How much do you spend on maintenance vs just adjust price downwards?

How much do you spend on maintenance vs just adjust price downwards?

My property is about 40-50 years old, we bought it 8 years ago, it was in some disrepair. We have continually every year spend big sums on essential maintenance issues (think 40 acre farm, 6 bedroom house, old pool). We carefully prioritise on essential and safety related items, and anything superficial, we tend to down prioritise especially if we have unexpected emergencies (like a major roof leak last year). Over the 8 years we also have successfully maintained super host/4.9 average whilst navigating that careful balance of maintenance spend vs pricing appropriately.


It's not new inside, we market as "lived in"/shabby chic and have kept the same rate for 8 years despite increasing costs.


Had 2 guests comment recently privately (thankfully) about it looking "tired" and basically gave me a 4 star rating, shock horror for me. I asked for more details, some were valid and I accepted that (eg I had to replace a perfectedly clean, sound 10 year old fridge because the crisper drawer had a big crack and i couldn't replace for spare parts). Other complaints re uncomfortable couches, parquetry floor scratches etc.


I did explain to the guest that there were many maintenance improvements done in the last 12 months but it's stuff they might not notice like a new roof, new guttering, new pool liner, new pumps, refurbished water tank. I asked, if I had lowered the price more, and therefore expectations be lower, would that have given me 5 stars? Didn't really get a useful answer. 


I'll be clear, nothing inside is new except new Bosch dryer, washer, new Sony TV and now Electrolux fridge. But everything is safe and works well. Our value rating is 4.9/5 usually as well as we do provide a very large country food hamper as part of the stay.


But it got me thinking. So all the experienced hosts out there with big, complex, older properties to maintain, what is your strategy? As your property gets older, do you start to drop your prices, or manage guest expectations better (I'm starting to do that now), just maintain your rate and do your best to balance your spend between essential and the non essential (like a new couch, or new chairs, new floors)? But spending on non essential can't all be done in one hit either - have to prioritise. I've also got ideas on a games room which does require some major fitout conversion.


So what do you focus on? Essential spend decisions are easy. Have to be done. But non essential is harder, but it seems to be the ones guests notice the most and judge you on, no matter if you position your property as "not new/lived in".


It would be very easy decision (not hip pocket) to completely update the interiors/kitchen/bathroom/furniture to be modern but I would never get a return on that charging what i currently do, and would put me in a higher price bracket that would get less bookings. I currently sit in a sweet spot of a relatively affordable multigenerational family holiday home on a farm with a pool on a hill (with amazing views).


Besides, don't have the income to splash out and completely renovate. Note we aren't in this for the money, the rental income just helps offset the bills as we love the property!


BTW not complaining at all, just feel like we are at a crossroads here. Advice people? What would you focus on to avoid looking "tired" knowing the constraints of budget vs return vs what you charge?

15 Replies 15

Good point! I should follow the ebay seller model, whereby sellers remind you to rate them and if you do anything but top marks, please talk to them first! Perhaps a link on the rating system in airbnb would help, because as you state, too many 4-star ratings is the kiss of death - you lose super host etc.