Should You Turn Your Home Into an Airbnb?

Joining the Airbnb revolution could help you generate revenue from a spare room, or from an apartment or house you don’t use much.

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Joining the Airbnb revolution could help you generate revenue from a spare room, or from an apartment or house you don’t use much. “It’s been a great experience and very worth- while,” says Sandra Shillington, a California-based Airbnb host since 2013 and the author of the hosting guidebook, Airbnb Toolbox. But is hosting right for you?

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Pro: The money (of course!)

While earnings vary based on size and type of space, city and neighborhood, and frequency of rentals, hosting can yield more than you might receive from even a full-time renter, Shillington says.

But keep in mind: Paying guests expect their experience “to be relatively problem-free,” she says. You need to be organized, efficient and available. When the washing machine you promised breaks down, “you have to make sure someone’s there to fix it.” As with any business, there’s also some paperwork—though that gets easier with experience, she adds.

Pro: The people

“You meet lots of interesting people from all over the world,” Shillington says. “There’s a sense of community that Airbnb has built its platform around.” Expect fun conversations and the pleasure of introducing guests to your city or region.

But keep in mind: If privacy is a priority or you don’t like interacting with strangers, you may want to pass. “You’re in the people business,” she says. Also, while the overwhelming majority of guests are respectful of your property, “inconsiderate” guests are a possibility. Airbnb, however, does insure your rental against damage by guests, and before renting to someone, you can read reviews given by other hosts.

Tip for success

While the physical space is crucial, don’t neglect your online presence. Respond quickly to queries from prospective guests and encourage reviews from those who’ve stayed there. Being fully engaged online may help give your property a more prominent position on the Airbnb site, Shillington says.

Airbnb by the Numbers

  • Airbnb Users: 151 million
  • Countries with Listings: 191
  • Cities with Listings: 65,000
  • Listings Worldwide: 4 million
  • Stays Per Night: 500,000

Learn more in this article: 14 Things to Know About Renting a Property on Airbnb.