Hosting an Airbnb in Nevada County
by Mary Cornell
Have you ever had a dream, and knew that there was no way it could be achieved, and then the
unexpected happens and in a way, a different way, your dream has been realized?!
My dream had always been to own a bed and breakfast, ever since the Bob Newhart show when they
ran that sweet little Vermont inn. I remember searching online for B&B’s to buy, all way out of our
budget and geographic location.
We found our dream home in Nevada County
Years later, kids all out and starting their own lives, we moved, on a whim to a beautiful property in a
small rural town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s. That little town, Grass Valley, has changed our
lives. The house was modest, but the property was magical and something that we would never have
imagined owning. Situated above three large bass ponds, and 5 minutes to downtown, it was 7 acres of
true beauty. Being run-down, and weeded over, our imagination soared as to what we could do with this
The house was single level and a long ranch style shape. The 2-car garage had been converted into a
large room with a kitchenette, attached to a hall with laundry, 2 bed and a bath and it’s own entry
through the large room. The rest of the house consisted of another large great room, kitchen, master
bedroom, and bathroom.
We absolutely loved living there, and our grown children loved visiting us. Upon one visit, my son told
me I should Airbnb out half the house. I had no idea what he was talking about, but when he told me
that we could rent the rooms out nightly (like a bed and breakfast) and that there was a website called
Airbnb.com, that would advertise it, and take the bookings, my very first reaction was,” I can’t have
stranger’s living in our house!” But then, after further thought, I realized that was exactly what I would
be doing if I did have my own bed and breakfast!
Getting started with Airbnb
I did some research about Airbnb.com and found out that it originated from 3 college students in San
Francisco who decided during a large event in the city to blow up some air mattresses and rent out their
rooms because the hotels were full. They developed a website to advertise and such. Well, that is the
very short version, but now the company is HUGE and all over the world.
After doing some cleaning, decorating, buying new linens and getting it just right, I took pictures and
listed my house on Airbnb.com! Right away I got a booking. We named our site after our property’s
name, Three Ponds. Our first guests were from Japan on a trip through the US. They were so much fun,
and I wasn’t sure yet, just how much interaction I wanted to have with our guests. I let them use our
kitchen, and they actually made us home made sushi! At that time, we didn’t have a firm division
between their space and our house, and the only thing that divided us was a doggy gate.
It wasn’t long, and many bookings later, that we finally built a door between our space and theirs. We
were getting bookings after bookings and enjoying each one. The first month we made $800! We were
ecstatic! We now know that most guests want to be left to their own accord, so after checking them in,
we usually don’t see them again. We leave them breakfast goodies so they can cook their own. They
enjoy the property, fish, boat, relax and pretty much do what they want. We have had many return
guests, trying out the different times of the year. Most of our guests are here to visit family, attending
an event at the nearby fairgrounds, some passing through on a trip, some come for the snow activities in
the Tahoe region, and some even have made Three Ponds their destination!
How Airbnb works
What I love about Airbnb is that they have built their reputation and a user-friendly website. The guests
can request to book your room or apartment (has a built-in calendar) You can basically “screen” your
guest (even after Airbnb has verified ID and such) so that you know they are a good fit. You can read
their past reviews from previous hosts to warn you of past problems. They also have a chance to review
you and your place after their stay. Each review is blind to the other. They can’t see yours until they
review, and you can’t see theirs until you review them. They charge a small service charge to the host
and a larger service charge to the guest. You can price your space whatever you want, and change the
prices for special days, holidays, weekends, etc. You can block days that you don’t want anyone to book
which we use for family to visit. Airbnb also takes care of the transit tax to the county that they charge
Airbnb offers an incentive program called Super Host. To achieve Super Host status, you must meet
certain criteria and high reviews. The reward of being a Super Host each year, is we receive a $100
bonus to use at our own stays of any Airbnb of our choice. Many guests filter for Super Hosts, so you
also get way more bookings than others.
Why we love being hosts!
Other than changing out the rooms when guests leave, it pretty much runs itself! It’s a great way to earn
passive income! We have tripled our average income on the Airbnb since our beginnings.
The platform is based on trust, but backed by a multibillion-dollar company, and provides a million dollar
liability insurance to the host. It is worldwide and in Nevada County alone has over 200 Airbnbs.
I’ve read the horror stories also, and am a member of many different hosts sites, and after 4 years of
hosting and almost 400 guests, I can honestly say we have had little to no problems with our guests at
all. Maybe because we live right “next door”, but the positives, all the wonderful people we have met
and the fulfillment of my dream has made our experience with Airbnb one of the best things we have
Check out our Airbnb! https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/8327985