FAQ: How to prepare your home for Airbnb and VRBO

Thinking of listing your rental home or your own home into an Airbnb or VRBO? Amber Eilers here, guest blogging today. A little bit about my husband Carson and I, we own 10 vacation properties in the Phoenix Valley and have years of experience with guest rentals that I’d love to share with you. You may have seen our vacation rentals as the backdrop in some of Diana’s posts (like here)!

We are asked constantly by friends about the logistics and must-do’s to consider in order to make the process beneficial and comfortable for our guests. Here are our top 10 things to consider when you list your home on Airbnb or VRBO!

1 / Insurance and security deposit

Renting out your home to total strangers can be a little intimidating! Make sure you have the right protection, take advantage of the insurance policy offered through your booking platform (our guests say for the policy), and also collect a minimal security deposit upfront for incidentals (we usually charge $500). Yes this is a little more work to keep track of, but let’s say a guest forgets something and asks to have it mailed back- you can offer to ship it to them out of their security deposit funds. Another good option- if a guest damages something of lower value, say stained bedding, you can replace it out of the security deposit without the hassle of filing an insurance claim for such a small amount. Oh and last detail on insurance, make sure your actual home policy covers you for short-term renters.

2 / Mandatory bi-weekly cleanings for 2 week+ stays

Sometimes we’ll get inquiries for longer stays, a month or so, and when we do we always include a fee for a mandatory bi-weekly cleaning. A lot can happen in a month, so having access every other week to keep the property well-maintained is a must.

Make sure your actual home policy covers you for short-term renters.

3 / Double sets of sheets and towels – white ones

We buy the top rated sheets and towels off Amazon or Costco. It’s key to be able to perform a quick turnover when one guest checks out and the next checks in on the same day. I’ve found its helpful to offer make-up wipes to guests so they don’t have to rub eye makeup all over your towels. We have two identical sets of white sheets for the entire house so the cleaners can strip the beds and take away the dirty sheets to clean later, and make the beds with the back-up set in your storage.

These sheets are preferred and have almost 60,000 reviews on Amazon! And this mattress is always asked about by our guests!

4 / Have a locked storage location

Speaking of storage, each of our vacation rentals has a keyed locking storage room where we keep all kinds of back-up supplies and extras.

5 / Dedicated cleaning staff AND still checking property yourself

We also have color printed images of how the home should look when a guest checks in. Think about it – if the cleaners only ever see the house at the end after the guests have moved things around etc., how else are they supposed to know what it looked like when the guests arrived? This is also why we personally visit each house after the cleaners are done, but before the new guest comes.

We personally visit each house after the cleaners are done, but before the new guest comes.

6 / Guide book for guests

A guide book filled with important info, local spots, wifi, trash day etc. Guests love having access to these important details right away. If you’re tech savvy enough, set an easy wifi password, not that jumble of letters and numbers that comes as the preset on the router.

7 / Welcome basket

Who doesn’t love a little basket of goodies on vacation? We include a few water bottles and snacks in a small counter basket along with a tag that lets guests know to help themselves to the snacks. For what it costs, maybe $10 at most, it sends a welcome message and starts everyone off happy!

8 / Two lock boxes on property

Two – because it’s better to be safe. You never want to get that call at 11 pm, guests just got in late from the airport, it’s dark, they’re tired, and of course the lockbox is jammed and they can’t get in. Perfect reason to have a back-up right on site!

9 / Best in class photography and videography

People want to see and get a feel for where they’re going to spend their vacation- so let them see! We spend a lot of time making sure our homes are beautiful and welcoming- show guests! Hire a photographer to show how light and airy, or even a videographer to take arial drone photos of the surrounding area so they can get a feel for not only the home but the neighborhood as well – that is your first showing.

10 / Reviews, reviews, reviews!

So you’ve done the hard work, your guests are thrilled, so make sure to follow up and ask for that five star review! And if for some reason something goes wrong during their stay, say a toilet backs-up, be available and communicate. People understand things are sometimes out of our control as the home owner, but good communication and a little sympathy goes a long way- and dropping by a nice bottle of wine with an apology doesn’t hurt either! Strive to give guests a 5 star experience they will want to write about!

Photos by Diana Elizabeth Photography.

 About Amber Eilers

Amber and her husband Carson are serial real estate investors and entrepreneurs. They specialize in the development, sale, purchase, and management of local residential and commercial projects, and have flipped over 200 homes. They also own and operate several high end vacation rentals in Scottsdale. Additionally, they own a boutique hotel in Strawberry, AZ.

Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive thrift shopper. You can typically find her in the garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next epic party. She continues to blog weekly.


  • roberto

    I currently have my lake home under a standard second home mortgage through a bank; I have home insurance. I would like to convert my home into a VRBO property. Can you help me through the steps of converting the property. I own other rentals and have them under LLCs, with commercial insurance, and commercial mortgages, for liability purposes what is the best way to convert this property? Should I convert to a commercial mortgage, roll the property into an LLC, and get commercial insurance? I’m interested in continuing to use this home, but i’d like to minimize my liability incase something happens.

    Thank you

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Roberto, thanks for being here. I don’t know those answers, but I wonder if VRBO or AirBnB have a FAQ page that would help, I found this: https://www.airbnb.com/host/homes?from_nav=1 Perhaps the bank can guide you regarding the mortgage? I only know friends who rent out extra guest houses. But I understand wanting to protect yourself, I think property and liability insurance is a good idea for any accidents or damages that might occur on any property you own. I don’t have any legal experience so I’m sorry I’m not more helpful!

  • Evelyn Doremus

    Thank you for sharing great info. I am in the process of offering an AirBnB in our home. I do NOT want animals at all. Am I obligated by law to accept a request with a service dog or emotional support dog. I don’t want to be sued. I will post in my narrative NO Animals allowed. I am also posting by the exit/entrance door the physical address of the AirBnB in case they need to call 911.
    Thank you

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Hi Evelyn, so glad this article helped. Amber has great wisdom! Good luck with your AirBnB, it’s going to be wonderful extra money and I hope you enjoy hosting!

  • Lauren Taggart

    Don’t forget to use Unscented laundry detergent and no dryer sheets so guests avoiding the overly scented hotels can stay at your rental home. 20% of the population suffers from asthma and another 20% get migraines and neither group does well with fragrance. ( that includes essential oil diffuser, febreeze, air fresheners and scented candles)
    If you start an Unscented rental please send me the link to it. Especially if it is in Phoenix, Hawaii, San Diego, or Florida. I travel a few times a year and I’d love to find safe places to stay.


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