Renting out your place on sites like Airbnb can be a great way to make some extra cash. However, that income can vary depending on where you’re based, the quality of your home, and the services you provide. Being a successful host involves more than simply posting a few photos and writing up a clever listing. Here’s how to start renting out your space to maximize your earning potential.
Do Your Homework
- Assuming that your home will rent regardless of where you live is a mistake. Make sure that there is a demand for your area. If you don’t live in a desirable location, your home will not rent. It seems like a no-brainer, but it needs to be said.
- Make sure short-term rentals are legal in your city. If it is legal, are there any mandated requirements to be met? Is there paperwork that needs to be filed with the city? Having I’s dotted and T’s crossed BEFORE your first rental is essential.
- Some Homeowners Associations do not allow short-term rentals. Check with your HOA beforehand so that you won’t end up having to use your rental income to pay your fines.
- Contact your insurance company to ensure coverage for lost, stolen, or broken items in your home. Confirm that your policy doesn’t have stipulations that negate coverage for renters. Airbnb provides automatic liability insurance to every host that covers up to $1 million, but it can be a challenge to submit claims and restrictions. If you decide to purchase an additional short-term rental policy, be sure the cost of extra coverage doesn’t outweigh the rental income.
Take “You” out of “Their” Space
Even if your home feels perfect for you, think about how a stranger will feel in your space. Clear the clutter. Guests are not interested in your collections of things. A good rule of thumb: If it’s important to you – put it away, not on display!
Clean, Clean, Then Clean Again
Cleanliness is the most common complaint among Airbnb guests. Unless you’re Monica Gellar, your version of super clean is still not good enough. Err on the side of caution and hire a cleaning service to do the dirty work for you!
Don’t Skimp on Amenities
Airbnb guests expect the space to be fully furnished and comfortable. Think of your favorite hotel and mimic that experience.
- Entertainment. If you want that 5-star review, you need excellent WiFi throughout your space! Ensure the network name and password are easy to input and clearly displayed for guests. A SmartTV or streaming device is almost a necessity these days, along with clear instructions on using it.
- Linens. Guests will likely shower almost every day, and they will expect lots of towels. Typically guests will throw towels in the laundry after one use because it’s not their home and they’re on vacation. Invest in lots of nice fluffy soft towels. Put them on display in the bathrooms so that guests won’t feel compelled to go through your closets searching for fresh linens.
- Mattresses and Bedding. If you’re serious about renting your space, upgrade that mattress that you’ve had since you got married ten years ago! Purchase soft bed linens. Comfortable mattresses and cozy bedding will add or detract from your rating as a host.
- Toiletries. Stock up on travel-size shampoos, soaps, and razors. Provide a list of local drug stores close by so guests can go out and get what they need once they are familiar with the area.
- Pantry Staples. Items like salt, pepper, basic condiments, and bottle and wine openers should be on hand. Your guests will appreciate a list of local grocery stores.
Great Check-In Experience
The check-in process starts as soon as someone books your place, so be sure to make contact with a friendly hello as soon as the reservation comes through.
- Provide directions on the best ways to get to your home from every direction. Give detailed, in-depth instructions if you are located off the radar.
- Make sure your home is accessible. A digital keyless entry system is the easiest way to grant access to your home because you can reset the code after each guest. Provide the lock code before your guest’s arrival and make it simple.
- Leave a nice note for your guests in the kitchen or living room, welcoming them to your home and acclimating them to the space. Provide your contact information and emergency contact numbers in a place easily seen.
Remember that Airbnb will take a small cut of your booking fee. They generally charge hosts a flat 3% per reservation. You’ll need to factor all of these expenses into your ongoing maintenance and operation costs to ensure that you are not spending more than you are making.
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