Ah, the dream. A mountain cabin in the Colorado Rockies. Or a second home in Denver, one of the coolest cities in the country. We'd all love that.
But it's not like there's a directory of homes for sale that work as vacation rentals. And there's no repository for all the information you need to buy that short-term rental. You need to know the laws. You need to know the rental numbers.
So how do you find an Airbnb for sale in Colorado? Let's talk about it.
FIND AN AIRBNB AGENT
The most important step to finding an STR in Colorado is finding an agent who understands Airbnb. Your typical realtor doesn't know a thing about real estate investing in general, much less investing specifically in short-term rentals.
Everything we mention below stems from the knowledge your agent has. Do they know the Airbnb laws? Do they know how to set up an Airbnb? Do they know the cleaners and property managers who can help you operate your STR? If not, you're flying blind.
Where do you find an Airbnb real estate expert? Uh, well, come on. That's us here at Erin and James Real Estate. Contact us today if you're ready to get started.
KNOW THE AIRBNB LAWS
In Colorado, short-term rental laws are city or county specific. (There is no state law.) And many, if not most, cities do not allow Airbnb unless it's in your primary residence. Buying a Colorado property to use as a vacation home in a city that does not allow STRs could cost you a lot of money.
So it's vital that you know what cities and areas allow for Airbnb investment properties. (Denver proper, for instance, does NOT allow non-owner occupied STRs, but Arvada and Wheat Ridge right next door do allow them. Colorado Springs used to allow them everywhere. Now, you have to get creative to find STR-eligible homes. You get the picture.)
Some cities are good at posting their rules. Others are not. If you want to do some digging, call the planning department of the area you're researching. Ask for the "planner of the day." (Most cities and counties have a planner on-call to answer questions.) And press them on what you can and cannot do.
A word of CAUTION! Even planning departments often don't know what's in their own ordinances. I can't tell you how many planning officials have told me you cannot do Airbnb in their city only for me to ask for the actual ordinance and find that yes, in fact, you can do short-term rentals. So ask the questions but also ask for a copy of the ordinance that backs up what they say.
Or, again, just call us. We know the Airbnb laws in most Colorado cities.
Also, check out our list of Secret Colorado Towns to Buy a Vacation Rental.
RESEARCH AIRBNB REVENUES
Okay, once you know what areas allow for short-term rentals in Colorado, you can start looking at homes. Maybe you're going to visit this home every winter or every summer. But this is likely an investment as well, so it's important to know what kind of revenues you can pull in with an STR.
Sites like AirDNA and Rabbu scrape data from the vacation rental sites (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.) and can generate revenue estimates for an address. This is a great first step, but you should always take these estimates with a grain of salt.
First off, if you're looking for a vacation rental in an area that doesn't have a lot of other STRs, then the data used to generate the estimates is not as robust and could be skewed by one or two outlying properties.
Secondly, it's important to understand what AirDNA and Rabbu are looking at. It's purely numbers -- similar number of bedrooms, similar number of bathrooms and similar geographic area. AirDNA does not know if one house is totally updated, has a hot tub and incredible views, and the other property is a total dump.
Look at the comps these sites use to get further clarification. If the home you're looking at is superior to the comps, then that estimate might be low. If your home is actually not nearly as nice as the comps used, then the revenue estimate might be too high.
Finding eligible short-term rentals for sale in Colorado is not rocket science. Connect with a real estate agent that knows the local Airbnb markets. Research the STR rules and regulations. And dig into the revenue numbers. After that, put in some offers and start enjoying our mountains, our 300 days of sun, our great beer and legal weed and fantastic quality of life.
Ready to buy a Colorado Airbnb property? Reach out to us today.