One of the main reasons why people procrastinate when getting started with Airbnb is because they think that it will take a long time to set up a property and get it ready for guests. The idea of furnishing a place for guests can seem daunting to most people, especially when you don’t know where to start.
One weekend of work can produce years of passive income
You may be wondering… How long will it take to set up a new property? This is a great question and one that people are always surprised when they hear the answer. By gathering items you need ahead of time, you can set up an Airbnb property in just one weekend. I can’t think of another business out there that can get started in one weekend and bring in profit immediately for years to come.
What do I mean by “setting-up an Airbnb property”?
Before we dive in, I want to clarify what I mean when I say “set up a new property.” In this case, I am referring to furnishing an empty property that you own or lease for the purposes of using it as a vacation rental (short-term rental).
“Setting-up” refers to installing furniture (and other items such as towels and linens), installing electronic locks, cleaning, and general preparation in order to get the property ready for guests. I sometimes refer to this as “opening a property from scratch” or “opening a brand new property.” Please note that this doesn’t mean that the property itself is new; rather that you’re moving into an empty space.
Furnished and unfurnished properties
There are essentially two types of properties that you might be dealing with, furnished and unfurnished. The unfurnished properties are straightforward because these are empty and have no furniture; you will need to start from scratch with these.
If you have a furnished property, you will save a TON of time. These can be set up much, much faster than an unfinished property. I’ve set up a furnished property and prepared it for guests in less than four hours!
Be prepared in advance
The big secret to setting up a property in one weekend is to be prepared in advance. If you have an empty property, the process starts well before you sign the lease. It actually starts before you find and acquire the property. Rest assured, it is possible for you to have a guest in your new property on day two of your new lease.
The last thing you want to do is lease a property, take weeks to gather furniture and a few more weeks to create an online listing; this will waste your money. For example, if the property rent is $1,000/mo, every week you take to move in you’ll be out of pocket $233.33!
Decide on a style of decor
Because you’re buying furniture from different sellers and at different times, I recommend deciding ahead of time on the type of decor style you want to use; that way you only focus on that style when looking for furniture. For example, if you decide to decorate in a modern style, only buy a modern style bed, modern style dining table, etc. That way when all of the pieces come together they fit nicely together. Make sure the furniture you’re buying is not only appealing but comfortable and durable too.
Buy big items first
I strongly recommend you start buying large furniture items at the same time that you’re looking for a property to lease. If you own a property and it’s already in your possession, then you should furnish it as soon as possible.
Assuming you don’t have a property, and you don’t know what it looks like, you need to gather furniture that will fit in size and style in any property. I used to gather gently used furniture in the evenings after work and on the weekends while working as a full-time employee, so I know this can be done!
Buy small items second
Once you have purchased all of the large furniture pieces, you can start buying smaller items like towels, linens, salt and pepper shakers, toilet paper, soaps, etc. These are items you can buy without needing to see your new property.
There are only a few things you’ll need to get once you’ve seen the property; these will primarily be decorative pieces that are unique to the property. These will be things like area rugs, curtains, artwork, special furniture pieces, etc. But you can have everything you need for your new property before you even see it.
Types of furniture
The types of gently used furniture I buy ahead of time are bed frames, sofas, coffee tables, dining tables, side tables, side chairs, and TV stands. You can store these items in your garage, a friend’s garage, or in a spare room. You can also pay for temporary storage because the savings you’ll get from buying used, and being prepared ahead of time for move-in day, will more than cover the cost of storage.
Where to buy furniture
There are two main places I buy used (and sometimes new) furniture: Craigslist and the Facebook Marketplace. Because you’re buying these items before you start making monthly rent payments on your property, there’s no time pressure on you. So you can easily negotiate with the sellers. You can also check your local thrift shop for good deals.
2-3 days before move-in day
About 2-3 days before move-in day you’ll need to make sure the utilities and internet are all working properly, you don’t want to waste any time solving a utility-related issue. You’ll also need to launder all the linens and towels; if you don’t your guests will end up with fuzzies all over after a shower and they won’t be happy.
Prep as many things as possible to make things easier on move-in day. For example, take off price labels from things like soap pumps, picture frames, dishes, etc. Print out any informational signs you may need to post in the property.
Assemble any furniture or any items that need to be put together; these can be very time intensive and can sidetrack you on move-in day. If necessary, be sure to reserve a U-Haul truck or borrow one from a friend so you have transportation on move-in day.
By this point, you’ve already done so much pre-work that move-in day will be a breeze. You won’t be running around to different stores because you forgot something; you’ll be prepared.
Pick up the U-Haul truck (if you rented one) and start moving everything you’ve collected to the new property. Once you’ve moved everything in, arrange the furniture, put up the artwork, make everything look as nice as possible so you can take photos. Take some quick photos with your smartphone so you can and post them on your Airbnb listing as soon as possible. The faster you get the photos up, the faster guests will be able to book your place.
Improve as you go
If your place doesn’t look exactly the way you want it to right away that’s ok! You don’t need to reach perfection on move-in day. During the first couple of months, you’ll be able to make improvements between back-to-back reservations. Slowly but surely you’ll optimize your listing(s) so your guests will have the best guest experience possible. The incremental changes you’ll make will help you get the maximum amount of profit for the least amount of time.
You don’t have to do it alone
If all of this seems overwhelming, I completely understand. Understanding the core concept of getting things done ahead of time will get you started on the right foot. I’ve used this same exact process for every property I’ve opened; it certainly gets easier every time. Even though there is a lot to learn, don’t worry because you don’t have to do it alone. I can teach you the rest.
Happy property set up,
P.S. For more tips, subscribe to The Airbnb Course YouTube channel.