Is there a way to add a video to my Houfy listing?
Create a "Houfy collection": Collections provide a helpful way to group related posts and or stories together (in this case videos), and to quickly inform readers what the posts & stories are about. Collections make it easier for people to find content in a grouped form.
- Log in > + > Create a Collection
Name the Collection, add a description, picture, location etc. You can always edit/remove the collection
- Write a Story and add as many urls as you wish. (A story is much more than a simple post; you can embed multiple url's as well as add highlights and change formats)
- Post the story to the Houfeed
- After posting, Bookmark the post or story to the "video" collection you made earlier
- Last step: add the collection to your listing(s): Menu > Collections > Select the collection > edit > add your listing
Preview your listing and your guide should show with the post(s) or story(s) in there
You can make collections about anything: Activities - Events - Restaurants - Weather - Video's etc. Think what you would like to know when you visit a place. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a perfect set of collections (recommendations) from the owner ready for you to explore.
At Houfy you can easily edit the collections, posts and stories whenever you want. Try something new at Houfy and have look at some popular collections to give you ideas.
If you have more questions, please join our facebook member group
Why do larger properties have stricter reservation, payment & cancellation policies?
Larger properties booked for family or group gatherings usually require stricter policies.
Owners or managers often require:
- A larger reservation deposit due (50% or more due at reservation date)
- An earlier balance payment due date before the arrival date (90-60 days before arrival)
- And stricter cancellation policies
Rebooking larger properties often requires more effort for owners/managers compared to smaller properties.
At Houfy as an owner/manager you can set your own policies:
My Listings > Edit > Settings > Payment information
How can I get my complete listings in one link to share it?
Hosts can create a personalized web address to direct people to their listing with a custom link.
A custom link gives you a better chance your guests remembering and finding your listing in the future. As a result, you can capture more repeat bookings and grab the attention of new guests.
Log in > Menu > My Listings > Custom Link
Another way would be to go to your profile:
Menu > Profile > View Profile
Is there a way that we can copy the rates over from existing properties in order to save time?
Yes, seasons can be copied to new listings.
1) Create target listing (=New listing - by importing from Airbnb/Homeaway)
2) Go to my listings > select listing with seasonal rates > copy
Why is my listing hidden?
To list: Menu > My Listings > List
Reasons why listings are hidden:
- The host has hidden the listing
Why does my listing show "in progress"?
- Listings with an expired "cut off date" will move from completed to "in progress".
- Listings with less than 5 pictures will show "in progress"
Please consider updating your "Cut Off date" at: Menu > My listings > Edit > Pricing >
And or adding more pictures. (5 minimum)
How do I unhide, unpause, unsnooze, relist or reactivate my listing on Houfy?
Log in>Menu>Manage Listings>List
Why am I NOT getting any traction or bookings on Houfy?
Are you wondering why your listings on Houfy aren't getting any traction? Don't worry, you're not alone--many new users struggle with the same issue. The reality is that there are a few key steps to successful promotion of your property on Houfy, the most important of which include having up-to-date pricing, pictures, and text as well as keeping your calendar current. Additionally, if you want to maximize your bookings it's a good idea to connect a payment method such as Stripe or Square and use the Houfy booking and messaging systems.
Houfy is work in progress and is still very much being designed as we write this. Houfy is a project FREE for anyone to use and does NOT charge commissions. Houfy does as of right now NOT earn any funds and does NOT have the 100s of Millions needed to market listings worldwide.
Houfy is a grass roots movement to promote direct bookings without "service" fees/commissions.
This requires owners and managers to promote their listings themselves.
Why do some members get bookings and others not? Here some examples:
- Updated price/pictures/text ----------> Outdated pictures/pricing/text
- Updated Calendar -------------> Outdated calendar
- Connected to Stripe/Square --------------> Did not connect a payment method
- Use the Houfy booking/messaging system -----------> Forward inquiries to my own website
- Market my Houfy listing ---------------> I do not market/share my Houfy listing(s)
- Spend 15-30 minutes a week on Houfy --------------> Hoping something will happen
What can you do?
Spend a little time on Houfy and share your listing socially/with friends/previous clients. Find out what others are doing to get bookings and Houfy dances in our Facebook Group. Ask questions and GO For IT! 🙂
How do I find my listing number?
How do I hide or remove my listing on Houfy
How to avoid vacation rental scams with John Adams on Good Day
How to Avoid Scams on Vacation Rentals
If you are new to renting or renting from a new owner, here is some information to help. If you don't know the owner or if if the aren't recommended by someone you trust, be careful. To protect yourself, consumer advocates suggest:
1. Pay with a secure method, like a credit card, that allows for dispute resolution. NEVER WIRE FUNDS. If the owner ask you to wire money to a bank. Run.
2. Use a site that verifies the owners, like Houfy.com or use a management company or realtor you trust.
3. Research the property to see if it is listed elsewhere. Search the address and property tax records to see if you are actually communicating with the REAL owner. Beware of properties that are for sale or foreclosure.
4. Talk to the contact on the phone, NOT by text or email. You should be able to find them on Facebook, Linkedin, or other social or professional sites.
5. Check out Google maps to see if the neighborhood and house match the pictures.
6. If the deal seems too good to be true, it is! A deal is only a deal if it is real. And usually it isn't
Tiki House Pensacola Beach has been used in scams in the past. We try hard to protect our potential guests from scammers, but we can't be everywhere, all the time. If you suspect a vacation rental home is being used as a scam, contact the owner and let them know. You could potentially save many people a lot of many and grief!
Pricing at Houfy
HOUFY is currently free for basic listings.
Featured listings & Last minute specials
A featured listings or last minute specials significantly increase your chances to be seen. You can expect to pay around $3 to 4 a day depending on your location. You will have to keep renewing your bid monthly if you want to hold onto the benefits of the upgrade.
- Your listing will be highlighted in another color that stands out.
- Your listing will be shown at the top of the search results as well as being amongst all the other properties, meaning double exposure!
- Featured listings and last minute specials improve attention and click-throughs by 50%.
- Chances to be seen on our homepage and/or destination pages if available.
Embed tools package (TBA: Approx: $139 per year or 13.99 per month)
Get included in weekly Houfy e-mails - To be programmed
Website creation - (TBA: Approx: $139 a year or 13.99 per month) - Click here to view samples.
Please be advised we are improving Houfy daily. To learn more: Join us @ Say Yes to Houfy on Facebook!
To add your listing from Airbnb or VRBO use this link:
Avoiding the Vacation Rental Scam
With a little due diligence and homework, you can save yourself the embarrassing predicament of being scammed. But if you are, it isn't necessarily all your fault. Scammers are smart, crafty, and innovative. I have often thought that if they put as much thought and effort into a legitimate enterprise as they do into scamming people, they would find honest success. Read below for information from some the country's leading consumer advocates to help you avoid being taken advantage of by crooks.
WIRE TRANSFER? O.K. or Not O.K.
Clark Howard gives advice on scams. Be wary of wire transfers. But keep in mind some legitimate owners may still use them. Never wire money to ANYONE you have not met or trust completely. You will NEVER get it back, EVER. And the police can't help you. Be your own judge.
CRAIGSLIST OR OTA? Which is legit?
Even on OTAs the house can be a scam.
It cost nothing to list on Craigslist. So it is a favorite and low risk choice of scammers. Right after purchasing our Vacation Rental, and talking to renters that had booked with the previous owner, I was asked, "Will there be a bunch of people showing up everyday saying they rented the house while we are there?" I was appalled! How horrible for the guests AND those cheated out of their vacations! So I asked a few questions and found that all of those scammed originated on Craigslist.
After some quick searching, I found our rental listed at least 3 times, by 3 different scammers.
I began a long and never-ending campaign to fight back. We continue to win each battle, but it takes time and effort that many don't have. Be aware that on Craigslist, the rental opportunity may or may not be real! These scammers even set up fake recommendations, and use the real owner's name and rental agreement. Anything you have thought of to verify, they have too.
Some more advice from the pros:
- Talk in PERSON or ON THE PHONE! Don't rely on text or email or messaging systems. Scammers don't want to talk to you. They can't answer questions about the house without research and it is hard to pretend they are someone else over the phone. And if they won't talk, walk away. Many sites like Expedia group sites (like Vrbo and HomeAway) and AirBnB don't allow you to speak with owners until you book. That is one reason they only allow using a credit card to book. It doesn't always protect you, but can help you recapture funds if you act fast.
- Use a credit card. But be aware of credit card fraud. To protect yourself, never give out your credit card number. Insist on using a 3rd party processor like PayPal or Stripe. But even scammers know this and use credit card processors. They just act quickly to move money from account to account so that the fraud can't be traced or the money recaptured. Check with your credit card company for their policies and do your checking up with owners as soon as you can connect. If they ignore your requests to talk, cancel and call the credit card company quickly to recapture the charge.
- Once you get connected, ask questions about the property you can see in pictures on the listing or on Google Maps. If the "owner" can't answer without hesitation, or puts you off (while looking it up online), be suspicious. Simple questions like, "How many can the dining room table seat?" or "How many burners does the stove have?" can be answered easily by the real owner, but maybe overlooked by a scammer. Ask several questions that you already know the answer to.
- Use a legitimate site to book. Houfy verifies owners, but not all do. Even Vrbo and AirBnb don't always verify the owners. A new listing with no reviews and many unprofessional typos can mean that it hasn't been verified yet. Always be careful. Look at reviews, and judge if you believe they are legitimate or fake. Many rentals have a website or Facebook page too. Check the internet for the real site by searching by image. Right click on a picture and you may search everywhere the image shows up. If other sites have different owners listed, or different numbers, contact them all and alert them. Legitimate owners will get the fakes removed.
- Avoid being scammed by a real owner, but a misrepresented listing. Reviews are essential in this. Everyone has heard of the shipping crate that was advertised as an AirBnB in Amsterdam. Close ups shots of nice bedding, with no outside shots, meant that it appeared to be a nice place to stay. But do you really want your "private bathroom" to be a porta-potty? Pictures can be deceiving. Look at them with a skeptical eye. And ask questions.
- Most owners are real and their properties are too. But occasionally you may run into an unscrupulous owner who doesn't follow best practices. This means the owner may change pricing once you arrive and demand more money, try to put you in a different condo or home than was advertised, or change the terms of the rental. Having a rental agreement that lists the terms of the rental, amenities included and the address and/or condo number is essential to protect you. If they don't have one, or their listing doesn't specify the number, ask for verification BEFORE you finalize your reservation. Some owners of multiple properties or property managers have been known to use their BEST properties as bait. Be sure the property you are renting is the one you think you are renting. Of course, things happen and a property you rented may be unavailable due to accident or repair issues. But the honest owner or manager will always contact you immediately and offer either an upgrade, or refund with their explanation. If you feel scammed, notify the platform you used and leave an honest, factual review.
- If it is too good to be true, than it is too good to be true. Use open records and internet searches to find the information you need to verify the address, identity, and quality of your prospective rental. But most of all, verify the good deal is still inline with the market. When a scammed guest showed up to our rental during prime rental season, they thought they had gotten the deal of a lifetime. They saw it listed for five times what the scammer was asking for. They communicated by text message with him and thought he was just a compassionate and caring person who wanted to do them a huge favor. They traveled 1,500 miles, across the country, to show up to a home that wasn't available. Their "good deal" meant they were out the money they paid, and ended up paying even more to find accommodations. Not a deal at all. They had a fake rental agreement, copies of emails through Craigslist, bank wire receipts, all brought with them due to a "gut feeling" as the scammer was no longer returning calls and the number was no longer in service. The police were unable to help. Do your homework and trust your gut.
If you are looking for a great vacation rental, for the best price, use Houfy. There are no service fees and you have direct communication with verified owners.
Why your guests should be signing a rental agreement
While most reservations will go smoothly as planned, there may be times when you'll be asked to produce a signed Rental Agreement. Even hotels have you sign an agreement at check in, at the same time they ask for your ID and credit card. Agreements can be signed manually or digitally–and both methods are legally upheld in the courts.
Most owners allow guests to reserve dates by clicking "I agree" to their online sample contract, along with a partial or full payment amount. Then the reservation is officially confirmed, as soon as the signed agreement is returned.
Know Your Local Laws
If you aren't already familiar with your local laws, go ahead and start learning them now. A short term Rental Agreement will differ from a long term tenant lease. First, find out if a Rental Agreement is required for short term rentals in your area. Your local laws may require specific information to be included in the agreement.
For example, North Carolina is governed by the North Carolina Vacation Rental Act. This Act spells out owner obligations, guest protections, and what clauses must be included within the agreement. Regulations will vary among different states and jurisdictions.
If you ever need to sue a guest in court, or are named as the defendant in a lawsuit, the first thing the attorneys or judge will want to see is the Rental Agreement. If your insurance company becomes involved, they too will ask for this information and will review your agreement's clauses and disclaimers.
This is why it's highly recommended to have an attorney draft your agreement, as they can review your insurance policy and determine the types of language your agreement should contain.
Assuming you have the proper liability insurance, it's also important to speak with your insurance company to determine what required documents are needed if you ever need to file a claim. Will your insurance company pay out a "loss of income" claim based on past reservations printouts? Or will they require an actual signed agreement between you and the guest?
An attorney is well worth the cost–and a solid Rental Agreement along with the proper insurance, can actually dissuade potential lawsuits.
Credit Card Dispute
If one of your guests ever files a credit card chargeback, you may be asked to produce a legally signed Rental Agreement. Often times, credit card companies will not acknowledge a "click to accept" (checkbox) as a legitimate cardholder signature.
Additionally, you may be asked to prove the cardholder is the same person who signed the agreement. This is why it's a good idea to always ask for the cardholder's ID after booking.
The card companies also have specific policies of how the merchant (you) must present certain information to the cardholder. For example, they may require that the guest's initials or signature are close to the stated cancellation policy, and may not consider a single signature on the last page to be sufficient.
Depending on the chargeback person assigned to your case, the checkbox acknowledgement may be acceptable, but why take the chance?
Not only should local law and insurance requirements be considered, but the card companies' policies as well. Below are sample agreements that other Houfy members have given permission for anyone to use. Feel free to take parts from any or all, and customize your own.
Do not rely on any of these samples as "legal documents" that will meet all of your needs. It's also a good idea to take notes of applicable sections you like, and bring them to your attorney for review.
Two ways to see the number of listing views
- Manage Listings
Another way is to preview your listing and scroll down to the bottom of your pa
If logged out or wish to see another member's listing views: Click on the listing and scroll to the very bottom to see total views.
How do I find my host referral link?
After clicking "sign up" the recipient will be directed to the main sign up page.
- Click top right Menu
- Select Refer & Invite
- Refer Hosts
- Copy URL link and send directly or click Share button.
What Can Someone Do With Points?
Nothing at the moment. Houfy is currently running tests to see what works and what doesn't. There may be future opportunities to use points for things such as having your property featured for a short period of time, etc.
New Host Getting Started Checklist
Invite Friends, Family, and Guests to Houfy
Is there a tool, or link where I can see activity against my listing?
You can see the number of views you have had of your Houfy listing near the bottom of your listing page.
You can also set up Google Analytics to track and get more detailed Houfy activity and insights.
Why guests should sign and acknowledge your cancellation policy
"I am about to sign up with Stripe or Square and I am wondering who decides if a guest can get a refund. What if a guest files a chargeback because they want to leave early and the host stands firm on their cancellation policy? Does Stripe or Square decide if the guest will get their money back even if the guest agreed to my cancellation policy?"
The issuing bank determines the outcome of credit card disputes (chargebacks).
What is an issuing bank?
An issuing bank is the financial institution that issues a credit card to the cardholder (your guest's bank).
What is a credit card network (association)?
The most popular networks are: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. American Express and Discover are both issuing banks (issue their own credit cards) as well.
What is a payment facilitator?
Stripe, Square, and PayPal are just a few examples of payment facilitators.
What is a merchant?
The vendor who sells services/goods (you). If you use a payment facilitator, it may technically be a shared merchant instead of a "traditional" merchant account with your bank. For simplicity, consider yourself the merchant even if your payment facilitator is the "merchant of record."
Whether you are a restaurant owner or sell jewelry at art festivals, when you accept credit cards, the cardholder can file a credit card dispute (chargeback) with their bank.
Have you ever noticed hosts say an Airbnb rep. told them they cannot charge a guests credit card without their permission? What about owners who said their Vrbo guest agreed to their cancellation policy but still won in a chargeback dispute?
The credit card networks (VISA, Mastercard, Discover, American Express) set certain policies that merchants must abide by when accepting their cards. And these policies can vary between industries. One of these policies is how a cancellation policy should be presented to the credit card holder.
Some owners have lost chargeback disputes because they did not follow the credit card network policies. But who reads through all that fine print?
The card network may have required the merchant to obtain the card holder's signature within so many inches of the cancellation policy. This information could have been buried on page 50. And the host was told a signature at the very bottom of the rental agreement was not sufficient to meet the card network's requirements.
Always require Id of the credit card holder so the guest does not claim the transaction was not authorized. Include a signature line within less than an inch of your cancellation policy. Bold some of the text so the font is conspicuous as well. It's much more difficult for a guest to dispute they overlooked a policy like this:
The above will wipe out 95% of issues. Guests will still often ask what their cancellation options are, even after agreeing to your policies. And you are always free to override your policy and make an exception.
Both Stripe and Square have their own best practices for fraud and chargebacks.
Join our Facebook groups:
Our Facebook Member Group is currently the quickest way to receive customer service/tech support. Also receive the latest insights and updates. Houfy uses powerful programs which can easily be changed to any of your wishes/suggestions.
Join our Houfy Vacation rentals Group to advertise your availability to travelers or post ISO (in search of) requests.
Houfy and accepting direct payments by connecting to Stripe or Square
We have connected the payments processing companies Stripe and Square to Houfy for you to receive direct deposits & payments from your guests. This will only work if your listing is completed and verified by us.
The process to add this service is extremely simple:
- Please Log in
- Manage Listings
- Payments & Payouts
Connect your properties to the accounts you would like to receive your funds in. (Below an example of 2 properties, 2 bank accounts)
What are the countries that support Square?
Card payment acceptance with the Square app is currently available in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Square currently doesn’t support payment card processing outside of these countries or in U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands.
What are the countries that support Stripe?
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Italy, Portugal
Sample of booking process with payment:
If you have more questions, please join our facebook member group
Can I connect other payment processors for payments besides Stripe and Square?
In order to connect to Houfy, you must use one of the integrated processor oprtions: at this time Stripe and Square. You can still choose to use other payment methods to invoice your guests directly.
Can my guests still send me an inquiry?
Yes. If your payment method is not connected then travelers will send an inquiry and you will invoice directly. From the inquiry you can use the "mark as confirmed" button. This will block the dates on your calendar while you arrange payment directly with the guest. Here is information of what to expect for your first inquiry or online booking request.
How do I add my own payment method?
Just complete the payment information section on your listing to let travelers know what kind of payments you accept. Check off any credit cards and add any additional information in the payment policies box.
What are the pros and cons of Stripe vs. Square?
If you have more questions, please join our facebook member group
Understanding Credit Card Costs
In order to recover your credit card costs in your rental pricing, you need to understand the true cost of accepting credit cards. In this story, I'll explain how to determine the true cost of the credit card fee relative to your rental rate and how to set your rental rate at a value that will allow you to receive the rental take-rate you desire to cover these credit card costs.
Square Pricing Structure
Since I'm familiar with Square Email Invoice Pricing, I will use that service in my following calculation examples.
Square charges a fee of 2.9% on the invoice total plus 30 cents per invoice (as of October 2019). This is the cost for either email invoice or taking payments through Houfy using Square integration.
The cost to you can vary by the number of invoices you accept payment on:
- One invoice for all = 2.9% of invoice + 30 cents
- Two invoices for all = 2.9% of both invoices + 60 cents
- Three invoices for all = 2.9% of all invoices + 90 cents
Net: The more invoices issued and then paid through Square, means a slightly higher cost by fractions of a dollar to you.
Note: If you issue an invoice through Square, but payment is received outside of Square, you can mark the invoice paid with a notation of how that payment was made. Square will not charge you a fee on the invoice if they did not actually collect the payment.
What's on Your Invoice?
The invoice to your guest includes not only your rental fee, which could vary by the rental period, but also additional static or variable fees you charge (cleaning fee, additional guest fees, security/damage deposit etc), plus the taxes you collect for all taxing authorities on all the taxable items on your invoice (local, state, tourist, etc.).
Consider that not all these charges are for money going into your pocket. The cleaning fee may be the exact charge your cleaner charges. Many of the items on the invoice are taxable in most jurisdictions.
Net: You're paying the 2.9% Credit Card Fee on everything on your invoice including charges that aren't yours.
Let's Calculate the True Cost
This is where Algebra education will come in handy! Let me define some values and variables and develop formulas to calculate the true credit card cost.
Let's set the variable X to be the rental fee you plan to charge. This could include variable fees that you charge such as extra guest fee. The thing to understand about X is that this is money coming to you. This variable X is taxable.
Let's say that you require a $250 deposit for every reservation. It's a static cost that you will be charging. Per your tax jurisdiction, this is NOT a taxable item. This is also money going to you with the intention of refunding to the guest after their stay.
You also collect an $80 cleaning fee per reservation. This fee is taxable and you are required to collect the tax on this fee.
In this example, I will keep the taxing requirement easy. Let's say the tax rate is 9%. This rate will be written as .09 in our mathematical formulas.
The Square credit card fee is 2.9% and will be expressed as .029 in our formulas.
These are the items that will be included on the invoice to the guest:
Rental fee + tax rate on Rental fee + deposit + Cleaning Fee + tax on Cleaning Fee
When calculating your specific formula, it might be easiest to start as I've shown above, using words to list all items that will be included in the invoice.
Using Algebra, the formula looks like this (remember X is the variable associated with your rental fee from this guest.)
Invoice to guest = (X + .09X) + 250 + (80 + .09(80) )
Invoice to guest = 1.09X + 337.20
For a rental rate of $1000, this invoice to guest would be $1,427.20
The total is then charged 2.9% by Square, shown in the next formula, where I've also grouped values from our invoice values above and also added the 30 cents that Square collects per invoice payment received.
Square Fee = .029 * ( 1.09X + 337.20) + .30
Using Algebra, let's adjust this formula so it's easier to work with:
Square Fee = .03161X + 9.78 + .30
Square Fee = .03161X + 10.08
This Square Fee formula takes into account the 9% tax on the rental fee as well. ex. As X, the rental fee increases, X is still multiplied by 1.09 (rent + tax) and the .029 Square fee.
Let's Plug in Some Numbers
Let's say the rental fee to our guests is $1000. Using our established formulas that include deposit and cleaning fee:
Square Fee = (.03161 * 1000) + 10.08
Square Fee = 31.61 + 10.08
Square Fee = $41.69
Summary on $1000 rental rate:
Invoice to guest - $1,427.20
Tax on rental rate paid by guest: $90.00
Square Fee - $41.69
Your true take rate on the rental is actually $1000 - $41.69 = $958.31
Adjusting Your Rental Fee for Credit Card Fee Recovery
If you'd like to adjust your rental rate to cover this credit card fee, increasing the fee by $41.69 will not do that! This is because all prices on your invoice will be charged the same 2.9% fee. This would mean you would pay 2.9% fee on the $41.69 too, thereby collecting less than $41.69 from Square!
On top of that, when you charge a higher rental fee to recover this Square processing fee, you'll also have to collect more tax on the rental fee increasing the Square processing fee further than just the rental fee increase.
Let's figure out Rental Fee that Covers the Square Charge
If we didn't have fees, we've already determined that our invoice to guest including deposit, cleaning and taxes would be $1,427.20. So let's work towards receiving that amount....or really an amount close to this number. Keep reading to understand this....
We've already determined that our fixed costs including tax on cleaning fee totals $337.20. We also know that the Square fee is .029 times the total of rent + tax and these fixed costs.
Our formula that takes into account the Square Fee should result in a total received by us as $1,427.20. This total assumes we're collecting $90 in rental tax. But we know that with a higher rent, our tax will also be higher. We'll have to receive not only the $90 on the first $1,000 of rent collected, we need to receive 9% tax on the new rent amount over this first $1,000. Therefore, our new invoice must not only total $1427.20, but also include the 9% tax on the new rent over $1,000.
Here's our new formula and the steps to solve for New Rent:
Taxable New Rent + Fixed Costs - Square Fee = $1,427.20 + .09 (New Rent - $1,000)
1.09(New Rent) + $337.20 - [ .029 ( 1.09(New Rent) + 337.20) + .30 ] = $1,427.20 + .09 (New Rent) - $90
1.09(New Rent) + $337.20 - .03161(New Rent) - .029(337.20) - .30 = $1,427.20 + .09 (New Rent) - $90
1.05839(New Rent) + $327.42 - .30 = $1,427.20 - $90 + .09 (New Rent)
1.05839(New Rent) + 327.12 = $1,337.20 + .09 (New Rent)
1.05839(New Rent) - .09 (New Rent) = $1,010.08
.09639 (New Rent) = $1,010.08
New Rent = $1,010.08 / 0.96839
New Rent = $1,043.05
We would have to charge $1,043.05 to our guest to recover $1,000 after Square fees.
Rent is $1043.05. Tax on rent is $93.87. Our fixed cost including taxes remains at $337.20 for a total invoice to out guest in the amount of $1,474.12. The Square fee is .029 * $1,474.12 + .30 = $43.05.
Subtracting the new Square fee of $43.05 from the new rent of $1,043.05, we get $1,000.00, our intended take-rate for rent.
This fee is 4.1% of your new rental rate ($43.05/$1,043.05) and 4.3% of your desired rental take ($43.05/$1,000).
Let's Calculate Rent When You Want $1,500 Income
Using the same fixed fees as in our earlier example, the total including related 9% tax is still $337.20. If our goal is to take in $1,500, then our the desired amount from the guest is:
1.09 * $1,500 + 337.20 = $1,972.20
Let's figure out New Rent to charge in order to recover $1,972.20 + the additional new tax over the first $1,500 in rent.
New taxable rent + fixed costs - Square Fee = Value Invoiced Before Square Fee + New Additional Tax on Rent
1.09(New Rent) + 337.20 - [ .029 ( 1.09(New Rent) + 337.20 ) + .30 ] = $1,972.20 + .09 (New Rent - $1,500)
1.09(New Rent) - .03161(New Rent) + 327.12 = $1,972.20 - $135 + .09 (New Rent)
.96839(New Rent) = $1,510.08
New Rent = $1,559.37
New Rent plus 9% tax is $1,699.71. Fixed costs are still $337.20 for a total invoice of $2,036.91. The Square Fee on this amount is $59.37. Subtracting the Square Fee from the new rent, we receive $1,500.
In this example, the Square Fee as a fraction of the new rent is 3.8% ($59.37/$1,559.37). As a fraction of our intended rental income of $1,500, the Square Fee is 4.0% ($59.37/$1,500).
How Can You Calculate The Upcharge?
- Determine the amount you would collect if there was no credit card fee. This invoice would include your desired rental income, all taxes and any fees you charge. This is the base amount you need to still receive. This base amount includes the tax on your intended rent.
- Build your mathematical formula to solve for new rent. The formula needs to subtract the Square fee from the proceeds and acknowledge the additional tax created by the higher rent. The formula would look like this:
New Rent + Tax on New Rent + Other Fixed costs including tax - Square Fee on these 3 items = Value from Step 1 + Additional Tax Required on this New Rent which isn't included in the value in Step 1.
Plug 'n Play Formula
Assuming that there is a single tax rate that applies to all taxable items, just plug in your desired rental take into this formula along with the total non-taxable items, the total taxable items and the tax rate (ex. 9% is written as .09 in the formula) to determine the rate you need to charge to recover your Square fees. This formula assumes just one invoice.
Suggestions on Recovering Credit Card Fees
Rather than accept the Square fee as an expense and reduce your overall income, you might want to charge the guest to recover fees associated with credit card processing. Know that it is illegal in some places to charge a fee explicitly for recovery of this cost. You can increase your rental rate to ensure your income covers this cost. After making these rental fee adjustments, you could offer cash discounts (if allowed in your jurisdiction) ensuring that your net take is the same regardless of payment method.
Personally, I get a little disgruntled when I get an invoice that includes a fee designated as related to my payment by credit card. I would rather that cost be buried in the price of whatever it is I'm purchasing. For that reason and based on these examples where we assume that most reservations are for the $1000 rental fee and a single invoice, I would suggest increasing the rental fee by at least 4.3%. So instead of $1000 rental fee or the $1,043.05 calculated to return $1,000 income, charge the guest $1,050. If most reservations are in the $1,500 range, I would increase the rental fee by 4.0%. Please remember that my examples incorporated a specific tax rate and specific fees that influenced this percentage increase required.
For check payments, you can offer your guest a discount on your new rental rate and still make the rent you intended. However, I would save that offer for repeat guests who are more likely to pay by check since they are familiar with you and your business.
A Note about Refundable Security Deposit and Square
If you issue a refund of the security deposit within 1 year (for invoiced payments and those made using Square integration), Square will also reimburse you the 2.9% credit card fee along with the 30 cents if that invoice was solely for the credit card fee. In my calculations above, I included the security deposit fee as a cost I want to recover. I would suggest keeping the security deposit in the calculation rather than assume the deposit fee will be reimbursed in the future. Square could change its policy or you may be miss the reimbursement window and have to refund the deposit by personal check instead of through Square.
Test Booking on Houfy
I would like to do a test booking on Houfy to see what it looks like for a guest and for the owner.
- Set a 5$ price for 1 night in the future at Edit listing - Calendar (Set 1 night min stay as well)
- Remove Fees/Taxes at Edit listing > Pricing
- Check your payment settings. Edit Listing > Payment Settings (Full payment due at Booking)
- Sign out of Houfy as Owner. (Or use another browser)
Create a "Guest" account with another e-mail.
- Book & Pay the night as a guest - Check the price is indeed 5$.
- Sign out as Guest.
Check your e-mail as Owner. Log in as owner and Accept the booking request.
Check e-mails sent to Guest and Owner.
Once all is fine: Cancel & Refund Booking
- Set price back to what is was before at Calendar. (Min Nights as well)
- Set fees and taxes back
- Adjust Payment settings again.
Why You Should Be Asking for Guest ID After Booking
Requesting an ID from guests is actually quite easy, and one of the benefits of booking direct. Remember, this is your business and you have every right to know who is renting your property. First, let's clear up a common misconception hosts have in regards to verifying IDs.
I Will Scare Away the Traveler
This is a marketing tactic (an ingenious one at that) used by listing sites as a means for you to pay a commission. Until recent years, travelers and hosts were transacting directly all the time, without needing a 3rd party's protection. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
- Keep your reviews up to date on Houfy. If you haven't done so, import your reviews from Airbnb and VRBO/Homeaway, and show them to travelers. Directing travelers to other sites to read your reviews is making those brands even stronger. It only perpetuates an endless cycle of trying to gain direct bookings, while simultaneously advertising the very brands that strive to keep you from booking direct.
- Sometimes travelers just need a gentle reminder that their credit card already provides fraud protection. If they have any questions, point out you have been verified by Houfy and remind them of their bank's protection policies.
- Finally, some loyal Airbnb followers will only book through Airbnb. Do not take this personally! If you've already mentioned the above, just accept the booking and be a great host as usual. Then thank the guest for staying, and remind them of saving through Houfy for their next vacation.
Personally, I have never had an issue of a guest not sending me a copy of their ID. Remember, there is no sensitive information on there anyway, as social security numbers no longer appear on driver's licenses.
Asking for ID Helps to Prevent Fraud
One of the best ways to prevent scammers and the use of stolen credit cards, is to ask for ID of the credit card holder. It's especially important for new hosts to do this, as scammers often view them as easy prey.
Hosts with little to no reviews, and properties priced below market, are common targets for scammers. It's assumed new hosts are inexperienced and more likely to accept a booking with no questions asked. Fraudsters realize new hosts are eager to get those initial reviews under their belt.
Another scenario to be alert of is last minute bookings, and especially those from the same city as your rental. People using a stolen credit card tend to book very last minute, as the real card holder may not immediately notice the fraudulent activity. By the time the card is reported stolen, the scammer has already fulfilled their stay and left the property.
One caveat: Do not assume all last minute bookings are a red flag, as I often receive bookings just one day before arrival. This is why it's important to ask for a signed rental agreement: you need to match the agreement signature against the one on the ID.
How Do I Ask for ID?
Ask for the ID of the credit card holder and don't assume it is the person who made the reservation. In my case, it's usually the same person anyway. The reason you want to ask for the credit card holder's ID, is in case of a chargeback dispute. The credit card company is going to ask you to produce a signed rental agreement with the card holder's signature.
Feel free to use any parts of this:
I've attached the rental agreement, departure checklist, and house notes. Please read through all docs and print, manually sign, and scan back the rental agreement.
- Initial anywhere on the 1st page
- On the 2nd page be sure to sign both the cancellation policy, and the bottom right side of the agreement. Please fill out only the right side of the agreement.
- Along with the agreement, I will need a scanned govt ID of the credit card holder
Let me know if you have any questions. I am sending you all the local information and house details from Houfy shortly.
But What If I Don't Want to Ask for ID?
You don't have to of course. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable. Maybe you are an onsite host who accepts mostly one night bookings. You're more than welcome to never request an ID from anyone.
If you currently rely on Airbnb for verification, they don't share the guest's ID with you anyway. Even if you need to press charges with the police, Airbnb will not provide you with "real" ID information. In essence, by not asking for ID–it's the same as accepting an Airbnb reservation and not really knowing who your guest is anyway.
If a chargeback on a one night stay, or stolen credit cards is not a concern, then by all means don't feel guilty if you don't ask for ID. Just be sure it's not required in your area. In some areas, hosts are required to keep guest IDs on file for a certain period of time.
Be Aware of Friendly Fraud
Keep in mind "friendly fraud" has been on the rise. This is where someone in the group makes the reservation but uses another group member's credit card. After the stay, the card holder claims to not "recognize" or have "authorized" the transaction. Technically, this group just received a free stay at your property. As long as you understand the pros and cons of asking for ID, then you are good to go.
Overall, most scammers don't have the time nor interest to produce fake IDs. It's easier to target those who do not require the information. I'm not saying scammer "over achievers" don't exist, as some may go through the trouble of producing these documents–it's just that the chances are small. Just decide what feels right and makes the most sense for both you, and your vacation rental business.
How do I find a payment made for a booking?
I have a January 25 booking on my 4 bedroom unit and the first payment was made via Stripe but when I look at the booking it doesn't show any payment. Can you help me find it?
Go to MENU > Messages > Message History
Here you can see what payment has been done and what is remaining..
Scroll down to see the same information.
I can't remember how to get Houfy to request balance due from guest?
Log in > Messages > Message history > Click on button " Send Reminder" (Bottom left)
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