Is Your Home Good Enough to Be a Summer Rental?

Here's everything you need to do to get your home ready for its close-up for vacation-friendly home-sharing sites.

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Host Tips for Home Sharing

With millions of listings worldwide (including castles and treehouses!), home-sharing and swapping through popular listing sites has become the go-to choice for travelers who'd rather have the local experience of staying in a home vs. a hotel. To attract those visitors to yours, you'll need to make it look great (gorgeous pictures will help you get your first bookings) and super comfortable (good reviews are the key to getting the next rental). Here's how to get your home ready to list.

Create a Clean Slate
Begin by decluttering: Your goal is hotel-like simplicity. Remove all but the basics (store your personal possessions elsewhere—in a locked closet or safe, for example). Clean really, really well. You may want to hire a cleaning service for this.

Update the Decor
Replace any visibly worn or excessively dated elements. Investing in a few new accents—rugs, throw pillows, floor lamps, and wall art—can help your place look fresh and even Instagrammable.

Make a Beautiful Bed
Again, let hotel-level comfort inspire you. Make sure mattresses are supportive and in good condition. Top them with a plush topper, crisp, high-quality sheets, soft pillows, and fresh linens. Provide extra blankets and sheets. Consider hanging blackout curtains in the windows. Outfit bedside tables with adjustable reading lights and alarm clocks.

Freshen Up the Bath
Invest in new, soft, matching towels—two sets for each guest. Stock the bathroom with high-quality toiletries in an attractive cabinet: shampoo, conditioner, soap, body lotion, toothpaste, even sunscreen. Trust us on this one: Have a reliable, clean hair dryer. Guests will appreciate (and remember, and therefore review) every thoughtful extra. Additional toilet paper rolls and tissues are a must!

Stock the Kitchen
Guests often like to save money by eating some meals in their temporary home, so offer everyday small appliances—coffee maker, toaster oven—as well as a kettle, key utensils, and cookware. New, matching dishes, glassware, and cutlery make a good impression. It's nice to provide a few food essentials: coffee, tea, sugar, salt, pepper, cooking oil, and some spices. Make sure you have plenty of dishwashing detergent, paper towels, and garbage bags.

Essential Extras
Consider setting up a workstation in a living space. This could be a desk or table with good lighting and a power strip for charging. Make sure you leave instructions on how to use all the key systems in the home, including the Wi-Fi network, security systems, heating/air conditioning, and television and other electronics. Create a packet of local travel tips, with information on restaurants, sights, and transportation. A welcome basket stocked with treats—a bottle of wine and some fun snacks, perhaps—is an extra-special touch (that might lead to extra-special reviews).

Be Smart about Safety
Scan your home for hidden dangers, from tripping hazards to furniture pieces that could tip over unexpectedly. Make sure outdoor walkways are in good repair and well-lit. Place smoke and carbon monoxide alarms near all bedrooms, living spaces, and the kitchen, and ensure they're in working order. Provide fire extinguishers and a first aid kit, as well as your contact numbers and those for local emergency services.

Note: Some Airbnb owners have recently come under fire for using Nest security cameras in their properties. The listing service requires hosts to list the presence of a surveillance device in their House Rules, and permits them in common areas such as the entryway and living room, but they are not allowed in sleeping areas or bathrooms. If you respect your guest's privacy, you'll reap the rewards in the form of great reviews and referrals.

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