The idea of listing your place on Airbnb is daunting for a lot of folks. After all, your home is your sanctuary. Some days, you don’t even want to have your own family over — let alone people you don’t know.
But if you’re willing to give it a shot, you could make some serious extra income sharing your spare room — or even your entire place if you’re headed out of town. Yep. You’d basically be making money for going on vacation.
Rosie Perera, a 76-year-old Airbnb Superhost in Los Angeles, has listed her spare room since 2015. Being retired, she enjoys the extra income.
“I would have to tighten my belt a little bit if I didn’t do it,” she says. She also enjoys the company and meeting new people.
But she wasn’t always keen on the idea. Her son had encouraged her to create a listing, but then Perera didn’t use it. She says she waited about six months to host her first guest.
“He was so nice and encouraging,” she says, “and wrote such a good review.”
Since then, Perera has stacked up more than 300 positive reviews.
If you’re starting to come around on the idea of becoming an Airbnb host, now’s the time. Los Angeles is a top summer travel destination, and there’s a shortage of Airbnb hosts in the city. See how much money you could make by listing your place.
After all, folks from around the world flock year-round to take in its quintessential Americana landmarks and attend its events — or even for quick LAX overnight stop while traveling internationally. There’s always a demand for space.
How Much Could Your Place in Los Angeles Fetch?
Listing your place on Airbnb is simple — but it does require some creativity and strategy. The good news is you can adjust or change your information and settings at any time, so you’re not committed to anything permanently.
Yep. You’re not locked in. Try hosting, and see if you like it. If you’re curious, it’s worth a shot.
Use Airbnb’s price calculator to see how much money you could make in your area.
Now, we’ll walk you through the sign-up process and offer some pro tips, courtesy of Perera.
How to Create the Best Airbnb Listing in Los Angeles
You may have heard the city of Los Angeles recently adopted new short-term-rental regulations, but if you’re listing a spare room or primary residence (somewhere you live for more than six months a year), there’s no need to worry.
Here’s what you need to do: Register your space with the city online. Note: There’s an $89 annual fee.
Once you receive a registration number, you’re ready to list your space.
Answer Some Quick Questions About Your Space and Amenities
If your place is near popular destinations, like the Griffith Observatory, make note of it in your listing. Getty Images
In this first part of setting up your listing, you’ll answer some basic questions about your space, like the included amenities and the number of guest your space can accommodate.
Perera lives in a five-bedroom home and lists one of her three downstairs rooms. She prefers the simplicity and ease of managing one listing. She only has to clean one room, and she doesn’t have to worry about guests not getting along.
She also makes her common areas available to guests, though she asks they only use the kitchen for breakfast, so she can use the space herself to prepare lunch and dinner. She‘s equipped the guest room with a mini-fridge (they’re super affordable from Costco!), so her guests can keep food or drinks cold.
Set the Scene With Photos
Photos are one of the most important parts of your listing. After all, people do judge a book by its cover.
Include photos of not only your space, but also its surrounding areas as well. One of Perera’s biggest selling points is her tranquil garden.
“There are benches on the front porch where people can sit and enjoy the outdoors,” she says.
She emphasizes this in her photos. She also includes photos of the kitchen, bathroom and living areas.
You’ll also want to include photos that illustrate what makes your location appealing. For example, are you a five-minute drive to LAX? Do you live near a bus or metro station? Are you a quick walk to restaurants? The grocery store? A 10-minute Uber to Disneyland or Santa Monica? You get the picture.
Write a Description
Use your listing to give travelers a sense of where your listing is in Los Angeles. Getty Images
Once you hook people with your photos, continue to lead them through your listing with the description.
Here, you’ll be able to highlight, with words, what makes your space unique. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at other Airbnb listings in your area to see what hosts highlight.
Perera starts her listing simply with a major selling point: “Just 5 minutes away from Los Angeles Airport.” Then, because she’s noticed many of her guests are just stopping through for a night, she describes her garden as the perfect place to sit back after a stressful flight.
She keeps her description simple, citing that potential guests often read reviews, too, which highlight features like her comfortable beds and easy off-street parking.
After you host several guests, you’ll get to know your audience, so you can lean into that.
Name Your Listing
This might seem like a small task, but naming your listing is just as important as nailing your photos. Airbnb urges hosts to create a title that highlights what’s unique about the space.
For Perera, it’s her garden and proximity to LAX, so she named her listing simply, “Garden Getaway LAX.”
You can get ideas from other listings in your area, but keep in mind what makes your space stand out from the others.
Set House Rules
Airbnb has a set list of rules you can opt into if you’d like them included in your listing. A few of these include: suitable for pets, no smoking allowed, and no events or parties allowed. You also have the option to write in additional rules.
Perera, for example, asks guests not to eat in the bedroom. They’re welcome to keep items in the mini-fridge, but she encourages them to have their meals in the common areas, so she doesn’t have to deal with ants or stains.
She also asks people to take their shoes off, which keeps her from having to steam-clean her carpets too frequently.
For any other preferences, she’ll leave notes around to help remind her guests. For example, she has a note in the bathroom that asks guests not to flush care products. Instead, she points them to a stack of small paper bags. She also reminds guests to wash her coffee mugs with soap and water — not simply rinse them out.
“The are some things you accept when you’re allowing people in your home,” she says. But you can leave notes around to help steer guests in the right direction.
Set Up Your Calendar
The Manhattan Beach Pier, which is not far from Los Angeles International Airport. Getty Images
Taking time to set up your calendar is important, because if you cancel on your guests, Airbnb will charge you a penalty fee.
A few questions you’ll answer include:
- How often do you want to have guests?
- How much notice do you need before a guest arrives?
- When can guests check in?
- How far in advance can guests book?
- How long can guests stay?
You’ll be able to adjust these settings as you go, so you can find out what works best for you.
Also remember you can always block out times you’re not available. For example, Perera spent a good amount of time in Missouri this spring, because her niece was sick, so she made her space unavailable.
Price Your Space
Airbnb has a Smart Pricing tool, which you can opt into to automatically adjust the price of your listing according to demand. For example, spring tends to be a popular time to visit LA, so prices will likely increase automatically based on demand. You’ll also probably see an increase around spring break, Coachella and LA Pride.
You can set price minimums and maximums, so your listing won’t dip below a certain amount or spike to something unrealistic. Here are a few tips to help you determine these numbers:
- Consider your expenses, i.e. utilities, cleaning and any maintenance requirements.
- Be realistic. People tend to have an inflated view of their place.
- Search other similar Airbnb listings in your area and price just below those.
When you’re starting out, you might want to price your place lower, so you can get guests in, accumulate reviews and work your way to that Superhost status, which will help increase bookings in the long run.
Note Your Local Laws
You’re almost done setting up your listing! Like we mentioned before, Airbnb will remind you to familiarize yourself with your local laws.
At this point, you’ve probably already handled the registration process — awesome! If not, you can register your space online.
In addition to short-term rental laws, you’ll also want to check in with your homeowners insurance. Using your place this way could invalidate your coverage, so chat with your provider.
Airbnb also includes liability insurance for up to $1 million, which is a great safeguard, but not a substitute, so consider setting aside extra money for damages.
Ready to Try Hosting?
How are you feeling? Like we said, listing your space on Airbnb is simple — it just takes some strategy.
One of the most important things to being a successful host is to stay up on your listing and be connected to it.
Airbnb is constantly changing its features, so keep your eyes peeled. Don’t be afraid to tweak your listing description, prices and calendar settings. Plus, Los Angeles itself is constantly evolving, so stay in tune with your city.
Perera’s final tip? It’s simple: Invest in more than one set of sheets. Having an extra set of clean sheets helps cut back on cleaning time and allows her to accommodate last-minute guests.
You ready? Use Airbnb’s price calculator to get started.
Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.