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A New Rental Reality

April 22, 2014, 9:55 PM by Jared Ransom

A New Rental Reality

The traveling game is evolving.

"They think I'm crazy, like I'm some foolish person for letting people stay at my house," Airbnb user Chris Carda said.

For Chris Carda that statement is no longer foreign; it's his new reality. He is a frequent user of the website Airbnb, a service for people looking for places to stay other than hotels.

"We started looking at it awhile back when we were traveling internationally, and a friend of mine wanted us to try it and we had no clue what it was and went, 'Oh!' We checked it out, and I actually started it here just to get the discount," Carda said.

It may have started as a way to get a better rate on a room, but it soon took off into another way for Carda to make money.  Hosts can set a price for their home based on where they live, and Airbnb takes a percentage of the profit. The site is used by people in nearly 200 countries and 34,000 cities, including Rapid City, Pierre and even two spots in Sioux Falls.

"You can go to different places and you have the comforts of home and you might get a house like this or you might get a room somewhere or you might be sharing a place. It just depends on who it is or where it's at," Carda said.

At first, Carda was skeptical about renting out his home to people he'd never met.

"It was just getting over the fact that there were strangers in my house, and I had to get past that comfort level," Carda said.

Now, he has about 30 people scheduled for this year and is constantly turning down requests because he's already booked.

So, why are people choosing to stay in someone's home? Besides the comforts of things like a living room and a full kitchen, Carda says this system is easier on the bank account.

"Sometimes it comes down to the price point. We stayed in Seattle last year and it was about 1/2 to 2/3 of what we would've paid for a hotel in a prime area," Carda said.

Hotel rooms in Sioux Falls range from close to $40 a night all the way to near $150 a night. Carda's home is listed right in between it all at $75 a night.

While the price may be right, not just anyone can hop on Airbnb and reserve Carda's home. A review system on the site lets him get a closer look at who he's booking, because even though it's a great way for him to make money, he still needs to protect the place where he lives.

"You want to use those reviews to gauge who you want in your house because you will find some people that maybe haven't taken care of it or they've been a little not as clean as you would like or they may have damaged something," Carda said.

People who have stayed in Carda's home have left raving reviews about their stay on the site as well as personal notes in the instruction folder he leaves for all his guests.

"I love just meeting the people, and even the ones that I have stay here, it's probably not the people that would normally come into my life at times," Carda said.

That is why Carda says there is now a community forming, an established level of trust that allows him and every user to feel comfortable with letting new people into their homes.

"We stayed in Valencia, Spain, and that was maybe the weirdest experience because the door handle kept locking, and so it's Midnight and we're trying to get in and we finally got that figured out and had to wake the guy up, but it was right on the beach overlooking the ocean and it was just very cool," Carda said.

Renting out your home may seem unconventional at first, but sites like Airbnb are becoming more popular by the day, and as Sioux Falls grows, the use of this site may grow as well.

Carda is always telling friends and family to use the site, and while there are only two options in Sioux Falls now, he says that won't last long.

"You can be anywhere from rural settings to regular downtown metropolitan areas, and they can choose where they want to go," Carda said.

He says hotels now have some major competition.

Carda is away from home most of the week because of work, which makes it convenient for him to rent out his home throughout the year.

If you would like more information about renting out your home, check out the Airbnb website.

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