Should I Rent Out My Home on Airbnb?

Should I Rent Out My Home on Airbnb?

Written by: Geoff Curran, CPA/ABV, CFA, CFP® and Alex Golubev, CFA

The last few years have seen tremendous growth in the short-term rental housing economy. Services like Airbnb and VRBO connect homeowners and travelers around the world. While vacation rentals aren’t anything new, home-sharing platforms make it more convenient than ever for homeowners to earn extra money on their personal residence or vacation home. Airbnb fosters accountability and transparency by inviting hosts and guests to review and rate each other on criteria like cleanliness, following house rules, and ease of communication. A whole ecosystem of services has also sprung up to streamline and improve host operations (Smartbnb, AirDNA, NoiseAware, Vacasa, Evolve and many more). However, vacation rental remains a highly competitive and regulated industry.

Hosts in the Airbnb space face many challenges for success. Setting up homes for vacation rental, optimizing rental rates and cleaning properties between guests eats into time and money. Once rentals are rolling, even successful properties can hit speed bumps. Tourist demand is often seasonal or focused on appealing properties in central locations. Low barriers to entry can also reduce profits as more hosts enter the market and/or authorities create regulations to raise the bar. Short-term rental earnings have curbed in highly-regulated tourist hubs like New York, LA, San Fran, Barcelona, Berlin, and Amsterdam.

Given the popularity and potential of Airbnb, clients have started asking whether it makes sense to rent out their homes. We always encourage our clients to consider how renting their property will affect their life. If renting out your home helps you support your lifestyle and travel more, then exploring AirBnB could be an exciting opportunity.

AirDNA is a great starting point for researching vacation rentals in your area. AirDNA can help you assess the earnings potential of your home, whether you’d like to rent out your entire place or just share a room. Dipping a toe in the water of home-sharing during your next trip out of town is a great way to start!

The checklist below provides helpful points to consider before renting out your property:

Home Insurance: Check with your home insurance provider to ensure that your insurance coverage is still adequate and will remain in force if your home is rented out. The strategy of doing nothing and asking for forgiveness later just won’t work with insurance companies if you have a claim. We reached out to Sue Greer from Propel Insurance for her perspective on managing liability. She emphasized watching out for “contract language that can limit, or void, coverage entirely when the property’s occupancy is other than what was noted on the signed application.” It’s also important to ensure that your other liability coverage like umbrella insurance will still cover any accidents that may happen on your property if it’s rented out.

Security: It’s important to make sure that your home is secure and that any irreplaceable valuables are properly locked up when others are in your home.

  • Locks: Digital locks are a great tool for avoiding sharing keys with guests, and they provide a simple way to setup new codes for each guest.

 

  • Alarm: You still need to actively use your alarm with guests coming and going. The good news is that alarm companies permit you to change codes digitally so that each guest has their own unique code.

 

  • Safe deposit box: Valuables that you won’t be taking with you, like jewelry and essential documents, should be stored in a safe deposit box at the bank.

 

  • Internet Network: It’s also important to maintain internet security. Remember to create a guest network, and change the wireless password when guests leave.   
  • Co-host: Since most people rent out their home when they are out of town, it can be very helpful to find someone local that can help if there’s a problem in your absence. This could be someone to clean the property between guests—or even to break up an unruly party! Airbnb can help you find a co-host for 7-20% of the revenues depending on the services provided. There are also many new short-term rental operators that offer co-hosting services.

  • Maintenance: With guests coming and going, wear and tear can accelerate, and accidents can happen. Having a high security deposit helps mitigate costs in case of accidents. Given that home maintenance costs anywhere from 2% to 5% of your home’s value each year, setting aside a portion of your rental income to cover maintenance is a good idea.

  • Tax reporting: If your home is rented out for greater than 14 days a year, you’ll need to include the income
    and expenses on your tax return. Make sure to keep track of all your expenses incurred throughout the year related to the rental activities. This includes repairs, supplies, cleaning costs, new appliances and lawn care, just to name a few. Importantly, you can also claim some of your utility costs as an expense, including cable TV and internet, in proportion to how much of the year the home was rented.

If you have questions about this checklist or any other parts of your financial life, we recommend reaching out to a Merriman advisor. We can help with the decision to rent your home and with managing all the moving parts. You’ll have to share all the adventures you’ll be able to take once you explore Airbnb!

Level up Your Finances: How to Prioritize Saving, Investing, & Paying Off Student Loans

Level up Your Finances: How to Prioritize Saving, Investing, & Paying Off Student Loans

Young professionals juggle ramping up their careers, paying off debt, starting retirement nest eggs, buying homes and potentially building families. There is no shortage of goals for funneling your hard-earned dollars, and we can’t forget to have some fun along the way. It’s time to figure out how to take finances to the next level by supercharging savings and intelligently managing debt, so what do we tackle first?

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Financial Blind Spots Quiz

Financial Blind Spots Quiz

Many years ago, as a sophomore in high school, I was preparing for my first AP exam. My friends and I looked over our notes, read through old tests and took note of the topics we weren’t as confident about. But we soon realized that there were topics not found in our notes or on past tests that we might be expected to address on the real exam. Those topics were where our biggest test-day vulnerabilities were hidden. Luckily, we had a teacher to help us identify and fill the gaps in our knowledge.

This type of blind spot exists in many areas of life, with varying consequences. Your financial situation probably includes at least a few holes you’re not aware of. Many of us end up on autopilot, thinking that because we set up our homeowner’s insurance when we bought our homes, or regularly save money, that we’re on top of things. But do we have the right amount of coverage for our home? Are we saving enough to meet our long-term goals, like retirement, and our shorter-term goals, like a special vacation or a new car?

Imagine your home is underinsured and a strong storm causes significant damage. You might be responsible for a sizeable portion of the repair bill if your coverage isn’t high enough. Similarly, many people who own investment rental properties don’t realize they’re underinsured for the potential liability they’re taking on.

Choosing a health insurance plan that isn’t optimal for you and your family can also lead to larger expenses in the long run. Do you have small children who go to the doctor often? Are you a healthy young adult who rarely needs care? Are you retiring early and not yet eligible for Medicare? The right health insurance policy is crucial to getting the care you need at the right price.

Those are just a few of the blind spots you might have and failing to address them might lead to a drastic change to your future plans. Your blind spots are unique to you, and they’re called blind spots for a reason; they’re hard to see! Just like all those topics on my AP exam that I needed my teacher to help me find and address, the best way to find the blind spots in your financial life is to get professional help. Here at Merriman, we’re skilled at finding your blind spots and, with the help of expert professionals like estate planning attorneys, CPAs, and insurance specialists, helping you fix them for good.

This year, we want to help you find and fix your blind spots. Start by taking our short quiz that can help you see the gaps. Then contact us and we’ll get to work helping you shore up your financial situation.