Opinion is divided on whether renting out properties as short-term Airbnb lets is the solution for landlords looking to maximise their returns.
London-based online agent Nested's international Real Estate Return on Investment Index suggested an Auckland investor would take 22.6 years to recover their purchase price leasing through Airbnb, compared to 31.6 years by traditional tenanting. Its broadbrush figures showed an investor who bought an Auckland three-bedroom property at last year's $783,668 average NZ property price could pursue 2016's average monthly rent of $2062 versus Airbnb's average monthly Auckland rental of $7252.
Some Kiwis who have had hands-on experience switching rentals into Airbnb properties agree there are improved returns to be had, even after vacancies and expenses.
Wellingtonians Georgina and Peter Kiss stumbled onto improved returns through Airbnb-ing after a traditional tenant moved out. The couple bought a two-storey Roseneath home a couple of years ago. They live upstairs with their three-year-old son, above a one-bedroom studio and two-bedroom apartment.
Georgina says: "We make about double leasing the extra spaces out by Airbnb compared to what we did as normal rentals. We really enjoy it and would recommend it to other landlords provided they have the right sort of property.
"Because a lot of guests are couples or singles, we think smaller properties work well, probably in cities or near tourist facilities. It's good to have some sort of 'plus' and our place has lovely views, is close to town and near the bus stop."
About half their visitors are overseas guests, the rest are Kiwis. Stay-at-home mum Georgina says although Airbnb hosts can specify how much guest contact they prefer in their listings, she'd recommend it only to friendly hosts. "I don't think a grumpy one could do it well."
She says Airbnb requires more admin time than traditional tenanting, including responding promptly to emails. The couple largely outsource cleaning between guests and coded entry means they don't have to be on hand for every arrival. They've arranged the slightly more expensive commercial insurance cover necessary to cover them for holiday letting.
They enjoy high occupancy rates that have been helped by Peter, an IT specialist at Weta Workshop, setting up the airbnbwellington.com website to supplement their listings.
He says guests are predominantly friendly but adds it's reassuring knowing rare difficult ones will be farewelled shortly, not like with a traditional long-term tenancy.
The Hungarian-born couple's Airbnb set-up allows them to easily extend their own living space for visiting friends simply by blocking out bookings for a couple of weeks.
However, other Kiwi Airbnb hosts say the experience is not all "milk and honey", citing perceived inequity that renting out rooms in their house through Airbnb is subject to tax whereas having flatmates isn't. Some have felt the financial impact of occupancy gaps after cancellations where Airbnb overrode the owner's preferred cancellation policy.
Many point to the precariousness of success being so dependent on guest reviews, saying international guests can be particularly demanding. Some have expected airport pickups and different sized pillows to choose from or complained about crumbs in the toaster.
Kiwis can pursue Airbnb returns without the day-to-day demands by engaging a short-term property management and services company such as myhotel.net.nz for a fee.