Have you ever thought about renting out your home while you're on vacation? Or are you looking to make some extra income from a second property or empty room?
It's never been easier with Web sites like Airbnb and VRBO that allow home owners to rent out their properties at a click of a button.
According to Kim Rubey, director of communications at Airbnb, more people are turning to renting to avoid foreclosure, help finance college, or even pay for an amazing honeymoon or vacation. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, 27% of vacation home buyers plan to rent out the property.
At the same time, renters are choosing to rent personal homes over hotel rooms to save money and have a completely different type of travel experience. Renters can feel like they are part of a local community or have their entire extended family under one roof.
So how do you do it? Here are the basic steps and tips to making your property stand out from the rest.
Pricing: The first step to having a successful property is to determine the correct pricing of your home or apartment. Owners may also want to change prices depending on the season; for instance beachfront properties in New England will rent for much cheaper in the winter and your price needs to reflect that. Be sure to include a security deposit and cleaning fee, it can protect homeowners from any small spills or larger problems.
Listing Photos: Take clear, crisp photos that accurately show the property. You want guests to feel as though they stayed in exactly what they saw online, but also show the listing in its best light. Eric Horndahl, spokesperson for FlipKey, recommends taking pictures from a balcony or at other angles that highlight the property's amenities. Another photography tip is to keep people and pets out of listing photos- the guests should be envisioning themselves staying there. If you're not quite sure how to take the best photos you may want to try Airbnb, they offer a free professional photo shot. The photos are then uploaded onto the Airbnb site with a verified photo seal. Verified photos also give renters peace of mind that the photos will match the room or home.
Description: Try to make your description of the property stand out be featuring both amenities of the home and the local area. It's ideal to make it appeal to the vacationer - play up the large or cozy space; discuss standout features like pools, decks, grills and other special touches in the home; and also talk about the local flair and attractions, said Horndahl of FlipKey. Homeowners can also add small details to help potential renters visualize themselves staying there, whether it's sipping poolside margaritas or cuddling up with a book in front of a stone fireplace.
Picking the right renter: One of the best parts of these sites is that owners and renters are able to have a direct dialogue before deciding it's the right fit. Rubey of Airbnb suggests asking lots of questions like What is the purpose of your trip?, How many people are in your party?, and What are their ages?. Check out the potential renters profile and review, it's important to find out if other hosts had positive experiences with the guest. At the end of the day a host should trust their instincts on who they want staying in their home.
Up-to-date online profile: Keeping an up-to-date profile is key to boosting your online review. Make sure to check and respond to messages and reservation dates regularly and routinely update the booking calendar.
Security: Security is a huge concern for property renters- no one want to come back to their home and find it was used as a fraternity's spring break house. Each individual Web site uses different types of security features- so it's important to explore these, before deciding. For example, Airbnb offers all property owners a host guarantee, which will cover up to $50,000 in damages beyond the security deposit. Similarly, those who list with Home Away can purchase an optional Property Damage Protection plan, which costs between $39 and $59. This plan allows home owners to claim up to $5,000 in damage protection.
Finding the right Web site to list your property is vital for success. Here are a few of the industry's leading sites:
Airbnb: Airbnb prides itself on offering one-of-a-kind properties in more than 19,000 cities and 192 countries. Use the mobile Airbnb iPhone app to rent out your home while you're on the go. Hosts can find out what's my place worth, keep track of the rent schedule, and check out a perspective renter's profile and reviews.
Price to list: Free
FlipKey: FlipKey is relatively new to the vacation rental marketplace, going live in 2008. FlipKey stands out because, like its owner Trip Advisor, the site is driven by guest reviews. It has more reviews than any other Web site in the industry. Also,because it is owned by Trip Advisor, those looking to rent can see reviews of area restaurants and points of interest.
Price to list: $299.99 annually
HomeAway: HomeAway offers a great mix of both international and U.S. properties. The Web site features over 290,000 listings and receives over 98 million hits per year.
Price to List: $329 annually
VRBO: Vacation Rentals by Owner has one key advantage over the competitors- it's the oldest and most established rental site on the web. VRBO has more than 175,000 listings, most of which are located in the U.S.
Price to list: $299.00 annually