A New Tool Lets You See How Much You'd Earn As An Airbnb Host

A new approach gives potential users the clearest picture yet of how much money they could make.

“To Airbnb or not to Airbnb?”

More often than not, people are posing that question to themselves as travelers and potential guests. But as the home-sharing service has gone from “startup novelty” to “disruptor” to “legitimate alternative,” more curious parties are asking the question in the context of hosting. Most frequently, hosts look to supplement their income by leasing out their primary residence, but more and more people are betting big on the concept, purchasing properties to operate as short-term rentals.

The downsides and costs of Airbnb hosting are numerous. There’s the loss of privacy, the cost of cleaning yourself or hiring a service, or, in the case of investors, the cost of acquiring new property. Nonetheless, those costs are available and transparent. However, the “nightmare scenarios,” as rare as they are, could temper any enthusiasm one has for the concept.

What’s less clear is how much one stands to make by renting out a property.

It may not be in Airbnb’s best interest to share this information, which could go a long way toward explaining why the site’s calculator is non-specific enough to the point of being nearly useless for analysis. However, the data science firm Eliot & Me has shared its pass at a far more robust tool that appears to provide much more certainty and specificity to help answer the question “Is it worth it?”

The tool can be found here.

Using Zillow, I came across this listing for a house in Los Angeles suburb Van Nuys for $1.05 million. Pulling data from that listing or a similar one (the number of bathrooms varied between the estimator and Zillow), the Eliot & Me calculator shows how much you could make renting this home.

Image via Eliot & Me.

The tool offers even more comprehensive info than what’s shown above, taking into account nearby demand and seasonality. It also offers a fun look at what kind of trip you could afford with the income from renting your place. What it doesn’t tell you is whether short-term rental activity is allowed by your property manager or city, so be sure to check that out on your own. The site can help with those questions.

Of course, no quantitative tool can make the decision for you (at least not yet), taking into account the values you put on privacy and the other headaches that come with hosting a property on Airbnb. But when it comes to the revenue side of things, Eliot & Me has created a decent snapshot of what you could expect to make doing so.

Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

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