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NEWBIE bout to Post my Listing...A few (OK a lot of) Questions


#1

So my listing is all written up and mostly ready to go, but I have a few questions/ concerns.

1)The neighborhood the house is in is kind of run down. This area/town in general tends to have lots of rotting old buildings just because they are fairly cheap. The house happens to be super tiny and the surrounding houses are also super tiny and therefore cheap aka owned by poor people aka have poor upkeep. My next door neighbor only recently decided to not dispose of trash directly into her backyard, and its only a matter of time until she regresses. I can’t really control my neighbor’s yard (although a more private fence is on the to-do list for sure). The neighborhood is technically safe compared to stats from any larger city, but to someone from out of town, it does seem a little sketchy. So basically, how should I phrase/ explain this?

  1. We fixed up a somewhat icky little house into a small but fairly pleasant, simple space that I would think is best for budget travelers who want something nicer than the local sketchy motel but don’t expect the ($300 a night here) Hilton. It will be clean but the grout is an icky black color, the cabinets are old, there is a weird thick wall in one room that clearly used to be an exterior wall before the budget remodel (not done by us). The floors are varying levels, and the ceilings vary as well. Also the exterior has a nice deck but the yard is mostly dirt except for our shitty attempt at a garden and although the house has a new roof, you can see the old bad-condition beams from the back patio and they do look gross. Also the stucco exterior has been fixed, but not painted so it doesnt match. And the front porch roof looks a little like it is leaning but is sound according to structural engineers/ inspections. All this sounds like a lot but I swear its a cute little place and I will be asking less than many of the surrounding listngs and significantly less than the other hotels in town. Are these things deal breakers? How in depth should I describe them, if at all in the listing?

  2. The house is really set up for 4 people- one queen, 2 twins. But I would be willing to accomodate a 5th on the couch, and/or a baby in a crib. So Should I put the number 6 or the number 4?

  3. I plan to allow long term listings but they have to sign a lease when they arrive and pay a deposit. This area is really short on housing (oil/gas) so I expect to have requests for this. How can I do this through airbnb?

  4. I can’t set up my cancellation policy before going live?

  5. How long after going live did you start to have people booking? I expect to go live next Monday, just nervous about it. I want to start a little slow and have a day or two between bookings just so I can get the cleanign system down, will Airbnb punish me somehow if I reject bookings that are too close to the previous one? I do not have instant book enabled.


#2

You could just try the classic “Lemon” approach that VW became famous for back int he 60s. By that I mean just be honest, in almost as much detail as you’ve given here. It may almost have a humorous effect. But without knowing exactly where it is, it’s hard to give you much concrete advice. The good news is you can always go back and change or edit endlessly so you aren’t stuck with what you originally wrote. It’s best in general to disclose as many of the cons as you can. And it does sound like you have a lot of them. If you say it’s in a place where people need housing, why not just rent it long term? Hosting can be exhausting. And it’s hard work.


#3

Regarding the other questions, if you want to stick to 4, set it to 4 and take more on a case,by case basis.

Regarding the long term bookings, if they ask for long term, just have them book two weeks at first to see if it is a fit. Once they are no longer ABB guests, then have them sign the least and give a deposit, also do a background check.

You can set up the cancellation policy and you should set it to strict.

You can get people booking right away, but you could try your hand at fielding inquiries before you take a booking. Don’t take one before you are ready.


#4

Its in New Mexico. We might just do long term, its just that it is furnished and long term housing doesn’t command nearly the same rates. It does seem like a lot of cons. I think it would be fine for the type of travelers I expect to get; oil families, people visiting the nearby national parks, road trippers, and similar. It is very livable, just not perfect. And if someone wanted to nitpick there is plenty as I have described. And I have done a ton of researching and so many airbnbs are just gorgeous and nicer than a hotel so in comparison I am concerned. I will probably post my listing with pics so people can see what I mean once it goes live. I just wonder do guests expect perfection, even in a more budget place? If I say “look, the neighborhood isn’t great, but we are 2 blocks away from the hotels that charge 3x our price and you won’t get a kitchen” will people still be upset that the exterior stucco needs painting and the backyard is just dirt? I mean I am planning about $100 a night, and that is roughly the rate for a single room in a house here in town, versus with my listing people get a whole house. Other whole house listings are $150 to $250 a night, even the cheapest hotels are $100 a night. Granted ours is much smaller and has the aforementioned issues, but still. I have to think a kitchen and a private deck (even with an ugly view) is better than a basic hotel room with just a bed and maybe a fridge.


#5

Also, how does the 2 weeks thing work? Like I am thinking they book their 2 weeks, but decide they want to stay 3 months…but by then you already might have bookings for the time after that? And if they are looking for a place to stay I imagine they would want some confirmation that they do in fact have a place, seeing as housing is hard to come by here. I would think it would be better to say “Ok, book your 3 months” and if we have a problem we sort it out (probably I just let them leave with a refund because I don’t want to force someone to stay if they hate it). ?


#6

Well it is apples and oranges. Don’t get caught up in the hotel comparison thing because people looking for Airbnb’s aren’t going to compare you to a hotel, they will compare you to another Airbnb. This is not the hotel crowd in general. They do get nit picky, that I can assure you. They are going to mention the so called ugly features in the reviews so you have to be ready for that. Just how bad is it?


#7

Well you couldn’t do it if you have bookings. I’m just saying if you don’t that is a good way to do it. Don’t commit to long term bookings without vetting them like you would any tenant. But to force them to sign a contract and give a deposit may not work. air would supersede that.


#8

As long as you have photos of the wobbly bits, you shouldn’t cop too much flak.
Pricing: You’re intent on being the cheapest around, and aiming to get budget travellers…are you sure this is right? Are you pricing low because you place is only worth that, or are you strategically undercutting local similar places? This may well limit your potential earnings. Don’t drop price because you’re self conscious about a leany porch, if other properties also have a leany porch but are charging $10 a night more.


#9

I am not trying to undercut, I want to get as much as I can for my place lol. I do think the other full house properties (7 in town) are nicer, and they are priced between 100 (one bedroom apartment for 2) up to $250 a night (3 bedroom house clearly bigger and nicer than mine). Private room listings are between 75 and 120. So I think roughly $100 a night, maybe up to $140 seemed reasonable given that the house is literally 650 square foot and there are some things that need work. I feel like its not as bad as it sounds when I described every little issue here, just the yard needs work for sure. Maybe wonky floors will bother people but I think that is stupid because they are fine really just you can tell in places they arent perfectly level. The furniture is all new and nice, the beds are clean/ comfy. The kitchen is functional but small, the bathroom same deal, etc. The neighborhood I wouldn’t walk alone at night as a woman but I see people do it all the time, and even if I did it I think probably the worst I could expect would be for a hobo or druggie to ask for money. There is crime here (my husband is a public attorney so he knows lol) but it is mostly drug charges and stealing to cover the drugs cost. Not a lot of reasons a tourist would get involved in it.


#10

Welcome back!

I’ll try to answer the questions it seems aren’t addressed yet. Airbnb is a low risk way to try. Go live and see what happens. If the surrounding area causes people to give you low ratings then you can remove your listing…or Airbnb will do it for you if they are too low. You might be surprised at what people will tolerate. I’m in El Paso and quite a few Airbnbs are downtown or in the Central parts of town that just aren’t that nice. I haven’t driven by any of them but I know the neighborhoods that they are in and it isn’t hurting them. There are lots of people looking for an inexpensive place above all else. I think people understand safe but poor. You might want to make sure you have good lighting outside, maybe a floodlight on the driveway. If people are nervous about the area because you’ve accurately warned them and then its dark, they will dock you. I have one of the best lit houses on the street but a guy complained because the actual house had no light on inside that he could see and I’d forgotten to turn on the porch light. Now I turn on the porch light and a light in the room that shines out the front of the house.

Make sure you have your settings so that you have a day off after each booking for the cleaning.

Did you decide to allow dogs? People road tripping with dogs need a place to leave their dogs while they are in the park, you might get a few of those bookings.

Spring break is coming up and you will get bookings. When you said go live next Monday I hope you mean tomorrow. You also get a new host boost and since there are few listings in your area you might book up quickly. This week is slow but Mar 11-17 is booked except one night. You say you want to start out slow but you should be aware of that. If you are like me you say you want slow but then when it’s slow you realize you also want the money. LOL.

Those one and two night bookings will keep you from getting long term, and some people might even ask you to cancel your other bookings.

If I were you I wouldn’t allow long term yet. I’d put a short limit of a week and no discount for LT stays and see how it goes. If you aren’t getting the bookings you need with SB and summer vacay season coming up then you can consider changing it. Talk to people at the local chamber of commerce to see when your slow season is if you have one. I don’t seem to have one but I’m right on I-10 and there are always people driving through year round. This is the time of year that lots of people are doing the NP circuit in this area: White Sands, CC, Guadalupe NP and Big Bend.

I agree with Kona that you can set it to 4. If groups have more they will ask and you can determine on a case by case basis. And people will try to sneak in more without paying.


#11

Also, if you allow dogs, have a per day charge for them. Since you aren’t going to instant book you can charge for them by sending special offers.


#12

Thanks yes the plan is to allow dogs. The house is just well set up for it with the big yard and the all tile floors. I meant next Monday as in 3/12 but maybe this week if we are extraordinarily productive today lol.


#13

You want to start slow so it may not matter but just be aware of the upcoming busy spring break week. You’ll still get last minute requests I bet. Having a little more notice might suit you better.


#14

Just turn it on. You don’t have to take anyone. Just see who requests.


#15

Well I still have to take pictures lol. Might do that today if I can get it “close enough”


#16

Put the worst picture of the outside front first and see if anyone requests. That will be the litmus test. LOL. I don’t know if I’m kidding or not.


#17

With a fun title. !!


#18

Also…Airbnb will put pop ups on the side of your calendar telling you to lower your prices if you want more bookings. Don’t do it, especially if you can accomodate last minute bookings. You are going to get people who are road tripping and don’t know where they are going next. So if your place is available last minute there is a market for that.


#19

Should I do the 20% discount for the first 3 bookings thing? Airbnb suggests it during the creating your listing process.


#20

I wouldn’t given the timing. Go live with the price you want. You are going to be visible on the single page of listings, see if you get requests. You wanted to start slow anyway so if you don’t get booked right away then you can adjust your price. Don’t be the person who says “I listed and got booked up right away, my price was too low! Waaaah!”

It sounds like you’ve done your market research. Airbnb’s bots know NOTHING about your market in comparison.


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