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Airbnb is helping find renters an apartment so they can Airbnb it

by Ravi Sharma

Airbnb is helping people find homes so they can Airbnb it.

If you’re a renter and want to make some extra cash by renting out your apartment on Airbnb, there’s now a service that can help you do just that: HomeShare connects renters with others who want to rent their place for short periods of time.

For both the renter and the “seeker” — that’s Airbnb’s terminology for the people who want to rent out a place on Airbnb — HomeShare offers a number of advantages.

The renter gets more money than they could get if they simply rented out their apartment, while Airbnb saves millions of dollars on marketing by enlisting people who are already using the site to promote it.

HomeShare is the brainchild of Philip Cohen and Andreas Kronthaler, two software engineers who are part of a start-up called Home Exchange Inc. The idea grew out of AirBnb’s Fly Wish program , which lets people who own a property on special offer, rent it out to travelers while they’re away.

“The typical renter would be someone that flies in, stays a few days (maybe five or six) and then flies out,” Kronthaler said. “The typical ‘seeker,’ in our case, is someone who is looking to have a place in the neighborhood where they are going to stay for a whole month or more.”

HomeShare is currently available only in San Francisco and New York City, but the company plans to roll out the service to more cities soon.

“I think what’s really cool about it is that there are all these people who have extra space or empty homes,” Cohen said. “And I also think there are people looking for short-term housing who are looking for something a little cheaper.”

Airbnb itself has played no role in the development of HomeShare, but at this point, it wouldn’t be surprising if the company did. It’s an ingenious idea and will help Airbnb grow in places where it has yet to take off.

“There are a lot of people in San Francisco or New York who want to rent their space out on Airbnb,” Cohen said. “I’m sure Airbnb would have an interest in promoting that, but at the same time, for us, it’s about making this tool available to people who have extra spaces.”

“We see this as a way to both make money and help people out at the same time.”

HomeShare works by matching landlords and renters through a website or mobile app. The renters list their space on the website. The “seekers” — in this case, Airbnb users — must be verified through their Airbnb account before they can see their listings.

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