The Pros and Cons of Listing Your Home on Airbnb

What to expect when you sign up your house with Airbnb.

A couple arrives outside the rustic home where they will be paid guests.
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 FG Trade / Getty Images

Airbnb has seen immense growth since launching in 2008. The home-sharing platform currently boasts more than 6 million listings—many of them single-family homes and investment properties.

If you’ve been thinking of adding your home to the site, it could be a smart way to boost your annual income using a property you already own. In fact, according to Airbnb itself, you’ll likely earn about $7,200 more per year just by sharing your primary home on the platform.

But hosting on Airbnb doesn’t come without its drawbacks. Before jumping in, make sure you consider the pros and cons of sharing your home—as well as those of sharing on Airbnb specifically. 

Advantages of Sharing Your Home on Airbnb

The added income is probably the biggest perk of listing your home on the Airbnb platform. Plus, the site gives you the power to set your own pricing, as well as adjust it as you see fit (during in-demand times, holidays, etc.) There’s even a “Smart Pricing” tool that takes into account local demand and can help you settle on the right number.

Listing your home on the site is free, too, so if you just want to try it out, there aren’t any costly sign-up fees or membership dues. You simply list, set your price, and share your home.

Hosting on Airbnb also offers a lot of flexibility. You’re not required to host 24/7, and you can pick and choose which days you want to offer up for potential guests. You can even sync your listing up with an existing calendar to ensure it lines up with your personal schedule. You can also create your own house policies, as well as choose how much (or how little) of your home you want to share. List just a bedroom or garage apartment, or share the entire home—whatever fits your needs best.

Disadvantages of Sharing Your Home on Airbnb

Of course, there are also some drawbacks to sharing your home on Airbnb. First, you might need extra insurance on your home. You may want it to protect you from potential damage or theft (by your Airbnb guests) or, in some cases, your homeowner’s insurance may require it. At the very least, you will want to alert your insurer that you’ll be hosting.

Another issue is that you may violate laws of your local municipality or your homeowner’s association by-laws. Many HOAs have restrictions against short-term rental activity, as well as using properties for what it considers commercial use. In addition to this, some cities have enacted bans or strict restrictions on short-term rentals. Others require licenses before you can use your home in this capacity.

Finally, there are also the costs to consider. In addition to the expenses associated with cleaning and maintaining the home, you’ll also pay a service fee for each guest you book. This fee is usually around 3%.

What We Like

  • It’s free to list your home

  • You can set your own pricing

  • Scheduling is flexible

  • You can adjust pricing as needed

  • It offers a wide audience (2 million guests worldwide every night)

  • You can review guests and provide feedback

  • Some insurance against damage is included

  • Its Superhost program can help you earn more and attract more guests

What We Don't Like

  • You may need additional insurance to protect yourself (or your insurer may require it)

  • Not all HOAs allow home-sharing

  • Your city or county may not allow it

  • Hosts pay a service fee for every booking

If Airbnb isn’t the right fit for listing your home, there are several other outlets you might consider using. VRBO is one of the most popular, as is its partner site HomeAway.com. 

Other options include: 

  • Booking.com
  • Vacasa
  • FlipKey
  • Homestay
  • Wimdu
  • Innclusive
  • Kid and Coe (for kid-friendly homes)

Make sure you compare fees, restrictions, and policies before deciding which platform to list on. 

If you’re considering listing your home via Airbnb or another home-sharing platform, take these steps to protect yourself:

  • Check your HOA by-laws
  • Study up on short-term rental policies in your city
  • Talk to your insurance agent about how to protect yourself and your belongings