How to Start a Corporate Housing Business? (Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Start a Corporate Housing Business? (Step-by-Step Guide)

Arif Chowdhury
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Last Updated on March 6, 2024 by Arif Chowdhury

Have you ever wondered about the comfortable havens busy professionals find during extended work assignments?

Those furnished apartments, offering a sense of home away from home, are a product of the thriving corporate housing industry.

This guide is your roadmap to unlocking the potential of starting your own corporate housing business. Whether you’re drawn to the prospect of building a steady income stream or fulfilling a passion for creating welcoming spaces, we’ll walk you through the essential steps, from market research to ongoing operations.

So, if you’re ready to embark on this exciting journey, let’s dive in and explore the world of corporate housing!

Table of Contents hide

Corporate Housing Business Cost Breakdown

A. Startup Costs:

  • Business Formation: $1,000 – $2,000 (legal fees, permits)
  • Property Acquisition/Leasing: This varies greatly depending on location, size, and quantity.
  • Furnishing & Equipping: $2,000 – $5,000 per unit (furniture, appliances, electronics)
  • Marketing & Advertising: $500 – $2,000 per month (depending on strategy)
  • Website & Technology: $1,000 – $5,000 (initial setup)
  • Insurance: Varies depending on coverage and property value

B. Ongoing Operational Costs:

  • Rent/Mortgage: Primary cost, varies based on location and property type.
  • Utilities: Electricity, water, gas, internet (varies per unit)
  • Property Management: 5-10% of rent (if outsourced)
  • Maintenance & Repairs: Budget 1-3% of property value annually
  • Cleaning & Housekeeping: Varies depending on frequency and service level
  • Linens & Supplies: Towels, bedding, toiletries (budget per unit)
  • Marketing & Ongoing Advertising: Varies depending on strategy

C. Additional Considerations:

  • Staffing: Salaries for employees (management, cleaning, etc.)
  • Technology & Software: Ongoing subscription costs for management software
  • Taxes & Licenses: Varies depending on location and business structure

Remember: This is a rough estimate, and actual costs can vary significantly depending on your specific business model, location, and property choices. It’s crucial to conduct thorough research and create a detailed business plan with realistic financial projections before starting your corporate housing business.

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Market Research and Planning: Building Your Foundation

Before diving headfirst into the world of corporate housing, it’s crucial to lay a solid foundation through thoughtful market research and planning.

Market Research and Planning for corporate housing business

This step will equip you with the knowledge and insights necessary to make informed decisions and build a successful business.

Understanding the Market: Charting Your Course

  1. Local Demographics: Who are your potential clients? Begin by analyzing the demographics of your local area. Are there large corporations, relocation hubs, or major industries that attract professionals requiring temporary housing? Identifying these key demographics will help you tailor your offerings to the specific needs of your target market.
  2. Competitive Landscape: Know the lay of the land. Conduct thorough research on existing corporate housing options in your area. Analyze their rental rates, property types, and the amenities they offer. This competitive analysis will help you understand the existing market landscape and identify potential gaps you can fill with your unique offerings.
  3. Benchmarking: Learn from the best. Pay close attention to the pricing strategies and services offered by your competitors. This will not only give you an idea of what is working in the market but also help you determine how you can differentiate your business and stand out from the crowd.

Defining Your Business Model: Designing Your Success Story

  1. Ownership Model: Choose your path. Decide how you want to acquire properties for your business. You can choose to:
    • Own properties: This approach offers greater control over the properties and allows you to potentially maximize profits in the long run. However, it requires a significant upfront investment.
    • Manage properties for others: This is a suitable option if you have limited capital for property acquisition. You can partner with property owners and manage their rentals in exchange for a fee.
    • Hybrid approach: You can also combine both approaches, owning some properties while managing others. This allows you to balance initial investment with potential returns.
  2. Target Market: Who will you serve? Define your ideal corporate housing client. This could be based on factors like:
    • Length of stay: Do you want to cater to short-term stays (e.g., weeks) or longer-term stays (e.g., months)?
    • Company size: Will you focus on housing employees from large corporations, small businesses, or startups?
    • Budget: Consider the budget range of your target clients when determining your pricing strategy.
  3. Pricing Strategy and Services Offered: What makes your offering unique? Determine how you will price your services and what amenities you will include in your packages. This could include:
    • Furnished apartments: Consider the level of furnishing you’ll provide, from basic essentials to fully equipped living spaces.
    • Utilities: Decide whether you will include utilities (like electricity, water, and internet) in the rental price.
    • Housekeeping: Offer various housekeeping options, such as weekly or bi-weekly cleaning, to cater to different client preferences.

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Legal and Regulatory Requirements: Navigating the Landscape

Once you have a solid understanding of your market and business model, it’s time to ensure you’re operating within the legal and regulatory framework.

This is crucial not only for compliance but also for protecting your business and your clients.

Obtaining Business Licenses and Permits

Just like any business, your corporate housing venture will likely require specific licenses and permits to operate legally.

Obtaining Business Licenses and Permits for corporate housing business

Research the requirements in your local area. Contact your local business office or relevant government agency for specific details and application processes.

Don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional consultant or lawyer specializing in business licensing regulations, especially if you’re unsure about any specific requirements.

Zoning Regulations and Short-Term Rentals

Before diving into property acquisition, be sure to research your local zoning regulations regarding short-term rentals. Some areas have specific restrictions on the number of short-term rentals allowed in a particular neighborhood or building type.

Understanding these regulations will help you avoid potential legal issues and ensure you’re operating within the boundaries of your local zoning laws.

Landlord-Tenant Laws and Rental Agreements

As you’ll be entering into agreements with both property owners and tenants, it’s vital to grasp the specific landlord-tenant laws and rental agreement regulations applicable to corporate housing in your area.

These regulations may differ from traditional residential rentals and might address aspects like lease terms, tenant rights, and security deposits.

Consulting with a lawyer well-versed in landlord-tenant law can help you ensure your rental agreements comply with all legal requirements and protect both your business and your client’s interests.

Securing Insurance Coverage

Protecting your business and the properties you manage is crucial. Secure appropriate insurance coverage to safeguard yourself from potential risks. This might include:

  • General liability insurance: For accidents or injuries occurring on the property.
  • Property insurance: To protect against property damage from fire, theft, or natural disasters.
  • Business interruption insurance: To cover lost income if your business is temporarily unable to operate due to unforeseen circumstances.

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Securing Properties and Furnishings: Building Your Canvas

Now that you’ve established your business foundation, it’s time to bring your vision to life by securing the properties and furnishings that will represent your brand.

This stage involves creating a welcoming and functional environment for your corporate tenants.

Property Acquisition: Finding Your Perfect Fit

  1. Location, Location, Location: Recall your target market research. Choose properties in locations convenient and desirable for your ideal clients. Consider factors like proximity to their workplace, access to public transportation, and the availability of amenities like grocery stores and restaurants.
  2. Features and Functionality: Choose properties that boast features aligned with your target market’s needs. This could include the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the type of property (e.g., apartment, condo, house), and on-site amenities like parking, a gym, or a pool.
  3. Owning vs. Leasing: Decide on your property acquisition strategy. You can:
    • Purchase properties: This allows for greater control over renovations and long-term financial gains. However, it requires significant upfront investment and carries the responsibilities of property ownership.
    • Lease properties: This option requires less initial capital but comes with the limitations of a lease agreement, including potential restrictions on modifications and dependence on the property owner’s decisions.

Furnishing Properties: Creating a Home Away from Home

  1. Developing a Furnishing Plan: Strategize your furnishing approach. Consider a blend of functionality, comfort, and budget. Opt for durable and comfortable furniture pieces that suit your target market’s needs.
  2. Essential Furnishings: Equip each property with the essentials, including living room furniture (sofas, chairs, coffee table), beds with comfortable mattresses, dining tables and chairs, and basic kitchen appliances (refrigerator, stove, microwave).
  3. Additional Touches: Go beyond the basic necessities and consider offering additional amenities that elevate the living experience. This could include high-speed internet, cable TV, housekeeping supplies, and even small appliances like coffee makers or blenders.

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Marketing and Client Acquisition: Spreading the Word

With your foundation laid and your properties furnished, it’s time to spread the word and attract potential clients.

Marketing and Client Acquisition for corporate housing business

This section explores effective marketing strategies to showcase your offerings and build a strong customer base.

Building an Online Presence: Reaching a Global Audience

  1. Creating a User-Friendly Website: Your website is your digital storefront, so make it shine! Develop a user-friendly website that showcases your properties in the best light. Include high-quality photos, detailed descriptions, and clear information about your services and pricing.
  2. Listing on Online Platforms: Expand your reach by listing your properties on relevant online platforms. This could include:
    • Corporate housing websites: These platforms cater specifically to corporate housing providers and connect you with businesses seeking temporary accommodation for their employees.
    • Short-term rental marketplaces: Platforms like Airbnb can be a valuable tool in reaching a wider audience, although you’ll need to ensure your listings comply with platform-specific minimum stay requirements.
  3. Utilizing Social Media: Embrace the power of social media! Create engaging profiles on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Share high-quality photos of your properties, highlight the amenities you offer, and provide glimpses into the lifestyle you create for your tenants. Utilize social media advertising to target potential clients based on specific demographics or interests.

Networking and Building Relationships: Building Trust and Expanding Your Reach

  1. Networking with Key Partners: Connect with professionals who can refer clients to your business. This might include:
    • Relocation specialists: These individuals help companies and employees navigate the relocation process, and often require temporary housing solutions. Building relationships with relocation specialists can be a valuable source of referrals.
    • Corporate HR departments: Reach out to HR departments in companies within your target market. Explain how your services can benefit their employees and offer to provide informational materials or presentations.
    • Local businesses: Partner with local businesses that cater to professionals, such as co-working spaces or business travel agencies. Explore co-marketing opportunities to cross-promote your services and reach a wider audience.
  2. Industry Events and Conferences: Don’t underestimate the power of in-person connections. Attend industry events and conferences to connect with potential clients and partners. These events offer opportunities to showcase your business, build relationships, and stay current with industry trends.

Remember, building trust and fostering relationships is key to success in this industry. By showcasing your professionalism and providing exceptional service, you’ll carve a niche for your business in the exciting world of corporate housing.

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Ongoing Operations and Maintenance: Keeping Your Business Thriving

Once your business is up and running, efficient ongoing operations are essential for long-term success.

This section focuses on crucial aspects of maintaining a smooth workflow and offering exceptional service to your clients.

Streamlining Tenant Onboarding and Move-Out

  • Develop clear and efficient processes: Establish a seamless system for welcoming new tenants and ensuring a smooth move-out experience. Provide detailed information about the property, answer any questions promptly, and offer resources for settling in. Similarly, establish clear procedures for move-out inspections, security deposit returns, and communication regarding any potential damages.

Prioritizing Property Maintenance and Cleaning

  • Maintain a well-maintained and clean environment: Regularly schedule property inspections to identify and address any maintenance issues promptly. Partner with reliable cleaning services to ensure your properties remain clean and comfortable for your tenants.

Efficient Rent Collection and Communication

  • Implement a reliable system: Establish a clear and efficient system for collecting rent. This could involve online payment options, automatic withdrawals, or traditional methods like checks. Ensure clear communication regarding due dates, payment methods, and late fees.
  • Maintaining open communication: Foster open communication channels with your tenants. Be readily available to address their questions, concerns, or requests in a timely and courteous manner.

Adapting to the Market

  • Stay informed and adjust: Continuously monitor market trends in your area. Be aware of changes in demand, competitor offerings, and pricing fluctuations. Be prepared to adapt your services, amenities, and pricing strategies based on market evolution to remain competitive and relevant.

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As you embark on your corporate housing adventure, remember that meticulous planning, unwavering commitment, and a passion for creating comfortable havens will be your guiding lights. This guide has provided you with a roadmap, but the journey itself is yours to define and build.

Embrace the continuous learning experience, foster meaningful relationships within the industry, and most importantly, strive to provide your clients with an exceptional living experience.

By doing so, you’ll not only build a successful business but also contribute to creating a welcoming environment for individuals embarking on their own professional journeys. We wish you the very best in your exciting endeavor!

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Resources for Further Information and Helpful Tools

Industry Associations:

Online Resources:

Software and Tools:

  • Property Management Software: Several software options cater specifically to managing short-term rentals, offering features like online booking, tenant communication tools, and rent collection functionalities. Research and choose a software solution that meets your specific needs and budget.
  • Online Marketing Tools: Consider utilizing online tools and platforms like Google My Business, social media advertising platforms, and email marketing services to enhance your online presence and reach a wider audience.

Legal and Business Guidance:

  • Consult with a lawyer specializing in business and real estate law: They can assist you with navigating legal requirements, drafting contracts, and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations.
  • Connect with a business advisor or mentor: Experienced professionals can offer valuable guidance on business planning, marketing strategies, and navigating the challenges and opportunities you may encounter.

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice. It is recommended to consult with qualified professionals in law, accounting, and real estate before making any business decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the benefits of starting a corporate housing business?

There are several potential benefits to consider:

  • Steady income: Corporate housing offers the potential for consistent income, as businesses often require reliable temporary housing solutions for their employees.
  • Flexibility: You can choose to manage your own properties, partner with property owners, or a combination of both, offering flexibility in your business model.
  • Growing demand: The demand for corporate housing is increasing due to factors like globalization, business travel, and project work requiring temporary relocation.
  • Be your own boss: Starting your own business allows you to be your own boss and build something from the ground up, setting your own schedule and work style.

How much money do I need to start a corporate housing business?

The initial investment required can vary significantly depending on several factors, including:

  • Business model: Owning properties requires a much larger upfront investment compared to managing properties for others.
  • Location: Property prices can vary greatly depending on the location.
  • Furnishing level: The level of furnishing you choose (basic vs. fully equipped) will impact your initial costs.

It’s crucial to conduct thorough research, develop a detailed business plan, and consider seeking professional financial advice to determine the specific amount of capital you’ll need for your unique business model.

What are the legal and regulatory requirements for starting a corporate housing business?

The specific requirements will vary depending on your location, but generally, you’ll need to:

  • Obtain necessary business licenses and permits for operating a short-term rental business.
  • Research local zoning regulations and restrictions on short-term rentals.
  • Understand landlord-tenant laws and rental agreements specific to corporate housing in your area.
  • Secure appropriate insurance coverage for your business and properties.

Consulting with a lawyer specializing in business and real estate law is highly recommended to ensure you comply with all relevant legal and regulatory requirements.

How do I find clients for my corporate housing business?

There are several ways to reach potential clients:

  • Develop a user-friendly website and list your properties on relevant online platforms like corporate housing websites and short-term rental marketplaces.
  • Network with relocation specialists, corporate HR departments, and local businesses catering to professionals.
  • Attend industry events and conferences to connect with potential clients and partners.
  • Utilize social media platforms to showcase your offerings and build brand awareness.

What are the key things to consider when furnishing a corporate housing property?

When furnishing your properties, focus on:

  • Functionality: Choose furniture and appliances that are functional, comfortable, and durable.
  • Comfort: Create a welcoming and comfortable environment with appropriate furniture and amenities.
  • Budget: Set a realistic budget for furnishings and consider cost-effective options while maintaining quality.
  • Target market: Tailor the furnishing level and specific items to suit the needs and preferences of your target market.

How can I ensure my corporate housing business stands out from the competition?

Here are some strategies to differentiate yourself:

  • Offer unique amenities and services: Go beyond the basics and provide additional amenities like high-speed internet, cable TV, or housekeeping services.
  • Focus on customer service: Prioritize excellent customer service by being responsive to tenant inquiries, addressing concerns promptly, and creating a positive overall experience.
  • Maintain high-quality properties: Ensure your properties are clean, and well-maintained, and offer a comfortable and inviting environment for your tenants.
  • Develop a strong online presence: Create a user-friendly website, showcase your properties through high-quality photos, and utilize online platforms effectively to reach your target audience.

By implementing these strategies and focusing on creating a unique and valuable experience for your clients, you can increase your chances of success in the competitive corporate housing market.