Neighbor is a really good idea, but how can I make it work?
That’s a super common question. Maybe you feel like Charlie before he got the golden ticket (see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Well, that’s why I’m here, to help you figure out how you can start today. I’m going to warn you right now. You may learn something (as well as enjoy a few excellent movie references). I know that if you really think about these ideas, you’ll figure out how I got people to come store at my house. It’s worth it. I promise.
How to Store at Your House
Your goal is to increase your bottom line by letting people store stuff at your house. Not many people really understand this idea because it is so novel. Let’s split it up into a few steps so anyone can do it easily. I’m going to make it as simple as possible because I want you to be able to start making money as soon as possible. That seems like a reasonable goal right? Well, let’s get started.
Step 1: Make a Profile on Neighbor.com
This step is really easy. First, on the center of the page, you’ll see a button on the top right that says, “List Your Space.” Once you click that, a page will appear that will ask you for the dimensions of the space, and you will get a rough estimate of what you should rent it out for. Once you do that and click the “List Your Space” button at the bottom of the page, a smaller box will appear where you officially create your profile. Then you are off to the races. Or simply download the Neighbor App!
Step 2: List the Space
When listing the space, it will be very important to understand how you want it to work. Do you want your customers to be able to have anytime access to the space? That probably won’t be the best option if you decided to store in your home living space. Is the space climate controlled? That will be good to put down on the listing.
Another very important question to ask is whether you have the rights to rent out the space. For example, dwellings under a lease contract are generally not allowed to sublease the space, even a fraction of it. Make sure you are well within your rights when listing the space.
Step 3: Take Excellent Pictures
We say, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” however, we all know that that’s exactly what we do. We expect the book’s cover to correctly portray what we’ll find within its pages. That’s what you’ll want to do when renting out storage space in your home. How can you expect people to want to put their old antiques in your broom closet if you can’t make your broom closet look good and worth the price. So take pride in the pictures you take of the spaces you list.
Remember also, that the actual space needs to be as nice as the photos you take of it. If you hope for recurring business, then take care of the space.
Step 4: Be Approachable and Personable
People want to know their stuff is in good hands. When they store stuff in your home, they want to know that you will take care of them and that their hard-earned stuff will not be used or damaged. Be nice. Never be rude when communicating with your clients. Remember that you should try to stay in contact with them. Don’t be a ghost. Be present and be available, and you’ll have a good experience.
Step 5: Build the Community
You thought I was going to say, “Get Paid!” Well that is part of it, but ultimately, this experience will build your relationships more than it will your bank account. So revel in the friendships you make and people you meet. Enjoy the satisfaction of making connections, and yes, get paid.
Get Your Space Rented!
Now the questions are where and how. What kind of spaces can you list? What can you store stuff in at your house? The options are really endless. It helps to think in terms of square-space, the foot-by-foot measurement of the area you intend to rent out.
Make sure that the space is accessible, clean and that it will not damage the property placed in the space. The size and attributes of each space factor heavily into how much it can rent for. Take a look at the following table and use it to get some ideas:
|Unit Size||Neighbor’s Average Price|
|5 x 5||$15|
|5 x 10||$25|
|10 x 10||$30|
|10 x 15||$40|
|10 x 20||$60|
|10 x 20+||$75|
Hopefully that helps you get an idea of the ballpark that you are swinging for. Obviously these are just historical average prices, and they will range based on what your area’s market demands and the supply that is available. Bet you didn’t think you’d get a lesson in economics while looking to rent out self-storage did you? “I find your lack of faith disturbing,” – Darth Vader.
Supply and Demand
As a general rule in the fair market, you can charge whatever you want for whatever you sell. The problem isn’t selling something, it’s getting people to pay for it. That’s a fine distinction, and what I mean is that I could charge a thousand dollars to sell lemonade, but no one will buy it. Instead, they will buy from the kid down the street who is selling for seventy-five cents. You have to match your price to meet the demand of consumers.
If you want to command a higher price, then you will have to give more into the offering. This is where you can get creative because if you understand your consumer, you can give them something they really want and no other sellers can give them. That is what differentiates you from another seller.
Storing someone else’s stuff in your home can be far more rewarding than you think. Aside from the money, you’ll also get at least a taste of entrepreneurship which can indeed be a very addictive taste. Don’t let it go to your head, and don’t get greedy. That is a very quick way to dry up this particular source of income.
Rent Out Your Garage for Storage
Let’s talk about one of the most common spaces to rent out because almost every house has one: a garage. In order to get ready for the big change, let’s think about what you’ll have to do to get the garage ready. Because the garage is so big, you need to think everything that could happen.You’ll want to first prepare for car storage as that is generally the most common use of the garage.
Preparation for Peer-to-Peer Storage
- First, you’ll want to clear the garage space. Make sure that anyone who lives in your home knows that that space is off limits and that the car or other vehicle will remain untouched. Anyone who touches your renter’s stuff must eat an entire chocolate cake (see Matilda).
- It is also recommended that you get an oil mat or something like it. Amazon has some cheap options, and so does your nearest auto parts store. You want to make sure that the car does not damage your garage and vice versa.
- Next you will want to prepare the car being stored. Among the great recommendations mentioned on a previous blog post, one of the best is to leave the windows a little cracked. I don’t know about you, but I sincerely hate the stuffy feeling of a car that doesn’t have fresh air.
So how much can you make renting out your garage? As we mentioned before, the average for a 10×20 foot space is $55 monthly; however, that will depend on the aspects of your space and the the particulars of your market. If you offer a climate controlled space, then you can charge more. If your space is always accessible, obviously that raises the price as well.
If you decide to serve caviar every time the owner comes to access the space, you can probably charge a whole lot more (although I would personally be skeptical of someone serving caviar to me as I rent out their garage). Expect around $25-$450 depending on your particulars. Try it out, and see what you can make happen.
Rent Out Your RV Pad for Storage
Let me know if this describes you. You wake up on a nice summer Saturday with the sun shining and after having eaten a perfectly balanced breakfast and doing 1,000 crunches (not me for sure), you walk out on your back porch to greet the morning sky. You smile, stretch, and then sigh.
You’ve noticed that big empty slab of concrete. You’ve been meaning to fill it with an RV, but the funding just hasn’t come through yet. You don’t really know what to do with it. Instead, it has become the default resting place for any sort of backyard refuse that hasn’t found a home. That last part describes my home to a T. Well, let’s get that space ready to rent to someone who would use it for what it was intended: vehicle storage.
Preparation for Peer-to-Peer Storage
- First, like every other space you list, you need to clean it off. It’s worth it, I promise. Don’t let the job of cleaning up the space become bigger than the pile of paychecks the space could provide you. You have to see past the mountain in order to move it.
- Once you’ve cleaned it off, you need to take stock of all that is available for your future renters. Does your space offer RV sewage hookups? If so, will your renters have access? Does the pad have an easy access point? Is there a way you could make the pad more secure so that the RV doesn’t get dinged when placed there? Even though it is simply letting someone else put their RV on the pad, you need to think of what could make the whole experience easier for your customer.
- Make sure to Protect the space. Separate it from any animals or even passersby that could damage the property.
- (Optional) Make it accessible. Give your renters a way to access their stuff and move it if necessary.
Outdoor RV storage can range from $30 to $100 depending on where you are and your market. If you are in a position to offer indoor storage then you can obviously charge more ($50 to $125), and heated storage will rack up the price even more ($100 to $450). Because you are storing stuff in your home, you won’t have as many costs as a normal storage facility, so you can charge lower than they do to secure constant tenancy. Here again, the idea is economics. Focus on supply and demand, and you’ll be fine.
Rent Out Your Bedroom for Storage
So now we are getting down to the nitty gritty (see Nacho Libre). You want to store stuff in your home, and I mean in your home. Believe it or not, there aren’t that many good google results for “tips on renting a room of your house out for storage.” All of the results land a page talking about being a landlord. So let’s get you some good tips. Renting space for storage is not the same as being a landlord, but it can be similar. There are different intricacies, and you might recognize some. Here are some quick tips:
Preparation for Peer-to-Peer Storage
- Identify and measure the space. This will help in creating the listing and determining a price.
- Take excellent photos. This will help in getting possible renters.
- Consider Insurance. Neighbor holds the host responsible for most broken or stolen property, but you can also recommend that the renter gets renters insurance for themselves.
- Determine accessibility: Do you want your renters to walk in, unannounced, at any moment of the day? Then set the limits and determine the boundaries.
- Be quick to communicate. When you have potential renters or actual clients, be quick to answer their questions and reach out to them about any sticky situations. Your reputation as a host will be built on trust. Build that trust with your renters consistently by communicating.
- Do not touch your renter’s stuff. They have decided to store it in your home. That means they want it stored and not in use. Keep it that way.
- Be Friendly. The renters will have the opportunity to get to know you, and if they don’t like you, they will not rent from you.
A normal bedroom is generally smaller than 10×10 feet so you can try using a monthly price of $15, but that won’t take into account the accessibility of your room. If you give your renter a key to your house, then obviously you should charge much more.
If you have a spare bedroom and a garage, you should always keep package deals in mind and offering one space to a client if they are already renting the other. Why have two clients when dealing with one is much easier.
Rent Out Your Basement
I know so many people who have a basement that is nice–except for that it’s just concrete, 2×4’s and insulation. I’m guessing that many of you out there have a similar situation in which you just don’t need a finished basement right now. Instead, you use it as a cold storage.
You could rent it out and let someone else store their stuff down there. You don’t need to worry about all of the scary monsters down there. Just worry about what you will do with the extra money that comes to you just because you have some extra space. It seems like a pretty good deal to me.
Preparation for Peer-to-Peer Storage
If you do decide to rent out a basement that is unfinished, you should obviously explain that on your listing. Do not hide the fact that it is unfinished or you will lose your customers’ trust. A customer’s trust is worth more than using their stuff without their ok. Be open and transparent.
You will also want to decide how much of the basement you will rent out. Maybe you choose to rent the whole space. You could even rent out different rooms to different customers. It depends on what you find works for you. You may even be able to list the whole basement as well as individual rooms. If you do this, be sure to update any used portions of the basement on all listings you have currently online. Remember, never lie!
Finishing your Basement
Some of you might consider finishing the unfinished portions of your basement. The average cost will be $10 to $35 per square foot. At an average square footage of 1000 feet in the basement, that comes to $10,000 to $35,000. You may choose to do the work yourself as a side project, or you may hire a good contractor. One upside to finishing your basement, if you choose to do so, is that you can design a space that will be optimal for storing other people’s stuff.
If a room can be rented out for $15, then you could assume a basement that has 2-3 rooms could be rented out for upwards of $75. You can probably charge more for the whole thing, but if you decide to rent out the rooms piecemeal, then you can rent them according to the price listed above and according to what your local market will sustain. The most I saw was $150.
One of the best things about renting out your basement is the fact that many basements have outside access. If there is a door that can separate the basement from the stairs leading upstairs you might consider installing a lock on that door.
This will allow you, if you want to, to allow complete access to the storage in your basement. This makes storing stuff in your home much more automated because you don’t have to be around when your renter needs access to their stuff. That means all you need to do is prepare the space and collect a check.
Rent out your backyard
What kind of things could you store in your backyard? Anything. I know that sounds like an easy answer, but the backyard could be the whatever-else-you-need-to-store category. It is big and outdoors. People understand this and therefore what they store here will probably need very little upkeep (aside from the occasional tarp cover or something like that).
This will be a viable option for those who have a backyard, but may not need to use it. Even if you just have a section that someone could put some lumber, a backhoe or even some hay, you could rent that out and still make some good money.
Preparation for Peer-to-Peer Storage
- If you have backyard animals such as dogs, goats, cats or even ostriches, you have to keep them away from your renters stuff. Remember you will be responsible for the stuff stored at your home. If it gets damaged, then you will pay for it.
- This could be a great opportunity for some re-landscaping. Check the local requirements for permits required to put in fences if you go that route. In my city, I know that they are especially strict with the types and sizes of fences that are allowed. If you can do it without having to put up a fence, it will probably be much easier.
- Find a way to give access to your customers. Nothing says convenience like 24/7 accessibility. You also could get really creative here by putting up lights or things like that. Only do what would bring in more customers. It can’t just look good, it has to make financial sense.
You should expect to rent out your backyard for a similar rate compared to the table above. It depends on the size of the space and the conditions. If you want, you could probably charge anywhere from $25 to $200 depending on the space. You won’t really know until you list it.
If you get 10 requests on the first day, then you will definitely want to raise the price. If you only get 10 within the first year, you may consider lowering it a little bit. As someone once told me, “You can sell anything at any price. The question is how long to do you want to wait.”
What are you doing still reading this post? You need to go make a listing so people can store stuff at your house! Remember, you can rent almost any space as long as the stuff will be protected. You should charge based on the size and condition of the space and according to what your local market will accept.
Do not limit your renting abilities by what you think is available. Think outside of the box, literally if you are thinking of renting out a box. You could probably come up with ten different ways to rent out space in your home. If fact, we’d love to hear what the most original spaces are. What can you come up with?