5 Rules for Short-Term House Rentals

Housesharing this holiday season? Here’s how to maximize your earnings and protect your property.

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4. Find the right price. These services let hosts determine the amount they charge, so you'll want to do a little homework before you arrive at a price. Set it too high and guests may choose other options. But set it too low and they'll think there's something wrong with the property. Barros looked at what other properties in the other area charge and also factored in his expenses and the property's amenities.

Depending on the location, seasonality may also play a role in pricing. "October and September are hard to book in Florida, because September is hurricane season," says Barros. "But at Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can charge more."

[See How to Protect Your Vacation Rental From Break-ins.]

5. Promote your property. Housesharing sites are a competitive marketplace, so the more detailed your listing and the clearer your photos, the better. Barros initially shot his own photos and guests commented on how the property was nicer in person than expected. But after he tweaked his description and Airbnb sent a photographer to shoot verified photos (which the site uploads—the owner can't PhotoShop or otherwise alter the images), his bookings improved. "The photographer gives me credibility," he says.

Barros also makes an effort to quickly answer questions, which several guests noted in their reviews. "As soon as I have a message from a customer, I reply," he says. "I have the flexibility now that you have cell phones with Internet. I always try to be polite and anticipate their needs."

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