How to Sell or Buy an Airbnb with Existing Bookings. Moving Guests. Listen to the podcast episode and read the transcript below.
How to buy or sell an Airbnb with existing bookings
Hi everybody. John here and welcome to another episode of Vacation Rental and Airbnb Mastery. Today we’re gonna talk about what happens when you sell your Airbnb and it has existing bookings and the person who acquired your Airbnb actually wants to keep those bookings. Now, first off, I want you to remember, you should always consult your CPA or your attorney when doing anything with a real estate transaction. However, it’s not too hard to transfer bookings to the new owner. And there’s a couple of ways you can go about doing that. The new owner probably wants to keep the booking history and the business. However, if you’re not giving them access to the entire Airbnb profile, you’re probably going to have to ask the guests to cancel and rebook under the new host profile, which includes a couple of steps to not rattle the guest in Florida, a host, I know Margaret actually sold her Airbnb, and the new owner wanted to just take over the Airbnb listing.
Canceling bookings after you purchase an airbnb or vacation rental
Uh, what she did was she just transferred the password and the, the username and actually went in and changed a dual verification. However, it’s against Airbnb’s terms and conditions to do so. I know several hosts that have, uh, changed hands of the property this way. However, it’s not the best way to go about it. Actually, the best way to transfer, uh, bookings post sale is to ask the guests to cancel and rebook under the new listing. And if you want to cancel like your bookings penalty free, the best thing is to send a copy of your sale document and a deed over to Airbnb so they can actually see that a transaction occurred. And most of the times they just wave the cancellations without any sort of penalties whatsoever. Now, if you cancel a reservation or Airbnb does, you don’t need to worry about your guests being charged for service fees when they rebook because they’ll only be charged once when they do the rebooking.
Buying an airbnb with existing bookings and moving the guests properly without paying cancellation fees
Um, that’s if Airbnb cancels a reservation on your behalf or you cancel a reservation. Here’s a scenario. You decide to purchase an Airbnb that has existing bookings. What you should do is work together with the owner to transition the bookings by communicating as much as possible to the guests. Let the vacationers know that the property was sold. However, it won’t impact their vacation and being under new management. They will be taking care of absolutely to the highest standards, but you want to use a link to the new listing in the communication with the guest. When you ask ’em to rebook, they can rebook using that new listing link. And in, in a real life scenario, I’ve seen the host get all the bookings back except for one or two when the guest just said No. Like, I don’t wanna rebook under a new listing. It’s a little sketchy.
Proper communication is key to transfer airbnb ownership and bookings without scaring guests…
I’m just gonna book somewhere else. But you can look to keep most of your bookings. If you acquire a property that has existing bookings, Most of them will be kept if you communicate clearly and you include the new listing link in that communication so that they can rebook. Airbnb really doesn’t permit you transferring an account. So the reviews of the property you acquired, they’re gonna be gone unless you actually do things against their terms and conditions, the reviews are gone. So if you’re going to acquire an existing property and you think you’re gonna keep all of the reviews, you’re gonna keep all of the ratings and you’re gonna keep all the bookings really smoothly, well, you may want to think again, you can move the bookings that are there, but they don’t have to stay with you. It’s really actually up to the vacationer and the guests if they feel comfortable with doing that.
Can I transfer Airbnb reviews after buying or selling the property?
And the ratings and reviews, since it’s against the terms and conditions, you really can’t bank on that. Um, it hopefully the person who sold you the property does everything possible to ensure a smooth transition, but you’re really purchasing a furnish property that has some bookings with it, and you could expect like 60 to 70% of them actually stay with you. And that’s an aggressive number. I’ve seen some really successful transitions where there were 20 existing bookings and the owner actually only lost two bookings. But then I’ve seen some situations where it wasn’t handled properly and the new owner only got one or two bookings out of 20. So you do want to be careful, um, banking on those existing reservations because they’re not technically a sure thing. Um, and I’ve seen a lot of different scenarios where arguments would happen post sale because one person promised a lot of bookings and then they ended up trying to move the bookings to another home they had, um, and or did something sketchy and just canceled them.
Do not bank on existing bookings, there is no guarantee that they will transfer after you buy the airbnb.
So take people’s word for it to an extent because you don’t want to purchase something. And in that purchase price, you gave them the benefit of the doubt and gave them extra valuation because of the bookings when you may not actually get them in the, at the end of the day, having advised people several times on this, Airbnb will not uphold those cancellation fees to the former owner, but you do need documentation that a sale actually occurred. They’re not just gonna take your word for it. You’re, you are gonna have to give them the sale document for them to not charge cancellation fees. Remember, accounts are actually assigned to people and not properties. That means properties and reviews are host specific. They’re not property specific. So the new host will have to start their own listing and profile and guests stay with host. They stay with hosts because they have a good review profile, but that doesn’t belong to the property being sold that actually belongs to the host.
Who owns the Airbnb account, the new or old host?
So the account is the property of the host and Airbnb. There’s been some really funny situations where the owner selling a property wasn’t responsible at all. So <laugh> in Florida, we had a host that sold the property and didn’t inform the new owner of some bookings. They just said, No, you know what? There’s no more bookings left on the calendar. You’re good to go. You could put your own bookings in there. Well, they actually had a property manager that had several bookings in there. So the craziest thing happened, guests just started showing up. So the new host had guests there that they booked, and then new guests from the old owner would just show up to the house, knocking on the door saying, Hey, I booked this property. Here’s my paperwork. They’d go to the security gate, they’d show the paperwork from, from VRBO and Airbnb saying they were booked for these dates and the property was double booked.
Avoid this airbnb nightmare when you buy an airbnb.
And since the old owner no longer had possession of the property, they weren’t picking up the phone. And then the new owner actually had to deal with two different guests feeling horrible because they couldn’t house that guest. And it just created a really bad situation because the new host technically isn’t responsible. Um, but then Airbnb gets involved and, and everything just gets out of hand. So you do want to make sure the person selling you the property is giving you good representation of the actual situation. You want to ask questions like, did they have a property manager or booking agent? Are they sure they didn’t have any bookings pending after sale? Um, what platforms did they use? booking.com, vrbo, Airbnb? Where were they actually listing? You want them to actually get in writing that they don’t have any existing bookings left, because if they do, it’s gonna create a really awkward moment for the guests that you’re actually hosting.
Beware of airbnb bookings that the old owner did not tell you about.
And imagine the review when you have a guest that you brought and the guest is staying there. And at 11 at night, another person’s pounding on the door trying to get in and trying to get access to the property. It’s not gonna be a pretty review because the guest doesn’t really know or doesn’t care what actually happened. And the worst thing you can do is explain to them while they’re on, probably the only vacation they’ll ever go on all year with their family, why there’s a stranger knocking on their door because they don’t care. They don’t wanna know. They, they, they’re just on vacation and you don’t wanna make life difficult for them. So I hope this was helpful. Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter where we provide you free exclusive resources like templates, pricing tools, and much, much more. If you haven’t left me a review, please leave a review, an Apple podcast. It would help me out tremendously. Get this podcast in front of more owners like you so that I can help them out on their journey. Thanks so much and until tomorrow, take care.