Why I love Multifamily over Short Term Rentals

Why I love Multifamily over Short Term Rentals

The recent surge in short-term rentals has stirred interest among investors. However, it’s crucial to understand the prospects and challenges of short-term rentals before considering investing in them.

Understanding the Short-Term Rental Phenomenon

As a short-term rental investor, you can generate income by renting out your property for short periods. This model has gained traction with the advent of platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, which allow homeowners to easily list their properties for short-term rentals.

The allure of short-term rentals lies in their potential for high returns, flexibility, and appeal to the growing number of digital nomads and travelers seeking unique accommodation experiences. However, like any investment, they also come with risks:

1. Unpredictability of Income

One of the primary challenges of short-term rentals is the unpredictability of income, primarily stemming from inconsistent occupancy rates. Unlike long-term rentals, where a lease agreement guarantees a steady income for a defined period, short-term rentals are subject to fluctuations of demand and seasonality.

For instance, a short-term rental property in a popular tourist destination may see high occupancy during peak travel seasons but could sit vacant during the off-peak months. Consequently, the income from short-term rentals tends to be unstable and unpredictable, making financial planning and forecasting challenging for property owners.

2. High Operational Costs

Maintenance and Cleaning Requirements

Operating a short-term rental property often entails higher costs compared to long-term arrangements. One of the major contributors to these inflated costs is the need for frequent maintenance and cleaning. Given the high turnover of guests, short-term rentals necessitate regular cleaning and upkeep to maintain a hospitable environment for each new tenant.

While some property owners may undertake these tasks personally, others may hire professional cleaning services, adding to the operational expenses. Furthermore, more frequent usage of appliances and furnishings may also lead to accelerated wear and tear, necessitating more frequent repairs or replacements.

Furnishing and Utility Costs

Short-term rentals are typically expected to be fully furnished and equipped with all necessary amenities, adding to the initial investment and ongoing maintenance costs. Additionally, unlike long-term rentals where tenants usually cover utility expenses, short-term rentals often include utilities in the rental price, placing the financial burden on the property owner.

3. Regulatory Challenges and Legal Risks

Local Laws and Regulations

An often overlooked aspect of the short-term rental business is the regulatory landscape. Many cities have imposed stringent regulations on short-term rentals, primarily to protect the interests of local residents and long-term tenants.

For instance, some cities limit the number of days a property can be rented out per year, while others require property owners to obtain special permits or licenses for operating short-term rentals. Non-compliance with these regulations can result in hefty fines and legal hassles, undermining the rental property’s profitability.

Homeowner Associations’ Rules and Restrictions

In addition to city regulations, property owners may also have to contend with rules and restrictions imposed by homeowners’ associations (HOAs). Many HOAs have strict rules against short-term rentals, primarily to maintain the quality of life for long-term residents. Violating these rules can lead to penalties and even result in the property owner being asked to cease their short-term rental operations.

4. Increased Competition

The popularity of short-term rentals has led to increased competition among property owners. As more and more properties become available for short-term rent, standing out among the crowd can be a formidable challenge. Property owners may need to invest in professional photography, interior design, and other enhancements to make their listings more attractive to potential tenants.

5. Tenant-Related Issues

Lack of Control Over Tenants

Unlike long-term rentals, where tenant screening processes allow property owners to vet potential tenants, short-term rentals often offer little control over who rents the property. While platforms like Airbnb and VRBO provide review systems that can give an indication of a guest’s behavior, these are not foolproof, and there’s always a risk of property damage or other issues.

Customer Service Expectations

Operating a short-term rental falls into the category of the hospitality industry. Guests can expect prompt responses to their inquiries, swift resolution of any issues that may arise during their stay, and a level of service comparable to a hotel. For property owners, this can amount to a significant investment of time and resources.

6. Market Volatility

The short-term rental market is highly sensitive to external factors such as economic downturns, travel restrictions, or global events like the COVID-19 pandemic. Such events can drastically reduce demand for short-term rentals, leading to significant income loss for property owners.

The Multifamily Advantage

Multifamily properties, on the other hand, have long been a staple in real estate investing portfolios. These properties, which include apartment buildings, duplexes, and townhouses, provide accommodation for multiple families or groups of individuals.

I love investing in the multifamily buildings because of their several advantages over short-term rentals:

  1. Consistent cash flow: Long-term tenants in multifamily properties provide a steady stream of rental income, reducing the risk of income gaps that can occur with short-term rentals due to low occupancy rates.
  2. Economies of scale: With multiple units in one property, investors can spread the costs of property management, maintenance, and repairs across several income-generating units.
  3. Risk diversification: By having multiple tenants, the risk of income loss due to vacancies is spread out. In contrast, a vacancy in a single-family short-term rental results in a complete loss of rental income.
  4. Growing demand: The demand for rental housing is on the rise, particularly among millennials and Gen Z, who prioritize flexibility and convenience over homeownership.


While short-term rentals can indeed prove lucrative under the right circumstances, potential investors should be aware of the myriad challenges associated with this business model. The road to profitability in the short-term rental market can be fraught with risks.

Understanding these challenges can help investors make informed decisions, ensuring that they are well-prepared to navigate the complexities of the short-term rental market.

If you want to learn more about how I invest in real estate, schedule a call with me today.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional financial or investment advice. Always conduct your own research and consult with a financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

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