Anyone who has stayed in an Airbnb knows that the experience can be a dice roll. Anything can happen when you pick up your rent. That’s part of the charm – you could be pleasantly surprised by a free bottle of wine waiting for you in the kitchen, or you could have an adventure just trying to unlock the door with the weird runner you had to dig out from behind a tree in the backyard.
But tenants are increasingly fed up with lists of do’s and don’ts waiting for them inside. Stripping the beds, washing the linens, loading and unloading the dishwasher, watering the plants, mowing the lawn, not touching the record collection…
And that’s on top of the triple-digit cleaning fee.
Opposition to wayward hosts is on the rise, according to the Wall Street Journal. A traveler told the Journal that her $299 a night Airbnb in Sedona, Arizona, came with a cleaning fee of $375, plus a list of chores.
That’s pretty much the last thing anyone wants to do on vacation.
Airbnb hosts say there are two reasons for the higher fees and the chore: Covid-19 increased sanitation requirements and — you guessed it — inflation. The cost of hiring cleaners has risen, as have utility bills. And hosts don’t just rent out their properties for fun – they run a business.
Airbnb allows hosts to set their own rates and encourages them to avoid cleaning fees if possible. The company says just over half of its active listings charge such fees, which average less than 10% of the total booking fee.
For some travelers, that extra expense and labor has served as a reminder that once, before the gig economy, there were other places to rent in buildings across the country where the cleaning is done. in front of you. Oh yeah, hotels! Remember them?
A frustrated traveler told the Journal that the lake cottage she rented didn’t have a working dishwasher or vacuum cleaner, so she spent the last day wiping the floor by hand. Then the host gave her a modest three star rating for cleanliness.
Her next trip will be in a hotel.
“It’s $50 cheaper,” she told the paper. “And we don’t have to clean anything.”
Sure, some travelers with bad Airbnb experiences flee to hotels, but there doesn’t seem to be an existential threat to the homestay model that Airbnb pioneered.
It’s a bit like choosing between Starbucks or the local indie coffee shop when you’re in a new city. At Starbucks you know what you are getting. Will it be the best cup of coffee of your life? Probably not, but at least you can count on it. The local spot probably has unexpected charms, quirky art on the walls, maybe even superior coffee, but it could also smell weird or play pan flute music or just take too long to make your order.
Hotels cater to the Starbucks crowd; Airbnb counts on the indie cafe set that tends to feel like they live wherever they are.
The social media outcry over cleaning fees and chores is certainly a PR headache for Airbnb, but it’s far from a crisis. The Airbnb model is now fully woven into the fabric of the hospitality industry, even if it still has some teething problems to work out.
This year’s pent-up demand has helped the company turn a profit in the second quarter, even as inflation swallowed travelers’ budgets.
Airbnb is also leaning towards the ‘work-from-anywhere’ model — its own CEO, Brian Chesky, announced earlier this year that he would live full-time as a digital nomad, jumping from one Airbnb to another every few weeks. . That’s something hotels can’t sell in the same way (I think, someone who spent three full weeks in a 100-square-foot hotel room earlier this year and nearly lost her mind in the process).
For more on the discussion between Airbnb and hotel, check out our latest Nightcap show, where host Jon Sarlin and I delve into it all. In addition, Jon speaks with Redfin’s chief economist Daryl Fairweather about what home buyers need to know about mortgage rates. And Jodi Kantor of the New York Times explains how employers can track you while you work from home, which is as scary as it sounds.
Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” debut was a hit, drawing 13 million viewers to watch the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers.
The event “exceeded all our expectations for viewers” and led to “the biggest three hours of US Prime sign-ups ever in Amazon history,” said Jay Marine, Prime Video’s head of sports.
Why it matters: For the first time ever, the NFL, TV’s most valuable product, is releasing a suite of games exclusively on digital. CNN Business’ Frank Pallotta has the story.
Trying to buy a home anytime in the past two years has been… tricky to say the least. At the end of 2020, the problem was supply – buyers were equal and mortgage rates were low, there were just not enough homes on the market (cue the all-cash bidding wars).
Now, however, the problem is the question. Buyers are exiting the market as listing prices remain high and mortgage rates, which have already doubled in the past year, will continue to rise as the Federal Reserve raises rates.
Consider this stunning calculation from my colleague Anna Bahney:
- A year ago, a buyer who put down 20% on a house with an average price (then $359,900) and financed the rest with a mortgage rate of 2.86% (the average 30-year fixed rate at the time) had a monthly payment of $1,192.
- Today, that same buyer would find that the median price has risen to $403,800, and the average mortgage interest rate is over 6%, so their monthly payment would come out at $1,941. That’s $749 more per month!
That’s just one of the myriad ways the Fed’s interest rate moves affect real people.
The housing mess is worse than a one-two punch. It’s really a one-two-three-four when you look at (1) still high home prices, (2) still low inventory due to supply chain issues, (3) the rental market is also bad because so much would- be homebuyers pour in, raising prices for people who have no choice but to rent, and (4) the cost of literally everything else in your life rises at the same time. Frankly, there’s probably a fifth, sixth and seventh punch in there too, but we don’t have time for that.
So, does it get better? Possibly. Prices start to fall (Yes!), but mortgage rates could continue to rise as long as the Fed continues to raise rates. That will probably not happen until 2024 at the earliest (boo!).
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