If you are considering investing to become an Airbnb host in Colombia, there are some things to know before making an investment to become an Airbnb host.
I am an experienced Airbnb host. While hosting is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had, it is also one of the most demanding jobs.
Airbnb hosting in Colombia can be a fantastic on-the-job training opportunity for those without experience in the hospitality industry. From preparing your space for rental and creating your listing description to dealing with guests, Airbnb hosting teaches skills in business, marketing, communication, property management, and customer service.
As fulfilling as it has been to learn as I go over the past several years, I definitely would have saved myself time, energy, and money if I had known a few key things before I blindly jumped into Airbnb hosting.
About the Author
My name is Daniel Rusteen and I am a location-independent digital nomad having lived in 50+ cities exclusively sleeping in Airbnbs (1,500+ nights) while remotely managing Airbnb properties and helping Airbnb hosts to be successful.
I come from the days before the Airbnb you know today. I started working at Airbnb in 2013. I remember countless conversations with residents of San Francisco, the headquarters of Airbnb, who had no idea about the company even when it was valued at over $10 billion and 7 years old.
In the eight years that have passed since I first heard of Airbnb, I’ve become one of the world’s best at everything Airbnb:
- Worked at Airbnb from 2013-2016
- Wrote a best-selling book on Airbnb
- Founded an Airbnb property management company
- Slept over 1,500 nights in Airbnb properties, as a guest
- Am an Airbnb Superhost
- Creator of a popular Airbnb blogfor Airbnb hosts
To help you make an informed decision before investing in a property for Airbnb in Colombia and becoming an Airbnb host, I have created a list of 14 things that would have helped me when I was just getting started.
Things to Know Before Investing to Become an Airbnb Host in Colombia
1. Airbnb Hosting is Hard Work!
Airbnb hosting in Colombia can be physically, mentally, and, sometimes emotionally draining. Airbnb hosting is not for everyone, as it’s a job that demands tremendous focus, time, and energy.
You should be prepared to respond to guest inquiries promptly. And you must have a reliable smartphone and ample data and to immediately address problems when they arise.
You — or a trustworthy property manager — must be available 24/7 and at a moment’s notice. That means being available all the time, including the many holidays in Colombia.
2. Location, Location, Location
The factors which determine how various places are listed on Airbnb have a high correlation with location data. The search ranking algorithm on Airbnb helps guests find the perfect listing for their trip.
Location would be one of the most important factors to think about when considering investing in a property for hosting on Airbnb. Think about what areas of the city are good for tourists. Is it a walkable? Is it close to Amenities such as Public Transport? Is nightlife nearby?
People tend to search on Airbnb for popular neighborhoods for foreigners such as El Poblado or Laureles in Medellín. That is why most of the furnished apartments in Medellín tend to be in El Poblado or Laureles, which have the popular nightlife areas of Parque Lleras and LA 70 (Setenta).
If your rental property is in a less popular neighborhood for foreigners, the bottom line is typically less demand.
3. Be Careful – Renting for Less than 30 days Can Be Illegal in Colombia
In Medellín, it’s legal to rent your apartment short-term (less than 30 days) only if you’re in a building whose by-laws specifically allow for short-term rentals.
If this permission is not included in the building’s original by-laws, it can be added only with the approval of 70 percent of the homeowners. So, it’s important to look for properties that permit short-term rentals.
Also, renting a property for less than 30 days is technically illegal in Colombia unless it complies with a certain set of rules.
In November 2018, the Colombian government passed Decreto 2119, which states that all short-term tourist accommodations in Colombia must be registered with the Registro Nacional de Turismo (RNT) to operate legally.
Following this registration, Airbnb hosts in Colombia will be asked to obey the same rules and regulations that are required of traditional hotels.
(Note: Medellin Guru plans to look at registering with the RNT and these rules and regulations in detail in a future article).
4. Goals and Intended Outcomes
Consider your goals for monthly income and occupancy.
- How much money do you want/need to make?
- How often will you have to rent out your property to meet this goal?
- Is your rental price within the market range (see furnished rental prices in Medellín)? If your price is higher than the market, don’t expect high occupancy.
- Is your occupancy goal realistic in terms of the market and your own capacity to manage turnover?
Also, think about the kinds of experiences you want to have—and hope to avoid—with your guests.
- What experiences would drive you to stop being an Airbnb host?
- How much contact with guests do you want?
- Are you looking for a social connection or merely business relationships (income)?
Answering questions such as these will help you determine if Airbnb hosting can meet your needs.
5. Airbnb Hosting is Running a Small Business
Airbnb hosting in Colombai requires a variety of skills including marketing, customer relations, communication, property management, and being available around the clock. You’ll have to learn what you do not already know.
Hiring professional support may be needed. I even wrote an article on the pros and cons of hiring an Airbnb property management company.
6. You Must Have On-Call Emergency Support
You need to have emergency support for plumbing, electrical and other issues. You should get trustworthy referrals and establish rapport with these support people before you list your space.
Make sure this maintenance team is paid handsomely and well-appreciated. It is definitely worth it if they are reliable and provide quality service.
I recommend you hire locally in the city in Colombia where your property is located. That way they have a vested interest in your business and more likely to do a good job for a long-term business relationship.
If you decide to hire budget firms that employs contractors, they are less likely to react quickly during high-stress times like weekend nights or the many holidays in Colombia.
7. Understanding Airbnb Policies, Procedures and Guidelines is Required
Peruse the Airbnb website carefully, and make sure the platform and culture work for you. There are entire sections on the Airbnb website devoted to:
8. Disasters, Unforeseen Circumstances and Do-Overs are Inevitable
Be prepared to handle problems with your property gracefully and have an emergency backup plan in place. Most of all, you should develop tools and processes to handle stress without losing it in front of your guests. Also, you shouldn’t beat yourself up for making mistakes.
Even the most experienced hosts cannot anticipate clogged toilets, power outages, or fallen trees.
Along with doing your best to have a disaster-preparedness plan, you should accept that there are certain things for which you simply cannot prepare. You should also seriously consider getting Colombian homeowner’s insurance.
9. Cleanliness Standards of Guests are Very High
Be prepared to maintain your rental space as if it is cleaned by professionals. This includes keeping linens, mattresses, pillows, and even hidden areas spotless.
Cleaning services are relatively inexpensive in Colombia so you probably won’t be maintaining your rental space in Colombia yourself.
You will also need to consider the cleanliness and overall appearance of any space—indoors and outside— that guests can see or access.
Keep in mind that reviews are very important. Guests pay particular attention to cleanliness and it’s easier to get good reviews if there is cleanliness to begin with.
10. Guests are Your Customers, Not Your Friends
No matter how warm the rapport or how bonded you feel with your guests, you absolutely should treat them as paying customers.
In my experience, learning to provide warm, personal AND professional service is a wonderful aspect of Airbnb hosting that can enrich your life.
11. Planning for Slow Seasons is Necessary if You Rely on Airbnb Income
Whether you budget carefully, reduce your rates, or take in a long-term Airbnb guest, developing a strategy to get through inevitable slow periods is key to maintaining a desired income.
This was obviously very important when the global coronavirus pandemic hit and travel restrictions were put in place.
12. If Sartre’s Famous Words “Hell Is Other People” Ring True for You, Proceed with Caution
Whether or not you plan to share space in your private residence or a separate property, keep in mind that Airbnb hosting requires excellent communication skills and the ability to deal with people under all kinds of circumstances.
Introverts and those of us with a lower threshold for social interaction need to set limits with guests and be realistic about what we can handle. A perfectly sane way to do this is simply to find and hire a good property management company.
13. Developing a Routine and Learning the Ropes Takes Time
You might not meet all your goals and expectations right away. Patience and turning to Airbnb for support will help keep you sane and supported, as you create your own unique model for doing business.
14. You Will Encounter People Who Do Not Value Your Time and Effort
Do not take it personally. You will encounter guests who do not appear to value your effort or time. For some people, this might be especially challenging if guests share space where you live, or you tend to be sensitive.
Fortunately, you do not have to offer your rental space to anyone who rubs you the wrong way. Learn how to spot problem guests based on their Airbnb profile.
15. Setting Boundaries is Crucial to Success, Security and Sanity
Before investing in a property and listing your space on Airbnb, it is a great idea to get clear about your physical and emotional boundaries.
If setting boundaries is difficult for you, you will need to learn how to do this effectively. Fortunately, Airbnb hosting offers endless opportunities to practice.
Medellin Guru’s Airbnb Series
Medellin Guru now has a series of several articles about Airbnb in Colombia:
- 9 Strategies to Find Killer Deals on Airbnb in Colombia
- 15 Things to Know Before Investing to Become an Airbnb Host in Colombia
- 10 Airbnb Best Practices for Airbnb Hosting in Colombia
- 9 Tips to Attract Long-Term Airbnb Guests in Colombia
- 7 Strategies for Airbnb Slow Season in Colombia
- How to Identify Problem Airbnb Guests in Colombia Before They Book
- 15 Ways to Increase Your Airbnb Search Rank In Colombia
- How Safe is Airbnb in Colombia? Is it Safe to Use Airbnb in Colombia?
- Airbnb Travel Itinerary for Your Airbnb Guests in Colombia
- How to Get Started on Airbnb in Colombia: A Guide
Are You Looking to Buy a Property for Airbnb Hosting in Colombia?
Medellin Guru partnered with RE/MAX Coffee Realty to offer real estate services to foreigners and Colombians interested in buying and selling properties in Medellín and Colombia.
Several Medellin Guru readers have asked about real estate and advice about buying and selling properties for Airbnb hosting. So, we partnered with RE/MAX Coffee Realty to offer reliable real estate services to readers.
We decided to partner with RE/MAX Coffee Realty for services for buying and selling real estate for several reasons:
- RE/MAX is the largest real estate company in the world and is a well-known brand for foreigners.
- RE/MAX is one of the largest real estate companies in Colombia with 35 offices in four cities (Medellín, Bogotá, Cali and Barranquilla). So, RE/MAX can offer real estate services to readers in several locations in Colombia.
- In Colombia, RE/MAX has over 350 real estate agents including more than 70 agents in Medellín. Also, RE/MAX has agents that are bilingual and speak both English and Spanish.
- RE/MAX ensures properties are not overpriced by performing a study of market property prices known as an ACM (Análisis Comparativo del Mercado).
To use this real estate partner service from RE/MAX, just click on the button below.
Fill out a very short form and RE/MAX offers a free consultation to provide information about the local market, current pricing information and tips for buying or selling properties.
The Bottom Line: Things to Know Before Investing to Become an Airbnb Host in Colombia
The above list of things to know before investing to become an Airbnb host in Colombia are based on my experience over the past several years.
Keep in becoming an Airbnb host in Colombia is not for everyone. I wish I had known the above list before I got started, it would have made things so much easier.
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