On the ladder part 3: First-home owner house-sits while Airbnb pays her mortgage
Buying your first home has never been tougher. In this On the ladder series, Stuff talks to Kiwis who've made it onto the property ladder and others who, by choice or not, are still renting.
Francie has found a way to own a home. She rents out her Hamilton house on Airbnb while she house-sits for free in Auckland.
Francie, 30, who asked for her surname not to be used for this story, bought a house in Hamilton last April. She paid $435,000 for a three-bedroom brick and tile house in Fairview Downs, and hoped to get a job in Hamilton.
* On the ladder, part 1: Kristi Atkins bought her first home at 21
* On the ladder, part 2: Good fortune, a great first home and a bit of a trade-off
* Tips for first home buyers looking to get a step onto the property ladder
* How to save for a first home deposit
That proved a little tricky, so Francie ended up finding work in the Auckland CBD as an executive assistant, commuting for six months from Hamilton, with occasional stopovers with friends and family in Auckland.
She has now found a better way to fund her mortgage – renting out her house part-time on Airbnb while she house-sits for free in Auckland and works in the city.
Occupancy of her house varies, and Francie often blocks it out to spend time there herself over the weekend and in the holidays, but she says she makes an average of $475 a week. This is considerably more than the $400 she could get if she rented it out fulltime – and she has the advantage of being able to stay there herself whenever she wants.
And how did she fund her deposit? "I was a house-sitter for six years in both London and Auckland, so I was able to put money aside since I was not paying rent," she says.
"That still left me enough to travel, pay bills and enjoy my OE. My parents were happy to be guarantors."
Are you on the first rung of the property ladder? How did you do it? Or maybe you’ve tried and failed? Send your story, video and photos to newstips email@example.com
Francie says house-sitting has been easy – she belongs to an online organisation, paying a small amount each year. But because she has been doing it for a long time, most of her jobs come from recommendations and word of mouth.
She says she as soon as she finishes one house-sitting job, she is picked up for another. "If there is a little down time between houses, then I crash with friends or family," she says.
And what about those Airbnb guests? Francie says she has only had one bad experience, when guests had a party and left the house in a terrible mess. "I have since banned parties at the house, unless guests discuss it with me first," she says.
She charges $105 a night for two people to stay, adding an extra $50 for each additional guest up to six. On top of that there is a single cleaning charge of $50, no matter how many nights people stay. "For a single night, Airbnb take out a very minimal amount, and they charge a similar fee to the guests when they book online."
Francie hopes to be able to work in Hamilton and live full time in her house within the next couple of years.