Hosting an Airbnb can be fun. You meet new people, you encounter new experiences, and you make money! However, it isn’t always fun. This past month has been a roller coaster ride for my business partner and me as a host. When dealing with houses that fall apart and guests that are unreliable, there is a recipe for disaster sometimes. Here are some of the things I’ve dealt with in the past month:
1) Air Conditioning That Won’t Cool
A lack of air conditioning may be more of a problem in Texas than anywhere, but the property we bought in December has had a rough time this summer. When the heat index reaches 105, and your house was built in the 1940s, you need some real power to make sure that house cools. Our 2-ton system just couldn’t get it done and the unit would be continually running and wouldn’t get below 82 in the heat of the afternoon. Having to spend over five grand to replace it with a bigger unit is never fun. We bit the bullet, however, hoping for better performance and a long-term solution.
2) Trouble Getting Permit
In San Antonio, there is a new system for short-term rental permits. It is excellent when it works, and it encourages owners of short-term rentals to pay the city and county Hotel Occupancy Taxes that they are supposed to be paying. It is an excellent way of enabling the city to know where the STR’s are and make sure that there aren’t streets full of STRs. However, after submitting my application for a new Airbnb in Southtown San Antonio (see link below) and waiting a week, I received notification that it had been received and to expect a response within 3-5 business days. A few business days seemed like a reasonable timeline, so I waited. Three weeks later, I get an answer that I didn’t provide enough information and that I need to submit another form. I did that the next day, waited three more days, and finally received my permit.
3) Units Not Paying What You Estimated
Sometimes when starting a new Airbnb, you try to estimate your monthly earnings, so you can make sure that it is going to be worth your time and effort. A new STR (short term vacation rental) is always a tough endeavor (you can read more about things to consider when estimating Airbnb Income in my other post “How Much Can You Make?”). To get people into the Airbnb quick (because of the delayed permit), I lowered the prices. I also really decreased the rates on weekdays so that I could fill-up the month. However, this resulted in several extended stays at a low price that is barely able to cover my rent (this new Airbnb is done doing what is known in some circles as “rental arbitrage” where you rent out a place with the purpose of short-term renting it and keeping the money you make on top of rent.) This is a discouraging start, but I am hoping that people will like the place and its price will slowly climb to better levels.
With all this happening over the last month, it has been slightly stressful. Pair this with problems at my own house and my full-time job, and there has been little time to relax and reap the rewards of good hosting. However, through those tough times, I have been able to enjoy some new things that I would not have been able to if I was not an Airbnb host. I met a couple from Boston that stayed in my back house and who is moving to San Antonio. They were great guests, and I got to know some about them and talk to them about moving here. I’ve also been able to watch my business grow, learn a lot about the city and about the San Antonio market. Being able to work for yourself is challenging, but it helps you improve in so many ways that, to me, it is always worth it.