15 Steps to Profit by Renting Your Home to Visitors

In some cities, Airbnb hosts are averaging $20,000 a year in income from renting out their homes.

6. Get verified

Airbnb uses a verification process that requires users to prove who they are through various methods. Airbnb explains verification here. Users can authenticate themselves by, for example, providing ID, or posting a photo of themselves or linking their Airbnb profile with one on Facebook, LinkedIn or Google.

Your Airbnb profile displays how many verification badges you’ve earned. Earning badges gives potential guests more comfort in renting from you. Earn a badge by opening “Trust and Verification” on your profile. Click the “Verify Me” button.

7. Screen out the loonies

Another reason to engage potential guests in a bit of email conversation is to assure yourself that you are not dealing with a loony tune.

Forbes columnist Alexandria Talty interviewed one host who told her:

“It is really hard to know if people aren’t crazy. Usually I can tell by the way that they write messages. Sometimes I will ask what is the purpose of your trip and who are you traveling with, and then see from there,” explains Rachel, a New York City native who started renting her Lower East Side apartment to help make ends meet in 2012.

Tips for vetting guests:

  • Look for reviews of a guest written by hosts. Some hosts won’t rent to a guest who has not received at least two reviews from hosts.
  • View guests’ Airbnb profiles and look for their verification badges.
  • Pay and communicate with your guests only through Airbnb.

8. Reach for the stars

Guests rate hosts by giving (or withholding) star ratings in several categories. Stars at the top of your home’s listing show how guests have rated you. (You’ll need reviews from three guests for this to appear.) As you’d expect, Airbnb has plenty of rules to prevent use of reviews for misuse or extortion.

Strive for really stellar reviews. Potential guests will use them as a guide in deciding whether to stay with you and whether your home is worth the price.

Keep a careful eye on your ratings and your guests’ experience. Winning starred reviews is the name of the game for a host who wants to profit.

9. Buff up your profile

Write a great profile for yourself, one that inspires trust in potential guests. Read profiles of other hosts for inspiration. Be real. Authenticity inspires trust and helps guests feel they know you. Describe yourself, your interests and background, why you host and maybe something about your hosting philosophy.

10. Review your guests

Leave reviews of your guests once they have left. This makes it more likely they’ll leave a review of you and your home.

11. Select a communication method

Decide if you prefer email, phone or text. Use your preferred system in communicating with guests to introduce consistency and prevent confusion and lost communications.

12. Provide well-organized guest information

Write a succinct, informative list or note with guidelines for guests. Include everything a guest needs to know in one place. (Leaving additional notes in various parts of your house or texting or phoning last-minute instructions will drive guests nuts and earn you bad reviews.) Your instructions should briefly explain the ins, outs, rules, how-tos and quirks of your home.

For extra points (on a separate page) point guests to great restaurants, shops and amenities in your neighborhood or town.

13. Provide free Wi-Fi

Your guests will be disappointed — practically guaranteed — if you do not offer free, reliable Wi-Fi at your home. It’s a modern necessity.

14. Above all, make it seriously clean

Extras are great. Extra fresh towels and linens, free parking and other goodies. But the quickest way to a guest’s heart is leave your home spotlessly clean. After cleaning thoroughly, take even a second pass at your bathrooms and kitchen. Airbnb’s cleaning guidelines are here.

A few years ago a friend and I stayed at a vacation rental that might have had a lot going for it. But the unkempt condition marred our experience. The linens smelled sour, dust lay thick on every surface, and the kitchen and bathroom were at best marginally clean. Our review gave the place major points off because of this.

15. Manage your calendar like a pro

Your Airbnb calendar is the heart of your rental operation. Become a pro at using it. (Airbnb’s guidance is here.) Avoid at all costs making guests guess when and whether your home is free. “The less you decline a guest, the higher up in the Airbnb search you will appear,” says Talty of Forbes.

Are you tempted to rent out your home to visitors? Have experiences with daily rentals? Share your thoughts in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Marilyn Lewis
Marilyn Lewis
After a career in daily newspapers I moved to the world of online news in 2001. I specialize in writing about personal finance, real estate and retirement. I love how the Internet ... More

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