AirDNA has gained popularity in recent years as a tool for real estate investors and Airbnb hosts in the short-term rental industry. But is it worth all the hype? This review takes a detailed look at what the company is, the tools and solutions it offers, the source of its data, the reliability of its data, its costs, its main alternatives, and what existing customers think of the product. We'll investigate whether subscribing to AirDNA is worth it for beginner and experienced investors, or whether they should consider another alternative to optimize their short-term rental performance.
So, is all the hype about AirDNA worth it? No. While AirDNA can help investors and hosts with some aspects of their market and property research and analysis, it doesn’t allow investors to search for profitable opportunities. Moreover, subscription plans are rather costly, especially if you want to access a few markets. Meanwhile, there are completely free tools out there which provide more comprehensive services to Airbnb investors.
Looking to invest in a vacation rental or Airbnb property? The Awning Airbnb Estimator is here to help! With our free tool, you can easily analyze any U.S. address to get an estimated income from Airbnb. Simply enter the address, number of bedrooms, number of guests, and whether the property has a pool or hot tub.
What AirDNA is
Before you can decide whether to entrust your investment decisions into a product, you need to know about the company and the team that stands behind it. So, in this section we will answer the question “What is AirDNA?”
AirDNA is a provider of data and analytics for the short term rental industry based on the company’s website. AirDNA aims to empower investors, hosts, and professionals with the tools they need to succeed in the vacation rental business. Specifically, AirDNA tools help find investment opportunities, optimize Airbnb listings, and research market trends inside and outside the US.
AirDNA was founded in 2015, right around the time when dozens of startups emerged to participate in the expanding Airbnb industry. The company was founded by Scott Shatford, an experienced data analyst. As an Airbnb host, Scott realized the need to be able to track the performance of competitor investors and use it to optimize the potential of his own properties. Over the course of 2 years, he developed a method to do that which went into the AirDNA tools available today.
AirDNA is headquartered in Denver, CO, but it covers the entire US market as well as 120,000 global markets. In March 2022, the company was acquired by Alpine Investors but continues to provide the same services to vacation rental property owners.
Since their establishment, AirDNA has developed a number of different tools which aim to help investors find the most profitable Airbnb markets and properties to buy as well as to optimize the returns of existing listings. Other than investors, AirDNA data also serves the needs of property managers, channel managers, tourism boards, and academics.
The AirDNA tools and analytics help:
- First-time real estate investors searching for the top Airbnb markets nationwide or globally.
- Vacation rental property investors looking for top-performing properties to buy.
- Experienced investors searching for money-making opportunities to expand their real estate investment portfolios.
- Real estate agents helping investor clients locate profitable rentals for sale.
- Property managers striving to optimize the performance of clients’ short term rentals.
- Channel managers working on improving the bottom line of their businesses.
- Travel and tourism industry professionals wanting to learn more about the industry.
- Academics and economists doing research on the vacation rental market.
Now that we know who can benefit by using AirDNA, let’s take a look at the exact tools and products which they offer and how each one of them supports your vacation rental investing journey.
AirDNA tools include:
The first tool available on the AirDNA vacation rental investment platform is MarketMinder. This feature has been designed to help investors with the first step of vacation rental property search: namely, finding a good location.
When using the AirDNA MarketMinder, you enter a city, zip code, or street address to access vacation rental market data on it. There you get a lot of historical Airbnb data which allows you to evaluate the potential of the local market in terms of short term rental investments.
First, you get a Market Grade calculated by the AirDNA algorithms to tell you the overall performance of the location based on the following criteria:
- Rental demand
- Revenue growth
Furthermore, you get access to average and historical data on:
- Average daily rate
- Occupancy rate
You can also see the total number of active vacation rental listings in the area divided into:
- Entire homes
- Private rooms
- Shared rooms
Offering data on both entire properties and single rooms differentiates this platform from many AirDNA competitors that mostly focus on whole houses and apartments. Having access to room-level data allows beginner hosts to test out the Airbnb rental strategy and decide if it’s the right approach to real estate for them before buying a property to rent out.
The AirDNA MarketMinder allows you to see on which vacation rental channel the available listings are present:
Moreover, you can see the distribution of the short term rental size by number of rooms and number of guests, the rental growth, the amenities which local vacation rentals offer, and the Airbnb ratings they’ve been able to generate.
A few important Airbnb rental market data points which AirDNA fails to provide are averages of the return on investment that a location offers as well as averages of the local real estate prices. Thus, an investor needs to do a lot of additional research on a market before deciding if that’s the right place for their goals and aspirations.
Another significant drawback of the AirDNA platform is that it doesn’t have listings for sale. In other words, you cannot use AirDNA to search for short term rentals for sale in your selected market. You need to bring your property search elsewhere once you’ve identified an appropriate market with or without AirDNA.
A free version of the AirDNA MarkerMinder is available to let you get started with your short term rental market analysis. However, you need to pay a monthly fee for full access to all available vacation rental data. You pay per market, and the pricing gets quite steep if you want to analyze a large market or a few different cities. We will look at the exact pricing breakdown in a bit.
The AirDNA Airbnb rental calculator, also known as the AirDNA Rentalizer, is the flagship product of the vacation rental analytics platform.
This Airbnb calculator allows you to access data on the expected performance of any property - inside or outside the US market - as a short term rental. You need to input the following basic information:
- Street address
- Number of bedrooms
- Number of bathrooms
- Number of Airbnb guests that the property can accommodate
When deciding on the number of guests, remember to keep in mind local regulations related to the maximum occupancy of short term rental properties.
As soon as you’ve entered the required data, you will obtain vacation rental analytics on the performance of such properties in the area. The short term rental data points include the average:
- Annual revenue that a property is expected to earn as a vacation rental in the next year.
- Daily rate that a property is estimated to generate, on average, in the upcoming year.
- Occupancy rate as the percentage of days that a property is expected to be booked over the next year.
The AirDNA calculator also features an integrated financial calculator which estimates the basic return on investment for a residential real estate property when rented out on a short term basis. To use this tool, you need to enter the property purchase price.
It is a major drawback of AirDNA that it doesn’t provide the listing price or the estimated sale price as this factors in all measures of profitability in real estate including the Airbnb cap rate, cash on cash return, etc. So, when using the AirDNA platform to conduct vacation rental property analysis, you need to obtain this data from the MLS or one of AirDNA’s competitors.
Once you’ve entered the property purchase price, the AirDNA Rentalizer provides you with estimates of the:
- Operating expenses including:
- Annual operating costs such as management fees, lodging taxes, property tax, cleaning fees, maintenance, insurance, utilities, HOA fees, and others
- Startup costs such as Airbnb furnishing cost, home improvements, closing costs, and others
- Net operating income
- Cap rate
While factoring in all these expenses in a real estate investing decision is a must, it’s important to note that AirDNA does not provide estimates of all these costs. Many of them are set to 0, and it’s up to the investor’s own research and analysis to come up with the numbers. This makes the analysis provided by AirDNA rather incomplete.
Property appreciation estimates and seasonal Airbnb revenue data is available with the AirDNA Airbnb calculator too. The latter is particularly useful, especially for out-of-state investors out with limited knowledge of the local market. This data allows them to adjust the nightly rates according to seasonality to boost their Airbnb occupancy rate and rental income.
In addition to the short term rental property analysis, the AirDNA Rentalizer also provides rental comps, under the Top Comparison Properties tab. These are properties that are similar to the one that you are analyzing in terms of number of bedrooms and bathrooms and are located in the vicinity. Considering Airbnb rental comps and including them in your investment analysis is crucial. You can compare and contrast the property you own or you think of buying and adjust your estimates based on how similar or different your Airbnb rental is from the comps.
All in all, the AirDNA Rentalizer can be used by both existing Airbnb hosts and investors who are now buying a short term rental property.
A basic free version of the AirDNA calculator is available. However, it lacks many of the important data points, so it’s suitable for beginner investors who are still just having a look around and considering options on which to focus their investment property search.
*You can access the Awning Airbnb Calculator for free and get all the data and analytics you need to purchase profitable short term rental properties in the top US markets.
AirDNA Smart Rates
Yet another AirDNA feature worth having a look at is the Smart Rates. This tool is specifically designed for Airbnb hosts who already own a property or two. This means that an investor can continue seeing value in this short term rental platform even after buying a property.
The aim of the AirDNA Smart Rates is to provide a dynamic Airbnb pricing mechanism so that hosts can maximize their occupancy rate, revenue, and rate of return.
At the market level, you can see the average Airbnb daily rate per day for the next year. At the property level, you can connect your Airbnb listings to access data on the recommended nightly rates for the following weeks. This helps you optimize your daily rates on the Airbnb or Vrbo channel based on seasonality and local vacation rental demand.
Adjusting your nightly rate is crucial. Lowering your rate during low season helps you attract bookings which you would have missed if you kept your standard rate. In this way you can continue generating Airbnb revenue even when the local rental market is relatively cold. Meanwhile, you can increase your rate during peak season without sacrificing occupancy so that you maximize your Airbnb income.
Importantly, instead of providing daily rate estimates blindly, Smart Rates shows an explanation of the factors that drive the pricing. These include day of the week, seasonality, holidays, booking lead time, market demand score, and orphan days.
The AirDNA Smart Rates tool is not available for free.
As mentioned above, the AirDNA MarketMinder and AirDNA Rentalizer have very basic free versions which allow investors to get started with their research and analysis and get an initial feeling of the potential of a location and a property. Meanwhile, Smart Rates are only available with a paid subscription.
To access all available vacation rental data points at the market and property level, you need to get a paid plan. There is no free trial of the full access. Monthly subscriptions to the AirDNA product are available per market, and the pricing depends on the size of the market:
- $19/month for a single market with up to 100 active rental listings
- $39/month for a single market with 100-1,000 active rental listings
- $99/month for a single market with 1,000+ active rental listings
A monthly subscription of $19 makes the platform look rather affordable compared to other AirDNA alternatives which charge more. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is the price for one small market only. If you want to analyze a few large markets, the AirDNA pricing model is very expensive compared to competitors.
Unlimited access to data in all 191 global markets can be purchased for $999/month, which is extremely costly. The discounted rate with annual subscription is $599/month.
A customer can cancel their subscription online through their account or by contacting the Support team. Upon cancellation, you will retain access to the AirDNA tools and data until the end of the period for which you have already paid. According to the company website, they do not normally grant refunds.
Free Alternative to AirDNA
Just like AirDNA, most vacation rental analysis platforms are available for a fee, whether monthly or annual. But there is an important free AirDNA alternative.
Before you pay money for AirDNA or any other paid platform, you should check out Awning. It allows you to choose top markets and select top-performing Airbnb properties for absolutely free. While Awning does not cover the global vacation rental market, it offers the most profitable US markets including:
- North Carolina
Unlike AirDNA, Awning helps you search through available properties for sale and select the best opportunities among them based on your investment criteria and goals. We also match you with a top agent who’s an investing expert to help you find a good property and close on the best possible terms. Furthermore, Awning offers a Chrome extension for the Airbnb Calculator so that you can analyze the investment potential of listings in real time when browsing Zillow.
Upon buying a short term rental property, Awning continues to support your investing journey. We can help you furnish your vacation rental home based on market demand and also manage your rental for a fee of 15% of your rental revenue. Our all-in-one short term rental management services guarantee to boost your income and profit.
AirDNA Data and Prediction Accuracy
AirDNA provides very detailed information on its data sources, coverage, and accuracy. The company claims to provide the most comprehensive and accurate vacation rental data and analysis around the globe. However, as we will see later in this article, customers point out major data issues.
AirDNA Data Sources
AirDNA data comes from 2 main sources:
- Scraped data from Airbnb and Vrbo
- Partner data from channel managers, property managers, and hosts
The scraped data covers more than 10 million listings in 120,000 international markets. The AirDNA Matching Algorithm accounts for dual listings (on both the Airbnb and Vrbo platform). This ensures that the AirDNA data is not exaggerated and reflects the actual performance of rentals instead.
Afterwards, the Booked vs. Blocked Methodology detects reservations. This assures that the days for which a host has blocked a vacation rental for personal use or repairs are taken out of the investment analysis for maximum accuracy.
Finally, the cleaned data is used for the analytics available in the MarketMinder and the Rentalizer.
Meanwhile, the partner data is collected on 1.1 million short term rental listings all over the world. This data is based on actual reservations.
AirDNA Data Accuracy
AirDNA explains in detail all the steps and measures it takes to make sure that their vacation rental data and analytics are fully accurate. As highlighted on the AirDNA website, CBRE estimates the AirDNA data to be 97.5% accurate for the supply of active vacation rentals and 96.2% accurate for the earned revenue. This is a rather high accuracy, but you should keep in mind that many actual hosts report issues with the AirDNA data accuracy. We will discuss AirDNA reviews shortly.
Since the data comes directly from Airbnb, Vrbo, channel managers, property managers, and hosts, the market-level data is naturally better in markets with more active listings and less good in markets with fewer short term rentals.
The main flaw in the AirDNA data is that it doesn’t provide estimates of property prices and all startup and recurring operating expenses which means that investors need to do additional research on other tools. Moreover, there are no average measures of return on investment at the market level. Last but not least, access to their vacation rental data and analytics is rather costly.
Before deciding whether to use AirDNA, it’s important to know what existing customers think about the platform. Surprisingly, there are relatively few AirDNA reviews on the major customer review websites.
On the TrustPilot website, AirDNA has achieved a TrustScore of 3.2, which is considered average. This is based on 38 customer reviews.
Positive AirDNA reviews focus on the efficiency of the market data as well as the property analysis. In addition to the available data, users also enjoy the ease of using the platform.
However, there is a good number of worrisome AirDNA negative reviews. They highlight the inaccuracy of the data in markets that they are familiar with. Some also report lack of rental comps in certain markets.
Reviews on the BiggerPockets website show problems with the accuracy of the AirDNA Rentalizer as well, and investors recommend using other alternatives or doing manual research and analysis. However, the latter is impractical for beginner and part-time vacation rental hosts.
Both TrustPilot reviews and BBB complaints reveal that the AirDNA pricing is not very transparent, and that they have refused refunds to customers that did not find value in the data.
AirDNA Competitors and Alternatives
After the establishment of Airbnb.com, the vacation rental industry grew quickly, opening room for a lot of various products and services. As a result, there are a number of AirDNA alternatives which offer similar market and property analysis, but there are some important differences between them.
Mashvisor vs AirDNA
One of the first names which comes to mind when you think about alternatives to AirDNA is Mashvisor. In the debate AirDNA vs Mashvisor, there is no clear winner as both platforms come with major pros and cons.
The main advantages of Mashvisor over AirDNA is the fact that the former provides investment property analysis of both long term and short term rentals and that it has a search engine as well as a Property Finder which allows investors to look for profitable properties for sale. In addition, Mashvisor provides data on property prices and all expenses which are considered into the market and property analysis. It also calculates cash on cash return which - unlike the cap rate - reflects the impact of the financing method on the rate of return.
In terms of disadvantages, Mashvisor covers only the US market and does not have easily accessible city-level and zip code-level data as its market analysis focuses on neighborhoods. Moreover, many customers report issues with the Mashvisor rental data and product usability.
While Mashvisor has a 7-day free trial, it doesn’t provide free access afterwards.
PriceLabs vs AirDNA
Another notable AirDNA competitor is PriceLabs. A major difference between the two products is that PriceLabs targets existing Airbnb hosts and property managers and does not really offer help to investors looking to buy short term rentals.
Similar to AirDNA, PriceLabs covers the global market and provides both Airbnb and Vrbo data. As a benefit, it integrates with over 70 property and channel managers.
A huge drawback of PriceLabs is that it doesn’t provide detailed data methodology which raises questions in savvy real estate investors and property managers.
PriceLabs offers a 30-day free trial as well as free access to portfolio analytics. The Dynamic Pricing tool starts at $19.99/month per listing, while the Market Dashboard tool begins at $9.99/month. Depending on the number of Airbnb properties that you own or manage, the cost might get quite steep.
Rabbu vs AirDNA
Yet another of the top AirDNA alternatives is Rabbu. Overall, Rabbu data review reveals that it can help a wider range of users than AirDNA as it helps with buying, managing, and selling short term rental properties.
In terms of benefits, it’s important to note that Rabbu has a Marketplace where investors can search for available properties for sale. Moreover, their Airbnb Calculator calculates more data points than the AirDNA Rentalizer including gross yield and cash on cash. Furthermore, Rabbu provides automated vacation rental property management services which are expected to increase Airbnb revenue by 47%.
Unlike AirDNA, Rabbu provides coverage of the US market only. In addition, the Rabbu data methodology is less clear than the AirDNA data.
A monthly subscription to the Rabbu Marketplace costs $299, while you have to contact them to get a custom price for the short term rental management services.
AllTheRooms vs AirDNA
Another relatively well known name in the short term rental space is AllTheRooms. This competitor of AirDNA once again offers both advantages and disadvantages.
Similar to AirDNA, AllTheRooms covers the global vacation rental market and helps investors both buy and manage short term rentals. Airbnb data analytics are available at the market and property level. Historical data goes back 4 years, while future data covers the next 6 months.
While AllTheRooms data includes important metrics like occupancy rate, daily rate, revenue, booking lead time, revenue per night, nights booked, future booked rate, and future demand, it fails to estimate return on investment. This is a major drawback when compared to AirDNA and other top alternatives.
You can do casual research on the AllTheRooms platform for free, and paid plans range from $19/month to $49/month.
Beyond Pricing vs AirDNA
The last AirDNA competitor worth paying attention to is Beyond Pricing. In general, this tool focuses on helping Airbnb hosts and property managers rather than investors buying a short term rental property. The aim is to maximize Airbnb rental income.
Like AirDNA, Beyond Pricing features market data as well as a dynamic pricing mechanism. The latter integrates with the Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com channels in addition to a number of property management systems.
As a major con, the Beyond Pricing data methods and accuracy are rather vague.
You can use the vacation rental insights for free, while access to the dynamic pricing tool costs 1% of bookings priced through the mechanism.
Our AirDNA review shows that while the platform might be the most comprehensive vacation rental data analysis tool out there, there isn’t enough information and positive customer reviews to confirm that it succeeds in achieving its mission. A major drawback is the lack of listings for sale as well as complete expenditure estimates. This limits the usefulness of the provided investment property analysis. Moreover, some customer AirDNA reviews are raising major red flags. Thus, it might be a smart decision to stay away from the AirDNA tools and look into alternatives when buying and managing short term rental properties.
Looking to invest in a vacation rental or Airbnb property? The Awning Airbnb Estimator is here to help! With our free tool, you can easily analyze any U.S. address to get an estimated income from Airbnb. Simply enter the address, number of bedrooms, number of guests, and whether the property has a pool or hot tub. Our machine learning algorithm will use historical data from all U.S. Airbnb listings to provide you with the best possible estimate. Plus, you can browse nearby active Airbnb listings to see how your property stacks up against the competition. With the Awning Airbnb Estimator, you can answer questions like: how much can I Airbnb my house for, what are my estimated earnings from converting my rental into an Airbnb, how much money can I make on Airbnb as a host, and more. Try it out today and make informed investment decisions with the Awning Airbnb Estimator.