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Cursed Knowledge #20: Airbnb

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Cursed Knowledge is our podcast that explores how narratives, for better and worse, have shaped our world without us noticing. The world is full of people pushing their version of reality on us and it’s time to expose the truth. No matter how much you might wish we hadn’t.

Airbnb has reshaped how we travel and disrupted the hotel industry. But most of the stories from both guests and hosts reveal nothing but disasters. So what’s really going on? What’s the real story of Airbnb?

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  1. This one really was very timely. I sit on an HOA board where we are struggling to know how to handle the explosion of airbnbs. We are a sleepy coastal town, and the local services are easily swamped by the crush of tourist. Normally our board meetings are about replacing pickle ball nets or using reserve funds to renovate a pool. Now we have out of town owners who are building massive rental homes banging on in meetings about how we will ruin the economy if we shut them down. The us vs them has pitted neighbors against each other. Yet through it all, I never thought to question the role of airbnb the corporate entity. Now I have this cursed knowledge. I wonder at the wealth of this corporate entity whose shareholders are enriched by the forces pulling apart my little community.

  2. Avatar for KCP KCP says:

    This will be an interesting R/E plot to unfold…from my purview I see a lot of folks either expanding their footprint or building/buying to solely ABB the place…many of these entrants have no real domain in maintaining/troubleshooting a property. A great example was a person who ABB their place in '21 and never realized that their septic system had X capacity and X was a lot smaller than the Y output of the huge occupancy that was stuffed into the house over a short period of time.

    We’re new builds/purchases paid for via cash (throwaway money), financed? Was the expectation as the Hunt’s discussed a dream of easy, passive monthly checks? At some point there will be a lot of marginal properties on the site and those owners will probably throw the towel in and put home on market - will everyone be racing to get out as folks are (were) racing to get in?

    From a community perspective there are +/- and it is really up to the town/city to set consistent rules and enforce them…easier written than executed but I’ve seen quiet, family neighborhood streets turn into the Calgary Stampede on weekends. The true residents now only have a quiet, family neighborhood street M-Th during certain seasons. That’s a lot different than having new neighbor move-in who like to fire up the lawn mower at 7 am on Saturday.

  3. I my little coastal community, times are getting interesting. Some of the first movers on the ABB wave are now selling their properties. They have been successful in two ways. First they bought cheap 6-8 years ago and did a DIY Reno, or they just bought property and built cheaply with low rates. Then they road the Covid escape to rural regional areas boom. Now they are selling high. I think as always these are the ones that make the money. The ones that are buying now are buying over priced real estate at very high rates on the promise of an endless stream of rental revenue. That easy passive money stream is bringing in younger greater fools than ever before.

    Our town counsel is very slow to rein this in. They like the tourist tax dollars and are trying to avoid the erosion of infrastructure. Similar to the story you describe, the hundred year old pipes in our historic district were not meant to handle this. We have a new controversy brewing on how we are to fund the new water treatment plant the town is going to need.

    Personally, I am expecting a rush for the exit at some point as the rental streams slow down and the mortgage rates hit home. A lot of buyers in the past 8-9 months told me they were going to refinance as soon as the rates dropped. Good luck with that.

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