If you’ve done any amount of travel recently, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Airbnb, a service where you can rent a room, an apartment or even an entire house from someone who lives in the area you’re visiting. It’s a growing trend among vacationers looking for either inexpensive accommodations or more amenities than a hotel can offer. It’s also very popular when big events come to town, like the Super Bowl in Houston or Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
According to DMR, there are an estimated 2.3 million properties listed on Airbnb across 57,000 cities and 191 countries. I was surprised to learn that in my small suburb, 1.5% of the housing market calls itself an Airbnb rental.
What makes Airbnb different than other rentals? This type of service is also known as a “short-term rental” or STR. Originally, customers who used the service would rent a room or space in an owner or renter occupied dwelling, so it was common to have to share the space with the residents. The trend now, however, is away from such shared spaces. In many cases, individuals are now purchasing single-family or multifamily units to turn them into STRs.
The Washington Post recently reported that STRs are of increasing concern to homeowners, real estate agents, local communities, and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). According to a spokesman for NAR, the organization hasn’t taken a position on either side of the argument. After all, someone is still buying and selling these properties, whether they’re primarily owner-occupied, vacation homes, second homes or investment homes.
So we asked ourselves, do STRs have an effect on properties in their neighborhood? And what’s the impact if you’re trying to sell your home and an Airbnb rental is next door?
STRs like Airbnb help struggling homeowners and protect a community’s character.
According to a Cornell University Case Study, the ability to rent one’s property — even in the short-term — may be a tremendous financial aid to struggling homeowners. It can help to avoid or at least mitigate instances of blight due to disrepair, distressed sales at below-market-rate sales prices, and even foreclosures. The case study concludes that allowing owners to home share can protect a community’s character and property values.
Homes could sell for more money.
In areas where STRs are accepted or encouraged, and neighbors aren’t hostile to it, a home with “rentable” features might actually sell for more money, according to some realtors.
Vacation home sales are increasing.
Craig Kalkut, Vice President of Government Affairs at the American Hotel and Lodging Association, said there’s evidence that vacation-home sales are going up because STR platforms have become an accepted way to book a vacation.
Party house stigma.
Trying to sell your home, but your neighbor is renting a “party house?” This could have a negative impact. And although Airbnb reports that the majority of their renters are respectful travelers, thanks to airbnbhell.com, we know these party houses do exist.
Revolving door of strangers.
You never know who your neighbors could be, and that’s a classic fear for homebuyers, especially for families with young children. A growing concern, Airbnb recently released an online feature where neighbors can now report annoyances such as safety, noise, cleanliness, parking and even suspicious criminal activity.
Neighboring homes could take longer to sell.
Although we couldn’t find evidence of this, many realtors feel that a single-family home or condo unit next door to a STR — where the occupants change every few days — will take longer to sell and bring in lower offers.
It’s easy to see how the real estate industry is caught in the middle of a fight between those who oppose STRs and the property owners and companies promoting them.
According to a recent article in Realtor Magazine, in the future, real estate agents could be required to disclose to a seller or long-term renter the existence of a nearby STR. In fact, the California Association of REALTORS® may soon ask its Forms Committee to add a question to the Seller’s Property Questionnaire: “Is your home across from or next door to a short-term rental?”
Given the new nature of these rentals and occupancy issues, it may vary greatly from one neighborhood to another whether a STR like Airbnb can help or hurt a neighborhood or a particular development.
When buying a home you can never have too much information. Always run a Housefax Report at housefax.com and Know Before You Buy.