Is Airbnb Profitable? Will Airbnb Work in my City?
Wait…. Just kidding, that isn’t my entire answer.
Due to our participation in the Airbnb Community Leaders Program (designed by Airbnb as a referral program, enabling experienced hosts in aiding and creating new hosts) in Los Angeles, my husband and I have received some interesting questions and concerns from friends.
Here are the most frequently asked questions or statements and my thoughts on each:
1. How much money does Airbnb take? Is Airbnb Profitable?
As a host, you keep 97% of each booking. Airbnb takes a fee of 3% from hosts, as well as a 10-12% transaction fee from travelers. If you’re curious about other expenses, we also hired a Task Rabbit to do our apartment turnovers. Initially, I did the cleaning. As my pregnancy progressed, my husband took over. Eventually, we hired it out entirely.
2. What if my landlord finds out? Will they care?
Depends! If you’re renting out your sofa (totally an option, by the way) or your extra bedroom, how will they know? It’s no different than a friend visiting.
If you’re concerned about the technicality of subleasing as it pertains to your listing… While I’m not an attorney, I can tell you that posting your apartment on Airbnb does not constitute a sublease, based purely on the legal definition of the sublease.
So far, most rental agreements do not have that loophole covered. If your landlord finds out, they may not like it, but in most cases, it’s still perfectly legal.
3. But I don’t want strangers in my house. Will our stuff get stolen/taken/ruined?
In our experience, my husband and I have found many items left behind (beer, protein powder and shaker cups, and a small toolset, among other things), yet none was taken. Airbnb’ers are generally the sort who regularly utilize shared services and behave conscientiously. For the unfamiliar, I offer you this Washington Post article on the trust economy.
In addition to the aggregate trust mentioned in the above article, generally, most of your guests use Airbnb because they prefer experiences to possessions. They value touring the Hollywood Hills over taking your prized hockey puck. Also, a large percentage of our guests are international, so for them, your prized hockey puck is a strange dust collector (unless they’re Canadian, eh?). If you have diamonds or other unmistakably valuable goods, lock ’em up. Easy peasy.
If you’re concerned about coexisting with strangers, you can approve or deny each request. Each potential guest has various forms of verification and ratings attached to their profile. Follow your gut. After a year of hosting on Airbnb, I’m unable to think of anyone particularly bad. (…Maybe the couple who clogged the bathroom sink, but were too embarrassed to tell us and instead tried to unclog it with our spare toothbrushes? Or the one who left the house keys in an Uber on the Fourth of July?)
…Consider this: for any experience that annoys YOU, you’ll have the occasional guest who runs into an annoyance of their own. We had one guest get locked in the bathroom. Luckily, they had their phone with them. It all works out. And you get paid.
4. Will people actually be interested in/book my place?
You rent there, don’t you? By that logic, someone else (MANY someone else’s) will need to stay there. In our case, a high walkability score sweetens the deal.
Is Airbnb profitable if you own a second home? Of course! Tourists, business people, graduate students, political volunteers, makeup school students… There are SO. MANY. REASONS. why people need to visit or temporarily stay in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Trust me when I say that your place WILL get booked.
5. How much time does it take? How much work?
The answers to this are highly variable. In our case, while we hire out our turnovers, I still launder everything myself. Remembering we rent a completely separate apartment half a mile away, solely for Airbnb’ing. If it’s the home in which you live, it’ll be much easier. Lately, I’m also working to achieve “Super Host” status (it’s a thing- a real thing), so I make a little welcome note for each guest, with accompanying treats.
The bulk of the work is in the beginning when you create your listing. No more complicated than your first MySpace profile, I’m pretty positive anyone can do it.
Once your listing is live, your work consists of replying to inquiries and potential guests and turning over your apartment.
Airbnb automatically sends each guest our check-in information on a confirmation page upon booking. We also keep the instructions saved in our phones’ notepads, as guests inevitably misplace the instructions. Beyond that, it’s a nice touch to connect with them just prior to their arrival.
There ya have it: the ins and outs of Airbnb hosting. So, what do you think? Is Airbnb Profitable?