Earn bucks for your beds

Holiday home? Airbnb? Buy-to-let? A second or even third property can boost your income and increase your assets if you do it right.

While many prefer to invest in hassle-free prop­erty shares, there is good money to be made from a bricks-and-mortar additional property in the form of buy-to-let, a holiday home, or becoming part of the global Airbnb network. So let’s look at the pros and cons of acquiring a second or third property, and how this can add to your bank balance if you go about it wisely and make informed decisions.


Long-term rental property

Long-term rental properties are not bought with a view of selling them and making a profit, but rather for the long-term income stream that can be derived. However, simply buying a property to lease out and collect rent every month does not necessarily make for a good investment. But, if done correctly, investing in a rent-producing property can yield outstanding returns. Consider the following:

Tax implications Income from property rental is taxable so you will have to declare it as part of your monthly earnings. Remember also that when you sell, because it is a second property, the house or flat will be subject to Capital Gains Tax.

Where to buy Areas close to economic activity and schools attract the most rental interest. This is especially true in tough economic times, when people may struggle to get bonds, or require the flexibility of a rental agreement.

Property managers While it may be cheaper to manage the property yourself, do you have the time and personality to do it properly? If you are employed full time, then a property manager is the best option.

Selling your rental property This can be a tricky area if you are not fully informed of the legal requirements. Under South African law, a landlord is entitled to put their property up for sale at any time, but that doesn’t mean that tenant rights and obligations are automatically forfeited. Laws and processes are designed to treat all parties as fairly as possible.

Tenants often rely on the South African legal principle of ‘huur gaat voor koop’ to protect their interests. This basically means that a lease agreement is given precedence over an agreement of sale, which effectively entitles tenants to retain occupation until such time as their lease agreement expires.

While this may be the default principle, there are circumstances in which it does not apply. ‘Huur gaat voor koop’ only comes into play when a property is sold under ‘normal’ circumstances on the open market. In distress sales, where banks and sheriffs are involved, things become more complicated.

As a property owner you should always include a sales provision in the lease document to give yourself and your tenants more flexibility in the event of a sale. As long as both parties have agreed to the terms, they replace the ‘huur gaat voor koop’ principle.


That dream holiday home

Holiday homes used purely for holidays tend to stand empty a lot of the time. If this is the case, it is not a smart investment. Ideally, your holiday home should serve the dual purpose of leisure and investment, especially if it is in a good location where property values are likely to increase and where holidaymakers are willing to pay good rentals.

When considering a holiday home, the following aspects have proven to be winners:

  • Sea-view coastal property holds its value.
  • Coastal properties with easy access to amenities such as schools, hospitals and shopping centres have quicker turnaround times if you need to sell.
  • Look at the ‘let-ability’ of the property so that you could opt for a letting income should you want to earn an income from it.


Airbnb property

To put it in a nutshell, Airbnb is a global, online room-letting website. The hugely successful concept began nine years ago when two designers who had space to share in their San Francisco apartment hosted three travellers looking for a place to stay – on air mattresses, hence the name! It works like any holiday booking site where prospective travellers select their accommodation and dates from a list of options. The listed properties are not hotels or guesthouses, but simply rooms, flats or houses of ordinary people looking to make some extra money. Wannabe hosts register on the website entirely free.

Nicola D’Elia, managing director for Airbnb Africa and Middle East, says South African Airbnb hosts earn, on average, around R28 000 a month by making their property available for short-term let. And www.nested.com recently reported that South Africans could recuperate house value faster through Airbnb than via traditional rental options.

But not all Airbnb listings are created equal and the average income quoted by Airbnb will be skewed by properties in the hottest locations in South Africa.

Do your homework:

  • airdna.co provides area-specific Airbnb data, with details on the number of hosts and rentals in the vicinity, occupancy rates, the average price per listing type, revenue per room type, and price shifts according to seasonality.
  • Spend a few hours browsing on www.airbnb.com/s/southafrica to investigate your area and current competition. On the map alongside the listings, you can see where clusters of rentals pop up and what their prices are. This indicates popular areas where a host can charge a higher rate.
  • Choose five or six places that are similar to your prospective offering. Compare what each place offers in terms of amenities, and take note of the prices. Work out the average rate, and that should give you an idea of what your pricing should be.
  • Click through each of your chosen properties on Airbnb and have a look at their calendars. How many days are they booked each month? Are they affected by seasonality? This will give you an indication of the occupancy you can expect, and whether this makes your investment feasible.
  • Check if your accommodation complies with its current zoning restrictions, and apply for permission from the city should you be renting an entire dwelling for short-term lets. If your property is in a sectional title block or development, check whether Airbnb and short-term lets are allowed.

Airbnb provides host-protection insurance, but make sure you know what this entails, and get additional cover if necessary. Tax-wise, you will need to declare your additional revenue. Hidden operational costs include a weekly cleaning service and welcoming gifts for guests, which go a long way to getting you good reviews.


By Helen Ueckermann

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