Airbnb is a fresh concept at the rental market, an innovative service that brings the industry in line with the world of Facebook, eBay and YouTube. What does this kind of service mean for the real property investor and how does is change the industry? Is it applicable to a major portfolio or just limited to the vocational landlord with a spare room under the room? In this article I’d like to introduce this innovative service and discuss the implications for landlords and how best to make use of such a service and adapt it to your investments and property portfolio.
Airbnb was founded in August 2008 and based in San Francisco, California. Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique spaces around the world online or from an iPhone device. In April 2009 it received $600k from Angel investors and has now raised $7.8m through venture capital.
It brings the Ebay concept of how to monetise items in your house, airbnb aims to help people monetise space in their property. Whether the available space is a castle for a night, a sailboat for a week, or an apartment for a month, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to showcase these distinctive spaces to an audience of millions. By facilitating bookings and financial transactions, Airbnb makes the process of listing or booking a space effortless and efficient. With 50,000 unique listings available in more than 8,000 cities and 167 countries, Airbnb offers the widest variety of unique spaces for everyone, at any price point around the globe. One founder Mr Chesky has no permanent home, instead is a client of his own business, moving from property to property.
Airbnb requires compulsory reviews, this ensures people respect the system and builds a profile; one bad review can damage your reputation so one must have trust and respect and be honest. It helps create a social network style environment.
- Sign up, create a profile and list
- Get booking
- Airbnb takes credit card payment in advance and releases to hosts a day after client checks in, to ensure quality assurance and make sure client is happy with the condition. Airbnb charges a 6-12% commission.
- Compulsory review
The more reviews the better your profile and more prospective business.
It is clearly a promising option, nearly 100 hosts made $50k last year, so it is a viable alternative. A couple in California rents out their tree house, and made $29k in one year. They never got a good response from traditional listings to fill their property.
Listings for host and clients are getting even easier with the launch of mobile phone apps for the site.
But now back to the serious property investor, is this a viable approach and alternative?
I think it comes down to the type of property and location. It is very appropriate for spare rooms and extensions to existing owner occupied properties where the landlord can host and provide the hospitality. Also the higher premium for the short term lets is a great option for exclusive spots, say in city areas, or areas where there is a short-term explosion in demand. It is clearly not worth it for your suburban apartment; one must remember the type of client searching on this site and the other options available to them. To be successful the property has to offer something different, a unique experience that another hotel or bed and breakfast does not. Competing on price alone will not be sufficient especially as it is a new way and will be perceived riskier.
Some research and data that can be collected over time as this service becomes more prominent, and then we will be able to analyse with empirical evidence.
For the time being watch the space www.airbnb.com . It is going to have some impact on the industry and may just spring a new range of innovative services and companies that take the market into a new dimension, for the traditional market I do not feel it is a threat yet.