A Guide to Setting Up Your First Airbnb

A Guide to Setting Up Your First Airbnb

These days, more travelers are looking for alternatives to traditional hotels than ever before. Short-term rental options like Airbnb offer travelers a way to feel more connected to the community they're visiting and have an appealing, homey feel in their accommodations. After all, there are a lot of tempting elements to staying in an Airbnb.

For hosts, the rewards are innumerable. Becoming a host of an Airbnb property is an excellent income opportunity and an effective way to gain experience in the real estate investment world. If you're starting out on the journey to become an Airbnb host and want some guidance, this guide from Kara Kay & Associates will serve as an invaluable resource. Read on below to learn more.

Ensure that your Airbnb is properly registered

Before you can start welcoming guests to the home, you'll need to ensure that you register your property with the city as a short-term rental. Depending on your location, different permits and licenses might be required. For example, in a popular destination like San Diego, hosts must get a Short-Term Rental Ordinance before officially operating as an Airbnb. You might also need to get a Transient Occupancy Tax certificate or a similar license in order to own and operate a short-term rental.

If you can't find the proper information online, visit your local City Hall to ask what paperwork you need to fill out. Make sure to do this well before your estimated opening date. When you're ready to accept reservations, you'll want the process to go off without a hitch, and this is where having all your paperwork ready to go can be a lifesaver.

Have the property inspected

Even if the property you intend to use as an Airbnb looks and seems sound, it's a good idea to make an appointment with a general contractor or expert inspector to evaluate the home. A professional can assess the condition of the property, including the plumbing, electrical wiring, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, to determine whether any repairs or renovations are necessary. If the property does not require any repairs, it’s still a good idea to consider giving it some well-chosen upgrades, such as a fresh coat of paint or modern, sleek appliances. Your trusted agent will have recommendations for how to make the space more alluring to prospective guests.

If the contractor does determine that some updates are necessary, you'll need to schedule those repairs well before any opening date. Allow plenty of time before your set opening date so that you aren't rushing to get things done before your guests arrive. After the work is complete, hire a professional cleaning company to thoroughly clean the property, inside and out. There's nothing quite like arriving at a sparkling-clean rental, and for guests, it signals that the host is both attentive and caring.

Decorate your Airbnb

After renovations and cleaning, it's time to add the small touches that make your Airbnb special. The decor and presentation help set the stage for a memorable guest experience. It also highlights the personality of the property and allows you to share a little bit of yourself with your guests. If you already have a style in mind or have specific decor elements that you want to incorporate, you can start there.

Many hosts aren't sure where to start with decorating their Airbnb. Websites like Pinterest can provide a lot of inspiration, offering color palette choices and decor ideas for short-term rentals. Another option is working with an interior designer. This is an excellent option for those with large short-term rental properties or houses with multiple rental units inside. A talented designer can give each room its own sense of personality through customized decor elements.

Furnish the property

Depending on your personal desires and your overall business plan, you have various options when it comes to furnishing your Airbnb. Some hosts opt for a fully-furnished Airbnb experience, while others tend to keep things a bit simpler, with only the essentials in place. Whatever you choose to do, always include the basics like bedsheets, towels, rugs, chairs, a coffee table, beds or bunk beds, and a couch. Other optional furnishings include:
  • Shower supplies, including shampoo, conditioner, and body wash
  • Paper products like paper towels and napkins
  • Cutlery, including knives, forks, and spoons
  • Extra pillows and blankets for sitting areas and bedrooms
  • TVs and entertainment options
Many Airbnb hosts will also leave snacks and beverages out for guests who might be coming in from a long journey. Baskets full of treats and small gift items are an especially welcoming touch and can be put together with relatively little effort. This way, you can personalize the experience of furnishing your short-term rental and find joy in the process.

Outline your property rules and cancellation policy

Most Airbnb hosts prefer to set strict guidelines for guests who stay in their properties. This includes information about check-in and check-out times, cleaning and general cleanliness expectations, noise guidelines, rules regarding parties and extra guests, and any other pertinent property rules. These should be clearly communicated to guests prior to check-in and listed somewhere in the property as well. Many hosts like to print custom books detailing these rules, along with helpful information about the local area.

At the same time, creating a cancellation policy should be standard. Choose what makes sense for you and your needs when determining a policy. You should also decide whether your property will be pet-friendly and whether you'll include any amenities or accommodations for guests with children. Finally, determine your pricing. Consider higher pricing during peak times in order to maximize your income potential.

Work with a photographer and staging expert

When it comes time to market your Airbnb, work with professionals who have experience showcasing rental properties. Many photographers are dedicated to working with Airbnb hosts and can capture beautiful images that draw interest and excitement from travelers. You can also stage your property before having photos taken.

Showcase the decor and styling of your Airbnb as much as possible in the photos, allowing the rental's personality and charm to shine through in every shot. Video tours are also an excellent way to give interested travelers a better look at your property. Once all of this is complete, you can start to market your Airbnb through the rental platform and on social media.

Get personalized real estate advice from Kara Kay & Associates

If you're interested in buying a property so you can host your own Airbnb, Kara Kay & Associates are ready to help. As a highly experienced San Diego team, these experts are well-versed in matching clients to their ideal properties and guiding them toward their goals. Contact the team today to learn more about how they can help you. Click here to get started as a host on Airbnb!
*Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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