Help with my listing to maximize potential and earning please

I am asking if people can look at my listing and give me constructive criticism and price recommendations. I recently found that I am priced CONSIDERABLY lower than others in my area.

The home is Silicon Valley where there is a serious housing shortage and about a million people a day commute at least 25 miles (as much as 100 miles away) into the area to work. Causing HORRIBLE traffic at all times day or night. Like LA on the 405, 10, etc. Public transportation sucks. The reason why I mention this is our place has a great location and it is close to the big companies like Facebook (1 mile away!), Amazon (1.3mile away) and Google (7 miles away) Stanford (3.6 miles away). It is possible to take side streets and avoid the freeway altogether. Also, because we are on the East side of the 101, we are near federally protected Marshlands and walk/bike trails that one could bike ride to work.

I can not trust Airbnb price guide because it lists prices that are WAY below what unfurnished property where someone would have to sign a lease and put up a deposit, 1st and last etc. I have no idea why Airbnb would encourage taking so little when they get more when the host gets more? Not to mention why would someone accept less than the going rate for a typical annual lease scenario? When the guest stays for more than 30 days they technically have renters rights. If what Airbnb is claiming others are charging is true, an unscrupulous person could go into a reservation during a slow time and when the price is low, stay for more than 30 days and then envoke renters rights, demanding to not only stay but at the low, slow market rate that someone offered because they thought some money is better than no money. I never want to charge less than what I can get in an annual lease ($4800 a month unfurnished and utilities NOT included.

Silicon Valley is pretty cut throat. Things have been escalating over the years and more and more people report low satisfaction with life in general given the lack of life-work balance, high housing prices, and huge income gaps. Despite all these things, there is still a long line of people that want to come here to be the next Google.

I mention this because it is not a vacation destination. People are business forward and it is very different than when I used to do Airbnb with an in law apt we had in our home in SF. I find people on vacation or even temp working in a touristy area to be nicer, more honest and just generally easier and better to do business with. I think many people looking in Silicon Valley for short term rentals forget that this is home SHARING. I would estimate that at least 75% of guests and potential guests lie in at least 1-3 ways. They forget that they are GUESTS paying for the privilege to use our home.

I do not understand why I have been not only attracting mainly cheap students. Many are obnoxious and demand discounts beyond the weekly and monthly discounts. Many site that they will be renting for months and deserve a bigger discount, even though the bulk of my reservations are more than 30 days AND there already is a discount for monthly. I actually asked the community here about one young woman that not only demanded a reduction in price but straight up told me that she would not agree to pay for extra guests. It was a charge she did not approve of and therefore would not be paying. Her tone was very “I am going to call the shots.”

Thank you to all that responded and told me that it was a red flag and to look elsewhere and or wait for a better match. I did and now have some nice young professionals reserved to stay at our home from May to Aug. Now I know they got the deal of a lifetime!!

My ideal guest(s) would be a family moving to the area to find a home for them to buy or business/consultants types that are coming into SV to work on a project for a few months. Another scenario is someone that needs a special procedure at Stanford and needs a home to not only house the person/ family member(s) that is coming with them to take care of them but also to recuperate so that they are fit to fly and or travel back home. Our home would be especially good for this purpose because it was our primary residence and I am legally handicapped. The home is wheelchair friendly, on one level, has ADA compliant toilets, handles in the baths, etc, etc.

I do not understand why my place is not snatched up considering it is such a bargain. I JUST raised the price last night from around $5400 to $6100 a month. Nightly from $218 to 272. Should I go higher? Could people think the listing is too good to be true? It might seem high to people in other parts of the country but the average price for a home in East Palo Alto is 1.2 million and just over the freeway in Palo Alto proper, it is 3x EPA at 3.6. There is NO WHERE in SV that one could buy a home for less than a million. One would have to go at least 25 miles out of the area to find that.

Would it be a good idea to “split” the home up and rent out bedrooms because it is a larger home for the area and therefore the price is higher? If I split it up to just bedrooms, I could probably get more money overall and it would be easier to rent given that I could accept the smaller reservations rather than wait for the bigger ones or situations where people are “going in” on the home in a roommate scenario. i think if I did this I would get a master tenant that I would give a break on the rent to supervise the coming and going of the different parties. Obviously, I would have to get locking door knobs with keys or codes for each door? Would this cause more wear and tear on the home and or headache? Is this a good idea or something I should look into?

I recently was contacted by a college student that wanted me to give her a “concession.” I found the choice of word curious especially because she referred to the fact that my property was already “very moderately priced,” she wanted MORE off just because. Used the word “Concession” twice in the short email she sent me. She didn’t even site a reason! Just complained that she has to pay rent 2x to maintain place near college. Why does she think that her problems are the concern of anyone outside of her friends and family?

I got curious and have not shopped comps for a few months. When I did use the dates she and others have requested recently, I discovered that my price was almost half of what others were charging! The pool of available places is rather small given that moderately priced places are booked up presumably. When I click on compare properties on Airbnb, it lists other properties but one is not able to click on a link to that property and see its price. Why does Airbnb make it so difficult to see what others charge?

I am back doing Airbnb after being out of the scene for a couple of years. Rather than seek an annual tenant in the SLOW months of winter, I decided to furnish the home and start doing Airbnb again.
I have all brand new furniture. It cost thousands to buy all new furniture but I did not have the time to find items elsewhere. Because everything was new, it was easy to find things that matched and fit well together. I have gotten professional pictures taken. While this property only has 3 reviews (2 of which are 5 stars across the board), I have about 4 dozen reviews from other properties. Again, most are 5 star across the board.

I enjoy being a host and always leave snacks and other treats in the home for guests. I try and be friendly while giving them their space and privacy.

So, please AirBnb community, tell me why I am not attracting the kind of guest Id like? Why if I am priced so low, I do not have more reservation requests? Should I change strategies?

Thank you in advance to all that respond. I appreciate your time and experience

Wow. This attitude does not bode well IMO for your future success as an Airbnb host.

And I’m completely confused by your calendar, which appears to be booked solid through from late April through February of next year. Your minimum 7 night stay may be the reason the few available dates before then aren’t being booked - my guess is that people are interested in booking either for fewer nights or considerably longer stretches, and your listing isn’t able to accommodate them.

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I notice that you use the same prices for every day of the week. Are those days equally popular? I have weekend rates much higher than weekday rates. Also, if you seem to be attracting “cheap” people try increasing your prices and see what happens. It might bring in a different crowd. And a tip: list those distances you mentioned in your post on the listing. That’s very helpful.

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  • Lose the attitude towards potential guests.
  • Lose the 7 day minimum if you want more than a handful of stays per year
  • Search the Rates of 10 listings within a couple miles of you that are comparable in their offering – average those numbers and us that as your new nightly rate.

I agree with those above. But also- there are plenty of SV workers that need LESS than 7 days. A good friend of mine goes every month or so for just a few days- maybe 3 or 4. He gets in- does his thing- and hops back on a plane. If you want to attract procedure patients- maybe see if the hospital has a bulletin board where you could put a flier? Why not change your listing title to Handicapped Accessible- Close to Hospital and SV… or something similar to really attract the people you want?

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I notice many misspellings.

Why have a $180 security deposit? That seems extremely low for what will likely be more than $8k-$10k for the month. Same goes for only a $150 cleaning fee, especially when cleaning is also done weekly as you advertise or every 10 days as indicated by a review.

The picture of laundry room barely shows washer and dryer.

Might be a small thing but I would have vacuum cleaner lines in the master bedroom carpet. That’s how it will look when they arrive I assume. It is for my rooms anyways.

Pictures are professional but the descriptions seem very…not. :neutral_face: sorry.

Which review was not all 5 stars and what were the stars and in what categories? I’m guessing it was the one who mentioned miscommunication and it was your first review? Then the other two showed up and reviewed and since then bookings were not great because all the stars don’t show as full? Just a guess. Maybe your competition has all full stars showing up.

Other than that it is hard for me to really judge because it is just soooooo way out of my lifestyle budget.

Professional writer for the listing and raise the fees and keep on plugging away. Good luck and keep us posted if you’d like.

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I hadn’t looked at the calendar but agree.

Just noticed that you show couch in common area as part of the sleeping accommodations but in your House Rules you forbid sleeping on the couch. What gives???

To Militaryhorsgal
I will look into why it is reflecting the sofa as a bed. Maybe it asked about the furniture and I answered it thinking it was an inventory thing.
I will fix this now

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Thanks Miss Swan. Good Idea.

You seem to have a very inflated idea of what seems to be a very ordinary rental with nothing special to appeal to people. I think that one of the first things you need to figure out is why, of your very small number of reviews, you have only managed to get a 4.5 star result overall.

Why are you getting people who are asking for discounts? Well, the poor star rating is probably one factor. Plus this sentence in your listing:

East Palo Alto is gentrifying by the second. Great value. All the neighbors have their homes totally paid for.

I’m not sure that you understand what a ‘gentrifying’ area means to many of us?


“Lose the attitude towards guests”? I am above and beyond nice to guests and am telling my side here in this forum. I have never chided a potential guest for asking for a discount. In fact, I recently spent the time to write back to the “concession” girl to tell her I thought it was not a good match, suggested more affordable options, and gave the advice that she would be happier in a place she could more easily afford.
She thanked me for my time and even complimented me for my kindness. Stating that I could have just ignored her altogether.

75% of the guests or potential guests DO lie.

I have a situation right now where an employee for a company rented out my home and 4 others in the area to house employees they are bringing in to do a large construction project. I will call him Mr. B.
The unemployment rate is a VERY low 2.4% and it is cheaper for companies to bring people from other states and house them rather than hire locally. Local are all booked up for months if not years and charge what a junior assoc. at a law firm makes by the hour. There was a storm that affected the internet connection, so one of the guests/employees called me to ask for it to be remedied. He told me that there are at least 2 companies that are working together to build a large residential building in the area.
Like I stated before, Silicon Valley is pretty cut throat

There are too many postings on Quora to count on the subject

Mr. B works for company A. He reserved my home from Jan 1 to Feb 28th and paid in full to AirBnb back in Jan. With the end date rapidly approaching, he told me he wanted to extend the reservation until May. I had a reservation request for a week in the middle of the month of March. I turned down the week so that he could extend the reservation. The occupants love the home and it is working now so I am more inclined to extend the reservation as long as possible.
No sooner than I canceled the week res, he was not booking the time or responding to emails. Does he want it or not? He went totally MIA.
I had the “concession” young woman interested in booking from March 17th to May 1 and I did not want to turn down what could be a res. if the company was not going to extend. Emails can read differently depending on many factors and I wasn’t, at that point, ready to turn down her.
After a few days of emails and texts, I asked Mr. B to let me know his decision because I did not want to have loose ends and needed to know if they were going to book like they said the wanted to.
I come to find out (I really do not know what is REALLY going on) that Mr. B who reserved my home to and I was corresponding with “is no longer with the company.” I had spoken with him earlier that day!! He made NO mention that he wasnt with the company. He told me his boss at company A is the real decision maker and could give me an absolute answer.
Next, I get a call from a woman who claimed to work for company B.
The woman that called me was claiming that she is the decision maker and that Mr. B who booked has not been with the company for a while.
To say things are not adding up is an understatement!!!
Now, things have not worked out with the student and I have turned down at least a week res to accommodate someone that is lying to me. At the very least, Mr. B has strung me along.
Woman from company A wants to extend but only can commit for 2 weeks more. Wants me to hold for until may because she might want to extend until then. I do not know if I want to continue a scenario where I know I have been lied to and there have been attempts to deceive me.
I am not getting involved any deeper than I already am but I am pretty sure that guest/employee has NO idea that he and the 3 other men living in my home will be homeless in less than a week.

I’m guessing it was the one who mentioned miscommunication and it was your first review?
In that situation the “miscommunication” was her reserving my home for 4 people. When I went there to clean, I saw evidence of at least 5 people. All were sitting a laptops coding. They had constructed metal shelves that had various chemicals and elements and they had a large 3d printer running. They had hung dry erase boards on my dining room walls. There was a guy sleeping on the couch even though I strictly forbid this.
I called AirBnb and could have kicked them all out that day AND kept the money but I didnt. I gave them the opportunity to just pay for the additional person. When she gives me 4 stars it is probably because she didn’t like being caught and or she really wanted me to just ignore that they turned our home into a hacker house (please refer to the article above about how this is commonplace. So much so, it is shown on the HBO show “Silicon Valley.”
It is a bit nasty for you to say my rental is “very ordinary.” Do ordinary properties have solar power, high tech gadgets, $6000 security system(that luckily we have never needed and half just in case). Large walk-in closets with bulletproof safe. Paved Patio with lovely garden that features herbs for cooking and prolific fruit trees, rare succulents, access to studio space and storage. The home has been remodeled from top to bottom. All brand new furniture. Gourmet kitchen with 2 dishwashers, high BTU gas stove, French door refrigerator, granite counter tops. Attributes usually found in Palo Alto proper. There are many investors in EPA and in general, they do not have such nice amenities. Just basic, cheaper finishes.
On the issue of “gentrifying,” East Palo Alto is going through HUGE changes and I want to prepare the guests that this is happening. The price of a home in EPA jumped from below a half million in 2014 to over a million in 2017.
As I stated, Palo Alto proper (EPA shares its zip code with Palo Alto proper with homes in the 5-15 million average) is AT least 3x more expensive.
On the issue of price, when I say I am priced almost half of what others charge I am comparing to other EPA properties.
The “review issue” you brought up…I hope the above story about why one guest gave me 4 stars, it was because she was caught lying and turning my house into a hacker house.
She and her colleagues really wanted me to allow them to do whatever they wanted to with my home.
If someone looks at my reviews, one can click on a link to my 44 other reviews. I have an overall rating of 4.7. My reviews are mostly glowing reviews talking about my being a great host. I can not control that people can feel it is not 5 star value. Northern California is the most expensive place in the country to live, work or visit. I once had a very angry guest through VRBO (where I have over 50 reviews but no longer do business with) that blamed me for paying $18 for a hamburger at a fancy restaurant and demanded I call the owner of the car park in front of my home in SF so that they should move their car. I had to as nicely as possible, tell him if he doesnt want to pay $18 for a hamburger, dont order it AND I have no idea who owns the car and I would never demand someone move their car that is parked on a public street.
It is a problem that most landlords have because it is so expensive. MANY people think it is too expensive and if they could just find a great place for pennies on the dollar they would be able to afford living here.
From the time they contact you about the listing to the time they go hoe, many take out frustrations of the expense and hassle of the area out on the landlord.
If I had a dollar for every time I have been told: “If I could just have someone give me a BIG break on renting a home, I could live in a nice one!”

When I looked at your listing - and yes, I do think that it looks to be relatively ordinary compared to many Airbnb listings - I saw that it had under five stars for cleanliness, accuracy, communication and location in addition to value. And yes, we get stars for various aspects simply because, apart from the location, we can control these factors.

The chances are that this is why you’re getting bargain hunters.

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I have to say that I am pretty sad that there is more criticism than constructive criticism.
No one has answered if I should break up the home and just rent out rooms. No one has answered how to figure out what a good price to charge. Looking at 10 other comps I have already done and it is not apples to apples and that is why I asked for help.
I have lovely neighbors and want to keep it that way, so I do not do less than a week stay.

I am disappointed that so many attack rather than give benefit of the doubt. Some sympathy and kind advice would be nice given it is so hard and expensive to do business in Silicon Valley.

I thought this would be a forum where I could find that. If you do not have anything nice to say, please do not respond.
I do not want to spend anymore of my time defending myself. I need to spend my time finding solutions.
Thank you

I stated that the cleanliness, accuracy, communication was the jilted guest that was caught and did not like it

For pricing, look at other houses in the same area and the same number of beds. The number of beds seems to be the most important factor for people. The find the ones that will fit their number of guests and then pick from those. So realistically, those are your main competitors.

Also, I’ve noticed that unless someone if staying for months, they unfortunately don’t care about the stove, the nice patio, the walk in closets, etc. What you want in a home, as a homeowner, is not the same as what a guest wants.

Well, then, it seems you have identified the problem. See what your competition is charging, and raise your prices accordingly (which is the advice you were given from the beginning).

What comes through to me in both your listing and your replies is that you seem to take this all very personally. It’s a BUSINESS; guests don’t give af how much money you’ve put into it, what property costs in your area, what a previous guest may or may not have done, etc., etc. The simply want to know if your place will meet THEIR needs. All of us hosts (myself included) have had to toughen up a bit and analyze things critically, without emotion, in order to make sound business decisions.