Pay Off Your Mortgage Using Airbnb

Homesharing is the ultimate low-maintenance side hustle. Think about it—with apps like Airbnb doing most of the heavy lifting, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of the homesharing phenomenon and earn a little extra income in the process?

For folks looking to pay off a mortgage, this is a no-brainer. In fact, there’s an entire subculture of borrowers out there who swear by Airbnb, who say that this is the end-all-be-all solution to making regular mortgage payments on time.

But for the uninitiated, how do you get started? How do you turn your home into a profit-making investment, rather than a passive repository for value?

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Know your market

As with most investments, it pays to do a bit of research up front. Let’s take the state of South Carolina as a case study.

With folks flocking from around the world to visit the port city of Charleston, Columbia—the state’s capital—is often overlooked, at least as a destination for tourists.

But audience, as they say, is everything. And just because Charleston has a built-in edge with its higher overall brand visibility, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for an Airbnb in Columbia (or in the small town or city where you live, for that matter).

You’ll just have to be much savvier in understanding who makes up your consumer base. Are they students visiting friends for the holidays? Folks in town for a job interview? Military families in transit?

Here are a few things you can do, research wise, to get started. Look at the listings in your area to get a better sense of what sells, paying particular attention to

  • Nightly rates for properties in your rental area
    • This will help you determine how much you can charge and still remain competitive (though it’s generally recommended that, when you’re starting out, you offer a diminished nightly rate, to lure potential customers)
  • Amenities and special features offered by highly-rated properties
  • How successful Airbnb renters in your area market their property online
    • What do they photograph for the preview images on their page?
    • How do they photograph those images (professional-grade digital camera, Smartphone)?
    • How do they describe their property, and themselves, in text fields?
  • Pay attention to special events and other goings-on in your area—if demand is high enough, you’ll be able to charge “surge” prices and make extra money during peak travel times

Based on this research, you’ll be able to determine whether there’s a vacuum for a particular property type or homesharing experience—whether it’s in the unique amenities that you could provide or something else entirely—that you might fill, making your Airbnb listing that much more attractive to prospective guests.

Who knows? With competitive pricing and savvy marketing, you could be hauling in reservations (and dollars) by the boatload over time.

Make a few adjustments to your property and your schedule

There are a few widely-held principles of Airbnb hosting that will earn you higher visitor rates and better reviews than you could expect to receive without them.

Consider making the following adjustments to your rental property to make it a more pleasurable experience for your visitors.

  • Have a private entrance
  • Make your calendar less restrictive, this way you can take on more guests, and generate a greater amount of cash than you would with a busy calendar
  • Have your whole home available for rent—whole-house listings yield a greater return than private rooms do, since you can charge a higher rate
    • If you have a carriage house, guest home, a finished room over the garage, or some other place where you could crash, you might want to decamp there while your guests are visiting
  • Have easy, accessible parking, whether it’s in your driveway or on the street in front of your home

These basic adjustments to your Airbnb rental property can significantly improve the experience of your guests, generating higher overall quality ratings, and thus boosting the amount of reservations that you receive.

Implement these suggestions as you’re cultivating your Airbnb audience, and you’ll be on your way to paying off that mortgage—much earlier than you probably anticipated if business goes well enough.

It’s worth remembering, however, that some mortgage companies charge prepayment penalties for homeowners that pay off their debts early. It helps to be in the know. Doublecheck your mortgage agreement to be sure you’re not in this position, and then get a jumpstart on next month’s payment by registering as a host on Airbnb!