The following is a guest post written by my friend Rod who began renting out a room in his home to travelers through the website, Airbnb this summer. Here's his review of using the service so far.
With the ever-increasing costs of hotel stays, finding an affordable place to lay your head can be daunting, particularly if you are on a tight budget. If you enjoy providing hospitality, have the extra space, and don’t mind making a little money on the side, then perhaps opening up an Airbnb in your home is good strategy for you.
My wife and I enjoy traveling together, and we’ve taken numerous trips throughout the country and really came away quite impressed with the Airbnb experience. Staying in the home of a stranger may be repulsive to some, but it has been quite a delight to us. We aren’t “company” so there is no obligation to hang around and socialize with folks we don’t know. Many times we have a private entrance for coming and going, and while amenities vary from place to place, the homes we’ve been in have been meticulously cared for and the rooms have been quite comfortable and darn right cozy. When you consider that it can be half of what it costs to stay in a hotel, it’s been a boon for our travels.
My wife and I long to have children, and while we wait for this event in our lives, we found ourselves with an extra bedroom and private bathroom not getting any use. Being the entrepreneurs we strive to be, it wasn’t long before we talked ourselves into turning our home into an Airbnb this past summer.
Setting things up online was easy – the challenge was the actual physical preparation and transformation of the room we wanted to rent. Countless shopping trips were made to outfit the room with anything a traveler or two would need for 2-5 days. The shopping experience can really be a delight as it’s a way to create a room that is not only comfortable for guests, but an expression of yourself, your home and your city. If you go down this path, have fun with this process.
We are able to post photos of the room and home much like showing a car online, and we are able to designate how often or how little we wish to rent the room. If we are gone, or need the room for other purposes, we simply block it off. We are free to set our daily fee, which is always in range with what others are charging for the same amenities in the area. This data is provided conveniently on the site. We are able to leave reviews and receive them on the site, and interact with the potential guest without giving away our personal information, like phone number and email. Of course, all financial transactions take place through the site, we are able to charge a reasonable cleaning fee, and the amount going back to Airbnb is incredibly reasonable. Our experience with the site has been nothing short of outstanding.
Nice touches we added are a TV with DVD player, dual phone chargers, full-body mirror, a portable fan and space heater and a guest book for signing. We like to provide bottled water and snacks in the room free of charge as an additional way to bless our guests. We have also chosen to open other parts of our home, such as our living room, deck and kitchen to let our guests enjoy the comforts of our home. We provide a manual with a map of the area letting our guests know where the best attractions are, including grocery stores and restaurants.
We have had nine guests stay with us since this summer, and each one has been an absolutely positive experience. Words of caution would be to be sure to let them know if you serve meals (we don’t) and if you have pets (we do) in order to avoid any trouble with allergies. Our dog has actually attracted many to our home and has been a blessing to our guests, but just be sure to be upfront with this detail on your profile.
In summary, the entire Airbnb experience has really been positive for us, both as guests and now as hosts. If you have the space to bless others and don’t mind making a bit of extra money on the side, consider Airbnb as a worthy endeavor to pursue.
Are you an Airbnb host? What has your experience been using their service?
If you're looking to become a host like my friend Rod, find out more by visiting Airbnb's website and click on the footer link under Hosting called, “Why host“. Also get a $35 credit when you sign up and reserve your first Airbnb!
What a good way to earn additional income and bless a traveler passing through. My HOA won’t allow it otherwise I’d give it a try. I’m sure Airbnb will only grow in popularity.
Glad to hear your friend has had a positive experience, Aaron. I just started into this venture (although it is a slightly different model) and I have also had very positive experiences. I rent out my entire house for weekends at a time. My parents live about 30 minutes outside of town and they graciously let me stay with them for the weekend.
I live in a Midwest town and my home is about a 10 minute walk from a small University with a nationally prominent Division 1 football team. All hotels in the area sell out for every home game. Hotel prices skyrocket to over $400 per night with a 3 night minimum for a standard Holiday Inn style hotel room. This makes a whole-home rental a very attractive option for large families, several couples, or alumni group.
The home is a fairly small 3 bedroom, 2 bath home but it was renovated right before I bought it. This is my first season renting and I was able to get my house rented for all 6 home games this year as well as graduation weekend in 2017. The income from the 6 home game weekends will exceed 12 months of P&I, insurance, and property taxes! I have finished 3 rentals so far and only had one minor issue (a wet bed – buy mattress liners!!).
I sympathize with Rod when he says the physical set-up & staging of each room was the toughest part of the rental. It was no small task getting every room in the house hotel-clean. Tidy rooms with well-made beds and ample lighting are vital to having a strong listing.
I handle all the cleaning between weekends myself to save some money (also gives me something to do in the evenings after work). I provide continental breakfast type items as well as coffee, orange juice, milk, and plenty of bottled water, which seems to be a hit with my renters.
I’ve never rented a single room in my house. There is a caveat in the tax code whereby if you are renting your PRIMARY RESIDENCE for less than 15 nights per year, the income is not taxable. For this reason, I plan to stick to football weekends and graduation.
If you live in an area that has high event-based demand, I highly recommend looking into renting your home through AirBnB or VRBO. It takes some time to get the house ready, and there is certainly the inconvenience of having to live somewhere else for an entire weekend. However, there are very few gigs good enough to just “flip a switch” and start collecting checks with commas.
Brilliant Bryan – love this idea! Can you share where folks might find more info on the tax code (renting less than 15 days / year)? Thanks!
Sure thing. I have included a couple links below. The WSJ article might require a subscription to access.
The IRS link isn’t the most riveting read so I will share the snippet most relevant to this discussion: ” There is a special rule if you use a dwelling unit as a personal residence and rent it for fewer than 15 days. In this case, do not report any of the rental income and do not deduct any expenses as rental expenses.”