Airbnb market in Grand Rapids

16 Replies

Does anyone have experience or would be willing to provide a referral to someone with knowledge of the Airbnb market in Grand Rapids? I am in the process of making offers on single family homes in GR and would appreciate the opportunity to have someone QC some of my assumptions as it will be my first airbnb property. Background: I live in Chicago but own and manage 9 units in West Michigan (Grand Haven and Muskegon) and I just think there's a big opportunity for high returns in the airbnb space in GR. Thanks in advance!

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Yes thanks Lisa, this might be frowned upon but my plan is not to get registered with the city. I'm okay with taking on the risk of getting a cease and desist letter at which point I'd convert it to a long term rental. But after researching it sounds like the only way you'll get into trouble is if a neighbor reports you. Also the county just passed a 5% tax on airbnb rentals (legit ones or not) so that's an added incentive for the city to well... not care that much about listings that are not certified. I wouldnt do this for my first property but I'm ok with taking on the risks at this point for the potential upside of a STR. I also think there's a small possibility the city's rules will change as the city and sharing economy continues to grow

But would love to run my #s past other hosts/investors in the area!

Riiiight. It's ok if it's harder to get caught. Also AirBNB requires you to list your city cert in the description. I am not sure your listing would stay up without it.

Good morning Account Closed, the city of Grand Rapids has monitors for the short term rental sites (airbnb, vrbo, etc) and will catch it pretty quick, It might be a better idea to check out the surrounding communities as they are a little more forgiving yet still close enough to be an Uber ride to downtown.

@Juanita Briggs
pros: your listing is marketed to a massive pool of potential guests = more bookings =can potentially raise price to meet demand.
cons: you have to pay airbnb a cut 

If you're filled consistently and you're happy with the rate I wouldn't bother. If you'd like to generate more demand it's an easy/effective way to do that. Feel free to msg me to discuss further

@Jason Blain good morning and thanks, I hadn't come across that, sent you a msg as I had a few follow up questions 

@Jay Kadlec here's what we discussed, TBH I'm already making offers and am just going to see how it goes. I've been wanting exposure to GR for a while now anyways so if I have to convert it to a long term rental I'm okay with that. I still believe GR is undervalued. Also, I'm thinking a furnished SFH may have value for month to month rentals with the corporate community in GR - I'm guessing there's low supply of corporate rentals in the city - might explore that as well. Jay, if you find any further info please keep me in the loop as well! Thanks to everyone for opining on this, BP has a gernerally fantastic community.

per Jason: Hi Nathan, feel free to give me a call, i don't have first hand experience with the City and Airbnb, i stay out of GR proper for rentals, I have only heard what others have shared with their experience in the shorterm rental meet ups and networking I have been to, The Grand rapids RPOA puts on a meeting for short term rentals every month on the first wednesday at noon, a lunch and learn. 


Nathan WThanks vm Jason - wanted to research further on what you said. I sortof find it hard to believe that the city would be surveying aribnb posts because they would have to actually rent from the listing to get the addresses (airbnb hides them unless you have a confirmed reservation), but I also appreciate you taking the time to opine and wanted to do some further research based of what you said!


Account Closed I like your lower intestinal fortitude but I will say if it's illegal I'd be careful. I've went around laws myself. Sometimes its worked and sometimes I had to execute my backup plan. Since it is illegal and you are willing to take the risk why not just invest in an area with very few Airbnb's and a lot of hospitals. That's where the money is.

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@Myka Artis thanks, fair point. A major part of the strategy is participating in the Grand Rapids market appreciation which I'm pretty bullish on at the moment, investing in less metropolitan areas does not appeal to me for that reason. Not to get too philosophical on the rule following debate but every investor who owns a mortage on a rental and has moved it to an LLC has technically broken their loan agreement. I'm not advocating for never following rules you don't agree with... but the current regulations on STR's in GR are... well I'd estimate less than 15% of the airbnb listings are in compliance - (has to live there, can only rent 1 room, can't be away while renting, etc) - I'll jut leave it at that!

sep 2019 Update: It's not really worth it to buy in GR to rent on aribnb unless you have a lot of time and live in the area or if you don't care about scale and only want to rent 1 unit.

I ran #'s on multi-families and spent a week trying to convert large SFH's into duplexes to rent but the city has made it basically impossible to convert a SFH to a 2 family.

Going to stick with the original strategy of 30% cash on cash long term rentals :-)

What made you change your mind? Also, what if one did have time and lived in the area? I'm with you in the original thinking, how could a city like GR, or the state likely sooner, at some point not lift the restrictions on STRs?