It’s nearly October in London and it’s gotten much busier now that summer is nearly over. Over summer I had plenty of bookings but I was not 100% full. Since the start of September I have been full every day and with higher prices that July or August. I recall this being the same last year also. Most of my airbnb customers stay only one or two nights. This means more bed sheets to clean and more hassle checking in and out guests but I prefer this to having empty listings. In previous years I used to keep my prices very low to ensure I get plenty of guests but now I think I don’t need to do this as much as I have over 600 reviews. Having so many reviews gives people confidence they will be getting what they are paying for.
Can you get an Airbnb Mortgage?
As far as i’m aware there is no such thing as an Airbnb mortgage and I think it’s highly unlikely there will ever be. Despite what you may have heard from friends or from some get rich seminar you can’t walk into a bank and borrow huge amounts of money on the promise you will run a very good airbnb with the money. Now more that ever banks are under very strict rules of what they can lend to who. Unless you have a large provable income you won’t be getting a mortgage that would allow you to buy an property for an airbnb business. The vast majority of airbnb hosts who let whole apartments are using the standard buy-to-let mortgage and have not told the bank they are letting on airbnb.
Superhost secrets – what REALLY gets you more bookings on Airbnb
There are lots of blog posts on the internet giving tips on how to be a great airbnb host and how to get more bookings etc. Most have pretty much the same content. A good example is this blog post on the airbnb website (presumably the content is acceptable to airbnb and factually correct so bear that in mind). But a lot of this stuff is not overly useful unless you can actually get someone to book your listing. Your place might be amazing but if nobody books it the world will never know.
So here is my advice on how to get more bookings and be full all the time: –
Be good value for money. Or in other words be ‘cheap’. Everyone wants a bargain and you can be that the cheapskate in everyone will usually win out. Be at least a pound or two cheaper than your nearest rival.
Have lots of reviews. People want safety of choice. There are no instantly recognisable brand names when it comes to listings. If you have lots of reviews (and I mean hundreds of reviews) you become a ‘safe bet’. Get more reviews by getting more guests so be willing to accept a smaller amount of money and more short term guests to get those reviews stacked high.
Be flexible. Accept short term guests. So many of my guests are one nighters. This may seen like so much more trouble (and it is) but since so many people have a 2 night minimum stay you will never have an empty listing.
Have professional looking pictures – both of The Listing and Yourself. Use the airbnb photographer to get professional looking pictures done (also they become airbnb verified). You might seriously want to have a nice clear professional picture of yourself in your profile. Not a picture of you trying to look cool at some party, a proper professional picture like you might see on Linked In. If you look like a joke then you can’t expect to be taken seriously.
It’s now May in London and it’s finally gotten warm like summer. I no longer need to keep the radiators bering all day and night to stop my guests complaining about being cold. Its been steadily busy the last few weeks. I have so many regular airbnb guests now (those that come almost every week to London, usually for work purposes) that I feel the slowdowns in bookings much less than previous years. I read a newspaper article recently that more tourists are visiting London than ever before so I expect most hosts are doing quite well.
Getting a mortgage with Airbnb
Recently I applied to re-mortgage my house. I was set to re-mortage with Santander and the deal was almost complete. The final hurdle was the usually quick and easy valuation of the property the bank does to make sure the house is worth what you say it is (in my experience they always value the property at exactly what you say it’s worth). I was not expecting any problems as my house is relatively new and in central London. I did not tell Santander that I run an airbnb business from my home. I felt it would not add anything to my application (current attitudes are to airbnb it seems is earning more money makes you a bigger risk, go figure?) so I didn’t tell them.
The valuation expert who visited my house reported back that I was running a bed and breakfast in my attic. There we no guests staying in the house at that time (some were due to arrive later in the day). So I was first amazed about how he knew this and secondly why he had reported this as it was in my opinion not his job to report on such things – he is supposed to be an independent expert to value the property. Santander refused my mortgage on these grounds. I later heard that the valuation expert had seen the bottles and water and chocolates placed by the beds.
Getting a mortgage for an airbnb is still an issue. Airbnb is seen as a commercial business and would therefore require a commercial loan. It does not seem even possible that anyone could use airbnb on a residential application for their own home. The ability to earn extra income to help pay the loan you are taking out to me seems like an excellent safety net. Most people rely on their employment income to pay their mortgage which is nowadays not so secure and reliable. Having a second income should make an application stronger but this seems not the case. How long will it be before banks change their attitude? I think not until they are forced to.
How to Automate your Airbnb
For me the worst thing is when a Airbnb guest arrives at your house early and your not at home. You may have no choice but to drop what you are doing and rush back to let your guest in. This is something that has happened to me on a few occasions. More often I plan to go out but a guest is booked to arrive later so I have to wait until they arrive before I can leave the house. So now I automate my airbnb in two ways.
Install a Keysafe outside the house
Install a intercom on the door that can call your phone
I bought a police approved high quality key safe and bolted it to the wall near my front door. It’s not visible from the street and has a protective cover so it looks like a wire box or something like this. A set of keys can be placed inside the box and a special code is needed to open it. Therefore if you can tell your guest the code and how to find the key safe they can enter your airbnb when your not at home.
For a long time I wanted to buy an intercom for the front door which would tell me if someone rang the bell and allow me to speak to them from my mobile phone. I understand the likes of Apple plan to develop such a device but have yet to do so. There are many such devices on the market already but none especially stand out. I was waiting for a reliable high quality intercom to hit the market for some time but so far none have appeared. Not willing to wait any longer as I was occasionally having trouble with guests arriving at my house but was not able to reach them on their mobile phones. I did purchase this intercom from Ring. It does work but if your in a area of low internet connection it can cut out easily.
So now It is possible for a guest to arrive at my house and they can speak to me on my intercom when I’m not at the house and I can tell them how to get the key from my key safe and they can get in the house without me being home. So I no longer need to rush home across half of London to answer my front door.