Tips for Selling Your Airbnb Property for Top Dollar

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During the pandemic, investors snapped up properties in resort towns all over the country with the intent of turning them into short-term rentals, listing them on websites like Airbnb and Vrbo.

Interest in vacation rentals was high as travelers stuck closer to home due to international travel restrictions, and investors benefited from record-low mortgage rates. The number of new Airbnb hosts jumped more than 50% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2022, flooding the market with new listings.

Now, although Airbnb recently recorded its most profitable Q1 ever, many hosts say oversaturation in the short-term rentals market has resulted in fewer bookings and lost profits. Combine that with rising labor costs, home insurance, and property taxes, and you may be wondering, “Is selling my Airbnb the right financial move?”

If you’re considering putting your vacation rental home on the market, check out our handy guide on how to navigate a successful sale. Plus, get tips from experienced property investors and top-performing real estate agents who understand the changing short-term rental landscape.

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Know Airbnb and Vrbo terms and conditions

If you’re selling your Airbnb or Vrbo listing, it’s important to understand the terms and conditions, otherwise, your membership could be revoked. With Airbnb, accounts are assigned to hosts rather than properties. This means your content, photos, listings, and reviews belong to you, not your property. Owners cannot transfer ownership of listings to the new owner when they sell a property.

“When an owner sells the property, that listing is closed and the new owner will need to recreate a listing,” explains Luke Smith, property investor and owner of We Buy Property in Kentucky. Smith says you could keep the same listing, but would need to work with Airbnb to make that happen. Before selling your Airbnb, you’ll need to complete all bookings and make sure the property is clean and ready for the buyer to use, Smith notes.

Vrbo’s terms and conditions are fairly similar to Airbnb’s. Listings cannot be transferred to the new owner. New owners must create a new account and listing after their purchase, and former owners must deactivate their listing. In the event you sell a property, your property description and photos cannot be transferred to the new owner. However, your buyer may request to transfer the listing reviews to the new listing.

Market your Airbnb’s home value and income history to investors

With a short-term vacation rental, proof of your rental income demonstrates the value of a property as an investment. “When selling a property as a rental, the investor will purchase the property at a premium because they are paying for the actual property along with the future income that it should continue to produce,” Smith explains.

When you can provide documentation about property revenue, occupancy rates, and pricing, it allows the investor to see your property’s income potential value and makes your listing appeal to buyers seeking a sound investment. When lenders evaluate income properties, they calculate the median income it brought the owner over the last quarter. In the same way, knowing the rental income potential of a property allows investors to interpret their return on investment. The higher the income potential, the higher the sales price is likely to be.

Market the other value add-ons of your property

Prime location: You can sell your property at a premium price when it’s in a great location, especially if the home is well-maintained, Smith says. Some coveted locations include coastal communities, mountain cabins, ski resorts, and areas close to restaurants and entertainment.

Access to professional contacts: Another valuable add-on to investors is providing access to a network of professionals. They may include property managers, cleaners, and maintenance pros who keep the property shipshape. Sellers often share professional service and maintenance contacts and contracts with new owners, according to Cheryl Coleman, a top real estate agent in Huntington Beach, California, who has owned many short-term rental properties.

“If the investor intends on renting out the property, they might choose to use the same services for cleaning, gardening, and repairs,” Coleman explains.

Know your ideal buyer when selling your Airbnb

“When pricing your Airbnb, know who your ideal buyer is,” says Mike Tewel, a property investor in Miami Beach, Florida. You’ll typically find two types of investors: entrepreneurs and large investment companies. Entrepreneurs are investors with a small real estate portfolio that act as owner-operators. These buyers tend to compare prices and features of properties to Airbnb listings recently sold in the neighborhood, similar to how an agent would do a comprehensive analysis.

“If you’re targeting a larger real estate investor, they are normally looking at cap rates,” Tewel says. Cap rates, also known as capitalization percentage rates, relate to the rate of return a real estate investment is expected to generate. To find the cap rate, divide the net income by the property asset value to get an estimate of an investor’s prospective return.

Attract buyers with high-quality photos

Airbnb research data shows that hosts who use professional photos to market their listings earn up to 20% more bookings and 20% more earnings. Just as vacationers scrutinize images when choosing lodging, investors will be more likely to schedule a showing of your property if they’re presented with high-quality photos. “If your pictures look sad and old, no one will want to stay there, much less buy the property,” Smith says.

Airbnb can connect you with local professional photographers who can help show your listing in its best light. The company will also inform you about what to expect from your photoshoot, how to prepare, and provide staging tips for each room. If you have top-notch photography skills (such as lighting techniques and working with angles), a tripod, and a DSLR camera, you might be able to attract buyers with high-quality images of your property and save some money.

Share your listing reviews with buyers

In any business, customer testimonials and reviews make a bigger impact on buyers than the words coming from a salesperson or business owner. High praise about a host and their property lets investors know you’re a reasonable person to deal with and have a well-maintained property.

When you share positive reviews of your Airbnb, it makes a good impression on investors. “Reviews can also assure buyers that their own guests will feel safe and comfortable staying there,” Tewel says.

“If you provide good service and your property is well-maintained, you should be able to accumulate many good reviews,” Smith says. “These should be saved and used in advertising when listing the property for sale.”

Advertise your short-term rental license

Advertising a short-term rental license required for some jurisdictions lets investors know your short-term rental complies with zoning regulations and meets safety and health requirements.

Depending on your jurisdiction, you may be able to transfer your short-term rental permit or license. However, many cities and counties don’t allow it. Even if yours doesn’t sanction transfers, the investor will at least know your property meets the legal requirements to obtain a license or permit.

Consider selling your Airbnb turnkey and furnished

Whether you’re selling a short-term rental to an investor or a traditional real estate listing to a buyer, you’ll find most buyers prefer turnkey properties over homes that need to be updated and renovated. Especially when an investor owns other properties, listing your turnkey Airbnb rental will appeal to more prospective buyers.

To save the investor time, consider listing your property furnished when the furniture is in good shape. You can also offer to share your photos with the new owner, which is an added value for the buyer.

How can I find an agent who specializes in investment properties when selling my Airbnb?

Selling investment properties requires different skills and expertise than selling a typical, owner-occupied property. A top agent with experience selling investment properties will know how to present data such as income history, occupancy, and cap rates to investors, and will also know how to access pricing data for similar short-term rentals that have sold in the neighborhood. An agent who sells in the area might even have access to buyers looking for a short-term rental similar to yours.

Connect with a Top Agent to Sell Your Airbnb

HomeLight data shows that top-performing agents sell homes faster and for more money. To get the highest return on the sale of your short-term rental property, connect with a top agent.

Sell to an investor for a competitive cash offer and a quick sale

When you want to sell your property fast, consider selling your short-term rental for cash. Lender requirements such as home inspections and appraisals can hold up a sale and often delay your closing. HomeLight’s Simple Sale platform allows you to sell your property quickly by receiving an all-cash offer from the largest pool of cash buyers in the country. Getting started is easy — all you have to do is answer a few simple questions about your property. You’ll then receive a no-obligation, full cash offer in about 24 hours, and you can close in as few as 10 days, with the bonus of choosing your own moving date.

Final thoughts on selling your Airbnb

With the above-mentioned expert tips, you’re ready to market your property for success and know your key responsibilities to stay in good graces with Airbnb. If you’ve earned Superhost status and wish to sell your Airbnb but still manage the property as its host, you can keep your URL, photos, and reviews, and just change the bank account information to the new owner, which will let you relish the rewards as a host for your hard work while putting more money in your wallet.

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