An Owner's Guide To Self-Managing Your Own Airbnb

Managing a short-term rentable condo on Maui is a great way to earn passive income on a property and have a second home in paradise at the same time. Most of our clients that purchase these types of properties are from the US mainland or Canada and use a local property management company to ensure everything runs smoothly.

While there are many benefits to using a property management company, there are some who elect to manage the unit themselves with great results. However, managing an Airbnb when you can't consistently visit the property to make sure it's in good shape can be difficult, but it can be incredibly profitable once you have a system in place.

Here are some useful tips I’ve discovered from my experience in the business for managing your short-term vacation rentable unit remotely. 

1. Marketing and Monitoring Prices

For this investment to work out for you, it’s critical that you ensure that you’re getting the highest possible occupancy rate while charging current market prices. Many self-managers don’t monitor market prices of comparable units and will still be advertising rates well below what they could be getting. Staying on top of prices is one half of the equation, the other half is making sure you’re listing is turning heads online. 

Get Professional Photos and Videos

West Maui Short Term Rentals For Sale

There are thousands of available properties for rent in any given market, especially the Maui rental market. Make sure your listing speaks of professional management and shows why your unit is the one to book. Get professional photos of all main parts of the unit, showcase the view if it has one, and make sure you include pictures of the amenities at the complex. Many go as far to make a video with a virtual walkthrough to really give guests an inside look into what it would be like to spend a week in your unit. 

Reviews Drive Sales

From the beginning, be committed to providing outstanding service and always request reviews for your unit from every client. If you’ve purchased a home or condo from me, you know I always request reviews. You can even read mine here. Reviews are the social proof of the 21st century and let other possible clients know what your previous clients think about you.

You don’t need to pester your clients. All you need to do is provide service that is above and beyond and when they check out, send them a thank you note for staying along with a couple of links to make the process easy for them.

We’ve all decided against or for a purchase based on reviews and in a competitive landscape like Airbnb, you’ll want to get those great reviews!

2. Use Tech to Manage Access

You can't be everywhere at one time, so you need to get your guests a key to the house somehow. Ideally, you could hire someone to handle this for you, but you'd be responsible for paying for their travel, which could get expensive. Instead, you can offer a self-check-in or key management service by using smart locks or smart key safes. 

With a smart lock, you can put a pin padlock on the door and make it accessible by app only so only you can create a pin for guests. Additionally, you can put a key safe on the door lock and control it with an app. This option is not a lock itself, it's a safe that contains the key to the property. 

Nothing is worse than a guest getting locked out without a backup key readily available. With a keypad or app-based entry, you’ll be able to make sure your guests are taken care of and this contingency never happens.

3. Management and Accounting Software

You'll want some management software to automate as many of your recurring tasks and communications as you can. Keeping everything organized is paramount to keeping guests happy and making sure the county and state get their taxes paid on time.

Management software can offer guest communication, availability calendars, reservation management, and online payments to allow guests to book their own stays easily and keep your involvement at a minimum. Lodgify offers a nice solution. 

There are a variety of expenses and associated taxes with owning a short-term rentable condo on Maui. Beyond paying property taxes, you’ll be paying GE tax as well as Transient Accommodation Tax. You’ll need to pay your monthly HOA, the electric company, and other service providers. 

4. Cleaning Services

After every guest checks out, you'll need to clean the unit and prepare for your next guest. However, you can't clean the property yourself when you're managing remotely. Instead, you can hire a professional cleaning service that will handle routine tasks after your guests leave, including cleaning and organizing, disinfection, and refilling toiletries.

Many cleaning services specialize in short-let rentals, such as AirBnbs. If you would like a referral for this task, just give me a call at 808-214-4799 and I’m happy to share my list with you. Your cleaner will also most likely be your required on-island point of contact on the island, required by the county for off-island owners. That will be a pivotal relationship in your success. 

5. Repairs and Maintenance

You'll need to have repair and maintenance contacts available any time of day to take care of emergencies. All properties require some level of maintenance, so it's important to be able to serve your guests to provide them with a quality experience even when something goes wrong. As a landlord, you must ensure that problems are resolved timely, and your guests expect this of you.

Anything less than the best service will result in a negative review that hurts your bottom line. Hiring a professional maintenance team that's able to respond to issues any time of day is imperative. Your maintenance team should consist of:

  • Electrician

  • Plumber

  • Handyman 

  • Pest control service

You can also invest in a service that will take care of maintenance and problems pertaining to the property for you. Instead of dealing with coordinating multiple people, a company will take care of hiring professionals and ensuring your AirBnb is properly taken care of. 

6. Security Cameras

As a host, you must tell guests if you have any security cameras in the home. Having cameras in the home may prevent your property from getting booked, so it's typically best to keep them outside so you can monitor guests coming and going instead of what they're doing inside the home. While it might not sound useful to watch guests come and go, it can be helpful to ensure guests and checking in and out on time. Plus, as a great host you should respect your guest’s privacy. 

7. Provide a Welcome Package

Airbnb is all about providing a quality service that's better than anything guests could get at a boring hotel. Providing a welcome package is a great way to introduce yourself without the need to be there to hand your guests the key. Your welcome pack should provide:

    • A nice welcome note

    • House rules

    • Trash disposal instructions

    • Information about local attractions 

    • Emergency contact numbers

    • Information about the property, such as WiFi password, how to use the appliances, etc.

8. Be Available

Even though you can't pop in whenever your guests need something, you should remain available. You can expect a few late-night messages or calls from guests with emergencies, so it's important to pick up the phone or give them information on who to contact via your voicemail recording.

During the day, guests will expect to be able to contact you directly and not have to call anyone else. By being available, you can provide them with a quality experience to get good reviews and start booking more guests. 

A Successful STR Investment Should Pay Your Bills (And Then Some)

There are many ways to reduce your mortgage costs, but vacation renting can typically cover all of your payments. We find that with 30%-40% down, you should be at break-even or above based on historical data and current clients' data. As rates begin to tick upwards after the historical lows of the last couple of years, you’ll certainly want to stay in tune with home loan interest rates.

Many mortgage lenders on the mainland will not finance short-term rentable properties on Maui, also known as condotels. You really do need to work with a local Maui lender to get the loan approved and I can provide a list of my top lenders easily upon request.

Maui recently banned renting single-family residences on a short-term basis and the consequences for breaking this law are pretty severe. Many markets on the US mainland and in Canada still allow for this practice though. If you’d like to discuss any of these aspects of self-managing an STR, feel free to give me a call to discuss. Choosing the right unit to begin with is one of the most important steps to a successful investment and I specialize in helping investors like yourself do just that.

Final Thoughts

Managing AirBnbs by yourself without being physically present can sound overwhelming, but with these tips, you can allow guests to check themselves in and learn about the property and your rules on their own. Additionally, by finding 24/7 maintenance vendors, you can rest assured the property can be properly maintained and cared for even though you're not there. 

If you’re thinking that self-managing isn’t for you, which it isn’t for most, check out this article on property management companies on Maui for more information on that.

Get In Touch

Evan Harlow Maui

Get started on your journey to owning property on Maui by getting in touch with us at Maui Elite Property. 

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