Vacational rental - keys

Have you ever thought about operating a vacation rental?

The popular vacation rental website, Airbnb.com, has made an agreement with Michigan’s Department of Treasury this year. Before now, it was up to owners of these short-term rentals (30 days or less - sometimes just one or two nights) to pay the 6% tax the state levies on their own.

Now, as homeowners use Airbnb.com to advertise their extra bedrooms, basement suites, and single bedroom apartments for rent, Airbnb will collect the tax for the state.

The great news is that Airbnb sales in Michigan are way above projections from revenues in 2016. The state expected $1.5 million for the year.

Instead, Airbnb sent $960,000 to the state for the months of July, August, and September alone. Of course, these are the highest tourist months for Michigan - our state having plenty of shoreline and lakes. Tourists come from out of state to recreate and they want to do it in a place that feels like home.

According to an article published by MLive, the second most popular city destination for Airbnb users in Michigan is Detroit. Maybe more tourism dollars are to be had throughout the state of Michigan for any homeowners willing to put in the work. Michigan homeowners earned twenty-four million dollars on Airbnb this year during that time. That’s a 90% growth over the same period last year.

Although some cities are cracking down on ordinance enforcement, property owners are quick to make sure they can keep their rights to rent out their property. This is for good reason.

Real estate investment blogger, Paula Pant of Afford Anything, wrote a 4-part series on the pros and cons of operating an Airbnb rental unit in Atlanta, Georgia. She and her partner enjoy traveling and own several properties which they rent to long-term tenants in the traditional fashion.

Pant decided to use one unit as an Airbnb rental unit for a year to see if she made or lost money and what the other benefits might be. Here are a few pros and cons we’ve gleaned from her insights:

Pros of Airbnb Renting:

  • It does pay more. In the heart of Boston, priced starting at $75 a night, her one-bedroom unit was never empty and there was a waiting list. Eventually, she upped the per-night price to $155. All told, she ended up earning over twice what she would have earned with a typical investment - and that was after she’d paid herself for her time and added up expenses like cleaning and replacing soap.
  • You get to meet more people, from more places, than you otherwise would. Pant’s Airbnb rental has hosted cast and crew members from Broadway touring companies, artists, craftsmen, entrepreneurs, tourists from other countries, and many more. She says being in the same building - or in the case of other homeowners - being in the same house as many of your guests has definite benefits. Interesting people come to your home.

Cons of Airbnb Renting:

  • It’s not passive income, its hospitality. This can be a pro if you like hospitality or if you aren’t planning to travel at the same time. But it’s not a passive investment, it is work. You will have to clean, replace coffee, sheets, soap, towels, and whatever anyone broke every time there’s a turnover. In addition, if your investment is paying off, you will have many turnovers because your unit will be rented out almost all the time.
  • You will probably catch a bad apple once in awhile. Pant doesn’t get into any details, but she did have to call the police one time on one of her Airbnb renters.
  • It is hard to find reliable help. If you do leave while hosting an Airbnb property, you will need backup - lots of backup. It’s hard to find a cleaner who will come in a tight window of time. Also, if you are out of town when management issues come up (guests unexpectedly need an air mattress late at night when stores are closed), you are on the line for it.

Takeaway

Ultimately, it is up to the property owner to weigh the pros and cons of operating a vacation rental to see if it is right for them. This could be a great time for Michigan residents to earn some extra income listing properties on Airbnb.