Landlording & Rental Properties

Calculating Your Airbnb Return: How to Estimate Your Rent

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate News & Commentary, Real Estate Investing Basics
36 Articles Written

If you’re on this site, you likely enjoy looking at houses and properties, but perhaps calculating the numbers is what really does it for you. I get it, because barring a good bottle of pinot grigio and my husband’s company, there are few things I enjoy more than running calculations on a spreadsheet. That’s right people, one day I looked in the mirror and I saw a nerd. And since that’s probably a common feeling on BiggerPockets, I’ll run down calculating numbers for Airbnb to decide if a short-term investment makes sense. (And, if you’re a BiggerPockets Pro member, the Rental Property Calculator is a tool where you can actually plug in the numbers we’re about to discuss.)

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Related: 3 Easy Steps to Discovering Your Airbnb Income Potential

There are basically three groups of numbers you need to think about when calculating for a short-term investment:

1. Rent collected

2. Upfront costs

3. Monthly costs

This blog post will cover how to estimate the rent.

Estimating Rent for Your Short-Term Property

Start with After logging in, you’ll see a horizontal menu bar with “Host” as one of the options. Select it and scroll down to “Add a New Listing.” Your listing doesn’t have to be ready yet in order to utilize this feature. By filling out the basics (location, rooms available, number of guests it can sleep, etc.), Airbnb can calculate an estimated weekly return. Multiply that weekly number by four, and you have your estimated monthly rent.

Research this number by retuning to the Airbnb homepage and searching properties near your location. What other kind of properties come up? What is their nightly rent?

Finally, AirDNA provides short-term rental reports by city. The report covers month-to-month rental averages for different types of properties. Note on this: there’s a lot of discrepancy in these reports from month to month, which suggests the data set may still be too small to be accurate. Therefore, consider this a resource and not a bible.

Related: Airbnb vs. Traditional Rental Income: A Creative Way for Investors to Cash Flow in Expensive Cities

You should also consider vacancy rates and seasonal variance in your calculations. Airbnb should cover the demand rate in its calculation, but you may or may not feel like hosting every night, and sometimes you just may not be able to. We base our vacancy rate off of 20 nights rented in a hot market (this is actually much lower than what we’ve experienced, but it’s better to underestimate than to overestimate). For a less hot market, you may want to bring that number further down to 10 or 15 nights per month. Seasonal variance will also affect your numbers. We can only speak from experience, but in Denver, our 1-bedroom rental near downtown saw a 30 percent decrease in interest from November through March. (You can check this by looking at AirDNA and looking at demand rates for your competitors for that time period.)

So, to estimate monthly rental rates, research your competitors and utilize Airbnb’s estimate tool.

How do you estimate your monthly Airbnb rent?

Let me know in the comments below!

Erin Spradlin co-owns James Carlson Real Estate. She loves working with first-time homebuyers for their enthusiasm and excitement, and loves working with investors because she's a fellow spreadsheet nerd. She and her husband own three properties in metro Denver and are currently in the process of acquiring a duplex in Colorado Springs. You can find Erin's blogs here: and her airbnb video series here:

    John Underwood Investor from Greer, South Carolina
    Replied over 1 year ago
    I use Airbnb and Homeaway. Homeaway accounts for 95% of my bookings. They have some awesome analytics where you can see inquiry demand and average rates of booked and unbooked properties in your area and unlike Airdna all these new tools are free. I have been able to see market demand that I didn’t anticipate and adjust prices accordingly. I can also see a report card of my ranking metrics broken out and how I am doing in each area compared to my peers. I find the Airbnb site much more cumbersome to use and find what I am looking for. I check these analytical tools at least 3 times a week.
    Darren Looker Rental Property Investor from Dallas, TX
    Replied about 1 month ago
    John, can you give some instruction on how to use Homeaway to analyze a market?
    Kim Kaiser from Gardiner, Montana
    Replied over 1 year ago
    same for me,, i 99% vrbo,, just added an air bnb.. wont let me make my own cancellation policy. requires payment after stay. vrbo allows me to take all or part of payment up front, i do hate there appx 10% fee though its excessive,, it is NOT refundable if someone cancels.. and i also hate that they put at the bottom of your listing,,,, that says,, other properties you may be interested in.. guides people away from your site..