There has been excitement lately with the stronger-than-expected Airbnb rebound. Bookings have been up compared to a year ago, but what is unclear is how much of that is attributed to pent-up demand. Also, how sustainable is this increase if we have a second coronavirus wave? There is still a lot of uncertainty.
In NYC, some Airbnb hosts are hedging. Some have become short-term landlords as they wait for tourism to recover. They are putting Airbnb units ‘as-is’ into the longer-term rental market. These rentals are easy to spot because they have characteristics often associated with Airbnbs – they are furnished with Instagram-aesthetics, offer perks like monthly cleaning or toiletries, have extra beds, among other things.
For many hosts, Airbnb is too lucrative of a gig to give up completely for the residential rental market. Curbed New York found some really nice NYC rentals that are in fact Airbnbs in disguise.
An apartment with a sense of interior design may very well be a suspect. Think Knoll chairs, pink walls, vintage prints, and Danish mid-century furniture — classics of the Airbnb Plus genre. Neon signs reading “relax” are also a giveaway, as are New York–themed posters and maps, monstera plants, and textile wall hangings, which make it seem as if the owner has spent their entire budget on Etsy.
These Airbrbs will often offer month-to-month rents, sometimes with the option of yearlong leases, but promise nothing beyond that. A typical listing reads: “A 1-3 month arrangement with option to extend month-to-month is preferred, but different agreements are possible for the right tenant.” It’s clear that these places will be converted back into Airbnbs if and when our coronavirus moment passes — once a vaccine appears and Broadway reopens. (One landlord told me exactly that, admitting that she’d been renting through Airbnb until March.)
Other listings that appear on both (regular) rental sites and Airbnb.com make it clear that some hosts turned landlords are unprepared for the rental market they’re entering, optimistically asking for rents that would rival the income they’d make hosting a parade of short-term visitors.