Tag Archives: Airbnb

From Cash-Strapped Roommates To Airbnb Billionaires

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A decade ago a pair of San Francisco roommates decided to make rent money by using air mattresses to turn their place into a bed-and-breakfast when a conference in the city made hotel rooms scarce.

The brainwave led to the creation of Airbnb, a startup now valued at more than $30 billion which boasts millions of places to stay in more than 191 countries, from apartments and villas to castles and tree houses.

Here are some key facts about the sharing-economy star, which has sent tremors through the hotel industry:

– Humble beginnings –

– In late 2007, with hotel rooms selling out due to a design conference in San Francisco, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia decide to make some extra money to help cover the rent in the apartment they share, by using air mattresses to turn it into a bed-and-breakfast.

– A third former roommate of theirs, Nathan Blecharczyk, teams with Chesky and Gebbia in a venture they call “Air Bed and Breakfast,” launching a website in August of 2008.

– Struggling to get the business off the ground, the startup founders stage a quirky stunt at the Democratic National Convention in late 2008, selling boxes of cereal custom-branded “Obama-O’s” and “Cap’n McCains” for $40 each — raising enough money to stay afloat, and earning much-needed publicity.

– The startup name is changed in March of 2009 to Airbnb as it envisions being about more than sleeping on air mattresses.

– In April of 2009 Airbnb gets $600,000 in seed funding from Sequoia Capital after a string of rejections from other venture capitalists.

– Disrupting an industry –

– In 2011, Airbnb boasts of being in 89 countries and of booking more than a million nights’ lodgings. The startup becomes a Silicon Valley “unicorn” valued at a billion dollars based on some $112 million pumped into it by venture capitalists.

– In June of 2012, Airbnb announces that more than 10 million nights of lodging have been booked on its service, with some three-quarters of that business coming from outside the US.

– In 2012, Airbnb is hit with the problem of some guests leaving homes in dismal condition due to parties or other raucous activities. The startup puts in place a million-dollar damage coverage policy as a “Host Guarantee.”

– In September of 2016, Airbnb raises funding in a round that values the company at $30 billion.

– In November of 2016, Airbnb launches Trips, tools that tourists can use to book local offerings or happenings.

– Growth, and backlash –

– Airbnb begins facing trouble as cities and landlords crack down on “hosts” essentially turning homes into hotels.

– In late 2016, Airbnb implements policies aimed at preventing racial discrimination by hosts and creates a permanent team aimed at fighting bias, following growing complaints.

– In early 2017, Airbnb announces plans to double its investment in China, triple its workforce there and change its name to “Aibiying” in Chinese.

– In September of 2017, Airbnb teams with Resy, which becomes a minority shareholder in the new venture, to offer table reservations at 700 restaurants in 16 US cities.

– Airbnb is reported to have made a profit of $93 million on $2.6 billion in revenue in the year 2017.

– In 2018, battling a global backlash against “sharing economy” startups disrupting traditional industries, Airbnb is forced to cancel thousands of reservations in Japan to comply with a new law regulating short-term rentals.

This fellow has a series of videos about how to run your own Airbnb business…

Source: Yahoo News

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San Francisco Sues Airbnb Users For $5.5M

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The city of San Francisco is seeking $5.5 million from two Airbnb owners who illegally rented out 14 apartments for nearly one year. They made more than $700,000 from the illegal rentals.

Darren and Valerie Lee own 45 apartments in 17 buildings across the city. San Francisco law restricts building owners to one short-term rental per building — and that apartment must be the owner’s home. According to the city’s lawyer, 14 of the Lees’ apartments were short-term rentals, rented under the names of friends and associates who pretended to be genuine tenants.

During inspection, the couple went through elaborate motions to make it appear like people actually lived there. But it was evident that it was a fraud.

“Every apartment had the same staging: the same Costco food items scattered about, the same arrangement of dirty breakfast dishes in every kitchen sink, same personal products in each bathroom, same damp towels artfully draped over doors as though someone had recently showered, the same collection of shoes and clothes in closets, and same houseplants in each apartment,” city lawyers wrote in the court filing.

The motion to the court seeks a penalty of $750 for every day that each apartment was available and $1,500 for every day that an apartment was rented. The penalty comes out to a grand total of $5.5 million. (Under state law, the penalty could have been as high as $30 million.)

San Francisco first sued the Lees in 2014 when they evicted tenants to turn their building into a collection of rentals to list on Airbnb. A year later, they settled for $276,000 and a promise to abide by short-term rental law.

The couple’s “greed, fraud and deceit was breathtaking,” city attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement.

The case will be heard in court on June 12.

Airbnb did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Source: by Cailey Rizzo | Travel And Leisure

Can Short Term Rental Income Hurt Your Mortgage Refinance Application?

One of the most significant financial trends to sweep the country is more of a hit with homeowners than refinance mortgage lenders.

Logically, it sure seems as though a loan application which shows extra income through short-term room rentals would be a winner, something that would greatly please mortgage lenders.

The catch is that it’s not a sure thing, and in some cases, room rentals could actually be a negative.

New Trend Creates Uncertainty

Across the country, a number of electronic platforms now allow those with extra space to provide short-term housing.

National services such as Airbnb, Flipkey, HomeAway and VRBO are at the heart of this new business, one which takes an idle asset – that unused mother-in-law suite or extra bedroom – and puts it to use.

The result is that many homeowners are now getting cash for their quarters, money that can help with monthly bills and even mortgage payments.

At first, short-term home rentals seem like a win-win business proposition: the homeowner earns income while the traveler gets space for a few days, space that might be a lot cheaper than standard-issue hotel rooms.

The catch is that although the cash earned from short-term rentals is real, it may not automatically count on a mortgage application.

Home Rentals And Your Refinance Mortgage

For a very long time, there has been a business which offers short-term rentals — the hotel industry. Like most industries, it has not been shy about seeking legal protections for its products and services.

Check the local rules for virtually all jurisdictions, and you will find laws on the books which prohibit unlicensed short-term rentals or leases of fewer than 30 days.

These laws are largely unenforced, but that is changing. According to the New York Post, on October 21, 2016, New York Governor Cuomo signed a bill that would impose fines of up to $7,500 against hosts who posted short-term rentals. A California couple who had already paid $2,081 for their room found themselves with nowhere to stay when another resident reported their host to the authorities.

Rental Income: Is It Reported?

For lenders, the new surge in short-term rentals raises a number of issues. The money is nice, and congratulations on that, but whether such funds can be counted in a refinance home loan application is uncertain. Here’s why:

First, the lender will want to see that the rental income has been reported on tax returns. If income is not reported, it doesn’t usually count.

Note that if you report short-term rental income, it may not be taxable, depending on how many nights the property was rented. See a tax professional for details.

Is It Legal?

Second, if the income is reported, was it legally obtained? Here we get back to those sticky local rules that ban short-term rentals.

Lenders like to see income that’s ongoing, because mortgages tend to be lengthy obligations lasting 15 or 30 years.

If cash is coming from unlicensed room rentals, there is the possibility that the money might be cut off at any moment by an irate neighbor who reports the matter to local authorities.

Is It Your Primary Residence?

Third, is the property a residence? Mortgage lenders generally are in the business of financing homes with one-to-four units, and the best refinance rates go to those being used as primary residences.

New York state found that six percent of the units it studied captured almost 40 percent of the private short-term rental income.

In other words, some properties did a lot of short term rentals, a volume which will make lenders wonder whether the property is a comfy residence or an unlicensed hotel.

It’s not just lenders who will have such questions. The property will have to be appraised and that’s where problems are likely to arise.

Home, Sweet Boarding House?

Francois (Frank) K. Gregoire, an appraiser based in St. Petersburg and a nationally-recognized valuation authority, notes that “a room rental situation, depending on the number of rooms, may shift the use of the property from single or multifamily to a business use, such as a hotel or rooming house.

“If there are more than four units, the property is outside the one to four units certified residential appraisers are permitted to appraise, and outside the one to four unit limitation for loan purchase by Fannie and Freddie.”

The Future Of Short-Term Rentals

While the current situation is muddled and puzzled, there’s a very great likelihood that short-term home rentals will be increasingly legitimatized.

In the same way that Uber has disrupted the traditional cab industry, the odds are that the same thing will happen with short-term rentals. The reason is that the private rental rules now on the books were passed when no one cared and are largely unenforced.

Now, the landscape has changed. A very large number of homeowners want to be in the short-term rental business, or are at least disinclined to report their neighbors.

The police surely don’t want to break into homes in search of paying guests, and state and local lawmakers really want homeowner votes.

Be Careful Out There

For the moment, homeowners with an interest in earning a few extra dollars from short-term home rentals should get advice and counsel from a local real estate attorney before signing up guests.

In addition, speak with your insurance broker to assure that you have adequate coverage. Some policies allow short-term rentals, some do not, and there are differing definitions regarding what is or is not an allowable short-term rental.

By Peter Miller | The Mortgage Reports

Good as it Gets? Peaking Lodging Sector Facing Mixed Outlook from Rising Supply, Growing Influence of Airbnb

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In its latest outlook for the U.S. lodging sector, CBRE Hotels’ Americas Research noted that the sector will continue to accrue benefits from achieving the industry’s all-time record occupancy record in 2016 of 65.4%.

However, a range of expected factors, from new hotel supply entering the market to the growing influence of Airbrb, is expected to impact hotel returns in 2017. CBRE forecasts the average daily rate (ADR) will increase 3.3% next year, a strong positive indicator but a lower ADR growth rate than in 2016, and a continuation of a trend since 2014.

According to CBRE, ADR movement will vary by location and chain-scale, with Northern California markets such as Sacramento and Oakland, along with Washington, D.C. and Tampa projected to lead the nation, with ADR gains of more than 6% during 2017.

“Conventional wisdom says that at such high occupancy levels, hoteliers should have the leverage to implement strong price increases,” notes R. Mark Woodworth, senior managing director of CBRE Hotels’ Americas Research. “However, like for much of 2016, you need to throw conventional wisdom out the window.”

In fact, CBRE sees slight declines in occupancy combined with minimal real gains in ADR as the pattern through 2020.

“Lodging is a cyclical business and we continue to see U.S. hotels sit on top of the peak of the cycle after recovering from the Great Recession,” Woodworth said, adding that the positive outlook for lodging demand and resulting high levels of occupancy will continue to keep the sector on a steady but level path.

“While flat performance sounds disappointing, the strong underpinnings supporting continued growth in travel will prevent an outright fall from the peak,” Woodworth added.

For lodging REITs, the current cycle appears to be similar to the 1990s, during which a prolonged economic expansion sustained growth in revenue per available room (RevPAR) or nearly a decade, said Brian H. Dobson, REIT analyst for Nomura.

While lodging is entering the latter stages of its life cycle when RevPAR growth usually plateaus, supply headwinds in urban markets is expected to reduce RevPAR growth by an additional 100 basis points, resulting in 2% growth through 2018, Dobson said.

Chiming in with its hotel outlook, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said the lodging cycle is expected to moderate after seven years of growth. PwC analysts predicted supply growth will increase at the long-term historical average of 1.9%, but they forecast a decline in demand growth will lead to the first occupancy decline that the U.S. lodging industry has seen in eight years.

“Uncertainty, combined with plateauing growth in corporate profits, is expected to continue to weigh on corporate transient demand,” PwC said in its assessment.

“Additional demand-side concerns, including the strong U.S. dollar, Brexit, and economic weakness in the Eurozone, Zika, and depressed energy sector activity, are all expected to contribute to the continued weakness in lodging sector demand growth.”

By Randyl Drimmer | CoStar News

31 Year Old Hedge Funder Trashes $20 Million Hamptons Mansion In Wild Midget-Tossing Party, Is Fired

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In another reminder why most of the population is increasingly furious at the “elites”, over the holiday weekend a 31-year-old portfolio manager for Moore Capital, Brett Barna, threw a wild “Wolf of Wall Street”-style Hamptons party, complete with Champagne, scores of bikini-clad women and costumed gun-toting midgets, and in the process trashed a $20 million mansion.

According to Page Six, Barna, “a portfolio manager at Louis Bacon’s Moore Capital Management, hosted the all-day “#Sprayathon” pool party on Sunday, where 1,000 people doused themselves in bubbly as rapper Ace Hood performed.”

Making things more complicated is that Barna is not the owner of the 9-bedroom, 8 acre Hamptons mansion which “comes with tennis court, gym, outdoor pool & jacuzzi” where he celebrated US Independence Day in decadent style, and instead rented it from “Tommy” for $29,000 on AirBNB, a fee he is now disputing.

And now Tommy is angry: “the furious owner of the 14-bedroom estate in Bridgehampton plans to sue Barna, 31, for $1 million, saying the Wall Street hot shot had claimed the party would be a fundraiser for an animal charity for a mere 50 guests.”

The owner, who asked to not be named, told Page Six that , “Brett came to me dropping Louis Bacon’s name and saying he was a big deal with the Robin Hood Foundation. He said there would be 50 people at the event and it was for animal rescue. But the only animals there were the people, a thousand of them. They drowned themselves in Champagne, they had midgets they threw in the pool, they broke into the house, trashed the furniture, art was stolen, we found used condoms. So many people were there that the concrete around the pool crumbled and fell into the water. It was like ‘Jersey Shore’ meets a frat party. We are preparing a massive lawsuit . . . We’re waiting to serve him.”

“Brett was last seen on Sunday chugging Champagne with two midgets.”

Wild social media posts show party goers dousing themselves in booze and dancing wildly.

The videos and photos below, capturing the festivities, will surely be Exhibit A-X in the upcoming lawsuit.

Party video link

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Party pictures link

According to the publication, this is an annual bacchanal: Last year #Sprayathon revelers started a brush fire at a Hamptons manse owned by “Hercules” actor Kevin Sorbo.

Page Six adds that a rep for the embarrassed hedge fund didn’t comment, but a source said Moore raised $100,000 for Last Chance Animal Rescue, and they hired cleaners and left the house in good condition.

As CNBC adds this morning, Moore Capital said it has fired Barna. “Mr. [Brett] Barna’s personal judgment was inconsistent with the firm’s values,” the company told CNBC in a statement.

“He is no longer employed by Moore Capital Management.”

Source: ZeroHedge

Airbnb And Other Short-Term Rentals Worsen Housing Shortage, Critics Say

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Landlords in Venice and other tourist-friendly areas are converting units into short-term rentals, worsening the area’s housing shortage, a study says.

The last time he advertised one of his apartments, longtime Los Feliz landlord Andre LaFlamme got a request he’d never seen before.

A man wanted to rent LaFlamme’s 245-square-foot bachelor unit with hardwood floors for $875 a month, then list it himself on Airbnb.

“Thanks but no thanks,” LaFlamme told the prospective tenant. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

But he understood why: More money might be made renting to tourists a few days at a time than to a local for 12 months or more.

Where are the short-term rentals?

About 12,700 rental units were listed on Airbnb in Los Angeles County on Dec. 22, 2014, but they were not spread out equally. In parts of Venice and Hollywood, Airbnb listings accounted for 4% or more of all housing units.

As short-term rental websites such as Airbnb explode in popularity in Southern California, a growing number of homeowners and landlords are caving to the economics. A study released Wednesday from Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, a labor-backed advocacy group, estimates that more than 7,000 houses and apartments have been taken off the rental market in metro Los Angeles for use as short-term rentals. In parts of tourist-friendly neighborhoods such as Venice and Hollywood, Airbnb listings account for 4% or more of all housing units, according to a Times analysis of data from Airbnb’s website.

That’s worsening a housing shortage that already makes Los Angeles one of the least affordable places to rent in the country.

“In places where vacancy is already limited and rents are already squeezing people out, this is exacerbating the problem,” said Roy Samaan, a policy analyst who wrote the alliance’s report. “There aren’t 1,000 units to give in Venice or Hollywood.”

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Fast-growing Airbnb and others like it say they help cash-strapped Angelenos earn a little extra money. Airbnb estimates that 82% of its 4,500 L.A. hosts are “primary residents” of the homes they list, and that nearly half use the proceeds to help pay their rent or mortgage. And the effect on the broader housing market is so small that it’s all but irrelevant, said Tom Davidoff, a housing economist at the University of British Columbia whom Airbnb hired to study its impact.

“Over the lifetime of a lease, rents maybe go up 1.5%,” he said. “That’s peanuts relative to the increases we’ve seen in housing costs in a lot of places.”

But there are growing signs of professionalization of the short-term rental world, from property-manager middlemen like the one who e-mailed LaFlamme to Airbnb “hosts” who list dozens of properties on the site. The Los Angeles Alliance study estimates that 35% of Airbnb revenue in Southern California comes from people who list more than one unit.

“I don’t think anyone would begrudge someone renting out a spare bedroom,” Samaan said. “But there’s a whole cottage industry that’s springing up around this.”

City Council member Mike Bonin, whose coastal district includes Venice, and Council President Herb Wesson want to study how these rentals have affected the city. No regulations have been drafted, and Bonin said the council would seek extensive community input. Current rules bar short-term rentals in many residential areas of the city, but critics say they’re rarely enforced.

As city officials craft new ones, they’ll certainly be hearing from Airbnb and its allies. Last year, the company spent more than $100,000 lobbying City Hall and released a study touting its economic impact in L.A. — more than $200 million in spending by guests, supporting an estimated 2,600 jobs. A group representing short-term rental hosts has made the rounds of City Council offices as well.

This industry “needs to be regulated and regulated the right way,” said Sebastian de Kleer, co-founder of the Los Angeles Short Term Rental Alliance and owner of a Venice-based vacation rental company. “For a lot of people, this is a very new issue.”

Neighborhood groups are sure to weigh in too, especially in Venice.

https://i0.wp.com/fc09.deviantart.net/fs4/i/2004/194/c/7/canals_of_venice_california_11.jpgThe beach neighborhood has the highest concentration of Airbnb listings in all of metro Los Angeles. Data collected by Beyond Pricing, a San Francisco-based start-up that helps short-term rental hosts optimize pricing, show that in census tracts along Venice Beach and Abbott-Kinney Boulevard, Airbnb listings accounted for 6% to 7% of all housing units — about 10 times the countywide average.

A letter last fall from the Venice Neighborhood Council to city officials estimated that the number of short-term rental listings in the area had tripled in a year, citing a “Gold Rush mentality” among investors looking for a piece of the action. That’s hurting local renters, said Steve Clare, executive director of Venice Community Housing.

“Short-term rentals are really taking over a significant portion of the rental housing market in our community,” Clare said. “It’s going to further escalate rents, and take affordable housing out of Venice.”

Along the Venice boardwalk, a number of apartment buildings now advertise short-term rentals, and houses on the city’s famed “walk streets” routinely show up in searches on Airbnb. Even several blocks inland, at Lincoln Place Apartments — a 696-unit, newly renovated complex that includes a pool, gym and other tourist-friendly amenities — Roman Barrett recently counted more than 40 listings on Airbnb and other sites. Barrett, who moved out over the issue, said Airbnb effectively drives up the rent. He paid $2,700 a month for a one-bedroom; now he’s looking farther east for something he can afford.

“It’s making places like Santa Monica and Venice totally priced out. Silver Lake is impossible. I’m looking in Koreatown right now,” Barrett said. “They need to make a law about this.”

 

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A new law of some sort is the goal at City Hall. New York, San Francisco and Portland, Ore., have crafted regulations to govern taxes, zoning and length of stay in short-term rentals, and Airbnb says it’s glad to help in that process here.

“It’s time for all of us to work together on some sensible solutions that let people share the home in which they live and contribute to their community,” spokesman Christopher Nulty said in a statement Tuesday.

Will Youngblood, the man who e-mailed LaFlamme about managing his apartment in Los Feliz, says he’d also appreciate clearer rules and an easier way to pay occupancy taxes.

Youngblood runs five Airbnb apartments, mostly in Hollywood. A former celebrity assistant, he’s been doing this for two years; it’s a full-time job. Most of Youngblood’s clients own their homes but travel a lot or live elsewhere. One, he rents and lists full time. He’s been looking around for another.

“I’m honest about what I do,” he said. “Some [landlords] are like, ‘That’s insane. No way.’ Other people say, ‘We’d love that.'”

If the city decides it doesn’t like what he’s doing, Youngblood said, he’ll go do something else. But for now, he said, it’s a good way to make some cash and meet interesting people.

But he won’t meet LaFlamme. The longtime landlord concedes he “might be old-fashioned,” but he just doesn’t like the idea of strangers traipsing through his apartments. He prefers good, long-term tenants, and in L.A.’s red-hot rental market he has no problem finding them.

“I almost find it painful to rent things these days,” he said. “There’s so much demand and so many people who are qualified and nice people who I have to turn away.”

For that apartment in Los Feliz, LaFlamme said, he found a tenant in less than 24 hours.