10 Things to Consider Before Hosting on Airbnb

Thinking about putting up your first listing on Airbnb?  Here are 10 things you need to think about before you do that.

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Do you have a lonely couch that you’d like to make a few extra bucks from? Have an extra bedroom you can rent? Or maybe you’ve heard about how much your friend is making from hosting on Airbnb that you are considering getting a dedicated unit to rent out?  Regardless of what your situation or motivation, here are some important things to think about first.

1) Goal vs Expectations

Yes, we all  know you want to make some money from hosting on Airbnb but what is your goal exactly?  Just an occasional extra income? A reliable and consistent extra income? Income replacement? Build a short term rental empire?  Depending on your goals, the amount of capital, time, and risk involved in hosting on Airbnb can be quite different.

A good way to evaluate your goals is to first determine what type of a host you want to be.

2) Personal Safety

When you are hosting on Airbnb, you are literally inviting complete strangers into your home.  And if you’re only renting part of your unit and you’ll be staying there, you are going to be spending nights with complete strangers under the same roof in your home!

If the idea of that alone makes you feel uneasy, you’ll need to think long and hard about hosting on Airbnb.  If having strangers stay with you is not an option, you’re only Airbnb route to go is to find and acquire a dedicated rental unit.  Are you able to comfortably and reliably communicate with and host complete strangers?

3) Time Commitment

Listing and running a successful Airbnb unit could take lots more time and effort than you may have been led to believe, especially in the beginning.  Even when you’ve got your procedures down and you’re not spending as much time handling all the bookings, you can still expect to have to be on call for emergencies whenever you have a guest staying with you.  Do you have the time and flexibility to do what it takes to succeed?

4) Listing Positioning

What makes your unit special or different?  Why would a guest on the site want to look at your listing and book with you rather than a number of other good alternatives?  You’ll need a compelling offering that positions your unit favorably compared to your competition.  This can include everything from the photos and descriptions on what you choose to highlight to how you go about pricing the unit.  Getting the positioning correctly can take many iterations of testing.  Are you willing to put the time and energy to get your positioning right?  See if you should market Airbnb to business travelers.

5) Landlord Relations

Unless you own your home, you’ll need to think carefully about how you want to approach and communicate with your landlord to host on Airbnb.  Yes, some folks host on Airbnb behind your landlords’ backs but we strongly urge you to NOT do that.  Nothing kills an otherwise good Airbnb deal faster than an angry landlord. Are you ready to speak to them candidly about your short term rental intentions and to demonstrate how you will continue to one of their best tenants?

6) Neighbor Relations

Whether you own or rent, chances are you will have neighbors.  How do you think they will react when (not if) they find out your hosting on Airbnb?  This will very greatly by City and neighborhood so you’ll need to do some serious homework for your particular area.

If your city already has many angry neighbors petitioning the city counsel to ban or restrict Airbnb, you’ll want to extra careful before listing your unit on Airbnb.  Ultimately, you’ll need to decide if the potential headaches from your neighbors are worth the effort to host on Airbnb.  How would you respond to angry neighbors?

7) Risk & Liability

Outside of personal safety, you are exposing yourself to a host of other risks by hosting on Airbnb.  You’re putting your property at risk of theft.  You’re at risk of renting to a squatter. You’re also putting yourself at potential liability risk if your guests get injured or if they damage other property or injure neighbors.  But all of these risks can and should be minimized before you dive into hosting on Airbnb.  Learn more about Airbnb liability insurance.

8) Optimal Pricing

Pricing is NOT just settting your weekday and weekend rates and then forget just forget about it, unless you are okay with leaving profits on the table.  Optimal pricing takes time to get right initially, and to keep it right as you continue to host on Airbnb.    Are you up for the task of constantly monitoring competitive rates and special events in order to keep your pricing optimized for profits?  Learn more about Airbnb Pricing Strategies.

9) Keeping Up w/ News & Market

As you can already tell, if you want succeed as a host on Airbnb, you’ll need to be constantly learning and frequently adapting your listing to the changing market conditions, guest taste, or even local law.  You may have very different kinds of travelers during different seasons that require a completely different positioning.   Your city may be evaluating a ballot measure that could significantly affect your Airbnb listing (or shut it down).  Ready to keep up?

10) Life Interruption

With all these considerations, you can expect hosting on Airbnb to interrupt your life in one way or another.  Especially if you’re hosting just one unit and not hiring 3rd party service providers, be ready to check guest in and out, cleaning, restocking, responding to guest inquires, lock outs, neighbor complaints, etc…Being a successful host on Airbnb can and will interrupt your life, especially if you’re building a portfolio of units.  Are you ready for that interruption?  Is your spouse, kids, or pets ready for that?


What are other things one should consider before hosting on Airbnb?  Share your thoughts below!

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