Travel Is Back! How to Prep Your Home to Be an Airbnb Host

by Team HomeServe
Woman arriving to vacation rental with suitcase

Preparing Your Space to be an Airbnb at a Glance

  • Depersonalize
  • Deep clean
  • Make repairs
  • Buy toiletries and stock supplies
  • Add amenities
  • Give guests a guide

Becoming an Airbnb host can be quite intrinsically rewarding — plus, you can make a little extra cash by renting out an unused space. More than 14,000 new hosts join the ranks of Airbnb hosts each month, and that number doesn’t seem to be declining. If you want to become a successful Airbnb host, it’s important that your unit is as inviting as it can be and that guests feel good enough about their experience with you to share it with others — or even come back for future stays.

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When it comes to how to start an Airbnb, the importance of prepping the rental space can’t be overly emphasized. This primer can help you get started on your road to becoming a valued host.

How Much Does It Cost to Start an Airbnb?

Airbnb charges a 3% service fee, which is taken out of payments received from guests. Fees can be more for Airbnb Plus listings and listings that come with strict policies regarding cancellations.

First, Depersonalize

A big part of starting an Airbnb involves preparing your space so that it feels like home to your guests when they arrive. They want to feel like the space belongs to them, if only for the short time they stay in your unit. For this reason, it’s vital that you depersonalize the space, removing anything that makes the unit feel like it’s someone’s house. Remove family photos, photo albums, certificates of achievement, degrees and similar personal belongings.

Clean, Clean, Clean

Any Airbnb prep advice would be remiss without mentioning in-depth cleaning. It goes without saying that your rental space should be clean, tidy and welcoming. In much the same way you might clean your home before having friends and family over, you'll need to clean your Airbnb unit. While the entire rental space should be spic-and-span, you should pay special attention to the cleanliness of your bathrooms and kitchen. Be sure towels, sheets and other linens are in good shape and clean, all trash is emptied and floors and carpets are swept. If you aren’t up for the task, hire a cleaning service to clean the unit for you. Don’t forget to sanitize the hot tub or spa if you have one. It should be immaculate so guests will want to hop in and relax.

Make Any Needed Repairs

Guests love staying in well-maintained units. Anything that might need repair work should be addressed before opening your home to Airbnb guests. Fix any safety hazards, including loose steps, exposed wiring or frayed carpet. Walk through your home and the common areas where guests may frequent. Look for anything that might cause your guests to become injured, and take care of those issues immediately.

Stock Up on Supplies

While you're certainly not required to provide everything your guests may need during their stay, it can win you some brownie points. After all, you want to make the best impression possible, and happy guests are the most likely to leave good reviews.

Think about providing the following for your Airbnb guests:

  • A minimum of two bath towels, hand towels and washcloths for each guest, per day
  • One extra blanket per guest
  • Iron and ironing board
  • One place setting of dinnerware per guest
  • Microwave
  • Oven mitts or potholders
  • Coffee maker and coffee
  • Teapot and a selection of teas
  • Toaster
  • Basic staples like salt, pepper, sugar and butter or oil
  • Hand soap and dish liquid or dishwasher detergent
  • Toilet paper, tissues and paper towels
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit with bandages and other simple supplies
  • Trash bags

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Additional Amenities to Consider

The more amenities you can provide for your guests, the more you can validate the price you charge per night and the more your guests will enjoy their stay with you. Although it’s not required by Airbnb, think about making guests feel more at home with things like:

  • Milk, cereal and other easy breakfast or snack items
  • Board games and playing cards
  • Hairdryer
  • Beach towels if your rental is located near the beach
  • Local and state road maps
  • Brochures and guidebooks for local attractions
  • Body washes, loofahs and other spa products in the master bath

You might also consider a welcome basket for guests that includes things like locally grown fruits or homemade candies from the farmers market, bottles of wine from a local vineyard or other items sourced in the area.

Spell Out What You Expect

Guests (for the most part) want to play by your rules, but they can’t do that if they don’t know what those rules are. As an Airbnb host, leave your guests instructions so they don’t have to stop and take time out to call and ask you for guidance. That said, be sure they have your contact info in case they need you.

Leave instructions about operating remote controls, Wi-Fi, electronics, dishwashers, washers, the HVAC system and the security system. Be clear about when the trash and recycling need to be taken out and where those should be taken. Go over parking arrangements and give guests a list of local grocery and convenience stores and restaurants.

What Else Do I Need to Know Before Starting an Airbnb?

There are a few other things to consider prior to getting started as a host. For starters, be aware that your homeowner's insurance may require additional endorsements if you're operating an Airbnb out of your home. You should also know that starting and running an Airbnb requires more time than you might think — including the time it takes to create and maintain your listings, respond to guests and clean units after stays.