Airbnb and the short term letting (STL) market in general really took a beating during the initial phases of the COVID pandemic, so how is this strategy holding up as an option post COVID? 

The Property Mythbusters team – John Gilmovich from Real Property Manager, Ken Hew from Avvora Finance, and Debra Beck-Mewing from The Property Frontline discussed the viability of the STL strategy in their latest podcast. 

Full impact 

STL properties that were once commanding $1,000’s per night dropped to zero literally overnight, and many may never return to that level of income. 

Interestingly, the pandemic did more than just turn off income – it pivoted the balance of the STL market.  Shortly into the initial phases of lockdown, seasonal beach shacks became year-round solid earners, and are now part of the race to relocate to regional areas. 

As with any strategy, your success will depend on the implementation, so the team covered the topic from three key areas. 

Watch the episode here:

Legislation 

John explained the size and range of the market and discussed the legislative changes that have recently been introduced.  The new legislation has increased the operating costs for STL properties, and for properties in strata complexes the legislation sets limits on the number of weeks a property can be used for the letting period. 

Another key change is the introduction of fines for bad owners – fines of up to $1.1 million can be levied to owners who breach the new regulations.  If you run your STL through a company, that means the corporate level fines will apply to you.  In addition, there is now a public register for bad operators. 

One major factor impacting the whole market is the visibility the ATO now has over earnings.  In the early days of STL, owners could rent out rooms and not be compelled to claim the income on their annual tax submission.  Now the ATO has access to the major platforms, and all income earned via STL must be declared. 

Finance

Ken explained the STL market from a finance perspective, covering the range of ways different banks will view and lend against STL properties.  He also discussed the way the banks will treat STL income when used to assess your borrowing capacity for future loans.  

The variance between the banks’ flexibility with STL income is wide-ranging so if you’re considering using this income for future purchases, it will be important to obtain detailed advice prior to making any decisions. 

Practicalities 

Debra covered off the practical aspects of choosing whether to use the STL approach or not.  This includes thinking about how you will manage issues such as delivering and collecting keys, along with using a specialist service provider to manage the property or doing it yourself. 

She also discussed a comparison between STL and the normal rental market through the prism of four key elements – income, guest / tenant quality, maintenance and workload, and risk. See below for the summary grid. 

Lastly, Debra outlined tips for those of you who already have a property and are considering using the STL approach, and for those who are considering buying a property for the purposes of STL. 

Obtain the full range of insights by watching the episode here.  You can also view the range of more than 30 other topics and market updates by visiting The Property Mythbusters channel. 

About the author

Debra Beck-Mewing is the Editor of the Property Portfolio Magazine and CEO of The Property Frontline.  She has more than 20 years’ experience in property investing Australia-wide and has used a range of strategies to build her property portfolio including renovating, granny flats, sub-division and development. Debra is a skilled property strategist, and a master in sourcing properties that have multiple uses and multiple exit strategies. She is a Qualified Property Investment Advisor, licensed real estate agent and also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Master of Business. As a passionate advocate for increasing transparency in the property and wealth industries, Debra is a popular speaker on these topics.  She is also an author, podcast host, and participates on numerous committees including the Property Owners’ Association.

Follow us on facebook.com/ThePropertyFrontline for regular updates, or book in for a strategy session to discuss your property questions. 

Disclaimer – This information is of a general nature only and does not constitute professional advice.  We strongly recommend you seek your own professional advice in relation to your particular circumstances. 

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