It has been a warm and beautiful summer in the Pacific Northwest. The summer season has been very profitable for us hosts on Airbnb. Being a host on Airbnb means most of the time, we have a flat-line winter across all three of our Airbnbs properties. But we would still be in the green this year with our mortgage in terms of cashflow. I have no complaints about the income Airbnb brings in but there are many other fringe benefits people don’t give Airbnbs enough credit for.
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I try to be diverse in my observations as a host. If I didn’t truly enjoy hosting Airbnbs then I would have stopped a long time ago. I still think the concept is simply genius – just like car sharing. Although the main attraction will always be having someone else pay your mortgage, there are plenty of other fringe benefits to being a host as well. This segment is a general pointer but it also includes tales from my personal experience having been a full-time Airbnb host for 2 years now.
10 Benefits of Hosting an Airbnb (Besides Money)
1) Meeting New People
Let me start off by saying Hubby and I are social hermits in everything that we do. Both of us scored highly as “INTJ/P” under the Myer Briggs personality test1 with a near 100% score leveraging into I(ntroversion) instead of E(xtroversion). We do not host dinner parties or go anywhere or even make good eye conta…OK, this is sounding sad…we’re just introverts and there’s nothing wrong with that.
As a result of our introversion, Hubby and I choose to not meet or greet the majority of our Airbnb guests. It’s just social anxiety with a good tablespoon of pure lazy. Although we do not greet the majority of our guests, sometimes we still end up having these amazing chats with our guests from almost every walk of life and all different parts of the world.
Besides seeing our unused extra room bring in $60 a night without effort, the second most exciting thing was being about to host real travelers from all over the world. I’m an introvert and even I think that’s cool!
Within the first few months, we had visitors from the UK, Australia, Germany, Korea etc. and it was really cool to meet and talk with them. On rare occasions, my husband and I end up having an hour long, heartfelt talks with our guests about our lives, our passions, our careers etc. Those Airbnb guest that we happen to run into were always a delight to talk to. It’s one of those things where you kind of go: “no way, me too! What a small world!”
It makes the world seem a little wider and makes our own world (and our mind) grow a little bigger too.
Did you know Hubby and I have both been pronouncing his last name wrong? Ha! We didn’t know how to pronounce our own last name! A French teacher stayed in our Airbnb and was like “oui-oui, monsieur Proooo-DOME.”
I’m giggling at the memory. Hubby and I exchanged looks at each other when we heard it from an actual French speaker. Whoops! It’s not “proud-homie?”
2) New Adventures
And as hermit-y, as we are, it’s really cool to have this kind of interaction delivered to your doorstep. Action packed and…oh thank goodness it’s rare, I’m not out-going.
I’ve gone out to eat with 2 guests who were kind enough to invite me out. I have never directly asked any of my guests but I do accept if they approach me first…because of food. The last girl that I went out with was a college student from China. She was staying with us for a week while she’s studying for her graduate school accounting exam. We hung out half the week eating out and talking about random stuff. During that time we would chat about real estate (her family was interested in buying a house in Seattle.) We went sightseeing and window shopping for houses after her exams until the weatherman played a trick on us.
Drizzle, my rump!
We were caught in a crazy, crazy rain and windstorm. I have never seen such a heavy downpour before in all of my life.
It didn’t help that we were also near a lake so the water flooded to our ankles.
We were completely soaked from top to bottom, holding hands, huddling together in the rain…singing Chinese Idol (like American Idol, her idea) while waiting for our Uber. 20 minutes later the Uber car finally arrives and I thought the Uber driver would take one look at us and drive away! But surprisingly not only did he let us in, the driver joined in on the singing too! Neat. I thought he was going to kick us out for being soaked.
It’s my favorite memory because it’s the most surreal, ridiculous thing that has happened to me as a host.
3) Opening Lines of Communication with Neighbors
I guess in a way this can be a con as well but since we started hosting, the lines of communication between us and our neighbors have improved. We didn’t talk or know our neighbors at all when we first moved in. There’s not much to talk about, all we had in common was the shared fence.
A small mishap (bad parking) with a naughty guest did eventually happen so I instructed the neighbors on both sides of us to let me know immediately if any guest disturbed their boundary (blocked their driveway/damaged a mailbox etc.) We haven’t had any issues yet and what we thought was an issue was actually a misunderstanding between that neighbor and another neighbor unrelated to us.
Last weekend we received an email from our next door neighbors asking if we had availability for her extended family who just got into town. It was an absolute win-win. Their family gets to stay next door and we get a booking.
Another neighbor we know down the block made a booking for his brother at our home just last week! It’s definitely good to be friends with your neighbors!
If you are opening an Airbnb and you have immediate neighbors (those that share a fence) then I would not hesitate to let them know about your Airbnb. I neglected to do this when we started on Airbnb and I regret it. I would just slip a note under their door or something if you’re afraid it would be awkward. Just as a disclaimer first of all but, hey, you never know when they need a place for their extended family to stay! –Wink wink–
4) Free Food
I’ve gotten free sushi, teriyaki, chocolates, chips, lots of ramens and even flan! My guests leave behind a lot of beer too, especially during the summertime. I probably scored $70 worth of beer last month alone. These are not just Budweiser or any of that Joe stuff. These are the local indie brews that go for $6-$10 a pop and some of them you would have to drive 40+ minutes down to the brewery for! Cheers!
5) Free Swag
Holy mother-! You get to dumpster dive in your own dumpster!
Our Airbnb guests have left behind fans, lawn chairs, clothes, USB cables, shoes etc. Just 2 days ago we had another set of guests leave behind another fan (so now we have 5 fans in total) and another set of lawn chairs as well. Portable fan and lawn chair set seems like an extremely common combo.
Sometimes guests leave behind loose things like glasses and headphones. Most things are not worth the trouble to mail back and the guests simply don’t care.
We end up with random articles of clothing too. Two of the jackets that I have were from guests (Germany I think?) who left them. They didn’t want to pay the international postage and they didn’t care. Most of what we pick up is donated to St. Vincent’s nearby.
We don’t throw anything away.
If they are not in tatters, it’s donated. Like I mentioned in the bus safety post, there are some really run-down people who could use anything and everything…
One time we had a guest who threw away half her clothes in our trash bin. I wish she could have just told us she’s leaving it instead of hiding it all in a black bag and hoping we wouldn’t notice it.
It’s always good to check with your guests first unless you find it literally in your dumpster. You never really know the value of anything so shoot them a quick message to double-check. Once I found a pair of completely plain, simple black gloves that was probably worth $5 max. I told the guest that it would be $25 to ship internationally but to my surprised, she sent payment right away and begged me to ship it back to her. The gloves had sentimental value. I was happy to play the lost and found hero.
After the guest has confirmed they do want the item returned and is willing to pay the postage then hosts can send a money request for the postage reimbursement within the AirBnB’s Resolution Center. To avoid coming off crude, if the postage is under $3, I don’t personally bother to request any money from guests but we do keep the receipt for tax purposes.
Keep the receipt! Take a photo of it as proof and upload it into the resolution center for both guests, tax purposes, and Airbnb’s track record.
6) Value Swap
Another great point about hosting different people from all walks of life is the trade value of each person. We have hosted therapists, historians, electrician, tax specialists and one doggy whisperer (I didn’t know that was a thing) who were happy to help us just because they were staying with us.
One of our guests, a former vet tech, trimmed my pet Bunny’s nails for free. If you are familiar with small animal vet clinics, that’s a $10 value! ? Now I’m hoping for a pro-bono masseuse and sushi chef. Mmm…
7) Learn Your Town
You can start loving the town you’re in by learning about your town. This fringe benefit is overlooked a lot. My Airbnb guests leave behind pamphlets and menus all the time and half of those things I didn’t know Seattle had. We learned that in Ballard (which has its roots as an old Scandinavian migrant town) they have free Swedish pancakes and other banquets at the Nordic museum/culture club every Sunday. Totally wish I knew about that before buying this house that’s so far from Ballard…free pancakes – every weekend! Aw!
Last year, we had the delight of hosting an (I swear to God…) renegade 80-year-old Japanese grandmother, driving her Dodge challenger, all the way up from California to Washington. She and her retired niece drove up to Seattle to condo hunt and to buy a special kind of black miso sea bass you can only get here. They also left Seattle with a lot of booze, a lot of booze.
They were really cool. What was odd to me was how perfect their English was. Heck, it was better than me and my husband’s. If I’m getting my Asian American history correctly, that means they were one of the first ever generations of Asians in America! Now that’s cool.
8) Home Detection & Maintenance
Airbnb guests are great inspectors for your home. They can give reports on your property that you wouldn’t even know before the problem gets worst. If the shower head is leaking, if there are early signs of an ant invasion, slow drainage in the tub, stuck window in a hallway – they’ll let you know.
It keeps us up to date with our property so everything is properly maintained and care for. It sounds like extra work but this is going to be must better for resale value later. We are keeping an eye out on the insulation and roof as well.
It’s better to be preventative now than treat later. We have 3 decks that is sealed and maintained even though we don’t personally use it. My husband does inspections of the house siding for cracks because we want our home to look nice from the outside and prevent moisture from getting in.
9) Extra Incentive to Clean House
I am not a good housekeeper. Never have been, never will be. Not in the genes. My room looks like a bomb set off and I’m not ashamed of it. Nope. I’m scrawny with barely 100 lbs on me, my batteries don’t last that long before nappy time.
l would like to refer back to my defense:
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” ― Albert Einstein
I must, therefore, be a genius. But my husband thinks Airbnb has been great for the house (i.e. me having to clean it.) I vacuum every other day (stupid Grace and her shedding) and keep at least 3 out of 4 of our bedrooms in top pristine and de-cluttered conditions. The entry-way is swept and mopped; the bathroom mirrors are wiped and polished. I’m tired just from talking about it.
Now I will admit…the ambiance of a room is better when you can see the floor..?
10) Stop Anytime
I don’t picture us stopping or wanting to stop anytime soon. But I do want to mention this for other hosts or hosts-to-be that this can be a quick gig. If there’s an emergency or the property will no longer be available, you can just stop hosting pretty much any time. Hosts can also block out what segments of the calendar that is not available to be rented out. There are settings to set requirements like minimum booked nights (this is a new feature, they didn’t have this when I started) and you can even add that in as a seasonal clause (also a new feature).
It’s really easy to de-list or deactivate a listing too with a few clicks. You are responsible for all the confirmed bookings but other than that, it’s incredibly flexible.
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