If you've always dreamed of listing your home on Airbnb — the site founded in 2008 that offers rentals in private homes, anything from a one-night stay in a Manhattan apartment to a week-long visit to a French castle — there's no time like the present. Here are five suggestions from the Airbnb pros about what to do before you list your place online.
1. 'Sell' your space
Your goal is to declutter way more than you think you need to, says Natalia Robert, who has been an Airbnb photographer for more than five years. "Clear off all flat spaces as much as possible, including floors, countertops, tables and nightstands. You'll most likely think it looks too bare, but a tiny bit of visual clutter can ruin a photo completely," she says. Also, don't forget the bathroom. "Clear off the vanity as much as possible and hide anything that doesn't feel welcoming," she adds. "This includes extra rolls of toilet paper, air freshener cans, toilet brush, large boxes of tissues and any toiletries. Be sure to lower the cover on the toilet and, unless you have a modern and bottle-free shower, close the shower curtain."
2. And stage your space while you're at it
A vase with flowers can add pop to a large dining table, says Robert. In the same vein, a simple breakfast setting with a folded newspaper can set the mood on a balcony table. "A bowl of fruit can liven up a kitchen island, and it's the small touches like this that add a bit of life into the space," she says. "This will go a long way to getting people interested in choosing your home for their next vacation."
3. 'Photo-op' your space
Unless you have wide-angle lenses for your camera, you'll struggle a bit to show the entire room in one photo, Robert says. "To make the most of your camera, stand in a corner of the room (pick the one with the most interesting view of the space) and lean yourself as much as possible into the wall," she says. "If possible, take advantage of openings into adjacent rooms and step just outside the room to get a wider shot." Avoid holding your camera too high up and tilting down. Instead, hold camera at about 5 feet off the ground and hold it level, Robert says. This will avoid the strong distortion you get from tilting the camera up or down.
4. Burglar-proof your space
Once you're ready to list your place on Airbnb, be sure you've found a place to store your valuables. "It's terrific if you have a friend's house or apartment you can move important/valuable items to that you don't want to leave behind," says Brian Scios, who was an active Airbnb host in Manhattan for four years and now uses the service for many of his vacations. "For those who don’t have that luxury, store your valuables in a closet or large chest that locks." Be sure to carefully review Airbnb's insurance policy, which may cover theft or damage.
5. Do your due diligence on prospective guests
When booking guests, make sure everyone has multiple Airbnb "verifications" of their identity, Scios suggests. "I've had so many interesting guests, from a lady and her friend in town for their 40-year high school reunion to a DJ from L.A. interviewing a local rapper. They've all been wonderful. My best advice: Like most things, use common sense."
For more hosting tips, visit Airbnb's new host page.