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Podcast - Into the Airbnb

Interview with an Airbnb Host from Roswell, Georgia – S2 EP51

Last updated on August 24th, 2022

Welcome back to another episode of Into The Airbnb, where we chat with Airbnb hosts about their short-term rental experience.

Today’s guest is Tracey Lott, an Airbnb host who owns and manages six listings in Roswell, Georgia. She started on Airbnb after experiencing it as the guest multiple times and has been on the road for five years now, accumulating a lot of experience and making a total of about $250,000 with her Airbnb rentals so far. Listen to the full episode to hear more about faces journey and also some interesting insights and tips from her.

This episode is sponsored by Airbtics, short-term rental analytics for high return investments, comprehensive data for insights, ideas, and inspiration. Go to app.airbtics.com to find precise Airbnb data such as occupancy rate, revenue, average daily rate, and so on. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

Into The Airbnb Podcast S2 EP 51: $40-50K annual revenue with 6 Airbnb listings in Roswell, GA

airbnb revenue in roswell

Delia:

How was your first experience doing that allowing, you know, strangers in your house?

Tracey Lott:

Well, I think the way Airbnb has it set up, it makes it very easy for anyone who wants to give it a try because you can literally set up a listing and have it available to rent for a week, you can block all other times around it and that way, if you don’t like it, you know you’ve only to press maybe getting one, you know, booking and you don’t have to worry about future bookings, so that’s what I did. I actually thought, “well, you know what, we’ll open it up for a weekend”. And in fact, I thought no one was going to want to come stay in Roswell, Georgia, I was just kind of thinking, no one’s gonna want to book this. And within 24 hours, I had my first booking and it was from a couple that was coming from the Netherlands and they were actually going to South America from here, and they wanted to stop off in Georgia and see the Georgia mountains and I’ve loved hosting them. In fact, when I host Europeans, I host them a little bit differently than I host Americans just because I’ve gone to Europe a bunch. So you know, I kind of do treat it as more of a B&B offering, you know, fruit and stuff in the morning for them. I really found that I enjoy being a hostess, I love entertaining, so I kind of fits in and then having that experience as a director of marketing and department industry also really lends itself to being good and enjoying doing Airbnb.

Delia:

Did you discover that you like hosting just when you started Airbnb? Or did you know already that it was something that you would like to do in the future when you weren’t doing Airbnb?

Tracey Lott:

I didn’t know that I would like it. I mean, I know that I love entertaining and I’m a good entertainer. I didn’t know that, I thought I might not like having people in my home, but because I have my own private side, it made it still, you know, more private. And so I have some guests would actually come that I would never see during their entire stay and then there’s some guests that love doing Airbnb and they let me know that they want to meet me while they’re here. So I enjoy both sides of the coin, actually.

Delia:

And while you were renting, like your own house, was there any time that you had any particular guest bother you?

Tracey Lott:

Yes, on a couple of occasions, and I will definitely preface this by saying out of everyone that I’ve hosted and I’ve been doing this for over five years, I would say only about 3% of the people that I’ve hosted are people that, you know, it was like bye bye and you know, hope you never book again. But, you know, the majority of them are great, the bad experiences that I’ve had have really been people who, you know, don’t tell the truth. They’re planning on bringing more people than they say, and they’re trying to have a get together or party. And I’ve learned from those experiences and I shut them down very quickly. When I opened the Chattanooga Airbnb already had some experience where that was concerned. So you know, I do have a ring doorbell, ring driveway camera so that I can monitor the people who are entering and you know, I don’t have time to sit around and watch them and what they’re doing or anything. I have no interest in that but it’s for, you know, their protection and my protection and for my neighbors around me as well because I care about, you know, being a good host and not letting people throw parties and damage my home. So I also have noise aware that I had set up in Chattanooga as well, so that I could monitor noise levels since I could not be there physically and I was an hour and a half away.

Delia:

Yeah, I see I understand the use of cameras and noise detectors, you know, in those cases. There are some hosts that exaggerate a little bit with that, with the camera thing, but what you were doing and what you’re doing now, it’s completely understandable. Why did you decided to leave the house? Okay, so the one you have now, the three listings in one unit, is that your old house where you used to live in?

Tracey Lott:

Well, when I started renovating the Chattanooga house, I actually lived in Chattanooga during that time. So while I was living in Chattanooga, I actually rented out the whole house and then once COVID hit and I came back to Roswell, I started running that one whole home and then I went back to running this one, where I just rent the upstairs in the basement area, the two separate areas to my personal space.

Delia:

So you don’t live in that house anymore?

Tracey Lott:

I live in the Roswell house currently, but I did not live in it for probably about two years that I was Airbnbing because I was in Chattanooga.

Delia:

Oh, and you’re currently doing Airbnb in the one you live in?

Tracey Lott:

Yeah.

Delia:

Okay, I understand that. So you told me that you hit the market on Chattanooga on March 2020, how was your experience during the pandemic?

Tracey Lott:

Actually, I was pleasantly surprised. I mean, someone had already rented the Airbnb prior to COVID actually hitting because of the situation there. I bought in a city that you have to be permitted to do Airbnb and I did that on purpose because I didn’t want to risk buying a house somewhere and then them create rules that say the you know, they’re outlawing it all together because, you know, that was kind of a risky investment for me to do because I took that money out of my own home and refinanced it and took my cash out refinance and used it to buy this other house and it was an as is house which means you have to pay cash for those. You cannot get loans on houses that have no plumbing, no electrical, they’re like boarded up houses. Yes, this house had no kitchen, no bathrooms, like it needed new roof, new electrical, new plumbing, new everything. Once I got a working bathroom, I basically moved up there and lived in the renovation and did part of the work myself and, you know, hired out people to do, you know, some of the specialty work. So during that time, you know, I’ve rented this house in Rossville as an entire home at times. And then at times, I’ve rented out different parts of it. So at some point, I might have someone renting out of the seven listings in my home, I might have like three different groups here at one time. So some people buy entire homes, and they do different listings on each bedroom and that’s kind of what I was doing here.

Delia:

Okay, so when you bought the property on Chattanooga, it had to be completely renovated, so you have to pay cash to the owner of the property or to an entity?

Tracey Lott:

It was to the owner of the property.

Delia:

Okay, it’s like the regular paperwork to buy a house, or does it have any difference?

Tracey Lott:

Yes, it’s just a regular closing just like you would normally and also, it’s hard to get loans under $100,000. So in addition to the fact that you have to pay cash for as houses because banks won’t loan on houses that don’t have kitchens and bathrooms in them. It’s also difficult to get a loan. So I wanted to actually get a loan on the house to help with the renovation costs, but I found it to be a little difficult because banks don’t want to loan less than $100,000 typically.

Delia:

How much money were you requesting to the bank?

Tracey Lott:

I wanted an additional 80 to help out with the renovation costs. So what ended up happening was in trying to get that loan, I put it on Airbnb, and literally I just cloned my Roswell listing, there are a few pictures up thinking that, you know, I’m just going to show them I have an on Airbnb and then somebody booked it and so I had to like pack up and like, get out so because they were checking in on March 8, so from that point on because COVID hit there was just really no point like, trying to go back up there and finish the upstairs, I just locked it off and then rented the downstairs only. So literally for the last couple of years, I did month long stays in the Chattanooga house where they only got the downstairs and it consistently stayed rented. So that’s definitely one thing, you know, people who are thinking about doing Airbnb and they live in an area where Airbnb is being outlawed. You can do Airbnb if you rent for more than 30 days and a lot of times that’s more advantageous than having a long-term renter because of the fear of like what long-term renters can do to your home and the eviction process and so forth.

Delia:

So you’re doing strictly long-term rentals there in Chattanooga, right?

Tracey Lott:

Yes. And they were all booked through Airbnb.

Delia:

Okay, and how was your experience with that?

Tracey Lott:

I really liked it, actually, you know, there’s a possibility that had I not sold the house, I probably would have just continued doing that, because it allowed me to, you know, fully be hands on. And whenever I had people check out, I would look there personally, and stay in the home for like a week, cleaning it and getting it ready for the next guest and I also considered it my vacation home, so I wanted to be able to spend time there as well. So I really enjoyed those times that I got to go up there and I did all the terms myself, I never even ended up hiring a cleaner because I wasn’t doing those short-terms that I thought I would, you know, need to do.

Delia:

And did you find it to be like more comfortable than doing short-term rentals?

Tracey Lott:

I like doing both. Because it’s an hour and a half away, you know, it certainly made it easier for me because to manage it being short-term, I would have needed to have, you know, someone that I hired up there to clean for me and that’s what I do here. I like to hire, you know, a college student and train them and then they’re my like, full-time cleaner. Here in Roswell, you know, I’ve had like two or three that I’ve bounced around between, depending on what their schedules are and I was planning on doing the same in Chattanooga, but it ended up not being needed because I found that even on doing the monthly rentals in the times that you would have like sat vacant, you know, on a short-term rental, I really brought in, you know, a nice amount every month. On that house, I was bringing in around 3,000 after expenses.

Delia:

For long-term rentals?

Tracey Lott:

Yes.

Delia:

And how much are you doing for short-term?

Tracey Lott:

Short-term here in Roswell? I always average since 2017. I’d mentioned that there because you ask about where there slow times, there aren’t really slow times here at all. I mostly get people here for sports, business travelers or people here to visit their families, those are really the top three and weddings, weddings would be the other big one. I would say if it’s cyclical it’s because of weddings. And for whatever reason May through September are the top grossing month. Every year I’d make around four grand a month for May to September and three grand a month, the rest of the year. So I stayed pretty consistent.

Delia:

And is it like less work than the long-term rentals and you’re getting kind of the same amount of money.

Tracey Lott:

Yeah, I’m pretty much yeah. Now do I think that I could have netted about 5,000 to 6,000 a month on the Chattanooga house? Sure. Yeah, I do because it slept 10 people and you know, on weekends, you know, I could have charged over 300 a night. And in fact, here in Roswell, I rent the whole upstairs and you know, I’ve just had two or three people recently over the weekend rent the whole upstairs and I mean, I can make $600 over a weekend just for renting my whole entire upstairs. In some ways, I was sitting there thinking, “hey, you know, if I really wanted to sit back and have a relaxing, you know, time with Airbnb, I don’t like put that listing up and just rent it on the weekends, make my $600 and, you know, be done with it”. $2,400 a month just for renting it on the weekends, that’s not bad money. It’s a great way for other people who might think this is something they want to do, but they don’t want to commit to it as fully.

how much can you make on airbnb

Delia:

I understand. So are you thinking on going back to long-term rentals anywhere near?

Tracey Lott:

No, no.

Delia:

No?

Tracey Lott:

No, not really. The only time I would ever do and in fact, it’s really called the mid-term rental, you know, when you do 30 days or longer. Yeah, it’s not a good explanation to call it a long-term rental because, you know, in the industry that I’m from, the apartment industry, long-term rental is, you know, we didn’t rent anything under six months, typically and most leases were at least 12, you know, but the way the city would set it, it is anything over 30 days is not considered short-term. That’s how people can get around those rules.

Delia:

Yeah, I understand. And why wouldn’t you consider doing the mid-term rentals again?

Tracey Lott:

I know I would. I’m not so much interested in them here in Roswell, because of the fact that now I’m back to living in a private part of the house. I like short-term because I like that change out in people. You know, we always joke around that one advantage to doing short-term rental and one advantage for the neighbors who might be upset that you’re doing Airbnb, is the fact that if you get somebody that you don’t really care for, they’re gone and you know, a few days or a week at the most. I do have some, you know, mid-term rentals, like last October, for whatever reason, I had two people from Germany, that rented here, and one of them originally rented for just a week, but they ended up extending because they loved it so much here and they ended up staying for about a month and a half. And the other woman had actually stayed with me previously and she just reached out and said, “Hey, do you have anything?” and I didn’t have anything for the length of stay that she wanted. So I opened up another listing that I have, because I have about 11 listings on Airbnb, but a lot of them just sit dormant. That one of them is a room I have at the front of my house that also, you know, has a private entrance at the front door, it can be separate from my house as all I have to do is shut these barn doors I’ve installed in my dining room. So she rented that because it was a continuous stay for her. So she stayed from like October through about January. And then they were here for a month and a half. Well, the people who stayed for a month and a half, they got their visa for her to come back here and go to school, so they’re coming back July 31 and they’re renting from me again and they’ll be here through September. So I do those mid-term rentals here in Roswell. Do I prefer them? No, not really, because you make more money on short-term, but I’ve really enjoyed having them in my home. We’ve become friends we keep in, you know, we keep in touch. We’ve texted back and forth since they’ve gone back to Germany. And I do think that’s another really great component about Airbnb and you know, the different people that you meet.

Delia:

Okay, so you’re liking short-term rentals and hosting experience so far. Can you tell me why did you decide to leave the Chattanooga listing?

Tracey Lott:

Because when I bought the house, like I said, I paid cash for it and then I renovated it. And the market right now is, there are not very many homes for sell and there are a lot more buyers than there are homes available. And I started looking at what the house was worth, you know, I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the renovation and I probably spent about $80,000 on the renovation. So like my breakeven point would have been around 140 on that house and I sold it completely furnished to someone who wanted to buy it as an Airbnb, for 260. You know, I couldn’t not take that profit right now. So I decided to go ahead and sell it because that was a nice amount of money after, you know, considering that I took cash out of my house to buy it and then spend about $80,000 of my own money on the renovation. You know, it kind of paid me back. You know, and I got to run the Airbnb for a couple years and I would definitely buy another house down the road in Chattanooga, when things calm down a bit.

Delia:

So only that location or are you planning to expand a little more, maybe another listing in your city?

Tracey Lott:

I would love to, you know, buy like property, I would love to buy something on a beach. My sister and I were talking about it because she’s at a point financially where she could buy another property and so she’s talking about being the finance person on like a beach house, and then I would be the person that would manage it. So yeah, I would love to do more. I just wish I had deeper pockets.

Delia:

Yeah, that sounds amazing. And what about the current home you’re renting Airbnb, do you use like the profit you make on Airbnb to, you know, pay the mortgage and all those things?

Tracey Lott:

Yeah, mostly what I use the money for is for improvements on the house. Like I’ve recently did a bunch of improvements to that. When I bought this house in 2015, it was built in 88, so it had a lot of deferred maintenance on it. And like the bathrooms have never been updated and so forth. So I actually have my Airbnb blocked right now, because I have someone coming in, that’s actually going to stay for a month on the 16th, so yeah, on this Thursday and prior to that I had it blocked so that I could have quartz countertops put in the bathrooms upstairs, walls had wallpaper, probably from 1988, not having that changed out. You know, I had all new doorknobs installed upstairs, I had the hallway repainted. So I’m doing some home improvements with the money. And then you know, I also think that running this Airbnb here before I bought Chattanooga helped give me, you know, money to do the renovation on Chattanooga, because I couldn’t get enough money out of my house based on my income to pay cash for the house and then have all the money needed for the renovation.

Delia:

Yeah, that’s right. That’s right, so it help you a lot. Can you tell me a little bit about the current market you’re hosting in? You told me that the high season was between May and September, right?

Tracey Lott:

Yes.

Delia:

So how much is like your average occupancy rate in those months? And how much would be in the slowest months?

Tracey Lott:

Well, here in Roswell and make about 4,000 a month in May through September. And around 3000 all the other months. Then same thing when I was doing Chattanooga, so like last year as a whole, I was making over $60,000 a year with the two Airbnbs combined. Here alone, I’m trying to think like on taxes for the last like few years prior to me buying the Chattanooga house, I think it was around 40 to 50 just here.

Delia:

Oh, I see! And how much is the occupancy rate there during those months? Do you say 100% book, 80%?

Tracey Lott:

Airbnb gives you those statistics, but it’s actually kind of really hard to say because of the fact that I have so many listings, if I just had the three bedroom listing only, I could say, “oh, yeah, I’m 90% booked”, but because I haven’t broken up into several listings. Like at one point, I have these two bedrooms upstairs that I call the King and Queen room and I used to have a listing for the King room, one for the Queen room, so those two rooms had three listings. So when someone would book one, I’d have to remember to block the other one, so I wouldn’t get, you know, triple booked or anything. So it makes it tough because they’re giving you the occupancy of each listing individually that I can just tell you based off, you know, I’m booked every weekend and I’m even booked on weekdays most of the months. Right now, I don’t have anybody here because I’ve blocked it. But I would say if I were to combine all of them and just do it based on, you know, my experience, I would say I stay about 85% to 95% booked and a lot of it really has to do with me and because that’s a great thing about Airbnb, if you’re busy and you have family coming into town and you need that space for them, you just block it ahead of time.

Delia:

Yeah, that’s right. Okay, so that’s a good number for occupancy rate! And can I ask you, so you’ve been doing Airbnb since 2017, so far how much revenue has Airbnb brought you like between all these years?

Tracey Lott:

Every year it’s been $40,000+, so between 40K and 60K, so let’s just say we average it at 50k. So that’s been five years $250,000.

Delia:

250… Oh, that’s a good amount! So do you think every more or less every Airbnb in your area does that number or is just you?

Tracey Lott:

No, I believe other people are as successful and how you can tell is like if you go on Airbnb and I do, I pretend I’m, you know, looking for an Airbnb in Roswell and I’m looking to see, you know, who my competitors are and stuff and when you click on a listing that you kind of like and it says that it’s rare for this to be available. You know they stay pretty booked if Airbnb tells you that this is a great find and it’s a rare find, I think is what they call it. I’ve actually inspired some of my own friends and family to do Airbnb as well.

Delia:

And they host on the same area as you?

Tracey Lott:

Yes, I have a friend that hosts, you know, a little bit more in Marietta than I am. And she sold her house and bought a house with a basement so that she could have, you know, a separate Airbnb and yep, she stays rented as well.

Delia:

Oh, so it’s a pretty busy market as I see.

Tracey Lott:

You wouldn’t think that it would be but like, for an example, I didn’t realize there were so many sports things going on, you know, yes, we have the Atlanta Braves. I have people that come here to see the Atlanta Braves and they stay in my home. But I’ve hosted people here for fencing tournaments, golf tournaments, whirly ball tournaments, pickleball tournaments, curling, it’s crazy. I host a lot of travel ball families, like I had someone that just reached out to me wanting to stay for a week, renting all three bedrooms upstairs for travel ball. Kids who are in like specialties, like baseball and softball, you know, programs where they travel around, they call that travel ball and so I host a lot of those families. So I get a lot of sports type that and weddings, I would say are my two biggest besides just people here on business.

Delia:

Okay, so those are the two big demographics for that area. Yes, that’s nice, okay. And can you tell me a little bit about the challenges that you had as an Airbnb host, so far?

Tracey Lott:

Really I don’t really have many, which is kind of crazy to say. I would say it would be the few bad people that you get, you know, but like I said, you know, when I get one, I just sit there and tell myself, you know, I’ve only had like three or four, so, I mean, that is not a bad number, considering up probably have hosted over, I’d say over 300 stays maybe even more, I need to actually look and see if insights would tell me that, because it used to tell you how many stays that you’ve had. But, you know, all the stays that I’ve had, I can count on one hand the people that I wouldn’t want back here. And honestly, there were people who came in here and smoke pot inside my house, that just kind of messes up your listing for a few days because you’ve got to, yeah, you have to wash everything, it smells bad. Like the first time I had somebody do that it was super bowl, and Atlanta was hosting the Super Bowl and I ended up comping my other guests to free night. I had a lady coming in for a job interview, and she was driving all night from Houston, Texas that I had to call and say, “Here’s the deal, I’m so sorry, your room smells like pod. I know you’re coming here, overnight, I don’t want you to walk in at night and be surprised it smells like pot in my house, I want to tell you, it wasn’t me”. I’ve explained the situation and then you know, expect that she might want to cancel her stay because she’s going to a job interview. She can’t go there smelling like that either. So I caught her account her whole stay. So I’ve learned that, you know, when I read in these Airbnb groups of people that get really mad about the money, don’t be mad about the money, you know, think of all the Airbnb has brought you many was and there was a cost of doing business bottom line and I just considered that a cost of doing business. And you know what, I learn from it and I do things differently. I changed the way that I do things so that I don’t book those kinds of people anymore. It only happened one other time and I realized a loophole that I had and I, you know, fix that loophole. And I think now I’m good. I don’t think I’m gonna have that problem going forward.

Delia:

Okay, that’s a great tip. That’d be it for today. Thank you a lot for your time and thank you for sharing that experience with that!

Tracey Lott:

You’re welcome!

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