If you want to escape the office and be your own boss you we know of a great income option that can be as big as you make it: manage Airbnb properties for other people. In this post, we’re going to answer the biggest questions for wanna be Airbnb managers and co-hosts. We’re Superhosts who manage our own and other people’s Airbnb properties.. So we know a thing or too about what you’re in for and this guide comes from the heart! Here’s what our article will cover:
- Can you manage and Airbnb for someone else?
- How does it work?
- A gap in the market for good Airbnb managers
- Different business models to manage Airbnb properties
- How do Airbnb property managers get paid?
- Do you need a real estate license to manage and Airbnb?
- How much work is it to manage an Airbnb?
- Do you need money to get started?
- How much can you earn?
- 4 steps to start managing Airbnb properties for other people
Can you manage an Airbnb for someone else?
Yes. You definitely can manage an Airbnb for someone else. We would go so far as to say there are tonnes of Airbnb owners out there looking for reliable people to manage their Airbnb properties! We’ve been in those exact shoes.
The best thing about it? There’s loads of different ways to set it up to suit the services you offer and the needs of local Airbnb owners. Some that don’t require you to obtain a real estate license.!
How does it work?
It all starts with Airbnb owner wanting someone to manage their Airbnb property on their behalf. The types of tasks Airbnb owners often need help with include:
Existing Airbnb listings:
- managing the listing on Airbnb, including bookings, the calendar and nightly rates
- guest communications and resolving guest issues with Airbnb
- managing or doing the cleaning and laundry
- keeping inventory inside the Airbnb
- managing property maintenance and upgrades
- any social media (mostly on vacation rentals)
New Airbnb listings:
- styling and set up for the Airbnb – sourcing furniture, linen, decor and other supplies and setting up the home within a budget
- listing the property on Airbnb – setting up the account, guest communications, professional photography, payment methods etc
Airbnb management services
These tasks listed above are the types of services you would target when you manage Airbnb properties for others.
Airbnb owners may want all or just some of these services. For example ,some Airbnb owners may just want Operations Managers. Operations Managers typically cover cleaning, maintenance, inventory and any on site services. The owner may be happy to manage the listing and guest communications themselves.
What this means is that there is loads of flexibility in how you operate and what you do when you set up a business to manage Airbnb properties for other people.
Once you find a service offering that you’re good at and works for your market, stick to it!
A gap in the market for good Airbnb managers
Professional Airbnb management companies are expensive. Any Airbnb owner that engages a professional management company will likely lose a hefty part of their Airbnb profits. Management companies start from 20% (of total Airbnb revenue before costs – eek!) and go as high as 50% ‘depending on what services are involved’.
Airbnb management companies are also still rare. While Airbnb’s are everywhere around the globe, professional Airbnb management companies are not. In our experience, they operate on a volume based model, which means they are located in and focussed on large cities with lots of Airbnbs.
If you’re not located in a large city, there may be a gap in the market for you. Huzzah!
Don’t fear city dwellers, there’s still plenty of room in the market depending on your chosen business model and value proposition.
Different business models to manage Airbnb properties
From professional Property Managers to Airbnb Co-hosts
Professional Property Managers (usually incorporated businesses) manage both the Airbnb listing and the operations for the Airbnb owner. To do this, they list the Airbnb property under their name or brand. The owner simply sits back and receives their Airbnb income and performance reporting.
This is the model with the highest fee structure as the Airbnb manager has all of the responsibilities listed above and more. It is also the model that is likely to trigger real estate license requirements and public liability insurance requirements in many states, both in Australia and in the US. There’s more details on this below.
By all means, if you’re looking to build an Airbnb property management empire in your local market, then go for it! Get licensed, insured and off you go!
However, the good news is there are also other models to manage Airbnb properties for others, where licensing is not necessary.
For example, you can co-host an Airbnb with another person (the owner) and still provide services and get paid, without having to receive the rental income.
What is an Airbnb Co-host?
An Airbnb Cohost is a secondary host role on the Airbnb platform. A cohost helps the Airbnb owner manage their listing. Cohosts can be added to a listing by the Airbnb owner.
Airbnb restricts the activities that Co-hosts can perform on the platform. Generally you can’t access the owner‘s payout or tax information. But you have access to almost everything else about the listing, enabling you to provide co-host services.
How do Airbnb property managers get paid?
This is where you’re paid a percentage of the total Airbnb revenue (usually after Airbnb fees). The percentage is up to you and the Airbnb owner, but industry practice is to start at around 10%.
Remember, that’s just the management fee and it does not cover actual operating expenses! You can see in the equation below where these are deducted.
This payment method works best when you are managing all parts of the listing, including revenue, on behalf of the owner as you get to see all income and expenses. You simply take your negotiated fee from gross earnings (ex Airbnb fees). It’s easier to work this out AFTER Airbnb fees are deducted because of the way the platform reports income. Here’s an example of what it might look like.
Airbnb management fees = (total monthly Airbnb income – Airbnb fees) x 10%
Airbnb owner profit = total monthly Airbnb income – Airbnb fees – Airbnb management fees – operating expenses
You don’t have to calculate your fees this way – it really depends on what you and the Airbnb owner negotiate. You may take a percentage of Airbnb owner net profit, instead of total revenue (minus Airbnb fees).
By guest turnover
This is when you are paid by the Airbnb Owner (via bank transfer) in the form of a fixed fee per guest stay at the Airbnb. You negotiate what is included for this fixed rate.
This kind of payment method suits Airbnb Operations Managers. But make sure to be clear on what is included and what is not. For example, cleaning, laundry, gardening and basic maintenance. Any repairs, replacements etc would typically not be included in the fixed fee. They would be paid separately by the owner, although you might be responsible for organising them.
Because there can be extra duties outside of guest turnovers that sometimes need to be taken care of, it can be a good idea to agree an hourly rate to perform these one off tasks.
You’re paid a simple hourly rate and are on call to manage the Airbnb as needed. This may include cleaning, laundry, guest check in, maintenance, gardening and the list goes on.
If you head own this path, our advice is to negotiate an ‘after hours’ rate. Airbnb management can involve night time call outs when things go wrong – like the guest can’t operate the fold out bed or misplaces the door key.
Do you need a real estate license to manage an Airbnb?
Not necessarily. It really depends on what you do as an Airbnb manager.
In Australia, if you’re receiving rental income on behalf of someone (whether short or long term), you need to have it paid into a trust account. To open a trust account for this purpose you need a real estate licence.
In the US, states vary on their real estate licensing requirements for Airbnb.
It’s really a state-by-state requirement in both Australia and the US.
The good news is, you can avoid this requirement by avoiding managing the Airbnb revenue.
How much work is it to manage an Airbnb?
It’s entirely up to you, based on your business model.
If all you are doing is outsourcing work to cleaners, handymen and linen providers for your 10% management fee then it’s not a difficult gig. You’re mostly coordinating guest turn-overs, managing guest communications (and these can be automated now on Airbnb systems) and managing inventory, quality and disputes.
The skills you need are things like coordinating, communicating staying organised and problem solving.
If you’re doing the cleaning, laundry, maintenance, and gardening yourself then it is a lot of work so make sure you negotiate fair payment for it.
Do you need money to get started?
Not necessarily. There’s no or minimal start up capital needed if you’re already an experienced Airbnb host and you’re managing outsourced activities.
You may spend $50 on AirDNA data to determine your business model and fees. If you want to advertise on Cohost Market (seed down below) you might need another $50.
You will need a car, and may need to be co-located with the Airbnb listings that you are managing. That said, remote Airbnb co-hosting is a thing. Stay tuned as we explore this in a future post!
If you’re new to Airbnb, we absolutely recommend you learn the business before starting to market yourself as a co-host. Invest in your Airbnb education like we did. Your new business and income will thank you for it!
How much can you earn?
How long is a piece of string? If you’re asking whether you can earn a full time income managing Airbnb properties for others, then the answer is definitely yes.
The amount you earn per listing, per month depends on:
- Everything in our guide above.
- The property itself. Luxury properties, unique properties and well-booked properties are clearly your target market. The better the listing performs, the more you earn. To earn the big bucks, you need to be able to spot a great listing, or make a good one even better!
- How many properties you manage. As we mentioned previously, there are tonnes of new automation tools and platforms that have sprung up around Airbnb. Many are designed to automate the tasks of property management. This means you can build a really, really good income stream managing multiple properties with automation in place.
You can even build your own Airbnb management empire!
4 steps to start managing Airbnb properties for other people
1. Learn the Airbnb business
We can’t emphasise this enough. Airbnb is a competitive market. To successfully managing other people’s listings you need to know how to:
- find Airbnb owners to work with
- nail your elevator pitch about why they need you to manage their property
- showcase the Airbnb listing
- optimise for the Airbnb algorithm
- get bookings and manage nightly rates and calendars
- maximise revenue
- manage guest demands and needs
- resolve disputes
- comply with Airbnb’s many rules and policies (or risk having your account shut down).
If you’re marketing yourself as a Airbnb manager and learning these on the fly, you will be out competed. Full stop.
Revenue will suffer and so will your income.
You certainly won’t get a look in on the type of properties that we mention above and that will earn you the highest income as a co-host or property manager.
Invest in yourself – we did!
If you’re serious about building a real income from Airbnb then our advice is to invest in yourself. We did, and it has paid off big time. We live on our Airbnb income and it’s allowed us to quit the rat race. We can be our own bosses and we automate a lot of the tasks we do.
Remember, you’re only as successful as the listings you manage!
2. Decide what services you will offer and your fee structure
You need to write down your business model and work out your minimum fee, whether it be fixed or variable (percentage). We wouldn’t suggest opening your negotiations with your minimum rate of course, but don’t undercut it either!
If you want an example of Airbnb earnings, take a look at this this post about the monthly earnings and expenses for our 1-bed apartment listed on Airbnb.
You might also benefit from a one month subscription to the AirDNA analytics tool. Here you can find real data and actual earnings of real listings in your area. You can also see the nightly prices and occupancy rates of these listings. With this information, you will be able to determine your fees and the types of properties you should target. It’ll cost you less than $50 for this invaluable data.
3. Pull together your Airbnb management team (if you’re outsourcing tasks)
In some cases, an Airbnb owner may already have service providers that they use for their listing. You can inherit these if you take on management. In that case, you won’t need this step.
Alternatively, you may want to pull together a core group of reliable people around you to perform the tasks of cleaning, laundry, maintenance, gardening and repairs. Your Airbnb management team should include these people:
- cleaner (who does linen and inventory preferably)
- gardener (for stand alone homes only)
- carpenter (for broken furniture, doors, etc)
As part of this, you’ll be negotiating rates for each service. You’ll either incorporate them into your business model or clear them with the Airbnb owner. Just note that cleaning and laundry is listed separately on Airbnb and paid for by the guest directly, so rates can be market driven.
4. Market your services
Here’s where the Bnb Formula training will first come in handy. The training teaches you were to find Airbnb owners, or potential Airbnb owners. It also teaches you how to pitch to them. We’ve done these pitches successfully and the training actually works. Without it, we would have struggled to bring owners and their properties on board.
Where to advertise
Other places to list your services as an Airbnb Co-host or manager are:
Fiverr – Fiverr is a freelancer website with global and local reach. It’s popular in the US and growing in Australia.
Airtasker – in Australia you’ll find people advertising their Airbnb services on Airtasker. It’s where we went to try and find help managing our Airbnbs.
Upwork – this is an other freelance online marketplace where people go to find help with their Airbnb properties.
Airbnb Facebook groups – there are heaps of these but be careful about the group rules and any self promotion as you enter.
Cohost market – primarily in the US, UK and Canada this is a platform where you can register as a Co-host of property manager for a small annual fee of less than US$50. In return you get to market your services and search job listings specific to the Airbnb sector.
You can make a legitimately great income, be your own boss and quit the rat race. Just manage Airbnb properties for other people. You don’t need a license and you can build a service offering to suit your local market. In this article, we’ve provided tips about different business models, how much you can earn, and 4 steps to get started today.
Find out how to put yourself in the top 1% of Airbnb hosts and maximise your income.
Get learning now, and good luck!