Welcome back to the Start An Airbnb blog! If this is your first time visiting, we are glad you are here. Taking the initiative to learn about starting an Airbnb is smart. And for our long time customers and clients, welcome back! This post will benefit not only beginner hosts but experienced ones as well. If you want to stand out as an Airbnb host, it is imperative that you are smart from the start.
To quote Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
We get it in our minds that we are correct and that the environment around us is incorrect. God forbid, you or I are wrong, huh?! Therefore, if you can implement this mentality in your daily life failure simply becomes a way to learn and grow. This is also applicable to hosting on Airbnb. Do not expect that once your listing is live that you can just sit back and relax. Obviously, sitting back and having your space work for you is the goal but you must continue to work as well. You need to be smart from the start.
What does it mean to be smart from the start?
The main reason I started this blog is to pass on what I have learned as a host. Come May of this year my wife and I will have been hosts for two years. If I had the knowledge then that I have now things could have been a little more streamlined. Because there are so many details it is difficult to juggle with what needs to be done. My hope is that you will gain knowledge and understanding that hosting on Airbnb is not easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it. However, it isn’t rocket science either. It comes with its own set of challenges and demands that you as the host must handle on a daily basis.
Therefore, to make hosting as streamlined as possible here are my key tips to ensure you are being smart from the start, as well as being smart for the duration of hosting.
Get Permitted: Check City/State Ordinances & Neighborhood By-Laws
- It is happening all over the world. Cities are under the gun to regulate the home-sharing industry. Thus, new legislation and ordinances are being passed every week. Do not make the mistake of starting an Airbnb in your home before checking to see if it is legal. Receiving fines or even being shut down would be detrimental, especially after investing in your home-sharing space. You may be required to pay taxes and get a permit from the city. Find out this information so you are not surprised down the road.
- Airbnb has a summary of responsible hosting tips and legal requirements of about 50 cities in the United States. If your city isn’t listed here, the first place to check is your local municipal or administrative code, which may be available online at your local government’s website. To find yours, check out State and Local Government on the Net or Municode. Even calling your city zoning department will help. Also check out the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center, created by Airbnb, HomeAway, Trip Advisor, and FlipKey, for information on restrictions on short-term rentals. If you own a condo or coop, ask your homeowners’ association or coop board about its leasing and renting policies. For renters, check your lease or rental agreement and always talk to your landlord before renting out your unit.
- DO NOT operate a short-term rental without a permit if your local city requires one. It is worth paying the $50-$75 per year to do it the right way. Hosts that are operating without permits and show no concern for their neighbors will eventually be caught. Hence why it is so important to get smart and get permitted.
Set Up For Safety And Security
- I hope I do not have to tell you that starting an Airbnb or any other home-sharing venture is not 100% safe. Fortunately, as a Host, I have yet to experience an incident that made me or my guests feel unsafe. However, that does not mean it won’t happen to you. Therefore, set up for safety and security right from the start. I encourage you to read Set Up For Safety And Security. It dives into detail about this very subject.
- There are around 2,500 properties in Nashville permitted as short-term rental properties (STRP), according to the codes department. Of those, 1,095 are permitted for non-owner-occupied single-family residences and 524 are for non-owner-occupied multifamily units. That means around two out of every three short-term rental homes in Nashville are not occupied by the owner. Nashville has 852 owner-occupied STRPs, accounting for 34% for the total allotment.
- Owner-Occupied Properties – 34%
- Non-Owner Occupied Properties – 66%
- Every market is different, however, most data around the world shows a 70/30 or 60/40 % for non-owner vs. owner occupied Airbnb’s within a given market. Obviously, there is a difference between the two types of properties. And there comes a different set of safety challenges for each. Your main concern as a host should always be keeping you, your family, and your guests safe from physical harm. Be smart and be safe.
Be Honest And Transparent
- Honesty is the best policy, right? Absolutely, without question! Being honest and transparent will eliminate the majority of questions, concerns, and negative feedback you will receive as a host. If you do not agree with this, you will not be successful, and I urge you to re-consider! Here is the thing; there are hosts who are not honest. Some listings are deceptive. Whether that is intentional or not is irrelevant. You know to be honest, so be honest.
- If your listing is a one bedroom with a twin size bed, don’t claim to have a king size. Provide correct and accurate details, especially when it comes to sleeping arrangements. The listing description is the best way to be transparent about your space.
- Guests will have different expectations. Some may even interpret your listing page in a different way than others. Encourage guests to contact you with questions or concerns before booking. Communication is key. Be honest and be transparent.
Use Professional Grade Photography
- This should be a no-brainer! The listing pictures are one of the first things people will look at on your listing page. Other than price and location, photography is essential to a successful Airbnb. A good picture can often time make or break you getting new bookings. Airbnb offers professional photography on new listings (not in every market). It can take a few weeks to set up the photo shoot, as well as an additional few weeks to receive the edited photos.
- If you are in a hurry and do not want to wait for Airbnb to hook you up with a photographer, then search around for a local photographer. Surely, you know or someone you know has a good contact. It takes a good camera and an even better photographer to take pictures in tight spaces, especially inside a bedroom, kitchen, or bathroom.
- Put yourself in the shoes of a guest. Would you stay in a property that uses dimly light, out of focus, and low-quality pictures? Guests need to see vibrant and professional pictures. So, put your phone camera down and get a real photographer!
Home Stream Hustle
- Hosting takes up time. Answering questions, cleaning, troubleshooting guest issues, repairs, and damage control can add up quickly. Preventative maintenance can save you a lot of work in the future. A successful host hustles to maintain a 5-star property. Make it easier on yourself by streamlining many of the logistics. I call it the Home Stream Hustle.
- I have done away with providing physical keys to my guests. Using an electronic lock is not only safer but is simpler for all parties. I have used the August Smart Lock since day one and love everything it does for me. My guests no longer have to keep track of a key. Their smartphone has access to unlock/lock the door for the duration of their reservation. Easy peasy lemon squeezy! I also advise purchasing the August Connect so you can remotely access the lock from anywhere.
- Give yourself and your guests’ peace of mind with security cameras. I use Nest Cam. Or opt for Nest Cam Outdoor. They are quick and easy to set up plus you can receive alerts on your phone when the camera detects activity. Opt on for 24/7 live video recording in case of break-ins or theft for $10/month.
- Some people like it hotter and colder than others. Being able to access the temperature when you are away from home is crucial. The Nest Thermostat is a completely programmable thermostat that can learn schedules to save on energy. Control it from your phone, tablet, or computer from anywhere. Super sleek and modern looking!
- Guests leaving your lights turned on? Stop throwing away money when you don’t have to. There are many products on the market that can control your lights. I prefer the WeMo Switch Smart Plug purely for its simplicity. It is home automation the easy way for sure. Control your lights, appliances, and electronics from your phone. You can also create lighting schedules to turn on and off during the say. What’s really great is that WeMo Switch works with Nest Thermostat.
Check out my full list of Resources that I have either tested or used for my Airbnb. I am always testing new products to make my home stream hustle more productive.
What is so great about hosting on Airbnb is that there is no one right way of doing things. Finding your rhythm as a host takes time. Enjoy the process and strive to be a Superhost. The important thing to remember is to be smart from the start!
Thank you for reading. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Leave a comment and continue sharing your hosting stories with us!
Don’t just Host, Superhost. And Superhost like a boss!