Renting Your Home on Airbnb: Part 1
How To Make the Decision to Open Your Home to Guests
Within our first two years of marriage, Gabriel and I co-managed a small apartment building in Downtown Portland directly next to the Max (local transit train). Our building would literally rattle every time it went by, and our window sills were full of soot looking dust and grime no matter what we did. We lived in a one bedroom basement apartment of a 5 story building with an elevator that required you to shut the door manually. Monthly rent checks came through a slit in the wall directly into our office, or you might call it the hallway. Across the street was the most decrepit slums potentially in all of Portland, and was constantly slated for destruction if it weren’t for the people living there. One man in particular ate cereal nude every evening at 5pm standing full monty in the window.
And thus began our love affair with real estate. Over the next 7 years we moved from property to property and even added a few houses to our portfolio. When we would raise rents, our management company allowed us to keep the increase for the first month. We learned a lot, but more importantly have a lot of fun stories to tell. We always said eventually we’d stop making other people money and start doing it for ourselves.
When we bought our first house we were just so happy to not be living where we worked. It was incredible to have a space to call our own where no one was banging on the door because the washing machine ate their quarter. So, we transitioned to flipping houses, and we flipped two homes in 6 years, and bought our first rental property. We exchanged banging on the doors for banging down the walls. It wasn’t exactly stress free.
Here we are today. We decided to test out an experiment and decided to try a mixture of managing apartments and home ownership. We listed our first home on airbnb to try our hand at renting on airbnb. It wasn’t just the prospect of making extra money, though the extra money is pretty good. In a good market, you can make 4x more than you would on a traditional rental; of course, there is a lot more work involved as well. It was also enticing to have our mortgage paid for while we travel as opposed to paying double.
We also loved the co-op idea of house sharing and the humanity involved in developing relationships and communities with other people you might never cross paths with. It’s one of the reasons we love traveling as well! Not to mention the freedom of usurping the big boys and providing a service and achieving prosperity through your own hard work.
This entire endeavor was a few months in the making. First we scoped out the market, and the current offerings; through our experience and travels we gained perspective on how to value a place to sleep at night. We determined if there was a better value in renting long term under a contract, or short term on airbnb, and how much of an increase we could expect. We read countless other experiences, and combed through tons of published House Manuals on airbnb. We searched out the things to be concerned about, and the potential for everything to go wrong. We read the horror stories, the theft stories, the destruction stories and we are here because fortunately there aren’t very many, and the ones that do exist aren’t very bad.
Listing your Home on Airbnb
The next step came to list the house. You can choose from a shared room, private room or entire house. We opted to list our entire house. We didn’t want to become a room and board hostel or allow strangers access to our children. Our listing was an entire home with 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, that sleeps 11.
We were actually looking into selling this particular home, and pulling out the equity and potentially buying two properties near the mountains where we live to market as ski retreats. Because of this, we already had professional photos taken and they really added to the allure of our listing. Because we purchased this home as a rental we were located out in the suburbs, i.e. pretty far away from the main attractions in the city. We knew we’d have to compensate somewhat for that, and by compensate we mean lower the price.
Deciding How Much to Charge
Airbnb allows you to set a maximum price and a minimum price, and then airbnb will fluctuate based on demand, time of year, and some fancy algorithm. So, we went with that.
Describing your Home
There are a ton of places to fill out information about your property and it’s easy to repeat yourself in each section. We had to remember and fill out all the things that we took for granted in the home like automatic sprinklers, auto thermostat, etc., and all the things that needed extra attention, like daily collecting of eggs from our chickens. We had to scope out the local places to eat, count the stoplights from the freeway to the turn for our house, and offer time frames for guests traveling to where they might potentially be going. All this goes in the description of the listing.
How do you expect your guests to treat the home? What do you require for both check in and check out? Do you want your guests to wash dishes, take out the garbage, water plants, check for eggs, etc.?
Lastly, you have to consider what rules you want implemented in your home. We took into consideration what people would comply with, and what was really important to us. Ultimately we decided that the most important thing was that we had absolutely no tolerance for smoking. Secondly, we didn’t want shoes in the home (shoes are disgusting!), candles are a no-no, and we wanted people to be respectful. Asking someone to be respectful isn’t going to yield anything, but choosing good parameters for guests will!
Airbnb does not share your address with potential guests. Only after guests have paid are they allowed to see where your property is, so that definitely adds a level of security. On top of that, you set the parameters of guests you’ll allow to stay in your home. We chose to only allow guests book our property who had previous reviews, and all guests must have completed verification with airbnb. This includes a series of steps including matching ID’s, credit cards, and personal statements. We did opt to allow instant book as it supposed to be more compelling to guests.
In addition to privacy, you are protected by airbnb up to 1 million dollars. You can also set a security deposit should anything go missing or get damaged. In all, we feel like airbnb works to protect both hosts and guests.
Above all, we wanted to make it abundantly clear that this was our home, and that we lived in this space when it wasn’t rented. The entire process is very user friendly and airbnb helps you all along the way.
It took just shy of 2 weeks to get our first booking.
Are you interested in hosting? Sign up with airbnb using our referral code: https://www.airbnb.com/r/colson490?s=8&i=
This is not a paid for post.