Airbnb + Newbie = ???

15 Replies

Hey guys I live here in San Antonio and am actively looking to get my first property. I originally wanted to house hack but I've spoken to others and heard people on the BP podcast speak of living in a SFR and Airbnbing it. Most say that they can bring in almost double through that then they can with a typical lease. Should a newbie like myself look for a property and income stream like that, or should I be patient and wait for a good 2-4 unit deal and house hack? I really want to get a deal but the market is super hot and people are freaking drunk with their asking prices around here. SF houses are a bit easier to get but I'm not sure if I should just be patient and wait for the right 2-4 unit. Any and all help is much appreciated thanks!

That is a super broad question Michael.  I would take a look at @Jon Crosby 's app called Click2Flip and start there.  Vacation rentals is NOT what it appears to be, it's hard work and takes time to learn the business.  if you want to really commit yourself to this model, dig in and drink from the fire hose as there is a LOT of devil in the detail to get yourself dialed in.  It's not a passive business, it's an active business which can be fruitful for the few, painful for most.  Your profile photo of wearing a life preserver is perfect for this business :-)

Best of luck and we're are all here to help.


Hi @Michael Guzik . Congrats on entering the VR/STR investing world! The answer to your questions really comes down to what kind of experience you want to have really. Don't let the higher 'revenue' that an AirBNB might provide you totally sway you as you have to remember with an STR you are responsible for all the costs including cable, electricity, etc which can add up to 60-75% of your income. You will be responsible for the flow of strangers coming in and out and making sure they have a 'valuable' experience with your property as well as keeping up with reviews, transient occupancy taxes, etc. etc.

Compare this to a standard rental where you sign a lease, have a new neighbor or roommate who is paying consistent income and on a long term predictable lease and you don't have to cater to on a daily basis. 

As for prices, they are high everywhere due to lack of supply so just make sure you do good analysis of whatever property you choose and that analysis can whether a potential market correction (less travelers or less rental rates). 

Best of luck! 


Why not AirBNB the house hack? Live in one unit, AirBNB the other instead of long-term lease it. "Entire place" rentals are far more desirable on AirBNB than private rooms, which is presumably what you'd be doing if you AirBNB a SFR that you live in. (I'm not a big podcast listener, so I could be mistaken, but unless you want to "move out" every time you have an AirBNBer for your SFR...)

Either way, make sure you consider the additional costs involved with AirBNB (furnishing the rental space, paying for utilities) and the time involved in communicating with guests, arranging housekeeping, and so on.  AirBNB isn't difficult to self-manage, but it's not a hands-off investment, so just be sure you're willing to put in the additional $ and effort in order to get those bigger returns.

And of course, when planning your purchase, make sure you location is desirable to a short-term renter - think about if you're targeting vacationers, or traveling business people, etc. and make sure your location/space makes sense and will be appealing to them.

I'd AirBNB a house-hack all day long if I could actually afford to buy a MFR (or even SFR) in my city. :)

It looks like there are 2 petrochemical plants in San Antonio. What if you rented to short term and traveling workers at those refineries, and to no one else. That's what I do with the refinery in my town. I provide an alternative to living out of a motel room. Kitchen and laundry account for 66% of the appeal of this kind of STR for the target market. More space and private rooms account for the other 33%.

@Michael Greenberg Thanks for the comment and for the laugh lol!

@Jon Crosby I really had not considered the additional responsibilities that you mentioned so thank you for bringing those up in your comment. You did a good job of showing me the side of STR that no one really talks about so thank you for that.

@Julie McCoy Thanks for the comment and I like that idea, sort of doing the best of both worlds! You should definitely check out the podcasts though you are missing out!

@Paul Sandhu I have never even thought of that and I didn't even know we had those. I will definitely look into that area and the STR market surrounding them thank you!

@Michael Guzik When I did my first STR, I only thought a local realtor was the only other person doing STRs for refinery contractors. That is who I got the idea from. After doing my 3rd house, I found out there were several other people in this town doing the same thing I was. Then I found out what the other people were offering....a house with all bills paid, there might be a bed or there might be a room for a person to put their own air mattress. If there was a bed, there may or may not be sheets. The kitchens had all appliances. There might be a washer/dryer, but if there was there was no detergent. Cable and wifi, forget it. On a scale of 1-10, my competition was probably a 3. I was an 8 or 9, and I didn't know what I was competing against.

My rule of thumb is that I furnish and equip a house well enough that I could live there myself in comfort with my standards.  My biggest house has a kegorator, most houses have Netflix.

We run a vacation rental and it's a grand old time with many highs and lows. One of the biggest stipulations for running an STR is that you have to like people and want people to have a good time in your rental, otherwise you just aren't going to get good ratings or make good money.

@Megan Davidson I don't like most people yet I have hundreds of 5 star reviews and maintain super host status.

Another way to get 5 star reviews is to like 5 star reviews :) 

Ok so I like some people. Just trying to make a point. 

Agree with @Paul Sandhu . Those refinery/power plant niches can be great. 

Agree with @Lucas Carl . Don't have to be a people person. Just have to know how to communicate and understand how you would want to be communicated to in a guest's shoes.

With all do respect, I disagree with @Michael Greenberg . It's not that bad... I literally just threw my first spare apartment on Airbnb without any furniture other than a mattress on the floor, a metal chair, and a wooden electric cable spool... it stayed rented and I was hooked ever since. As long as tend to be eager to please, you can learn the rest.

Also, @Michael Guzik , I would recommend Smartbnb if you want to make it as passive as possible (other than leveraging a co-host). It's a flat montly fee, but it has all the software you need to automate messages, questions, check-ins, check-outs, cleaning coordination, and more.

@Paul Sandhu also apparently has great advice with his 3M's... even though I haven't quite figured out what it means. :) I feel like I just wasn't around when the inside joke was made.

@Michael Bowie   There is no inside joke with 3M talent.  All it means is that you need the talent of a Mechanic, a Magician, and a Mindreader when dealing with the kind of real estate this forum is intended for.

But if it is any consolation, you were not around when there was an inside joke about the lady that does the cleaning of my 22 STR properties.

@Paul Sandhu Interesting...So how what are magician-type qualities you’ve been developing? 

If it had something to do with the fact that she is your wife, then I think I saw it. :)

Originally posted by @Michael Bowie :

@Paul Sandhu Interesting...So how what are magician-type qualities you’ve been developing? 

 I can purchase a house for a 4 digit number. I can furnish it for a 3 digit number.  It can generate a 4 digit number of rent in a month.  I get paid a 2 digit number when prospective tenants come to me out of necessity for their work.  The house is paid for in a single digit number of months.  How's that for magic with numbers?

Originally posted by @Michael Bowie :

@Paul Sandhu Bravo Magic Paul! Bravo! 

What’s the secret recipe? 

Location. Location. And location.

Actually, find something that no one else is doing and do it better than anyone else who tries to imitate you.

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