At the end of August, my neighbor and I were talking about him being gone for three months on a military deployment. He'd mentioned that one of his co-workers had rented out his apartment while he was gone on Airbnb, and had been able to make money while he was out of the country. For the military this is an all too common problem. Where their most valuable asset would normally just sit there and gathered dust, while they were away fighting for our country's freedom.
After talking a while, my neighbor and I came up with the idea of listing his house on Airbnb, and while he was gone. I'd be in charge of approving the listings, cleaning, and orchestrating each visit. It was a win-win for both of us! For me it provided another leg of my passive income streams (going towards paying off my house), and for him he was able to make money on an otherwise stagnant asset. That day we took pictures of his house, watched YouTube videos on listing, and had his place online within a week of first coming up with the idea!
In the first 24 hours we had his 5 bedroom house listed, we were able to get our first tenants! It was amazingly simple to get the house listed on Airbnb.
In listing his house on Airbnb, I found these few tips helpful in getting started and being successful after having four tenants over the last month.
Take high quality photos
I can't stress enough how important it is to take high quality photos of every bedroom in your home. Photos that aren't of plants and special furniture, but ones that are focused on the key areas where people will hangout and spend a majority of their time. Start by focusing on the kitchen area, living room, and bedrooms. Don't forget to give focus of those extras that aren't commonly found. In my neighbors house he has a nice 6-7 person hot tub and some great bathrooms that have extra upgrades to them.
Be descriptive in your listing
What are your homes best qualities? What do you like most about your home that you think people would like or find attractive? Here are a few idea buzzwords that you should be sure to hit on in your listing: quiet neighborhood, seculded getaway, cottage feel, hot tub, jacquizzi, granite counter tops, cult-a-sac home, ranch style house, and vacationer dream house. Don't be short in your listing either. People aren't going to just book your house just based on the pictures. You need to complement your pictures with good descriptors of each picture, and give thought to the entire text your write to describe your home. One tip I used to write my short summary was walk the reader through my home and use descriptive words in each focused area.
Keep the house clean
Most people think that just listing your house on Airbnb is about running the vacuum once over the carpet, cleaning the dishes, and making sure all the bathrooms have a fresh roll of toilet paper. Nope! You are offering a hotel-like service to customers that are expecting nice conditions like a hotel. Make sure you have fresh linens each time a new guest stays. Have all your towels washed and setting out for your guests. Wipe down all toilets, sinks, tables & countertops, and showers. Make sure you vacuum and sweep all floors so that there aren't any crums or dirt lying around. I can't stress enough how important this is.
Always be available to answer any questions before and after the booking. Your responsiveness can be the difference between a good and bad review. It is always helpful to be available to answer questions too while they are staying at your home. You never know if they are going to run into problems that you could easily resolve with a quick text or phone call.
Write a template welcome letter
Come up with a nice welcoming for your guest that you can use over an over again. Walk them through some of your house rules and any tips and recommendations of places to eat and local attractions (Airbnb also has a “things to do” page to find out more). Be sure to provide your wifi id and password for your guest network for them to use. I usually either print this out and have it available on the kitchen table or send it to them over Airbnb.
Use a keypad deadbolt for your guests
When my neighbor and I were thinking about listing we didn't know how to let people in the house. We didn't want to give them a house key, so I reached out to my buddy who was already listing his house on Airbnb. He recommended buying a $100 keypad deadbolt. This way it would be programmable and you could delete the code after each visitor. This provides the control you need to give out one code at a time. Plus you aren't giving them a master key to your house.
Give good reviews and get good reviews
If you follow all the above steps and really put the effort into the details, then all your hard work will not only produce a little extra side income, but you can also generate some really great reviews. That is the key. You don't want to offer just any old service. You want to offer a service that encourages return customers and will help you gain new customers. In addition, it is critical that you also leave reviews for your customers as well. Airbnb is a community, so it is important that you leave honest reviews on your customers, so others can gauge whether your tenant would be a good tenant for their house as well.
So over the last month these are just a few things I learned. What scares you about starting your own AirBnB listing? Why are you waiting to list your most valuable stagnant asset up for rent? What other tips have I missed that have worked for you? I'd love to hear from you!