An Easy Way to Earn Extra Cash or Pay off Your Mortgage

In most areas of the U.S. the month of November doesn’t signal the beginning of tourist season. That’s what’s different about where I live. Long time readers may remember I live in southern Florida. I know I write a lot about the Midwest (that’s where I grew up), but now-a-days I lay my head on the east coast of the sunshine state.

In nearly all other parts of the country tourist season is during the summer months: June, July, and August. Not down here. Here, in those months, there are A LOT less people. A fair amount of residents leave and some restaurants close up during those months.  But come November you’ll start seeing a lot of out of town license plates tooling around town.

Some people get all bent out of shape about the large influx of tourists that invade our cities and towns from November to May each year. I don’t get that. If we didn’t have them we wouldn’t be able to keep our state income tax at zero. Floridians forget just how much not having to pay that tax saves them.

Plus I don’t think many see the income potential that I do when November rolls around. When all of these Snow Birds arrive each year they need a place to stay and if you’ve got an extra room or apartment you can make thousands of dollars in rental income.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s scary to rent out your property,  probably costs a good chunk of change to find good, quality renters and you probably won’t make as much money as you think. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

O.K. maybe the scary part is right the first time you do it. I haven’t rented out a room in my house yet, but if all goes according to plan this will be the first year I do. I was scared too until I realized just how much money one can make renting out their residence. If I was to list my entire house for rent I could make upwards of $4,000 a week! And before you start thinking I live in a mansion or on the water let me assure you I don’t. I have a modest ranch house in a sleepy, little coastal town.

I first started thinking about trying this when I read a story about a man in San Francisco who rented out his apartment and did so well that he was able to buy a house with his earnings! A house! He began by charging $200 a night and very quickly made enough to cover his entire $1900/month rent. Then he kept doing it and eventually made $50,000 in rental income alone! And with his earnings he bought a house which he now rents out too and makes gobs of cash with.

At this point you may be thinking that you can’t make good money doing this because you don’t live in a beach town or big city. You are so wrong! Many people can make great money renting out their home or apartment, no matter where they live. All you need to do is think about the reasons a person would want to come to your town. Do you live near where they are playing the Super Bowl this year? Does your town put on a great Christmas, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s or 4th of July parade? Does your town have any great historical sights to see? What about nature? Does your house back up to a woodsy area or mountains great for hiking? Not everyone is looking for the beach or the big city for their next vacation.

How do I plan on finding renters for my place? A website called Airbnb allows you to list your property for free. They even send a professional photographer out to your house to take photos of your dwelling to help you list for free! They really commit to helping you make money. Why? Because they only make money when you make money. They charge a 3% commission off of whatever amount you make.

Airbnb.com allows you to list your property and dictate when you want to rent out your space. You can rent out a room or your whole house. It’s up to you. If you are worried about people damaging your property or stealing from you, then you can relax. Airbnb has a $1,000,000 insurance policy for each host.

To help me get the most money per guest it’s advised that you fill out the Airbnb Guide. This section helps potential vacationers see why renting your place is ideal. You should talk about local attractions, things to do in your area, great restaurants and any events that a tourist should check out while they are in town. This is your chance to highlight your town and showcase your knowledge of the area.

You should also do some research before you list your home for rent. Check out what other hosts are renting their places for in your neighborhood. This should give you a good idea of how much to charge per night, week or month.

Also think about the minimum length of stay you’ll allow a vacationer to stay. While I was reading other people’s advice for how to optimize how much money they make, several people commented that they require a 7 night stay at the minimum. While you can make money with guests that stay only 2-3 nights you might find that the clean-up afterwards eats into your time and earnings too much.

Other renters also mentioned that maintaining a clean space for your guests is important. Just like other sites, Airbnb allows guests to leave reviews after they’ve stayed at a location. These reviews can be a big help to you in booking more and more guests. But it can also prevent you from getting bookings if guests leave negative reviews. The biggest complaint from renters is an unkempt space. There is no need to bleach the floors after a guest leaves, but having fresh linens, clean bathrooms and an uncluttered home/apartment will go a long way towards getting a 5 star review.

When listing your home make sure to highlight your home’s best features. Have a pool? Make sure to talk about the fun a family can have relaxing by the pool and playing in it. In addition to listing the number of bedrooms, explain if each bed is a king, queen, full or twin. If your kitchen has stainless steel appliances talk about those and be sure to include verbiage about amenities such as coffee maker, microwave, washer and dryer, an iron and such.

I can’t wait to see if any Snow Birds choose my home this year for their vacation. Any reservations I had went right out the window when I saw just how lucrative renting out your space can be. This is a great way to supplement your income, cover your rent/mortgage, pay off old debt and meet new people. What do you say? Will you try it too?

Keeping Money in Your Pocket,

Nancy Patterson


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