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A Crash Course in Becoming an Airbnb Host

How to make a little extra cash by renting out your living space through Airbnb.

Credit: Evanston Patch
Credit: Evanston Patch

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Although Airbnb, the online marketplace allowing people to list or book lodgings around the world, has only been around for a little more than five years, it now boasts over a half million listings in 192 countries. There are similar sites, like HomeAway it's counterpart Vrbo, but Airbnb is the most well-known.

While it once seemed unthinkable for many of us to offer our homes online to vacationing strangers, the process is becoming practically commonplace.

It can be so lucrative, that some Americans have reportedly purchased homes with the money they made using the website, and others have bought property specifically to rent out through Airbnb. But be careful, certain cities are beginning to question its legality.

If you are considering renting out your pad for a little extra cash, here’s a crash course on how to go about it:

The basics: On their site, Airbnb breaks it down to four steps: List, Communicate, Book, and Host. They explain in simple terms how to get up and running, the importance of good communication, and how to vet guests. However, for your best shot at a good experience, there’s more to know, such as….

The photographer: For ‘eligible hosts,’ Airbnb will send a professional photographer out to take really pretty pictures of your place. Unless you’ve got Annie Leibovitz skills, take advantage of it. Good pics make all the difference.

Asking price: The best way to get good reviews (even more important than good photos!) is to start with an unbeatable price. Once the online love starts pouring in, you can raise your rates.

Be clean: Bad marks for cleanliness can really kill your Airbnb traffic. I’ve seen guest complain about the cleanliness of the tiny tiled space behind a toilet. So, be sure your place is spic and span before you open it up to guests. If you become a frequent host and the ecnomics make sense, it might behoove you to hire a cleaning service. And don’t forget clean sheets and towels!

Have you ever used Airbnb, either as a host or a guest? Let us know in the comments or in a blog post.

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