Homesharing apps like Airbnb have revolutionized the way homeowners are renting out their space to make some extra cash. But before you start snapping photos of your spare bedroom to share with potential renters, you’ll want to make sure you and your home are ready, and that you know what’s involved. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you become a host:
1. What are the zoning rules and laws in your city? Some cities have laws that restrict hosting guests for short periods, so make sure you know what applies in your area.
2. Do you have the time to dedicate to being a host? Being a good host means providing an exceptional experience for your guests. Make sure you have the time to invest. Check out the home stay guide on Amazon if you want to read up on more info.
3. Does it make sense financially? Find out how much you can earn, and if your return is worth the time and money invested. You can use Airbnb’s host calculator to crunch the numbers.
To find out more about becoming a host, we spoke with recent homebuyer Tara Lowry who hosts her private room in Virginia Beach. She’s new to the world of homesharing, but decided to use the extra space in her new home to host on Airbnb.
How she got started: “I started with researching the local regulations, then purchased a business license with the city and put a keypad lock on the entrance. I bought three sets of sheets, soaps, towels and set up a small kitchenette, with a microwave and coffee pot. I set up my listing on the website with info and photos showcasing the space.”
What’s important to Tara: “I have a private entrance to the room I rent out. Some people rent out shared living space, but I think a lot of guests like to have their own entrance so they can come and go as they please. It gives us both some added privacy, and an added layer of safety as well.”
Added amenities she provides: “I always keep essentials like toothbrushes, k cups, cream and sugar stocked for guests to use. Since we’re so close to the beach, I also provide beach chairs, beach towels, a boogie board and a cooler with ice packs. Those are the types of things that I think people forget, and they don’t want to go out and buy for the week or a quick weekend trip, so it’s nice to have it all there for them to use.”
Her advice: “Through the website, you’re able to choose your own pricing, rules, minimums, etc., but you can also let Airbnb choose the price for you. So if you’re unsure of what you should be charging, you can use their pricing. We recently had a huge festival, the “Something in the Water” festival in Virginia Beach, and everything in town was sold out. During special events, you may want to do your own pricing, since everything in the area was priced much higher than usual. It’s okay to change the price, depending on what’s happening in the area.”
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