Airbnb Puts A New Spin On Home-Based Businesses

What if your home was your business? (Or side business?) For many Westchester residents, it is.



scyther5 / Shutterstock

Airbnb, a website community of hosts and lodgers that allows users to rent their homes, spare bedrooms, basements, etc., to fellow users, is creating a new class of entrepreneurs. Westchester residents, like those all over the world, are cashing in on the hosting trend, offering their homes up (for a fee, of course) to people passing through—and traveling to—Westchester.

Which got us thinking: what kind of money is at stake here, and what does Westchester’s airbnb landscape look like?

We tracked down three airbnb users and asked them about their listings. Then we calculated the revenue their pads would generate if they’re rented out just one night a week throughout the year.

Now, bear in mind, airbnb is not a total free-for-all. Generally, hosts are required by law (http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/tax-issues-when-renting-your-home-airbnb-vrbo.html) to report their rental income if they rent for more than 14 days in a year, and you’re not supposed to exchange personal information until a booking is made (up until that point, you can message through airbnb to finalize the terms of your stay).

Patti

Townhouse with One-Bedroom Basement Suite in Bronxville
$120/night
Potential income, 52 one-night bookings:  $6,240

Why do you rent?

I like the whole concept of a b&b for international guests and national guests, it’s a way of traveling without spending money, and it’s interesting.

Where do your guests usually come from?

We’ve had a number of Sarah Lawrence College parents because there aren’t very many places for them to stay in Bronxville.

Why do they come?

We get quite a few people who used to live in Bronxville and would like to move back, and people who’d rather stay in Bronxville than in the city.

Are you an in-home host?

Yes.

How often is your space booked?  During the winter months it’s quieter, but we have a busy month coming up. [Patti only began listing in October 2013.]

What do you offer?

A basement studio space with a sitting room, bathroom, and small bedroom. It also has a private entrance, so they can come in and out through the backdoor.

What’s included in their stay?

Breakfast, plus access to a shared kitchen.

Ira

Luxury Cottage in Pound Ridge
$250/night
Potential income, 52 one-night bookings: $13,000

Why did you decide to list on airbnb?

Heard about the site just about the time that our cottage was completed. We had always thought about renting it out while we were building it ourselves. We listed it three years ago.

Where do your guests usually come from? More than half are from New York City. And actually a lot from not too far away who want to get away for the weekend. We’ve had some international visitors too.

Why do they come?

To get away, or for family functions.

Are you an in-home host?

No. [The cottage is separate from the house.]

How often is your space booked? Summertime is good, and the rest of the year is catch as catch can. Fall is OK, winter time is not very busy.

What do you offer?

There’s one really nice bedroom upstairs and a beautiful bath… and a really nice kitchen. So folks who want to cook come up and cook like crazy.

What’s included in their stay?

Just the accommodation. Plus there’s stuff in the garden that they’re welcome to.

Pamela

Bedford Cottage
From $250/night
Potential Income, 52 one-night bookings: $13,000

Why did you decide to list on airbnb? 

Using airbnb allows us to maintain a flexible schedule with the cottage, use it whenever we need it, and ensure that the cottage is regularly lived in, fresh, and very well cared for.

Where do your guests usually come from? 

We’ve had guests from all over the world. In May alone, we are expecting guests from Germany, Idaho, and New York City.

Why do they come? 
Our NYC guests usually come for the fresh air, the fireplace, and the walking trails. We’ve also had local guests who are doing work on their homes. People who travel from farther away are often here for work or a specific event like a wedding.

Are you an in-home host? 

No. [Cottage is standalone.]

How often is your space booked? 

About half of the time, which allows us to still use it for family and friends when they’re in town.

What do you offer? 
A simple, stylish getaway. The cottage is cozy and peaceful, situated next to the Beaver Dam River and down the road from walking trails. It has a working fireplace and a private deck. There are rocking chairs, a grill, and an outdoor table for al fresco dining.

What’s included in their stay? 

Wireless Internet, cable and telephone are included, along with basics such as coffee, tea, and fresh fruit.

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