Over Christmas break, we took a short trip to the coast to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium (we got ourselves a family membership for Christmas). I found a great 3 bedroom home on Airbnb to stay in while we were there. It was nice to have the comforts of home (like a kitchen, washer and dryer, and space) while on vacation.
It really got me thinking about the great income possibility of renting out your house or extra space.
Now if you don’t have an extra room or mother-in-law unit on your property, don’t tune me out here. There are still great possibilities for renting your space even if you don’t think you have any “extra.”
I’m pretty certain that the 3-bedroom home we stayed in when we visited the coast over Christmas break was the family’s primary residence. We could tell by the pictures around the house and the magnets on the fridge the family likes to travel. My best guess is that the family rents out their home just when they are out of town.
If you have ever considered renting out your home or extra space, Airbnb is a great platform for connecting you with renters. You have the freedom to choose your price, how you interact with guests, and the house rules. You don’t have to deal with the money aspect either. You can get your payments through PayPal or direct deposited into your bank account the day after your guests check in.
Airbnb touts the fact that as a part of your Airbnb account, you are covered by a million dollar Host Guarantee to protect your house and belongings against accidental damage. Host Protection Insurance also protects you from liability in case a guest is hurt on your property.
Here are some tips for renting out your place, whether it’s your primary residence or your extra space:
Clean and declutter
This is especially true if you’ll be renting your primary residence, as we all know those clutter up quickly. You definitely don’t want any stacks or piles. The space should feel open and inviting
Have a storage space (i.e. garage, room, basement, etc) that is off-limits for your guests where you can store your extra stuff. You’ll want some closet space available for your guests, too. You’ll also want the necessities for your guests (towels, toilet paper, etc) to be easy to find.
Take beautiful pictures
Besides the words you write, the pictures are what your guests base their expectations on. Make sure they accurately reflect your space. If you aren’t including the fancy espresso maker with individual serving packets, don’t show it in the picture.
Have the space tidied and beautiful like you’re staging it for a magazine. If you don’t have a decent camera or some photography skills, ask someone who does. Any good realtor will agree that a picture is worth a thousand words. Show all of the rooms, including multiple angles when helpful. Include applicable outside photos as well to give guests a thorough idea of your location and surroundings.
Highlight the highlights
What is great about your place? Is it the location (close to attractions, etc)? Is it kid friendly (“sell” your visitors on the toys your kids already have at your place!)? Is the kitchen stocked with dishes and utensils? Do you have a gorgeous view or a hot tub to relax in?
Don’t be shy about sharing the highlights… as long as they’re true!
Your place doesn’t have to be perfect– people (especially Airbnb guests) appreciate character—but people want to know what to expect. Being able to picture your place and prepare for it will set your visitors at ease. Any surprises (things not mentioned in the listing) should be good surprises.
If your friendly dogs like to greet visitors, mention it. If your upstairs apartment has rickety outside stairs, your potential guests with accessibility issues need to know. If your place is kind of “out there” your visitors need to know to grab groceries before they drive out. If there is a busy freeway outside the bedroom window, light sleepers need to take this into consideration.
Don’t be afraid to paint the honest in a good light though. 😊
List under market value when you start out
Positive reviews are everything on Airbnb, so your first goal is to get some guests in your home to have a great time. A great way to do this when you start out is to have a lower price than your local competition. This helps you to compete with other Airbnb hosts who already have many reviews. Search around your area to see what comparable accommodations in your area are going for. Once you have some great reviews and some future bookings, you can bring your price up to market value.
Give clear instructions and rules
Make it easy for guests to check-in and out. List your house rules both on your Airbnb listing and in your home. Don’t leave your guests wondering anything. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is new to your area and to your home. What would you want to know? Make sure your guests know how to contact you (or someone you appoint) to ask questions about anything that might be unclear.
Make a Binder
I love when hosts take the time to compile a binder for their guests. Not only does it show concern for your guests, but it will also make your job easier. You can include details about the house (where to find certain things, how to turn on things, how to connect to the wifi, etc). Also consider including brochures and information about local events, tourist attractions, and restaurants. If you have certain checkout procedures, you should include a page about that too!
Before you list, give Airbnb a try
Give Airbnb a try yourself to get some experience before you list your place. You can get a $40 coupon credited to your new account by clicking here. It doesn’t expire, so you don’t have to book right away.
When you travel with Airbnb, keep a list of the things you loved about the space and the host, so you can be sure to do those things for your guests. Also keep a list of the things you would improve, so you can avoid those hang-ups when you’re renting your own space.
How about you?
- Have you traveled with Airbnb?
- Have you ever rented your space?
- What advice would you give to future Airbnb hosts?
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