In his April 2021 CNBC interview, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky predicted, “To meet the demand over the coming years, we’re going to need millions more hosts.” That’s millions more owners and managers, offering houses, apartments, condos and private rooms to leisure and business travelers seeking the flexibility, convenience and privacy of a short-term rental or vacation rental. So how does a new STR investor or experienced host take advantage of this expanding demand, while making their property stand out in an increasingly crowded field…and generate greater and more consistent profit? By following these four guidelines, for starters.
The best way to increase your vacation rental income is to ensure consistent occupancy. And the best way to do that is by making marketing your top priority. It’s not enough to just list your rental property on well-known short-term vacation rental portals like Airbnb and VRBO. To really maximize booking frequency and get top dollar for your property, you have to expand your exposure, and show off your rental’s best assets beautifully.
Photos are the single most important factor potential guests consider when viewing your listing. No matter how delightful your property description or glowing your guest reviews, if your photos don’t show your rental in the best possible light, guests are unlikely to book. Stage your rental space meticulously by opening curtains, hiding trash cans, neatly stacking or hanging towels, making all beds, fluffing sofa cushions, and adding a few “extras” like flower-filled vases or a few cookbooks in the kitchen.
Then have a professional photographer photograph your rental, or shoot high-definition images with a high-quality digital camera yourself (not your mobile phone), inside and out. Room photos should show different angles, while exterior photos should showcase featured spaces like the firepit, lounge area, deck or pool.
Maintaining your rental property and preventing guest noise, occupancy limit violations and unruly behavior isn’t just a matter of neighborly consideration. These steps are directly connected to your vacation rental income. Why? Because frustrated neighbors may interact negatively with your guests, impacting their experience and, ultimately, their reviews of your property on listing sites. This may happen when guests are in violation of rental rules. However, it also may happen when they’re not technically breaking rules, but are still creating real or perceived problems for neighbors.
In some cases, neighbors may complain to you during or after the disturbance. Or they may take a more direct route and contact the police. If your guests are behaving in violation of your rental rules or of local ordinances, the responsibility is ultimately yours. To keep the peace with your neighbors, and avoid having to deal with local authorities, or city or county permitting bodies, regarding noise complaints, take a proactive stance on protecting your property.
Installing a privacy-safe noise-detection device is one of the best ways to prevent guest volume from getting out of hand. A small, nonintrusive, wall-mounted noise-monitoring unit that measures decibel levels, but does not record noise or identify specific sounds, will help protect your property, while protecting guest privacy. By gently notifying guests when volume exceeds allowable levels, a noise-detection system takes the pressure off both you and your guests, and helps ensure that neighbors don’t intervene in, complain about or report noise incidents.
In cities, counties and municipalities that require special short-term vacation rental permitting, certain requirements must be met in order to obtain a permit or license. These typically include verifying on-site safety and sanitation measures, having ample parking availability, limiting occupancy, posting signage and having a designated “agent” or contact who can be reached by guests during their stay.
Increasingly, vacation-rental regulations and STR regulations are also addressing guest noise. As post-pandemic travel expands, and local councils revisit short-term-rental ordinances and review local residents’ concerns, some cities and counties are making on-property noise detection a requirement for obtaining a rental license.
All requirements for obtaining a permit should be clearly outlined in your local short-term-rental ordinance. Some will require inspection verification, others require self-reporting. Almost all requirements have associated fines and penalties for first, second and subsequent violations. Permit-violation fines typically range from $250 to $1,000, and repeated violations may result in the revocation of the rental permit.
Whether you’re paying penalties or facing the loss of your rental permit altogether, violating STR regulations is a serious legal and financial matter. A great way to protect your vacation rental income and avoid surrendering profits to your city or county is to always maintain compliance with short-term rental rules.
While short-term rentals and vacation rentals can be excellent sources of revenue, the income they generate isn’t completely “passive.” Unlike long-term leases and rentals, where once an agreement is signed the tenant is more or less on their own (except in urgent or emergency cases), short-term rentals require regular maintenance, restocking, marketing and booking-transaction management.
It’s important to have a documented budget for your rental that includes all daily, weekly, monthly and annual expenses. These may include:
With an accurate budget and regularly-maintained expense report, you’ll be able to price and market your property accordingly (taking advantage of seasonal travel and local events that might draw guests, reducing rates and offering specials to encourage off-season travel, raising rates and having stricter cancellation policies during peak seasons) to make sure you cover all costs and maximize your short-term vacation rental income, now, and for the long term.
Atlanta is the newest city to join the short-term rental renaissance of 2021. Which is great news for Atlanta homeowners who want to ramp up revenue from existing rental properties, or make some side cash by renting rooms in properties they occupy. It’s also positive news for investors looking to purchase profit-generating properties for rental to tourists and business travelers. Plus, new licensing requirements, and closer attention by local authorities to noise complaints related to short-term rental properties, should come as welcome news for the many Atlanta residents whose concerns about “mega mansion parties” led the city to reconsider its STR regulations.
The Atlanta city council’s March vote allows homeowners to rent rooms or entire houses to guests for up to 30 days.To do so, owners have to apply for an annual license, pay a $150 license fee, and collect city hotel-motel taxes from guests. The 13-1 vote to allow short-term home and room rentals was roundly praised by STR giant Airbnb, which said it is “committed to being a long-term partner to the city of Atlanta,” and to working with the city to promote tourism. If this sounds like money-making music to your ears, here are four awesome additional reasons to own an Atlanta short-term rental home, unit or room.
Atlanta is consistently cited as one of the most affordable major U.S. cities to buy residential and investment real estate. While the median price of a single-family home in metro Atlanta hit a high of $340,000 in March 2021 according to real-estate brokerage company Redfin, that price is still much lower than other similar urban centers in the country, including:
Meanwhile, real estate analytics firm Mashvisor puts the median price for a multi-family home in Atlanta at $534,923.
Looking at the rental side of things, Airbnb lists entire homes for rent in Atlanta’s trendy Cabbagetown, Buckhead and Peachtree neighborhoods during the city’s high seasons (spring and fall) for an average of $150 to $350 per night, for occupancies of four to six guests.
For private rooms in homes, which usually can accommodate one to two guests, nightly prices range from about $60 to nearly $200. These prices are expected to be significantly higher for dates corresponding with major Atlanta festivals, concerts and hot-ticket professional sports events.
With more than 13,000 tech companies based in metro Atlanta, and new firms launching every week, the city is one of the fastest-growing technology hubs in the country. The 2020 “Deloitte America Fast 500” list of the country’s fastest-growing public and private tech companies includes 24 metro Atlanta companies, compared to just nine Atlanta companies on the list 10 years ago. The city of Atlanta is also a dominant force in the biomedical and finance sectors. And in recent years, the city’s flourishing film and television production industry has brought in thousands of workers who require short-term accommodations year-round.
Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, the 1.5-million-square-foot Georgia World Congress Center is the world’s largest LEED-certified convention center, and an in-demand, centrally located space for important U.S. and global conferences and conventions. As COVID-related travel restrictions lift and businesses start holding in-person meetings and conferences once again (GWCC already has such events as the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting & Exposition, the North American Commercial Vehicle Show and the American Chemical Society Annual Conference on the books for 2021), business travel to Atlanta is slated to grow significantly over the next five years.
Of course, The Big Peach, as Atlanta is affectionately known, is also a major tourist destination. While the city’s tourism industry took a hit during the coronavirus pandemic, along with every major tourist destination across the globe, leisure travel is poised to bounce back big time. According to the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau, the city’s hotel occupancy rates increased nearly 40% between 2010 and 2017. Looking toward the next seven years, the city expects to see its average 50 million annual visitors grow year after year after year. That’s no surprise, considering that Atlanta is home to:
Add to that the city’s fine climate, serene lakes, superb shopping and bustling nightlife scene, and you’ve got a destination tailor-made for visits from young professionals, families and retired leisure travelers alike.
Citing flexibility, features, location and price as top factors in opting for short-term rentals and vacation rentals over traditional hotels and motels, both business and leisure travelers are contributing to the sharp rise in STR bookings nationwide. These factors, combined with a continued government stimulus program and a sustained high consumer-savings rate make for a great short-term rental outlook. And Atlanta, with its new short-term rental ordinance, is ideally positioned to capitalize on this boom.
Atlanta is home to some of the nation’s most technologically advanced medical facilities, including:
Research firm Healthgrades has given a five-star clinical rating to many of Atlanta’s hospitals, for areas of medicine from obstetrics to coronary care to neurosurgery. Atlanta’s Emory University is renowned for its teaching hospital, which is nationally ranked in 12 medical specialties, and provides services in spine surgery, orthopedic and gynecologic oncology, organ transplants, and stem cell transplants, among other areas.
With its breadth and quality of medical specialists and healthcare centers, Atlanta naturally attracts patients seeking the best possible outcomes. Depending on the specific treatment and recovery, patients traveling to Atlanta often must stay in the area for an extended period of time, either in the hospital or a rehabilitation facility. And, frequently, their spouses, partners or children will travel with them.
Short-term rentals offer these travelers a home-away-from-home environment that differs significantly from hotel stays. Guests can rest easier in a more expansive space, with the ability to cook meals, do laundry and work remotely, in comfort and privacy—both of which are valued at a premium when supporting a loved one through medical care.
Guests don’t have to worry about dressing up, interacting with strangers, dealing with expensive and restrictive parking, or being interrupted by housekeeping when trying to get much-needed rest. Short-term rental hosts can further cater to patients’ families by including helpful amenities in their properties, including gourmet coffee (for early mornings and late nights), bottled water (for drives to and from healthcare facilities), laundry detergent and fabric softener (to make washing clothes more convenient), and thoughtful comforts such as extra-plush towels or a nice bottle of wine.
Properties in Atlanta’s Druid Hills, Morningside-Lenox Park and Virginia Highland neighborhoods all offer close proximity and short drive times to Emory University Hospital. These areas are also popular with tourists, providing a well-balanced market for short-term rental investors. Located between Buckhead and Midtown, Atlanta’s Shepherd Center, specializing in spinal cord and brain injury treatment, is one of U.S. News & World Report’s top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the country. Families of patients receiving treatment at this Atlanta medical facility have many options in nearby short-term rentals, which also happen to be located in neighborhoods that are also top choices of leisure and business travelers.
Additional top-notch healthcare clinics and centers are located throughout Atlanta, including Piedmont Atlanta Hospital (located adjacent to Shepherd Center), Northside Hospital (with numerous different specialty facilities dotting the metro-Atlanta region), and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, with three hospital locations in the city.
While the new Atlanta ordinance requires owners to pay a fee for operating as a short-term rental, and requires that taxes be collected and remitted, it imposes few other restrictions on rental owners. The requirements it does impose include:
But that’s pretty much it. Which means that the responsibility for vetting guests, maintaining the property, ensuring neighbors’ rights to a safe, quiet, pleasant neighborhood or building, and avoiding non-compliance fines, lies squarely with the owner and his or her designated agent. Here are three things you can do to fulfill that responsibility, and protect your Atlanta short-term rental investment:
You can find the full text of Atlanta’s new short-term rental ordinance here. Interested in finding out how easy it is to track rowdy behavior and excessive noise at your short-term rental in Atlanta from afar? Get all the information you need, right here!