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House Hacking With Airbnb

Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.

If you already own a single-family home and aren’t in the market to be a duplex or another multi-family home anytime soon, you may feel that you have missed the boat on house hacking.

Fear not! You absolutely can take advantage of the magic of house hacking if you have a pool house or even a spare room. If you have a room that’s usable for a guest–you too can lower your housing expenses by hosting part-time or full-time on Airbnb!

Why Airbnb?

While you absolutely could start renting out your spare room with Craigslist or other more traditional methods, utilizing a home-sharing site like Airbnb has serious perks and ease of use.

For starters–you’ll have flexibility in both earnings and scheduling. If you need your spare room or want to take a break for whatever reason, you’re not locked into a six month or year long lease with any one person. You also can be flexible in how much you earn. If your area is in high demand during a convention or festival–it’s a great way to tinker with your cash flow in a very agile and responsive way, something you can’t take advantage of with a long-term renter.

Additionally, transparency is a big perk. Unlike signing on a stranger you found on Craigslist, most travelers have a few reviews under their belt so you know how experienced they are with home-sharing and how they treated other hosts.

That level of transparency, along with the ease of booking, is why I love hosting on Airbnb. You aren’t locked into any rates or any dates, and you also have tools to help you better vet who you allow in your home.

How Much Can You Make?

Honestly, it can vary from town to town and what accommodations you can provide–but the easiest way to calculate your earnings is to poke around listings in your neighborhood that are comparable to what you offer and go from there.

As stated, you can earn more if your area is in high demand, but it also means that during the slow season, you can earn less. If you offer more space or have a pet-friendly listing, this can positively impact your pricing.

As of this writing in June 2018, I earn on average, $687 per month for a one bedroom in San Antonio–and I don’t have my room booked 365 days of the year. In a great month, I can earn up to $800, and in my slowest month when I first started, I earned around $450. Not too shabby!

What Do You Need To Get Started?

You’ll be surprised at how little you need to get the ball rolling–so try not to overthink it. If you’ve already spent a good deal of time looking at what amenities other hosts in your area offer, you can choose to level with them, or try to gain a slight competitive advantage by offering something a bit nicer–all of which you can outline in your listing to be more attractive to travelers.

The very basics of a good Airbnb room consist of the following:

  • A water-resistant or waterproof mattress liner that doesn’t make too much noise
  • Fresh sheets in a neutral color
  • Matching towels with hand towels and face cloths
  • Basic toiletries like hand soap, shampoo, and conditioner
  • Extra blankets or a small fan for temperature control
  • Wifi login information
  • Sufficient Window coverings (blackout curtains are great and affordable!) for privacy

Extra perks are nice but not necessary:

  • Snacks or candy in the room
  • Local magazines or brochures, and a bottle of water for each guest
  • A TV in the room with Netflix or internet connection

All in all, you can get started with hosting a room in your home for under $200, and you can still get amazing reviews. The more you host, the more you can invest in perks and grow your amenities, thus being able to charge a bit more–but to get started, the very basics will do.

Get started with Airbnb today.

Setting Up Your Listing

Imitation is the finest form of flattery–save yourself valuable time and avoid the pitfalls of omission by scouring similar listings to nail the verbiage you want to use. Look over the “house rules” other hosts use and be sure to set up your listing with care.

While I’ve never had a problem guest, I have very clear rules laid out for what is expected of a guest and what they can expect from me. You also can join a Facebook group for Airbnb hosts to have them proof your listing or ask questions as they arise. Overall, my fellow hosts are very friendly and helpful!

Think through what you’d want to know as a guest. What’s available in the room? Where is parking available? How will guests check-in and what can they expect during their stay? If you have children or pets, list that as well.

Since you will be having strangers in your home, you want them to be sure about your place when they book to ensure you can meet their expectations and both parties are satisfied with the transaction. Explicit transparency is absolutely key to having a good experience for everyone!

Getting Good Reviews

Getting good reviews on Airbnb is key to getting more guests–and not just “good” reviews, five-star reviews–every time. Becoming a Super Host with a high satisfaction rate from guests and consistent five-star reviews will get you ranked higher in search and give other travelers a vote of confidence when booking.

All in all, ask yourself–“Would I want to stay here? Would I feel welcomed, would I think my room was detailed with care and is clean?” Cleanliness is the best way to ensure you get a five-star review, so polish the faucets and tuck those sheets!

Once we had the heating go out during a guest’s stay and we STILL received five-star reviews. Take good care of your guests, and they’ll take notice. More good reviews mean more bookings and that means you can take your house hacking to the next level!

Have you ever stayed in an Airbnb? What was your experience like?

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Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Disclosures.
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