AirBnB – Home away from home

Area residents turn vacant spaces into rentals for travelers from around world

By Cynthia Scheer Telescope News

Caleb and Gayle Mahin got into the Airbnb market by accident.

The Formoso couple purchased a house in town after it sat for sale “for months.” They planned to fix it up to rent out or re-sell, Caleb Mahin said.

It wasn’t until his brother, Luke Mahin, said he knew someone who had success renting on Airbnb that Caleb Mahin even considered the idea.

The Mahins have now been renting the house on the online lodging marketplace for nearly a year and said the property has been rented by a wide range of people.

“It seems like I constantly get surprised at the reasons why people want to stay,” Mahin said of his Airbnb property, which rents for about $30 a person per day.

His first guests were a couple from France whose son played soccer for Cloud County Community College. The couple booked the house for two weeks last August to help him move to college.

A group from California was doing family history research and stayed in the house while researching relatives from Jewell and Republic counties. They left new pillows and kitchen items, Mahin said.

Hunters are frequent guests, and Mahin said a group from New Mexico has booked the house for the Belleville Midget Nationals.

For most of the month of May the house was occupied by computer scientist Nicholas Garcia, who had just finished a NASA internship at the Kennedy Space Center. Garcia, who drove from St. Petersburg, Fl., to Formoso, said he chose the Mahin’s Airbnb property because of the price.

“I searched all over the country, and this was one of the only places to rent a whole house and yard for under $900 a month,” he said.

Garcia said he is waiting for a job offer in the space industry now that his internship is finished, and he decided to rent a property on Airbnb until then because he doesn’t want to “mess with a lease” or have “roommate drama.”

“I do enjoy the quiet,” he said of his stay at Formoso. “I’m used to car speakers and police sirens going.”

Garcia left Formoso last week en route to a “luxury” skyline Airbnb apartment in Malaysia, which he can rent for $650 a month.

Renting on Airbnb

Mahin said he likes renting on Airbnb because of the free advertising. The only cost to Mahin is three percent of the booking, he said. Airbnb makes most of their money through booking fees that the customers pay.

The Mahins do rent the house out privately, too, for friends and family, Mahin said, which saves money on fees.

The couple’s property recently got its 10th good reviews, and with that 10th review has come an increase in bookings. They’ve had several requests in the last couple weeks.

The total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 has also been good for business, Mahin said. His Airbnb property has been rented for three days during the eclipse as groups look for lodging within driving distance of the eclipse’s path. Grand Island, Neb., is considered a prime location for viewing the eclipse. Mahin said one group has rented the house the day before the eclipse, one group will stay the day of the eclipse, and a third group will stay the day after.

Mahin said his Formoso property has also been a draw for people looking to escape the big city noise.

One person from Wichita has booked the house over the Fourth of July to get away from the fireworks.

“People will drive out of their way to avoid the noise,” he said of Airbnb renters.

Mahin, who lives three blocks away from the Airbnb rental house, said he tries to interact with his guests when possible.

He has given turkey hunters guided tours when he has time, and he and his brother, Luke, have discussed selling “experiences” on Airbnb in addition to the house. Experiences might include floating down the Republic River or helping with farming, he said.

View Caleb’s property here –


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Scandia woman rents out spare upstairs studio on online marketplace

For nearly a year Leah Hammer has been renting on Airbnb. She rents out the upstairs portion of a building on her rural Scandia property.

“I don’t like dead space,” she said. Hammer had originally planned to make the place into a small studio.

The space features a kitchen and bathroom and has hosted three families since last fall, although she hasn’t been hosting guests lately because of remodeling.

Hammer said she only rents the place on weekends and holidays when her daycare, also located on the property, is closed. Hammer said she always wanted to have a bed and breakfast, and her Airbnb space allows her to dabble in that dream a little.

“I love to meet the new people and visit with them,” she said. “And I like to bake and leave them goodies.”

View Leah’s property here –