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Don't you wish your home looked so dreamy, you could make money on Airbnb if you rented it out? A new Netflix series, "Stay Here," can show you the ropes.
On the series, designer Genevieve Gorder and real estate broker Peter Lorimer show homeowners how to prepare properties to make a killing on short-term rental sites such as Airbnb.com and VRBO.
Sure, you can put clean sheets on a sofa bed and make a modest side income letting travelers crash in your den. However, if you want to make a serious profit off your rental and have it booked every night by return visitors, you have to go the extra mile.
And the proof is in the bookings. For the first season of "Stay Here," Gorder and Lorimer revamped a number of properties—including a houseboat in Seattle, a vineyard cottage in Paso Robles, CA, and even a former firehouse in Washington, DC.
Every property they touched has ended up booked solid clear into next year, with rental income that has "doubled, tripled, even quadrupled," says Lorimer. "It's surpassed even what we estimated on the show."
So whether you're hoping to drum up more business for your own short-term rental or just want your home to look like it could, check out this advice from Lorimer and Gorder to get more of a vacation hideaway vibe in your own home.
'The bed is the throne of the house'
"No matter how beautiful everything else is, if they can't sleep well, guests have a bad experience, give you negative reviews, and will never return," Gorder says. "So make the bed clean, white, and high quality. Invest in great sheets!"
But isn't white almost impossible to keep clean?
"It's actually the most forgiving of colors," contends Lorimer. "If it's high-quality, you can bleach it again and again. And it doesn't fade in the sun or the washing machine, like most other colors do."
The hosts suggest using a cozy throw on the bed for color and texture.
Create a unique welcome basket
"Anticipate what your guests need before they know they need it," suggests Lorimer. That means stocking the fridge with bottled water. Plus your guests will swoon if you provide a goody basket filled with local delicacies, beyond "just granola bars and salty snacks."
Gorder suggests spending as much as "10% of the price of a one-night stay" on the goody basket, and to make sure the contents are directly connected to the area.
For example, the goody basket for the Seattle houseboat contains smoked salmon and locally grown apples; the guesthouse in Brooklyn comes filled with brilliantly colored bagels from a nearby shop.
Pick a 'theme experience'
Guests will pay extra for "theme experiences" corresponding with the location.
For instance, since the property in Paso Robles was located on a vineyard, Gorder and Lorimer helped the owners put together a vineyard tour/farming experience that include tending grape vines and riding on a tractor. And in Austin, TX, they put a brand-new, fabulous barbecue in the backyard and came up with a professional griller who could come over to help renters use it.
Purge personal items
Similar to staging a home to sell, you should remove all personal items—e.g., photographs and mementos—from the premises.
As Gorder points out, "Wouldn't you find it creepy if you checked into a hotel and there were family photos hanging around? Remember that it's not about you anymore. It's about style, geography, and comfort."
She advises replacing personal items with accessories unique to your geographical location—a jar of shells if it's a beach house, or colorfully painted oars if you're near a body of water.
Never take the listing photos yourself
Once you have your property decorated and ready to list, Lorimer says, "It's absolutely essential to hire a professional real estate photographer to best present your property in all its glory.
"You should get a return on that investment within the first month," he says.
Create a social media footprint for your property
The first step is to "decide on a simple, descriptive, and memorable hashtag," Lorimer says.
Do not go with the plain and obvious, like #1BRRentalNearSantaBarbara, he says. "Pick something more fun and descriptive, like #ArtistHideawayInOjai.
"Then use that hashtag on the property's own Twitter account, Instagram account, Facebook page, and website," he advises.
Be sure to post some gorgeous photos as well, he says, and "encourage guests to post photos of themselves in your place using your hashtag. It's free advertising!"
Keep your short-term rental clean, clean, clean
"There is no such thing as too clean," notes Lorimer. One mucky dish or soiled towel can result in a bad review, and "that's extremely difficult to overcome."
"Clean is the first impression you want to leave when they step in the door," agrees Gorder. "If it looks bad, or smells bad, you've lost them."
Find all episodes from the first season of "Stay Here" on Netflix.