Windermere Bellevue Commons News August 23, 2023

How to Turn Your Home Into a Vacation Rental

So, you want to become an AirBnB host. How do go about converting your property into a vacation destination?

The hospitality industry has been hard at work to regain its foothold with stir-crazy consumers who have a whole new set of values post-Covid. The growing popularity of the short-term vacation rental is poised to redefine the nature of vacationing for years to come, thanks to increased space, flexibility, and lower average rates.

The demographic for Airbnb guests is changing as well, as Gen Z and millennials are more inclined to travel with groups of friends rather than just their immediate family. Future Airbnb owners can capitalize on this trends for unique, photogenic accommodations that hotels can’t always provide.

If you are willing to put in the hard work, your vacation rental can turn a good profit, and we’ve got a quick guide to get you started!

Image Courtesy of NWMLS Listing – Duke Young

Laws & Logistics

Converting your home into a vacation rental isn’t as easy as listing it on a site like AirBnB. There are a lot of hoops to jump through regarding local regulations, insurance policies, market trends and HOA rules. Start your research by looking into the ordinances of the city where you are located, as municipal law can vary even within the same state.

Seattle law, for example, states that property owners are restricted to operating a maximum of 2 dwelling units as short-term rentals, whereas Bellingham only requires that short-term rental operators obtain the appropriate vacation rental permit and pay the associated fee. Paying attention to regional codes is an important first step towards turning your property into a vacation rental.

Looking into the local market is a great way to get a feel for whether or not your vacation rental has a chance to really succeed in that area. “Look for your direct competitors,” advises Alex Haler, a strategic account executive with AirDNA, “What are they doing well? Do any of them have a particular amenity or feature that is helping them outperform the others? Keep track of this group of competitors as they will aid you in setting the right price, benchmarking your performance and staying ahead of the curve.”

Image Courtesy of NWMLS Listing – Duke Young


Reduce, Repair & Redecorate

The next step is to take care of any necessary repairs, update the furniture and install new tech if need be. Start by depersonalizing the space – as much as you love those family mementos, you are selling a space as a blank canvas for others to create their own memories.

Install smart technology to enhance connectivity for your guests and to keep an eye on your property when you can’t be there in person. Electronic locks that can be managed via the internet are a great addition, as they generate unique codes for each guest stay and make the check-in process quicker and easier.

Now is the time to take care of those pesky quirks that you have grown accustomed to, like squeaky doors or testy faucets. While some guests may not even register these issues, you are investing in your property’s longevity. By being proactive with repairs from the get-go, you save yourself stress and potentially more costly problems down the line.

When decorating, consider the aesthetic of your vacation rental and how it will complement the local vibe. What draws people to the area? Would a coastal motif fit best or would a cozy cabin vibe be more appropriate? “Think about how your guests are going to use the space, rather than simply throwing things together,” advises Nikki Kaestner, a Senior Design Associate with Vacasa.

Good design isn’t about finding matchy-matchy pieces, but creating a space that feels like a home. This can be achieved by layering pieces for a lived-in look that don’t necessarily match but blend cohesively. Make sure you invest in sturdy, quality materials (especially in high touch areas like dining rooms) that can withstand the wear and tear of multiple guests over several seasons – this includes solid wood tables and fabrics that have passed the Martindale test for performance, like Sunbrella.

Stock Up On Supplies

You’re almost ready to welcome your first guests! All that’s left is making sure all the little essentials are well-stocked. Guests are always on the lookout for amenities such as extra towels, sheets and basic toiletries. These are items that are used the most and are almost always left behind in a packing frenzy.

Invest in quality bedding, kitchen supplies and travel-size toiletries to make your vacation rental stand out from the crowd. Being an over-prepared vacation rental host by anticipating these needs can make the difference between a glowing review and an unsatisfied comment that affects future bookings.

Image Courtesy of NWMLS Listing – Duke Young

Advice From An Agent

Don’t just take our word for it! We sat down with WBC broker, Mylo Adams, one our amazing real estate professionals for her tips on property management. “Vacation rental listing setup is the most important,” Mylo advises, “Be sure to verify your property may legally be used as a vacation rental.” This means understanding tax liability on the city, state and federal level, including excise, Business & Occupation (B&O) and capital gains tax.

Mylo’s Top Tips
– Prepare a Rules & Regulations handbook for your guests, as many condominiums allowing vacation rentals have specific rules.
– Invest in excellent professional photos. Did you know that professional photos can lead up to 20% more bookings?
– Respond to inquiries quickly (within 1 hour).
– Clean, Clean, CLEAN! Hire a professional cleaning service to make sure everything looks its best.


Its no secret that the nature of travel has changed over the last few years, creating new opportunities for homeowners to get involved in the field of hospitality and generate another revenue stream. If you think that converting your property into a short-term or vacation rental sounds like the right move, make sure you are doing as much research as possible. It’s a competitive market but creating an insta-worthy escape can pay significant dividends if done right.

Happy hosting!


Written by Makena Schoene

Featured Image Source: NWMLS Listing Courtesy of Duke Young