Property revolution is here now – Gayle Roberts

The digital sharing economy, typified by Uber, is here to stay – and the most lucrative part of that industry is short term rentals. In the last 5 years, Airbnb has had growth of 353 times and in 2015 17million people stayed with Airbnb hosts. In 2018, 20% of accommodation bookings will be for short term rentals. Hear about a book called “Room For Profit” that deals with this trend and how you can cash in.  We talk to the author Gayle Roberts.
Kevin:  We’re hearing a lot of publicity about Airbnb. Let me read some stats for you, just to demonstrate how big this industry is. The digital sharing economy, one of the most lucrative parts of the industry is short-term rentals. A recent TripAdvisor survey showed that 67% of travelers plan to stay in a vacation rental in 2016.
The exponential growth of firms like Airbnb is a testament to the just how rapidly this industry is growing. To give you an idea, in 2010, 47,000 guests stayed in an Airbnb accommodation. By 2015, it had reached 17 million booked short-term stays. That’s a growth of 353 times. By 2018, it’s estimated that 20% of accommodation bookings worldwide will be in short-term rentals. Now, the reason I’m mentioning this is to just demonstrate how rapidly this has grown.
There’s a book that’s available called Room for Profit, which is written by a couple of people, one of whom will be my guest in just a moment, where they’ve interviewed dozens of rental experts around the world just to get a picture for how big this is. One of those is Gayle Roberts, who joins me.
Gayle, thank you very much for your time, talking to you from the U.K., so I appreciate you getting up nice and early to talk to us. Thank you for your time.
Gayle:  Oh, no. Thank you. Thank you for having me. It’s nice to be able to talk about the book, Room for Profit.
Kevin:  Now, you have a legal background, but tell me how you went about writing this book and why did you do it?
Gayle:  I run a short-term rental agency in Nice in France. I’ve done this for 10 years now, so we have 180 properties on our books. This is largely people having a second home who rent it out when they’re not using it, so we take bookings for between 20 and 40 weeks a year on their apartments.
I get asked an awful lot of questions all the time about how to do it better, “What can we do for extra marketing? What do I need to do to just get the best annual return as I can?” So I decided that it was better to write a book and let everyone know about this massive industry now, because it’s just become a revolution in the last couple of years. There are so many people doing this now.
Kevin:  Of course, in Australia right now, there’s a lot of talk about what seniors should be doing with their large houses, incentives to downsize, and so on. This could be an option for them. How can you use that short-term let revolution to fund a pension or to avoid downsizing?
Gayle:  Yes, definitely. A lot of my clients have bought a second home in Nice because then after 10 or 20 years, they can sell and fund the retirement, and the mortgage has been paid by the guests.
But if you’re in a position where you now need to think about downsizing so that you can retire, then instead of downsizing, you might be able to just rent out your spare room, convert the garage space, and earn an income so that you don’t need to leave the house that you’ve called home.
Talking of Australia, one of the things we mention in our book in the first chapter is about Parkhound, and Australia is one of the revolutionaries of the virtual matchmakers, because Parkhound are the ones who set up the renting of the driveways. It might be as simple that if you have a really good driveway, you don’t need to downsize your house, you just rent out your driveway – and how easy is that?
Kevin:  I must admit that’s something new. I hadn’t heard about that.
Tell me about the risks and benefits. I do want to talk to you about the legal issues, too, but the risks and benefit of letting people into your home, well, especially from the Internet.
Gayle:  With Airbnb and sites likes ours, there are checks. With Airbnb, they’re looking at your Facebook account, your social media accounts, and then you have your bank information there, so there’s not an awful lot of risk.
Of course, there’s a risk in everything that we do. When we get in our cars and we put on our seatbelts, we’re taking a risk of driving down the road. The damage risk in real terms is very, very small. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now. I’ve welcomed 15,000 sets of guests through our rental portfolio, Nice Pebbles, and our damage statistic is around 1%.
Of course, you have to be realistic about it. You’re going to find that you have broken glasses, missing teaspoons, but the advantages so outweigh the risk. If you’re going to be nervous about the what-ifs in this new economy, then I can absolutely guarantee that you’re risking losing, perhaps, $10,000 this year but you probably would make that far more by just accepting that the risk is small and trying to join into this economy.
Kevin:  I’m talking to Gayle Roberts, who is one of the authors of this book called Room for Profit.
Gayle, can I just ask you about tips for people who want to rent out their property? What would be your advice for them?
Gayle:  I think, first of all, you need to just put yourself into your guests’ shoes. That’s absolutely paramount. I couldn’t talk about the whole of Australia, it’s so very different, but why would people want to come and be in your area? What’s your location got about it? Then you’d rent your space differently for a 20-year-old than you would for a 50-year-old, so who is going to come to your space?
And then make sure that you can make it as appealing as possible for the people who are most likely to come and stay. What would you want if you are paying top dollar to stay in your home? Things that everyone can do are Netflix, coffee machines – these are easy ways to impress guests – and making the most of the space that you have.
That even could just be a spare room. If you’re next to a university, then it might be that you can open up your spare room or your garage to people visiting their son or daughter at the university or a student for the term.
Over in England, there are quite a lot of people now renting out their spare room for their children who’ve left and gone to university and then bringing in another quasi son or daughter into their home for a few years, which is funding their child’s education, because we all have those costs now.
Kevin:  Just before I leave this conversation with you, Gayle, I do want to talk about some of the legal issues, because I think this is something we need to be very aware of, to make sure that we take good legal advice before we go letting people into our homes, find out about bonds and leases and so on, but also about insurance.
Can you run us through just a couple of the legal issues as you see them?
Gayle:  First, renting out a room is usually okay on your insurance, but you’re going to have to check your terms and make a phone call to them. And it could even be the same for your mortgage company. If you have a mortgage, do check with them.
One of the big things at the moment – I know that New South Wales has looked into it – is you have to make sure that you’re covered under the local environmental plan of the particular council to see whether you can be letting a whole property as a holiday rental.
It’s also something that the governments I find are embracing. Over in Nice, everyone has to apply for permissions but everyone got the permissions because the government understand that if they don’t join in with this, then they are going to lose a lot of tourists, because it’s what tourists want now. They want to be able to go and stay in a home from home rather than a very bland hotel.
Everyone can work together, but the governments want their taxes, the insurance companies want to make sure that they’re not going to be in any way liable for guests burning down the home and that you have the right safeguards in check.
Kevin:  They’re all issues that need to be looked into, but I want to thank you, Gayle, for joining us from the U.K., getting up nice and early to talk to us. We do appreciate that. The book is called Room for Profit.
Where are we able to get a copy of that?
Gayle:  You can get this on, and the price is currently $9.99.
Kevin:  Okay. Money well spent.
Gayle, thank you very much for your time.
Gayle:  Thank you very much, Kevin.

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