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How smart millennials are turning homes into Airbnb businesses

How smart millennials are turning homes into Airbnb businesses

It started with a bluestone cottage in the Adelaide suburb of Stepney. In 2014, when Bec and Dan Khouzam laid eyes on this beauty, other prospective buyers were giving it a glance and strolling on by. The area was semi-industrial and that wasn’t attractive to those seeking traditional residential streetscapes. ‘We were like “nah, this is an awesome area” and the price for us was really good,’ Bec says.  

Its extremely reasonable $410,000 price tag made it the perfect first home for Bec, then twenty-four, and Dan, who was twenty-six. “We saved by working some seriously long hours and just made sure to be very careful with our spending,” she explains.

Pretty soon, South Australians caught on to semi-industrial style and demand began to push prices up. Within two years, Bec and Dan had enough equity and savings to purchase a second property in Norwood, a desirable eastern suburb.

Listing on Airbnb

Bec and Dan had been in Norwood for about three months and demand for good Airbnb rentals was on the up. At first, they just took the occasional booking, throwing their belongings into the car and staying at Bec’s folks’ place. But soon their gear was being shoved in car boots so frequently they decided to make Norwood a full-time Airbnb listing. “Everyone thought we were crazy, but we knew how much demand there was,” Bec said.

Today, they have Airbnb properties in Norwood, St Peters, Parkside and Unley.

Bec and Dan’s Unley AIrbnb. Pic:  Lewis Potter

Bec and Dan’s Unley AIrbnb. Pic: Lewis Potter

Short-term rental risks and rewards

Putting hard-earned properties on Airbnb isn’t foolproof, though. At 10.30 pm one night in October 2018, Bec got a call from the cops. They politely informed her that the Norwood Airbnb was currently occupied by an opportunistic high school student who was charging entry to her home. An open event on Facebook had attracted hundreds of teenagers.

After the students were ejected, the couple scrubbed until 3 am, then got up early and restored the home to its immaculate pre-party state, finishing by midday – just in time for the next guest to arrive.

Bec wanted the properties visually represented in once place. “If someone wanted to book an unavailable home I found myself directing them to one of our others, however, explaining what a space looks like over the phone or through messages just wasn’t enough,” she says.

Bec’s Insta-ready style. Photo:  Lewis Potter

Bec’s Insta-ready style. Photo: Lewis Potter

Using social to market listings

“Instagram was an obvious choice. I knew I could connect directly with past, current and future guests and give an honest insight into what people expect when staying with us,” Bec explains. Thanks to her keen interest in property styling, she created a beautiful aesthetic and started sharing on her account Adelaide Homes.

They’ve been blown away by the response. It’s helped them build relationships and understand what prospective guests are looking for.  “If anything, we are now more aware than ever of a need for boutique, unique accommodation,” she explains.

“We have been able to connect with guests on a more personal level and show everything that has gone into our homes and the stories behind the spaces,” Bec says.

Things to consider if you want to list an investment as a short-term rental

  • Choose a location where there’s demand all the time

  • Quality photography that makes your listing stand out is essential

  • The extra money that you make from your rental will be taxable if it is positively geared (that is, generating more income than the investment costs you)

  • Research the Airbnb guidelines in your state. As governments look to impose regulations to protect communities, some new restrictions are falling into place.

  • Your property must come fully furnished, so you’ll need to budget for everything from bedding to kitchen utensils

  • Consider whether you have the time to do all of the cleaning, maintenance and administration or whether you’ll outsource it, which will impact your profits

This article first appeared on

Five under $500,000 - September 16, 2019

Five under $500,000 - September 16, 2019

Meet Ruby and Pat - millennials who've made a tree change

Meet Ruby and Pat - millennials who've made a tree change