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The five Top 5s of short-term rentals

Homes nestled between hills and the sea in Coffs Harbour
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Homes close to the beach in Coffs Harbour can be a solid bet for short-stay investment success. Photo: Shutterstock

The five Top 5s of short-term rentals

Whether you’re looking for the ideal Christmas holiday accommodation or trying to maximise the potential of your investment property, five minutes perusing Australian Property Investment Magazine’s short-term rental top 5s is time well spent.

Whether you’re looking for the ideal Christmas holiday accommodation or trying to maximise the potential of your investment property, five minutes perusing Australian Property Investment Magazine’s short-term rental top 5s is time well spent.

The API Magazine team have gathered around the pool, slapped on their boardies and slipped on the smooth jazz of Dave Brubeck’s Take Five (of course) to compile our five Top 5s of the short-term rental market. 

We’ve included everything from tips on preparing your property to attract guests and maximise returns, to identifying the hotspots luring travellers around Australia.

With state borders opening across the country (apologies to Western Australians) but international travel still a challenging prospect, this summer promises to be a uniquely hectic one for domestic tourism.

Booking demand for short-term rental accommodation was already 7 per cent higher in September and October than the same time last year, according to AirDNA data.

Booked nights in hotspots tracked by the analytics firm rose by 45 per cent between August and September, or by about 51,400 nights.

Our first Top 5 highlights the locations that have experienced the highest average daily price rises.

Nightly rates across these areas soared 24.3 per cent in annual terms during October, with coastal holiday spots on the east coast claiming all five slots:

  1. Gold Coast 
  2. The Whitsundays
  3. The Sunshine Coast
  4. Coffs Harbour
  5. Byron Bay

Demand drives price, and it therefore comes as no surprise that these areas also dominate Airbnb’s Top 5 most searched for destinations. While the populous capitals Sydney (8th) and Melbourne (10th) were honourable mentions, the most searched for on the largest of the short-term accommodation platforms were:

  1. The Sunshine Coast 
  2. Gold Coast-Tweed
  3. Byron Bay
  4. Mid North Coast NSW
  5. Great Ocean Road

Prices are also soaring on the Mornington Peninsula (narrowly missing 5th spot on above list). The latest figures from the Mornington Peninsula Regional Tourism Board showed forward bookings rose 161 per cent for the week beginning December 20, compared to the previous year. Across summer, demand is up, on average, by 32 per cent on the previous year. 

Demand for holiday homes has been particularly strong but hotel rooms are also in demand. Prices are reaching up to $13,000 on Airbnb for a week in peak period.

Short-term rental, long-term gains

Holiday rentals are all about the 'three Rs' - revenue, ratings, and reviews. 

Australia and New Zealand Director of Vacation Rentals at Stayz, Darren Karshagen, provided API Magazine with his top five tips for maximising the peak summer holiday season. 

  1. Summer and fun - Your property listing will be the second home for families finally celebrating and spending time together with loved ones after what’s been a trying year. Homes that up the ante on seasonally appropriate fun will win the best bookings. Think about changing up your post copy with headlines that talk to the experience - for example, “Private Pool Oasis in Port Macquarie.” Images or even a virtual tour, can play up what fun can be had with colourful inflatables in the pool, putting on BBQs and also capturing dreamy bedding and complimentary soaps.
  2. The great outdoors - Think about seating and recreating your living room outside with comfortable plush chairs or inviting cushions, or a sectional if you have the space. Alongside design, make sure you think about functionality like side tables and a good-sized coffee table for drinks and nibbles. A handful of unique styling pieces in your outdoors will help you stand out against other rentals.
  3. ‘Flexcation’ appeal - Work commitments and lack of annual leave are not an issue for the ‘flexcation traveller’. Vrbo, the platform powering Stayz, surveyed ‘flexcation’ travellers and found that 67 per cent would take one again. Make sure you are setting up property amenities that make remote working from the destination easy. Check and show off your strong Wi-Fi bandwidth as well as the mix between quiet areas and inviting desk spaces that embrace any views and additional play spaces with plenty of games and entertainment that will keep kids occupied. 
  4. Tailored experience - It’s always the little details that matter most. Have a family coming for Christmas? Find out how many and hang Christmas stockings at the ready or let them know about local stores that offer online purchase with click and collect.
  5. Flexibility - Research shows that even more than price, this is what today’s travellers value most. Peak season is also a time where bookings are easier to fill, so revisit your pricing and be loud and clear about flexibility policies. 

Top tech tips

The development and take-up of technology in the holiday rental sector has accelerated. This is partly as a response to increased guest expectations for safety and professional standards, but also for ensuring that they meet the obligations of their communities. 

Five of the most crucial developments in accommodation rental technology are:

  1. Keyless entry - demand for ‘contact-less’ check-in and smart locks has vastly increased since the pandemic. Once a property has a smart lock connected to its software, occupancy and noise levels can also be monitored, ensuring the property, especially if it’s in NSW, is adhering to new codes of conduct regulating short-term rentals.
  2. QR codes - These have become ubiquitous, with most mobile phones having a code scanning app these days. They can be used to provide guests with instant Wi-Fi access without passwords, local information direct to their phones, and guest feedback can be sought through QR codes too.
  3. Voice technology - The tech space is growing rapidly and will present opportunities for international travellers to communicate directly with hosts.
  4. Connected thermostats - Smart temperature control devices in short-term rental properties ensure guests have a comfortable stay by adjusting the thermostat ahead of a guest’s arrival. These smart thermostats should be linked up to the property management system, so they generate savings when the property is unoccupied, efficiently cool a home to a comfortable level before check-in time, and give guests control while they are in the unit.
  5. Digital guest screening – Applying algorithms and predictive analytics around potential behaviours and criminal activity, digital screening effectively weeds out ‘bad guests’ and blocks them from ever stepping foot through the front door. Safely.com which offers tailored guest screening and insurance, says that only 3 per cent of reservations ever result in a claim and the majority of these are purely accidental damage. 

The fine print

State and local governments around the country are introducing new regulations and registration schemes to control the rapid growth of short-term rentals.

The NSW Government has implemented a new statewide regulatory framework for short-term rental accommodation, effective 1 November. Hosts have to register with the NSW Government, with the government capturing the number of days a property is used and will be integrated with key booking platforms, allowing for improved monitoring of the policy’s day limits.

The WA State Government is looking into the regulation of short-term renting in WA and will be introducing a new registration scheme. 

Lanie Chopping, WA’s Commissioner for Consumer Protection, offered a top 5 list of responsibilities a host should know about.

  1. Should you be looking to buy a property to lease as a short-term rental, it’s best to explore whether any approvals are needed or if there are rules stopping the use of the property as a short-stay, such as strata laws.
  2. If you’re selling a property, it might be appropriate to tell your agent if it’s been used as a short-term rental as this may be important information for potential buyers.
  3. Visitors should be alerted to any terms and conditions of using the property and be made aware they have rights under the Australian Consumer Law, need to read the booking platform’s terms and conditions, and know where to go if they have a complaint.
  4. Hosts must be aware of their obligations surrounding the truthful marketing and presentation of your property, 
  5. Make sure your insurance cover adequately covers short-term rentals, as taking all necessary measures to keep visitors safe.

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