As short-term home rentals for vacations and remote work become increasingly popular, the desire to become an Airbnb host has gripped many. The promise of consistent returns, relatively low risk, and effort to get started are the most compelling reasons for people wanting to turn their property into an Airbnb. There are even plenty of people who want to buy a property with the hope of turning it into a short-term rental.
The trend has also made its way to Atlanta, which has consistently seen healthy real estate market growth. If you are among the many who want to set up an Airbnb listing in Atlanta, this is the guide for you.
Understanding the Atlanta Market
If you are considering setting up an Airbnb business, you need to be aware of the latest trends in the area’s short-term rental market. Based on a report by Mashvisor from April 2023, the median price of the property is $559,022 in Atlanta, where a square foot cost you an average of $1,709. Notably, property prices have risen 159.36% between 2000 and 2022, which makes investing in rental property a potentially great long-term bet.
A really encouraging sign is that the rise in the value of the housing market in Atlanta was greater than what happened in the Georgia and US markets. It is estimated that on average, a long-term rental property can bring in $2,290 per month. When it comes to Airbnb, there are over 6500 listings you would have to compete with. As an investor, you can expect to bring home around $1,637 in Airbnb monthly income.
These factors, along with the Airbnb occupancy rate of 34% in the region, are what you need to consider when you are planning to set up an Airbnb listing in Atlanta.
Within Atlanta, places, like Vine City, Loring Heights, Oakland, and Piedmont Heights are great investment destinations for Airbnb businesses, given that the cash-on-cash return is positive, the houses are affordable, and there is a healthy Airbnb occupancy rate.
Legal Requirements for Airbnb Hosting
Before setting up an Airbnb business, you need to be aware of regulations that may restrict your ability to host paying guests for short terms. The city where your Airbnb is based may have zoning or administrative codes, and you will need specific registrations, permits, or licenses before you can list your property. Some places altogether outlaw short-term rentals.
However, in Atlanta, you can operate short-term rentals with a permit from the Department of Planning and Community Development. There is a non-refundable application fee of $ 150. In total, you can get two permits, one for a primary address and one for another property. Along with that, there is a city hotel-motel tax that you have to pay.
As a property owner, you will be fully responsible for your guest’s behavior. If your guests violate any city code or cause a disturbance to the local communities, you will be fined $ 500 for each violation, and if you end up with three violations, you will lose the ability to market your Airbnb rental for a year.
Creating a Standout Airbnb Listing
Do you have a permit and have met all of the city’s regulatory obligations? Congratulations! Now it is time to create a standout Airbnb listing that guests cannot resist.
As an Airbnb host, you will face a lot of competition, and in the beginning, you may find it challenging to outcompete the other listings in the area. But if you follow these best practices, you will be well on your way to higher occupancy rates.
- Treating prospective guests to high-quality photos
You need to get a professional photographer to capture all the rooms in your Airbnb listing with high quality. Ensure that your rooms are furnished and clean so your listing photographs can look enticing to potential guests. Give the guests a tempting feel of what it will be like to spend a few days at your property by highlighting the amenities you have, like swimming pools, hot tubs, etc. If your Airbnb has an amazing view, do not forget to capture that as well!
- Make your listing description accurate
Do not exaggerate what your Airbnb has to offer, as this will lead to poor reviews and refund requests from guests. Create a listing description that is accurate, emphasizing your best features. Be sure to include things like the best places to visit nearby, the proximity to bus stands, train stations, or an airport. If you are listing a themed Airbnb, like classic architecture that is part of the area’s history, make sure to emphasize that because staying in a culturally rich place will be a priority to many travelers.
- Keep your Airbnb listing updated at all times
Hosts need to constantly update their Airbnb listings to reflect changes in their property. Did you put in a new jacuzzi? That is great, but you need to mention it in your listing so people searching on Airbnb will know. Updated your guest policy to make it pet-friendly? Make sure the change is reflected in your listing because you do not want to do false advertising and disappoint your guests.
- Do not price yourself out of guests
If you are a new host, make sure that your prices are slightly lower. This strategy is known as penetration pricing, which is when you capture the market and then slowly increase your pricing to the property’s true worth. To get an idea of what to charge, you can look at similar listings.
- Have a professional, verified host profile
Your host profile is vital if you want to be successful in the Airbnb business. You need to have in place a professional picture of yourself and a description that makes you come across as warm, hospitable, and knowledgeable about what a traveler can do in Atlanta. You can further give it a personal touch and talk about why you became a host. But most importantly, get your host profile verified by Airbnb. When you are verified, your profile shows a check mark that will make more travelers trust you.
- Be a responsive host
Airbnb will score you based on your responsiveness to guest messages, so you must swiftly acknowledge user communication. Potential guests will avoid your property if they perceive you as unresponsive and unhelpful after they make their first contact.
You can consider using a property manager to handle your customer support requests if you are overwhelmed. Eventually, your quick responses to guest inquiries will help you get the title of a Superhost, which will boost your Airbnb listing.
Setting the Right Pricing Strategy
We saw previously how important it is to have competitive pricing. You can arrive at an estimate of what you should be charging based on your competitors with similar facilities, but emerging as the preferred Airbnb of people coming to Atlanta will require you to come up with optimal pricing.
So, what are the pricing models available that you can pick based on your goals?
The maximum fill rate strategy
In this method, the host lowers the price below the competitors’ so they can fill the maximum number of rooms. While this pricing strategy earns you a stable income, you must be someone who is fully focused on your Airbnb business, so you can take on the maximum possible number of guests and have your pricing strategy make sense.
Premium pricing strategy
If you are confident in your property’s uniqueness and appeal, you can list it as a premium experience that people have to pay a substantial amount to enjoy. Using this method, you get the maximum amount possible from each booking and focus less on the occupancy rate. A major benefit of this method is that you do not have to spend that much time managing bookings, catering to guests’ needs, or providing customer service, given that the occupancy rate will be low.
Long term rentals
Renting out your Airbnb property for months instead of days has some major advantages. You have a predictable income stream, lower risk, and only must deal with a few customers at a time. Depending on the demand for your property, you can use either of the two pricing methods mentioned above to maximize your long-term rental returns.
Decor and Amenities: Creating a Memorable Guest Experience
A successful Airbnb property that brings in consistent business must leave guests wanting more. You need to pay attention to everything about the decor and amenities from the textures, the colors, the furnishing, and the lighting to the experiences on offer. Here is a list of crucial things to prioritize when you are designing your Airbnb experience.
- Start with a welcome gift
A thoughtful welcome gift, like a guidebook, a platter of local cheeses, or some wine will go a long way in setting the tone for a memorable stay.
- Invest in comfort
Using amenities, like state-of-the-art kitchens, entertainment systems, private chefs, etc., hosts can make their guest’s stay memorable. You also need to invest in luxuries like comfortable furniture and mood lighting to make the guests feel special. A great bedroom is one of the best assets an Airbnb manager can have. Make sure that the beds are not just clean but are also optimal for restful sleep. You can achieve this by stocking your property with high-quality mattresses, sheets, and pillows. Hosts can take it a step further by providing sleep masks, extra phone charging stations by the bedside, and a fully stocked bar.
- Do not forget the exterior
It is important that you pick a good location for Airbnb. Great view, transport facilities, and the like. But that is just the start; hosts can take optimizing their exteriors to the next level by having a well-maintained lawn, a terrace or balcony with comfortable seating, or even a swimming pool. Other than that, you can have your property be a place for fun group activities by setting up a grill, a campfire site, or a hot tub. If you have trees on your property, you can even enthrall visitors by setting up a hammock.
- Seek professional help
Cleanliness is nonnegotiable for Airbnb. If you don’t have the time to clean up after your guests, don’t hesitate to get professional cleaners. Not just that, you can get professionals to take care of your lawn and even design your interiors for the best possible stay.
Crucially, you can also seek expert help for tax planning, setting up your business, and staffing, which will free up your time and enable you to focus exclusively on providing the best guest experience.
Effective Marketing and Online Presence
One of the best ways to convince potential guests to give you a chance is to have a lot of positive reviews for your listing. Word of mouth is also quite effective when it comes to sending business your way. Besides, to increase the number of inquiries you get, you can always turn to social media promotion or digital ads.
Even more importantly, you need to have a business site and ensure you are registered as a Google Business. When people search for your name, your business must show up at the top, so you need to optimize it with the right keywords, competitive pricing, great photos, the right directions, and reviews as well. Other than Google, you can also focus on optimizing your website and business profile on platforms like Yelp and search engines like Bing.
Managing Bookings and Guest Communication
Securing the bookings and handling communication with the guests before, during, and after the stay is an integral part of the Airbnb business. An easy way out is to use an Airbnb management service, but if you are just starting out, you are going to handle bookings and communication on your own.
One of the most important things is prompt responses to guest queries so you can secure that booking and guarantee a five-star stay. Besides, here are some pointers to keep in mind while you are handling guest communication.
- Before the booking stay:
Guests will have questions on amenities, your flexibility with the price, nearby hotspots, and stay policies. When they find you on Airbnb and reach out, you need to be able to address their questions accurately and quickly.
Once they have made the booking, you need to send them a thank you message, confirm that you have received the booking, and provide them with further instructions. These instructions can include details like how to self-check in and what to expect when they arrive.
- During the stay:
Be available to your guests as much as possible, attending to their needs and making them feel welcome. Even if they don’t have anything to ask you, you can always reach out to see how their stay is going and whether they need anything.
- After stay:
This is your opportunity to thank your guests and ask them for a glowing review, which will boost your profile.
Handling Reviews and Feedback Constructively
Reviews for your Airbnb listing will make or break your business. Having a good reputation as a host will go a long way in bringing in high-paying customers consistently, so you need to take a proactive approach to handling feedback.
Here are some expert-recommended tips to address feedback the right way.
- Be prompt
Respond to guest feedback as soon as possible, preferably within 48 hours. If you are quick to address the guests’ comments, you will even have the chance to clear up any misunderstanding they have, which will lead you to great reviews.
- Respond to every single review
Yes, you need to get to the negative reviews as well. If you feel the criticism is warranted, sincerely apologize and work on making improvements. You can always dispute unfair reviews if you bring evidence, such as photos or communication with the guest that proves they are in violation of your staying policy or Airbnb rules.
- Be proactive in getting reviews
Once the guest has checked out of your short-term rental property in Atlanta, you need to reach out and request they leave you a review. Ensure that you maintain a professional tone while asking for feedback and while responding to it.
When you get a great review, you can use it as an opportunity to find out what is working with your Airbnb listing.
Superhost Status: Achieving and Maintaining Excellence
Earning the recognition of a Superhost can benefit your Airbnb listing greatly. But it is a time-consuming process that requires dedicated effort from you. When you become a Superhost, you get an orange badge on your rental listing to demonstrate to potential guests that you have been consistently providing excellent guest experience.
How to qualify to become a super host?
To qualify for the title of super host and stand out from the millions of listings worldwide and hundreds in Atlanta, you need to achieve the following:
- You have a cancellation rate of 1% or lower
- You have maintained a response rate of 90% or more
- 80% of your reviews are five-star
- You have maintained an overall rating of 4.8
- You have hosted bookings at least 10 times in a year, or you have had 3 reservations with 100 nights booked
Scaling Up Your Atlanta Airbnb Business
Achieving super host status on your listing can be a great confidence boost, but there are still so many achievements you can unlock. For instance, you can add more rental properties that you will manage as a host. Eventually, you need to have the Airbnb business running on autopilot, without you having to step in each time to manage bookings, handle customers, clean rooms, or make calls to guests asking for feedback after they have checked out.
Ideally, you would have professionals managing the properties, and you would over time start bringing in pure profit. But one thing to keep in mind is that you can’t allow the guest experience to dip just because you have taken on multiple Airbnb listings as a host.
Start Your Business with Manay CPA
We hope that the blog gave you an overview of what an Airbnb business entails. You can get started by listing your secondary home or property as a short-term vacation rental in Atlanta, and once you have a standout listing and the right marketing and communication setup in place, you can expect to make decent returns. While handling customers, bookings, and guest experience are all things you can improvise along the way, one area where you can’t compromise is tax filing.
As an Airbnb operating in Atlanta, you would benefit from the services of a licensed CPA, like Manay CPA, with 20+ years of experience. We can help you with everything from setting up Airbnb legally to accounting for every dollar that circulates in your business. Reach out to our experts for a free consultation on how you can get started hosting an Airbnb property.