Turn your house into an asset with these tips.

By Jenny Hoff

So, you’ve invested in an expensive piece of Austin real estate and you just got hit with your first property-tax bill. Welcome to the wonders of home ownership in the capital city. While owning a home in Austin is getting more expensive by the day, you don’t have to wait years before you see a return on your investment. There are many ways you can use your home to make money right now and help offset the costs of repairs, bills and remodeling.

1. Consider short-term rentals.

You’ve likely heard of Airbnb, VRBO and Austin-based HomeAway as great ways to make money on your property through short-term rentals. They are. However, with the restrictions the City of Austin has in place regarding STRs (license fee of $500, hotel occupancy tax, etc.), it may end up costing you more than you can make. But if you live in a good location, you can bring in some serious money to offset your home costs. “It’s important to identify who your property caters to,” says Bee Sharma, a broker associate with Realty Austin. “Is it close to tech employers and may be a good fit for people traveling for business? Is it close to downtown [and]may cater to tourists? Homes with three bedrooms or more work better as STRs since they accommodate more people and don’t compete with hotels or downtown condos.” Bills were filed during the most recent Texas legislative session to ease some of the restrictions, and the Texas Supreme Court recently sided with homeowners regarding STRs, so there is potential restrictions could eventually be mitigated.

2. Operate a business from your home.

Perhaps you want to teach yoga classes or meditation classes, host a language or culture group or tap myriad other options for a talented, smart person such as yourself. Your home can provide the perfect backdrop. This also has potential tax implications if you double up your home as your office, and it can save you the hassle and expense of renting a space. Just be sure to check in with your insurance company and make sure you have whatever plan is necessary to protect you from liability.

3. Rent out storage space.

Do you have a big garage or storage shed that’s sitting empty? There are homeowners and apartment dwellers who could use some extra space to store equipment they don’t need often but want to keep safe. The Nextdoor app is a great place to advertise your space availability and find customers.

4. Home swap for vacations.

You can make money from your home without ever exchanging money. Home swapping is a great way to save a lot of money on a family vacation and get amenities you wouldn’t normally get at a hotel or short-term rental. Websites like lovehomeswap.com and homeexchange.com charge an annual fee to facilitate these exchanges, but it’s very little, compared with what you can save. You’re lucky to live in Austin because people want to come here. The next time a festival comes around, get out of town, find someone with a home that offers what you need (perhaps baby cribs, high chairs, an office space) and swap your own space for theirs.

Many people think of their home as an asset, but in reality, it’s a liability. A lot of money goes out of your pocket to your mortgage, insurance and upkeep. You may get a return on your investment when you sell it, but that’s if the market stays hot and you don’t incur any unforeseen costs. Use these ideas to turn your biggest investment into an asset by creating a cash flow that can help you ride the real-estate market waves with ease. 



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