each city’s rules vary, agents can play a valuable role ensuring their clients are set up for rental success by identifying homes that might be great rentals, suggesting improvements and updates to maximize rental success for long- or short-term guests and informing owners of local rules.

Jenny Usaj is the Employing Broker and Owner of Usaj Realty, a Denver, CO real estate brokerage. Jenny is a member of the Denver Metro Association of Realtors Market Trends Committee. 

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