Many ex­pected to turn to Airbnb at All-Star week­end

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Business - BY KATHERINE PER­ALTA kper­[email protected]­lot­teob­server.com Katherine Per­alta: 704-358-5079, katieper­alta

De­mand for hous­ing is in­tense for the NBA Al­lS­tar Game, the big­gest sport­ing event in Char­lotte’s his­tory that’s ex­pected to draw 150,000 vis­i­tors to the city. Many res­i­dents are look­ing to take ad­van­tage of the de­mand by rent­ing their homes or apart­ments out over the week­end to make some ex­tra cash.

With many ho­tels filled to ca­pac­ity, thou­sands of vis­i­tors need a place to stay. They’re vis­it­ing for the game it­self and also for the dozens of fan ac­tiv­i­ties, par­ties and other NBA events through­out the week­end.

The All-Star week­end, in fact, is ex­pected to be the busiest week­end ever in Char­lotte for Airbnb, the short-term home rental ser­vice.

Airbnb es­ti­mates 3,400 guest ar­rivals dur­ing the All-Star week­end Feb. 15-17, the most that the com­pany has ever seen over a one-week­end stretch in Char­lotte. Hosts here are ex­pected to make a com­bined in­come of $ 720,000, Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said in an email.

The typ­i­cal host in Char­lotte over the All-Star Game week­end will make $370, Breit said. In de­ter­min­ing those fig­ures, Airbnb looked at ren­tals just in­side Char­lotte’s city lim­its, not in the sub­urbs.

The NBA con­tracted about 32,000 ho­tel rooms for the event from Feb. 7 to Feb. 15. Up­town has only 5,700 rooms, so over- flow is ex­pected well out­side the city cen­ter.

“We just see par­tic­u­lar value from our plat­form dur­ing these types of ma­jor events that cause ho­tels to reach peak ca­pac­ity,” Breit said in an email.

“Our host com­mu­nity can ex­pand lodg­ing ca­pac­ity to en­sure ev­ery­one who wants to be a part of the ex­pe­ri­ence can stay within the cor­po­rate lim­its of Char­lotte.”

Le­jena Wynn is leas­ing two prop­er­ties over the All-Star week­end. Her two-bed­room town­home near Villa Heights, roughly 2.5 miles from the Spec­trum Cen­ter, is go­ing for $400 per night over the All-Star Game week­end, for in­stance. Over the course of two nights, and in­clud­ing the cost of clean­ing, a ser­vice fee and oc­cu­pancy taxes and fees, the to­tal comes to $960.

The fol­low­ing week­end, Feb. 22-24, how­ever, it’s about half that price ($160 per night, and $482 for the week­end).

“We have been do­ing Airbnb for three years and are Su­per Hosts and love peo­ple. That’s why we are do­ing this,” Wynn said of rent­ing her home.

Prices get even steeper the closer you get to the arena, where the NBA will host a num­ber of events over the week­end, in­clud­ing the Ris­ing Stars game on Feb. 15, the Al­lS­tar Satur­day Night events Feb. 16 and the All-Star Game on Feb. 17.

A one-bed­room high­rise apart­ment near Ro­mare Bear­den Park will cost $800 per night, or $2,015 for the the week­end, with taxes and fees in­cluded.

For first-time Airbnb hosts, the Bet­ter Busi­ness Bureau is cau­tion­ing against scam­mers.

Tom Bartholomy, CEO of the BBB of South­ern Pied­mont and West­ern North Carolina, said that the bureau re­ceived no­tices of a type of fraud called “over­pay­ment scams” by Airbnb renters dur­ing the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion in 2012.

When that hap­pens, a renter/fraud­ster will pay in ad­vance for the du­ra­tion of their stay, of­ten with a cashier’s or other type of check. They’ll then con­tact the host again say­ing they sent too much money, and re­quest that it be wired back after the host de­posits the check. The host com­plies, only to find that the check has bounced, and that he or she has been scammed.

“Any­one who asks you to wire their money back … run away,” Bartholomy said. “Just go away and tear (the check) up be­cause it’s go­ing to be worth­less.”

The BBB also ad­vises hosts to keep their valu­ables in a dou­ble dead­bolt locked closet for se­cu­rity.

VRBO is an­other va­ca­tion home rental mar­ket­place. The com­pany has ren­tals avail­able in Char­lotte over All-Star Game but would not share data on the week­end be­cause it’s in a quiet week be­fore its par­ent com­pany, HomeAway, re­ports its quar­terly earn­ings.

Height­ened Airbnb de­mand is typ­i­cal when a large-scale event comes to town.

Forbes re­ported last month that av­er­age Airbnb hosts in At­lanta stood to make about $690 from Jan. 27 to Feb. 3 for Su­per Bowl LIII. Airbnb hosts wel­comed an es­ti­mated 9,200 guests from 59 coun­tries and 49 states, ac­cord­ing to Forbes.

Short-term ren­tals are pop­u­lar through­out North Carolina as a way to gen­er­ate sup­ple­men­tal in­come.

Ac­cord­ing to an Airbnb re­port last year, North Carolina res­i­dents who rented out their homes on the site made $97 mil­lion in 2017. Ren­tals were the most in de­mand in Asheville, where hosts earned al­most $20 mil­lion. In Char­lotte, hosts made $8.7 mil­lion, and in Raleigh, they made $3.8 mil­lion.

TRENT/ AIRBNB

Cherry Treesort is a pri­vate 26 acre farm with 4 tree­houses avail­able to rent just out­side of Char­lotte.

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