We Rented Our Home Out for a Weekend on HomeAway and Here’s How it Went

THE FARMHOUSE

If you follow us on Instagram, you already know that we rented out our Farmhouse on HomeAway for Memorial Day Weekend. We had plans to be away in Oregon for the long weekend, so when the last-minute booking came through, it felt like a win-win. But how did it turn out?

All photos from Our Farmhouse // sources and more information available here

I should back up and mention that while this booking was last minute, we were already planning on renting out our home for a few weekends on Airbnb this summer (you can read why we like to rent out our primary residence here). But this booking came up the month before our first Airbnb booking, so our home was far from ready. Let me emphasis that: our home was super, duper, EXTREMELY far from being ready for guests. In fact, we’re in our ‘rental busy season’ with our rentals in Seattle, so our life has been kinda crazy and the Farmhouse was a wee bit neglected.

Getting the House Ready

The Farmhouse is ~2900sf and has 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. So it’s probably no surprise that it was a big job getting the home ready for our HomeAway guests. Every room needed tidied and a deep clean. Ugh. Thankfully Nana took the kids for the day, so Garrett and I could focus on cleaning (and packing for our vacation). In the end, it took Garrett and I about 9 hours to get the house ready, or 18 hours of scrubbing, organizing, and styling combined.

Admittedly, that is a TON of time to spend cleaning and tidying your home. But here’s the deal: we were cleaning and tidying our home. It felt like every minute we scrubbed and vacuumed and put toys away was self-serving because we were going to get to enjoy our clean home after our guests went home too. That’s definitely the number one thing I like about renting out our primary home vs. our rentals (that are 200 miles away in Seattle) – the time spent cleaning and maintaing the property is for our pleasure too. Plus it’s much easier to work at a house that is 0 miles away. And now that we got this big clean out of the way, preparing for our Airbnb host weekends should take a fraction of the time. Phew!

Of course it was possible that the guests would be awful and leave our home messier than it was to begin with. But with only a 2-night stay, the odds were that the home would be in great shape when we returned. Honestly, we’ve found that most guests are respectful and leave the house relatively clean. After years of renting our Seattle properties out on Airbnb, we’ve had only a handful of messy guests. And even those guests could be cleaned up after in a few hours.

The Host Experience

So how was our host experience? The proof is really in the homecoming. Did they leave a wet load of laundry in the washing machine? Did they sacrifice a lamb in our living room? Did they take out the trash? Those were the questions that went through my mind when we were driving back home.

Well, I’m happy to report that there was no wet load of laundry, no dead lamb (thank goodness!), and the garbage was bagged and left in the trashcan by the road. And the house was almost as clean as we had left it. The guests’ sheets were still on the beds, so those needed stripped and washed. And quite a few leaves had blown in one window in Daphne’s bedroom. A couple sinks were in need of another clean too. But all in all, the house was much cleaner than my kids would have left it after 2 nights 😉

To get the home back ready for us, Garrett and I tag-teamed our homecoming. Garrett cooked a quick dinner with the kids while I ran around and tidied and cleaned. It took me about 1 hour to strip and make the beds, collect dirty towels, touch up the bathrooms, and vacuum the floors. And best of all…our home was the cleanest it’s been in a very long time!

Would we do it Again?

In the end, Garrett and I were both happy with renting our home out for the weekend. Do we want to do it every weekend? No. But renting the house out once in a while – especially when we had plans to be out of town anyway – is a great way to earn extra income and keep our home cleaner.

This was our first time using HomeAway so I’m planning to do a comparison between hosting on Airbnb and HomeAway at some point. In the meantime, is there anything else you’re wanting to know about renting your home out for a weekend? Or if you’ve done something similar, what was your experience like?

Sources

All sources available here

Related Posts

How to Clean Your Home / 3 Reasons to Rent Your Home for a Weekend /

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27 Comments

Comments

  1. I am curious to know if you prefer Air B n B above Home Away, vice versa, or no preference? We have a mountain rental and found that we couldn’t charge a damage deposit with Air B n B…maybe I am wrong and didn’t research the owner site enough, but that was my only fear. So nice to hear that you had a good outcome on renting your personal home.

    • You can select to have a damage deposit with Airbnb! I’d like to a comparison between the platforms later this summer! We’ve rented way more with Airbnb, so I’m still trying to figure HomeAway out before doing the comparison.

  2. Lindsay says:

    What about your personal stuff? That’s my first thought any time you talk about renting your house. Do you worry about things being taken, and do you do anything different with things like your underwear drawer? Obviously you wouldn’t leave with all your valuables sitting out in the open, but I think I would worry all weekend that someone would take something or snoop through drawers, closets, etc. Is there anything you do ahead of time, or am I just paranoid?

    • This is also the first thing that goes through my mind. Like what about family photos and clothes in drawers and closets? I use AirBnB all the time but it’s always just a rental and never anyone’s primary residence so we can use the closets and the dressers and there aren’t any personal items in the house. I feel like 1. As the owner, I’d be weirded out by someone snooping through my stuff, but 2. It would also feel strange to be a guest in a stranger’s house with all their stuff around. Not being critical, genuinely curious about this. I would actually consider renting out my own home if it wasn’t for this concern.

      • Thanks Jessica, I’ll work on a post about this! In response to #1, I guess we’ve been landlords for so long, that we’ve gotten over that lack of privacy issue. I also tend to air on the ‘people are good’ side, as in I think most people respect reasonable boundaries. But if they don’t, it doesn’t really harm us if they want to look through our (very minimal) personal stuff. Also, we’re renting to families mostly, who are in town for weddings or gathers, so there’s that. And for #2, I think that’s the whole premise behind Airbnb – it’s all about community and familiarity and getting to be in an actual home rather than a hotel room. Take a listen to the How I Built This podcast. The founders got a lot of pushback for suggesting people might want to sleep on stranger’s couches, but that’s what they built their billion dollar company on. But with that said, we don’t have a ton of personal items around. We want the guests to feel comfortable and we leave our house in a manner to facilitate that.

    • Thanks for the question, Lindsay! I’ll work on a post about this, since it’s a popular question and there’s a lot of unpack. I will say that we’ve been landlords for a long time so I think we’ve kind of “gotten over” the lack of privacy that renting brings. We don’t have a ton of valuables and lock important documents up in our fire-proof safe (like passports, birth certificates, etc). We also have lockable office drawers though there’s nothing too important there. Personal items go into a closet that’s not for guests use and if we had valuable jewelry it would be there too. We don’t worry about people taking things. Or looking in our underwear drawer. I guess hope people will respect boundaries like responsible adults should, but if they don’t, there’s no real harm to me if someone snoops through my drawers.

  3. Geraldine says:

    I am wondering just the same thing than Lisa ^^

  4. I have a similar question to Lindsay. We are renting our vacation property in Chelan out for the first time this year. How much drawer space do you leave guests? Do you empty the refrigerator?

    • That depends on how long of stays you are getting. If you have occasional weekend guests, a few shelves in the fridge would probably be fine. I like to make sure there’s somewhere for people to put luggage, but we don’t move out of our closets for just a 2-night stay. If the home is a dedicated rental, we leave all the drawers and fridge space for guests. When we come, we use the house like a guest would. But if you wanted to leave things there, I’d suggest picking one cabinet or a few bins in the garage to keep your things in.

  5. Michelle says:

    I’ve been to several Airbnbs that specifically ask for guests to start a load of laundry before leaving, so I’ve started doing that. But I guess I should check to see how soon they’ll be at the property because coming home to musty laundry wouldn’t be fun! I’d be very curious to see a post with your take on what makes the perfect Airbnb guest.

    • Love this idea! I’ll do that. We specifically ask guests not to start the laundry because sometimes we won’t be doing the turn for a day or two. But if hosts don’t say that, doing laundry (especially if you can get it through the dryer) is really nice!

  6. TracieOB says:

    Same question, what do you do with your personal items? My brother has and airbnb in Branson, MO but it is just that, a rental, so no personal items, but they also have a locked closet for things that are not for guests.
    I have hosted couples 2x this year in my master bedroom, only room with a queen bed, and “moving” out wasnt too horrible.

    • We have 3 rentals that we rent on Airbnb and don’t have personal items there either. When we rent our home out for a weekend, it’s obviously different. I’ll work on a post about this.

  7. Theresa B says:

    Is it weird to have strangers sleep on your beds? Do you use different mattress covers for the guests? I would think removing all your clothes from closets and most drawers would be necessary?
    Thanks for answering, so many weird questions come up when considering this!

    • It’s not weird for us to have strangers sleep in our beds (yes, on the same mattress covers), just like it wouldn’t be weird for me to sleep in a hotel bed where others had slept. I think I’ve become less precious about my possessions over the years. We kept our closet private and put personal items in there so they’re out of the way for guests. For longer stays we’d remove clothes from the dressers and closets but for 2 nights it doesn’t seem necessary.

  8. Adrianne says:

    Hi Cathy! Why HomeAway? Did you have your home listed on multiple services and HomeAway was the one where a booking came through? Thanks!

    • We wanted to try HomeAway so had put a listing up and that’s where the last minute booking came from. Otherwise we have a few weekends booked on Airbnb.

  9. Do you have separate bedding and pillows for your guests? We find that keeping enough linens stocked and in good shape for renters can be quite costly.

    • We have a few sets for our rental properties but not at our primary residence. We just have 2 sets per bed. If we rented out our primary home a lot (we’re only doing a few weekends) than we’d consider buying an extra set of linens.

  10. Hi Cathy, I am also curious how you deal with all your personal items.

  11. Do you guys have one LLC or one for each house? If he latter how do you account for the rental of your own primary home and the expenses associated with it vs other properties that are clearly income properties. Trying to get into this same game and figure out how to keep it all straight! Do you do your own bookkeeping or have someone else track it all? Thanks!

    • We manage everything ourselves, although we have an accountant (who is worth her weight in gold). We keep our full-time rental finances seperate from our home finances (which we include with our personal finances). I budget in Excel and we put together a sheet with all of our rental expenses for our accountant at the end of the year. We looked into LLCs for each property but we have mortgages on the properties in our name so that didn’t work. Also, there’s some question as to how much protection a LLC would provide. I’d highly suggest you do some research on that front. We got a $1M liability policy that blankets all of our properties (in addition to basic insurance) to help cover us.

  12. I admire your hustle, especially with three young kids! In picturing my house as a rental, I got to wondering where you put your everyday stuff and how pared down you leave it for guests. If you write another post, would you include before and after pictures of certain spaces as you live in them vs how you leave them for guests? (I’m thinking of paperwork/electronics in the office, food in the kitchen/fridge, clothes in drawers/closets, toiletries in bathroom/linen closet, etc. Where do you put all that stuff? Or maybe I just have too many personal belongings to turn my home into a rental?)

    • Great idea! I am working on a post about that, so will try to capture some photos! Seems like bathroom, kitchen, and underwear drawer is what everyone’s wondering about.

  13. Vanessa says:

    “It’s not weird for us to have strangers sleep in our beds (yes, on the same mattress covers), just like it wouldn’t be weird for me to sleep in a hotel bed where others had slept.” I believe this indicates good mental health on your part. Other people are ok to touch, to interact with to share things with, it’s pretty simple really.

  14. Do you let your guests use your dishes, glasses, pot and pans? I am thinking to rent my space but want to ask my guests to use disposable dishes that I will provide. Also I am thinking to buy a cheaper set of pots and pans and take my German sets and Le Crueset away! Also I wanna place small tapes in cabinets that I don’t want my guest to use. I am thinking that they might look inside them but they know they are not suppose to use anything in there! What do you think. Also do you have cleaning fees in your pricing? Or extra charge for guests?

    • We let guests use everything in the kitchen. We have a Costco pan set, IKEA plates, and canning jar glasses so nothing is too precious. I might recommend that you remove any dishes you don’t want used and store them away in plastic bins. It might feel unwelcoming to find cabinets taped off. We haven’t charged a cleaning fee at our Farmhouse (although we do at our full-time rentals) mostly in hopes that guests will leave it cleaner that way. And so far that seems to be the case.

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