How Does Airbnb Work for Homeowners?

By Alene Laney · July 24, 2023 · 9 minute read

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How Does Airbnb Work for Homeowners?

With more than 150 million users in 191 countries worldwide, Airbnb has the power to draw guests from all over and boost income for owners. The average Airbnb host earns over $13,800 per year, or $163 per night. However, if the rental is in a high-demand area, it could be much more.

It’s an interesting way to make money, but how does Airbnb work for owners? Let’s take a look at Airbnbs, how they work, and what’s involved in running one. Stick around and you’ll be able to decide if being an Airbnb host suits your style.

Key Points

•   Airbnb connects hosts with guests globally, facilitating bookings, payments, and customer service through its platform.

•   Hosts list properties on Airbnb, set rental conditions, and manage their listings independently.

•   The platform is popular for its diverse property types, from private rooms to unique accommodations like treehouses.

•   Hosts can earn significantly, influenced by location, property size, and uniqueness.

•   Listing on Airbnb is free, but hosts pay a 3% fee on bookings, while guests pay a 14% service fee.

What Is Airbnb?

Airbnb is a company that connects guests with hosts. Bookings, payments, and customer service issues can be handled through its platform.

Airbnb does not own any properties — it is simply a booking service. The real value of Airbnb is how ubiquitous it is. Guests looking for units with cooking facilities or unique stays will check Airbnb first. Potential hosts know Airbnb as an opportunity to make extra cash. Bringing these two groups of people together is the magic of Airbnb.

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How Does Airbnb Work?

The concept behind Airbnb is pretty simple:

1.    A host lists a property on the platform.

2.    A guest finds the property and books through Airbnb.

3.    The host approves (or denies) the reservation.

4.    Payment is processed.

5.    The guest completes the stay.

6.    Hosts are paid about 24 hours after guests check-in.

How Airbnb works for owners is much like a hotel, where visitors change frequently. The average guest books a unit for four nights, though it is also common for hosts to see guests book longer stays. The short-term rental market is much different from the market a traditional landlord sees.

💡 Quick Tip: Traditionally, mortgage lenders like to see a 20% down payment. But some lenders, such as SoFi, allow home mortgage loans with as little as 3% down for qualifying first-time homebuyers.

Who Books on Airbnb?

The guests who book on Airbnb come from the company’s 150 million users. The site is widely known and easy to use.

One of the things to know when renting out an Airbnb is that hosts have a lot of control over who is able to book their Airbnb. Hosts can specify guest requirements in the booking settings. These requirements can include positive reviews from previous stays on the guest’s profile, agreement to house rules, and ID upon check-in.

How Does Airbnb Work for Hosts?

So, exactly how does Airbnb work for homeowners?

Hosts own and manage the properties on Airbnb. The hosts determine the conditions of the rental, such as:

•   Check-in and check-out times

•   The rental rate

•   Cleaning fees

•   How guests access the unit

•   What areas and amenities are available for guest use

•   House rules

•   Cancellation policy

Recommended: Is Investing in Single-Family Homes a Good Idea?

Hosts sign up for Airbnb so that their property is listed on the website. Guests can browse these listings and choose what property they think will work best for them.

When hosts sign up to receive guests, they provide details on the type of property, whether it’s shared or private, how many guests can stay, how many bedrooms there are, how many beds there are, if the bathrooms are shared or private, and so on.

Hosts will set the price. Airbnb has a suggested range for similar properties in your area, but you can set it to whatever you want. The next page asks if you want to offer any discounts. You can select from:

•   20% new listing discount off your first three bookings

•   10% weekly discount

•   20% monthly discount

Good photos of the property are essential. Hosts will also add a title and description of the property. They can open the reservation up to anyone or narrow it to an experienced Airbnb user who has good reviews.

They can also select what amenities are available. Basics include TV and Wi-Fi, a kitchen, air conditioning, and free or paid parking. But some properties advertise an indoor fireplace or outdoor grill, a fire pit, pool table, or lake or beach access. A piano or outdoor shower or the ability to ski in/out of the property might draw guests looking for these specific features.

As you finish, you’ll set up your calendar, select a cancellation policy, set house rules, choose how guests can book, and prepare for your first guest. You’ll also select the safety features in the home, such as a smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, fire extinguisher, and first-aid kit.

Recommended: First-Time Homebuyer Programs

How Much Can You Earn With Airbnb?

While the average host earns $13,800 per year, there are a lot of hosts who make much more, and some homeowners find income from Airbnb to be a viable way to make payments on their home mortgage loan. Several variables come into play when it comes to how you can earn with an Airbnb.

•   Location. Location matters when you’re hosting an Airbnb. If you’re near national parks or city centers, you may be able to charge more for your rental. If you’re in a suburban area that doesn’t receive many visitors, it may be a bit harder (but not impossible) to regularly rent out your unit.

•   Dates. If you’re renting out an Airbnb unit during peak season or a date near a concert or popular festival, you may be able to charge more than during a down season.

•   Number of beds and guests you can accommodate. Generally, the bigger your place, the more you can charge. Guests can justify spending more on a rental unit if they are able to split the cost with other guests.

•   Luxe digs. If your property is unique or incredibly luxurious, you may be able to rake in more money per night.

💡 Quick Tip: Apply for a cash-out refi for a home renovation, and you could rebuild the equity you’re taking out by improving your property. Plus, you may be able to deduct the additional interest payments on your taxes.

How Much Does It Cost to List on Airbnb?

It doesn’t cost you anything to list your property on Airbnb. The company only charges homeowners its fee once a property is booked by a guest.

How Much Does Airbnb Take From a Host?

Airbnb charges hosts 3% of the booking subtotal (the nightly charge plus the cleaning fee, which the host sets). But that’s not the only fee the company collects. When guests book, they pay a 14% service fee that goes directly to Airbnb.

Airbnb says these fees help the process run smoothly by covering customer support, marketing to guests, protection for hosts, and educational resources for hosts.

There are all kinds of Airbnbs that can make homeowners some extra money, from renting out extra rooms to hosting guests in a private villa. Guests can stay in a house, apartment, or in an individual bedroom within a home, which may or may not have a private entrance. If you’ve invested in a duplex, renting out one-half of the property on Airbnb could be an option.

Some hosts rent an RV parked on their property, or a houseboat, treehouse, tent, or yurt. (And if you happen to own a castle, cave, Moroccan riad, or windmill, you’re welcome to rent that out as well.)

The only requirement Airbnb has is that the space is used specifically for lodging, and that if it is a boat or mobile home, it will be semi-permanently attached to a set location and parked in a privately owned space. Bear in mind that your municipality, homeowners association, or condominium rules may also govern what you can do with your property.

Recommended: What is a Duplex?

How to Become an Airbnb Host

If you already have a property that can be converted to a short-term rental and a municipality that allows it, becoming an Airbnb host boils down to signing up for the service and adding pictures of your listing. You’ll start to earn money once bookings are complete.

If you don’t already have a property, you can work with a real estate agent to acquire one. You’ll want to look for a property in an area that is legal for short-term rental. You may want one that is in a high-demand area, commands a strong rental rate, has abundant support services (cleaning services, handyman services, etc.), and has the potential to rent out multiple rooms or beds.

The Takeaway

How does Airbnb work for homeowners? Property owners host guests who find their listing on the Airbnb platform. After check-in, hosts get paid, less a percentage of the nightly rental rate and cleaning fee. It’s a solid way to make extra cash if you’re willing to supervise bookings and cleaning. Some owners even purchase properties with Airbnb rentals in mind.

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How much does it cost to list on Airbnb?

There is no charge to list your property on Airbnb. Airbnb takes its fee — typically 3% — from the total booking fee a guest pays (usually a nightly charge plus a cleaning fee). Guests also pay a fee, usually 14% of the booking subtotal.

How much do homeowners make on Airbnb?

The average Airbnb host makes $13,800 per year, though the amount you make will vary based on your location, number of guests you can accommodate, and condition of the property.

How do I Airbnb my own house?

Any owner can create a listing on Airbnb for free. You’ll want to make sure your local government or homeowners association allows short-term rentals and you’ll need to set up your house with amenities and arrange for cleaning before and after each stay. Don’t forget to explore Airbnb’s insurance policy to make sure you’re comfortable with the coverage.

Do homeowners stay with you in Airbnb?

Some homeowners rent rooms within their own living space and might be present during a guest’s stay. Other homeowners rent their personal space but clear out during the guest’s visit. And some host guests in properties they own specifically for use as short-term rentals.

Photo credit: iStock/CreativaStudio

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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