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There’s no denying that Airbnb has permanently changed the travel industry. If you’ve ever stayed in an Airbnb rental, you probably understand the appeal for travelers: The comforts of home without the awkwardness of a hotel stay make it well worth the extra expense.
However, for Realtors and aspiring real estate investors, there exists another kind of appeal: property investing by way of purchasing a home or apartment solely to host guests through Airbnb.
Airbnb investing — a strategy where real estate investors purchase rental properties and list individual rooms or the entire property on the platform — has become one of the many ways real estate investors are diversifying their income. When it comes to working with these hopeful investors, real estate agents face some unique challenges. Rising to them and learning how to work with these particular investors can boost your bottom line.
Remember what Airbnb investors want
Investors searching for a property to list on Airbnb likely have a different list of priorities and needs than your average property investor, and it’s important to keep that in mind when searching for the perfect property to show.
“People turning toward Airbnb investing are interested in working toward their financial freedom, so they’re more likely to want properties that are turnkey, in prime locations or have a lot of rooms and privacy,” said Lazaro Vento, a rental arbitrage expert and founder of the Million Dollar Airbnb course. “While a lot of traditional real estate investors might be interested in flipping a property, there are different priorities that come with Airbnb investing.”
The simplest mantra to keep in mind is “think like a tourist.” If you know what visitors to your area generally want, need or like to be close by, you’ve got a good idea of the properties Airbnb investors will likely turn a profit from — meaning those are also the properties they will most like to see.
Position yourself properly
If you’ve already positioned yourself as a rental market expert in your area, you may already have Airbnb investors knocking at your door. But if you haven’t yet made that mark for yourself, now is as good a time as any to do so, Vento said.
Understanding the Airbnb rental market can be a simple process — simply researching the listings on Airbnb in your area and getting a sense of how much money is going in and out of the properties — but it’s important to get personal insights into what tourists staying at these properties want and how that meshes with what investors are looking for.
Ultimately it comes down to research and common sense. If you see that many tourists in your beachside town gravitate toward homes within two blocks of the ocean or that homes at the base of your local ski slope are always booked, those are pretty good signs you should be steering your Airbnb investor clients in that direction.
Set yourself apart
For first-time Airbnb investors, knowing where and how to start is half the battle. If they see their real estate agent as a partner in the process, you’ll not only be able to help a client solve a problem — which is always a thrill — but you’ll position yourself as a valuable partner for their next property investment endeavor.
It all starts with the questions you ask when you begin searching for properties. Ask your clients who their target renter is, how — or if — they plan to outsource care and management of their property, and their vision for expanding their property portfolio in the future.
Don’t balk if they don’t have all the answers; you’re prompting them to think about their business. That establishes that you want to foster a consistent partnership with them and that you care about what they’re trying to build.
“Don’t stop at just showing them properties,” Vento said. “Offer them resources that walk them through the furnishing and setup process for their Airbnb. Show them you’re invested in their investment paying off.”
Some real estate agents who partner with Airbnb investors offer additional insight into local attractions, eateries and guides — just more opportunities to become your area’s go-to connection for people interested in establishing an Airbnb.
While this new method of investing isn’t as traditional as the real estate investing methods of old, it’s quickly becoming the go-to arena for those wanting to dip their toes into a lucrative market. As a real estate agent, the time to get in on these opportunities is now.
Victoria Kennedy is CEO of Atman Real Estate. Connect with her via email.