Orlando-area Airbnb experience?

16 Replies

Hello BP community! I'm wondering if anyone has any experience owning a property near Disney for the sole purpose of renting it out on Airbnb? I have used Airbnb for my travel accommodation but never hosted. I live and work in the area, so I would look to manage it myself and just hire cleaners. Searching my Airbnb app for the equivalent of what I'd buy, there seems to be a lot of competition but when I check these properties' availability calendar, many are nearly full. Is this a reliable way to determine demand? Also, do you have to pay the sales tax and bed tax? Any insight would be much appreciated!

If you want to do the Disney market it's crucial you purchase in the right neighborhood. There's so much competition and there's a handful of communities that will stay booked no matter what you do. The rest will all take more effort and work. 

A good way to gauge demand, other than reaching out to the professionals working in the market, is to check the long term rental ratio in the communities. Typically every neighborhood has at least 10% or more long term rentals in place. Any community with less than that is usually a hot spot for VR's. But before doing that, make sure you only check the short term rental approved neighborhoods or you're wasting your time. You'll run into restriction issues. 

As for taxes, if you're not hiring a PM, you would need to be collecting that from the renters yourself. It's a full time job dealing with a STR. It's worth turning it over to someone, you would think, in theory that you lose money, but when you look at the time savings, you are not losing money. Plus they will get it booked for you a lot faster and for more money most of the time.

It all comes back to where you buy though. That's the make or break factor. 

Good luck and any questions please feel free to reach out. 

Thanks @Erica Muller
Good points. I do have some communities in mind - I'll message you with specifics.

@Karen Miller It's all about buying in at the right price.  That's the only way you're going to have a shot at being profitable.  After that, you really need to minimize owner usage away from peak times like Summer and Spring Break.  Securing quality snowbirds at solid rental price is always key to make sure that you are still cash flowing during the sometimes tough winter season.  For specific area, I have seen a number of owners have success in the Reunion area.

Beyond that, if you are looking to talk with locals on the ground, fee free to direct message or give me a ring. I have some individuals I might be able to introduce you to from my network who might be able to help you get moving quicker in terms of purchasing the property and getting it ready to be rented out.

@Karen Miller ,

I have been reading a lot more about Airbnb. From what I understood, if you set your prices pretty low in the beginning, you have a better chance of competing. When more people stay and leave reviews, then you get more bookings. Eventually, you can raise your prices because of the increase in bookings. 

For taxes, here is a link for Orlando, Florida https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/874/orlando--f...

I think you have to pay occupancy and sales tax - make sure you read the laws carefully. Wouldn't want you to be another investor who had all their hard work go to waste because of the short-term rental laws. 

I have never done an Airbnb invsetment property.

Thank you @Andrew McConnell

I appreciate the tip on Reunion. I had been told by my RE agent it was too far out to be a strong contender, so I guess I have some more due diligence to do as far as location and vacancy. And owner usage would definitely affect profitability but won't be a problem in my case. I live even closer to Disney than the properties under consideration - but in a community that doesn't allow STR.

Thanks again!

Resources much appreciated @Troy Southerland ! Thanks for sharing your research. 

Are you thinking of investing in a property to put on Airbnb? And would it be in VA or elsewhere?

Sorry for bumping an old thread but I recently moved to FL and always thought about an airbnb in the highly desired areas of Orlando. After researching it seems like a lot of issues are coming up, supposedly STR's are against zoning in Orange County.. which covers your highly desirable spots for tourist, unless you are a full time resident just renting out a room, or are acting as a bed & breakfast / commercial. Supposedly they are cracking down on a complaint basis which you know most full time neighbors in a condo environment would complain.. I'm starting to think back on a long term rental approach with how much is going on with airbnb.


Hopefully you have an update, I'd like to hear where you are at today in this process.

@Sean Gallagher agreed, I don’t understand how anyone could get away with a full unit STR in Orange County, it just be beds that people are having success with. Or just hope to not get caught? I would think going outside Orange County would be too far from Disney to be successful.

Originally posted by @Peter Amendola :

@Sean Gallagher agreed, I don't understand how anyone could get away with a full unit STR in Orange County, it just be beds that people are having success with. Or just hope to not get caught? I would think going outside Orange County would be too far from Disney to be successful.

Exactly my thought as well. I wanted to dab into a much higher ROI with the airbnb route but starting to re-think. Will continue to see what I can find out. Supposedly in Osceola, Polk, & Lake county you can operate an airbnb but you're talking a half hour + to resorts. Which is a pretty big deal when some properties listed you can walk to the resorts. You go on airbnb and check out their location on the map, they're well within Orange County. I'm going to message some of them to see their thoughts.

I have no experience in Orange County but I'd beware the laws there. In addition to county/city laws, some communities have bylaws in their HOA prohibiting vacation rental use, or any leases less than 6 months, for example.

About half the guests I have usually make some sort of trek to the Orlando parks, or up the Space Coast to see Kennedy or a launch of some sort.  So non OC rentals can still take traffic with guests destined for theme parks it's just not their primary focus.  Just food for thought.

Originally posted by @Peter R. :

I have no experience in Orange County but I'd beware the laws there. In addition to county/city laws, some communities have bylaws in their HOA prohibiting vacation rental use, or any leases less than 6 months, for example.

About half the guests I have usually make some sort of trek to the Orlando parks, or up the Space Coast to see Kennedy or a launch of some sort.  So non OC rentals can still take traffic with guests destined for theme parks it's just not their primary focus.  Just food for thought.

Understood, I'm starting to look into some ways to do this legally. The properties which operate as condo-hotels in Orange County seem to be zoned properly but still if you purchase you operate under an HOA, will have to dive into those rules. Basically I went on airbnb and called a few of them out, some got pissed but some also responded that they are legal so I looked into the community they were renting in, turned out to be a condo-hotel set up. Which is interesting to me because the community operates as a hotel but they also sell rooms.

Condotels are interesting for sure. But something else to keep in mind, even if you purchase under an HOA friendly to STR now, it may not always be the case. Board changes are frequent sometimes and new regulations can pop up at any time with an HOA.

However, in Florida, the State Legislature passed a law essentially saying if a city/county doesn't already have a law on the books regulating STRs they can't start now.  So if you're looking in an area that already allows them or doesn't specifically prohibit them, it's far less likely they will prohibit them in the future.

Also if anyone is reading this curious about financing it doesn't appear that most banks will give you any kind of lending on a condotel.  Reason for some of them being priced a little low I guess.

@Sean Gallagher , thanks for bumping this thread. I was contemplating VR's versus traditional SFH/MFH rentals. This is good information with respect to the laws and HOA in Orange County.

@Sean Gallagher , How did you make out with finding a STR/AirBnB to invest in? I know you were doing some research. I decided to pull the trigger and was looking for additional information and experiences about how people are doing in the Orlando market.

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