How to Flip Homes on Airbnb

Let’s Hack Real Estate by Ghilia Weldesselasie

Ghilia Weldesselasie
Feb 5, 2017 · 10 min read

Written by Ghilia Weldesselasie

The following post is an in-depth guide on flipping homes on Airbnb and becoming a real estate “tycoon”. The post is formatted like a journal. All month I’ll be logging the moves I make, the clients I get and the revenue I earn on Airbnb so that hopefully you can use these tips to make some money on Airbnb.

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05/02/2017

This month, I’ll be running a few tests on Airbnb. I plan on renting out a few places on Airbnb. Only problem is that I don’t own any places.

Ooops…

I was hoping on browsing some of the most popular listings on Airbnb, duplicating the listings and then flipping them by renting them out at a higher price and pocketing the difference. The actual owners still make their money and I make some too, everybody wins (except maybe the landlord). I still have to check it out and see if it’s even legal or at least compliant with the TOS.

I do this for a few reasons:

  1. I don’t own any places (lol)
  2. I can startup without any initial costs.
  3. I don’t have to shoulder the responsibility of being a good host. Lots of time saved.
  4. If anything goes wrong I don’t even have to take care anything, the acutal owners and Airbnb have it all taken care of (not actually sure of this, I’ll check to make sure).
  5. I can manage the listings remotely, therefore you can go international. Imagine telling someone you “own” property all over the world.

05/02/2017

I contacted my first host today. Here’s how the exchange went:

Me: Hey guys, I’m running a short experiment where I rent out places on Airbnb at a higher price. I wanted to know if it was okay with you to stay here while renting out this place on another listing on Airbnb. You’d still make just as much money, maybe even more if you can get more people to stay at your place.

Thanks a lot, Ghilia

Host: What’s the point of this?

Me: The point is I’m able to make money renting out places. I don’t have the money to buy a place so I’m using Airbnb to make some money on the side for my studies.

Host: Smart. Sorry won’t work. Keep in mind prices have to be reasonable too. Good luck.

Me: Okay thanks anyways. If you don’t mind me asking, what is it that made you refuse. Is it not safe enough? Is there anything in particular that made you hesitant to accept?

Host: No benefit for me. Thanks

Me: Okay fair enough. I just have three last questions. If I were to offer you a cut would you have accepted? And if you had found out that I had done this without your permission how mad would you be? Would you be mad even if I was still paying for your listing and then pocketing the profit made off of mine?

Host: I won’t be happy of course. You said it’s out of necessity as a side income because you’re a student, I am in a similar condition. As long as it’s temporary till you fix your situation and you make sure you take perfect care of the condo … other than that you shouldn’t do this, unless you make a deal with the owner. Just my two cents on the matter.

I am now faced with an interesting dilemma. Do I omit the fact that I’m duplicating listings and they go on with their lives in bliss ignorance or do I come right out admit I’m renting out their listings and show them how they could make more money. I don’t want to lie but if I have to, let’s just say I gotta do what I gotta do. I’m going to test both of these options on other listings and see which one works out for me.

06/02/2017

Yesterday I talked about how I was going through a dilemma about whether I should be honest about flipping homes on Airbnb. This is what happened when I tried to be upfront about it and even offered an incentive:

Me: Hey (their name), I’m running a short experiment where I rent out places on Airbnb at a higher price. I wanted to know if it was okay with you to stay here while renting out this place on another listing on Airbnb. You’d still make just as much money, maybe even more if you can get more people to stay at your place. I’m willing to discuss how much of a cut I could give you. Thanks

Them: Not interested. Thank you.

I’m not mad, it’s completely understandable why they would refuse. On the other hand I still have another option, even if it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Now as I was creating a listing I found that I had to give in the address. When I tried to find the addresses of the listings I was duplicating I came up empty. Turns out Airbnb hides the addresses.

Hmmmm, what do I do now?

Fortunately I found an easy way to circumvent this. I can give any address around that area and when I book a stay at the original listing the address will be revealed to me. And then I just edit my listing to show the actual address.

Believe it or not, I only just realized how shady this is.

After an hour I managed to duplicate my first listing. Check it out!


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07/02/2017

Today, I just found out that Airbnb has a feature called co-hosting.

This is a game changer.

This whole time I was omitting I was duplicating listings, when instead I could’ve been focused on getting a few listings to add me as their co-host. Co-hosting is basically a way to manage a person’s listing for them.

For a cut (my favorite part!).

From now on I’m going to focus on getting as many people to add me as their co-host. I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

Later tonight, I messaged a host to ask if I could help co-host this listing. Here’s how it went:

Me: Hey _insert name here_, I really like your place it looks amazing. I wanted to know if you need any help managing your listing on Airbnb. I’m willing to manage all communications and booking with your customers, so all you’ll have to is prep the place the night before. I want to help you become a Superhost on Airbnb. If you need help bringing your listing to the top of Airbnb feel free to add me as your co-host. Thanks, Ghilia

Host: Thanks so much Ghilia for the message… I’ll keep you in mind!

I wonder if she’s actually going to need my services soon considering her listing is brand new, she might not need help managing her listing. Only time will tell.

P.S.: I’m also following these blogs to learn more about hosting on Airbnb.

09/02/2017

In the past few days, I hit up a few other hosts in the Montreal Area to see if they needed help managing their listings. About 5 of them said no, the other 3 haven’t responded yet. Most of them just replied “not interested”.

I’m contacting Super hosts and new hosts with only a few reviews. I’m not sure which will work better. I assumed Super hosts would need my services more than new hosts, but maybe I should target new hosts and convince them I can bring their listings to the front page of Airbnb listings.

I have to figure out a way to promote my services to hosts worldwide. Maybe a guest post on a blog should do it. I’m thinking the headline would be something like “Passive Income with Airbnb: reaping the rewards with none of the work”. If I can successfully convince a small percentage of hosts to use my services, I’m in. After that, the snowball effect will bring more hosts to me.

Or I could create a leader board or community of co-hosts where hosts looking to delegate can find a co-host to help them manage.*

The only problem with that is that I have to start something that hasn’t been tried before on the Airbnb platform. So far, co-host have usually been found through mutual contacts. Not many people would let a complete stranger manage their homes for them, so I’m fighting a losing battle at the moment. I have to convince people that delegating and letting other people manage their listing is the future and the way to go. Hard, but not impossible. If Brian Chesky can convince people to let strangers into their homes, then I can convince people to let me manage them.

*Sidenote: I heard that Airbnb is working on this sort of network as we speak, so I have to act fast because they only plan on featuring Super hosts. If Super hosts are the only ones featured, then I’m never going to be able to co-host any listings.

09/02/2017

I was talking with a potential customer today and they let me know that I my commission fee is too high compared to other services that charge 2%.

Hold up wait a minute. What other services!?

Sure enough a quick google search of “airbnb listing management” yielded this. Guesty completely destroyed my business model. They do everything I promised to do, faster and cheaper. I can’t compete with that.

On the bright side, another person I contacted wants to talk so as long as he doesn’t hear about Guesty I’m good.

I’ll have to find another way to make money on Airbnb. Either I’ll have to personally find people to let me list their homes on Airbnb or it’s back to duplicating listings (yay!). But my dream of co-hosting a bunch or properties across the world and getting a nice 20% cut of every booking is pretty much done.

I still have the rest of the month to make money tho. After that, if I don’t make a decent amount of money on Airbnb I’ll stop until I get my own place.

10/02/2017

I have a few ideas about how I could make some money on Airbnb:

  • Personally contact owners of beautiful homes
  • Start a service that sets up your listing for you and maintains it
  • Contact people who are trying to sell their homes and pitch my services to them, they can make money while waiting to sell the house.
  • Find co-hosts that host several properties and convince them to let me handle them

I like the first three because it involves property owners who haven’t even considered listing on Airbnb, while co-hosts and people that are already on Airbnb will usually refuse because they like the way things are now, they don’t feel as if I add enough value to justify my 20% cut. If you want a cut of the bookings, you have to be there on day 1 and help them set up.

I’ll try out these ideas in the next few days, I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

12/02/2017

In the past 2 days, I’ve considered quitting almost 10 times. Each time, I told myself that I had to persevere and continue, but then I’d remind myself that making this work would be way too hard without owning any property.

Well, I’m moving forward anyways. Today, I created a gig on Fiverr for creating Airbnb listings. For $10, people can have me write a killer listing for them. My plan with this is that once I create a listing for them it’s going to be much easier to convince them to let me be their co-host (that’s where the real money is). I also made it more expensive than the rest of the gigs of this nature on Fiverr so that once I’ve acquired a few customers I can just outsource the gigs to other people on Fiverr.

let’s hope this works.

13/02/2017

A few days ago I reached out to the owner of this property.

Me: Would you be interested in listing this property on Airbnb? If so, then I can help you set up and manage your listing on the site.

She replied:

Her: Hello Ghilia, unfortunately we are not interested in listing it on Airbnb.

Thank you

I suspected this would happen and I wouldn’t be surprised if this were to happen with the other owners I contacted. I guess I have to stick with Fiverr. It should take about a week for the gigs to start rolling, then we’ll see if I can convince anyone to let me be their co-host.

19/03/2017

Wagwan! It’s been a while (more than a month to be exact). I took a long break from writing due to the fact that I had no clients on Fiverr or anyone responding to my messages on Airbnb. All of that changed last week though. Last week I got my first client through my gig on Fiverr.

Once I completed the gig (creating a listing for new owners on Airbnb), I asked the owner if they would like me to manage their property on Airbnb. The terms we agreed to were 20% commission per booking and a 15 pound (about $19 USD or 25$ CAD) minimum fee.

There you have it folks, I now co host a property in Jamaica.

All that’s left to do now is get my new listing to the top of the Airbnb listings page.

30/03/2017

Not long after I completed the listing for her, the listing received it’s first booking resulting in $66 in revenue. The same lady who ordered a gig on Fiverr and made me her co host also asked me to create a listing for a second property, which means I now co host 2 properties.

Several other people have also hit me up on Fiverr asking me to manage their properties on Airbnb.

Business is booming.

30/09/2017

Never mind, business is most definitely not booming. I completely forgot about this post after I quit on Airbnb. I stopped a long time ago. I’m a crypto currency investor now. I might consider getting back into Airbnb once I have enough money to buy my own place and rent it out but until then I’ll stick to investing.

Make sure to follow me on Medium for more updates.

Underdawg by Ghilia Weldesselasie

Ghilia’s personal blog. I write a lot about my experiments (mostly ways to make money) and my thoughts on blockchain tech. If you’re looking for some interesting How-To articles check out my “Let’s Hack” series.

Ghilia Weldesselasie

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Building Mimo, out here trynna get that 💰💸

Underdawg by Ghilia Weldesselasie

Ghilia’s personal blog. I write a lot about my experiments (mostly ways to make money) and my thoughts on blockchain tech. If you’re looking for some interesting How-To articles check out my “Let’s Hack” series.

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