But when the coronavirus first spread to the United States in March, Offield, which has been a full-time Airbnb host for nearly two years, began seeing a wave of cancellations. When Galveston temporarily closed short-term rentals as part of his stay order, Offield turned his Airbnb into a 30-day stay, the minimum required to be considered a long-term list. He hasn’t received a single reservation and his beach bungalow has been empty for two months.
Eventually, after the long drought, her husband lost his software sales job and the ongoing burden of home loan payments, Offield made the difficult decision to sell the bungalow on the beach and close the business. Airbnb.
“It was kind of an emotional roller coaster,” Offield told CNN Business. “We have lost practically all of our income in the past three months.”
The financial fallout from the pandemic could lead to an Airbnb exodus for hosts like Jake Wolf, who has been on the platform for more than five years and closed his only list in March. “I’m absolutely not inclined,” said Wolf, when asked to return to the platform in the future. For others, it is leading to painful choices about which Airbnb properties to abandon and which to save.
Christina Zima, an Airbnb host for nine years, has managed 25 full-time homes primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area, of which only one owns. So far, it has closed two of these lists during the coronavirus crisis, one of which had been scheduled in advance. Zima said some of the owners he works with are considering liquidating multiple properties or looking for long-term tenants, further throwing his business into uncertainty.
“I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do and what will happen in the future,” said Zima. “I’m not making money. With the Airbnb business, I’m just trying to minimize my losses. Only one of the houses is paying its bills, which means my rent and utilities.”
Six of the properties that Zima rents from owners for a fixed cost, ranging from $ 2,800 to $ 5,600 per month, and then subleasing them on Airbnb as holiday homes, in a practice known as arbitrage. The rest are partnerships with the owners, where he takes a cut in exchange for managing the property and acting as a liaison with guests. It takes a higher rate for home decor and the supply of linens and other household items.
With some of her Airbnbs closed, she was also forced to find ways to quickly liquidate her furnishings. Zima listed the items on the Facebook marketplace and installed a pop-up tent outside her home where people can collect their purchases. Zima listed so many things on the Facebook marketplace in one day that she said she was temporarily blocked from posting for one day. Offield has also started selling the various vintage items that he has kept under his house in Galveston, which is bred, on the Facebook marketplace.
But some hosts who feel the need to sell are waiting a little longer. Cindy Cabrales and her husband have decided to sell one of their three Airbnb – in Boulder, Colorado – but are holding on for now because they still have a reservation in July that hasn’t canceled so far.
“The margins are so low, it doesn’t make sense to keep it,” said Cabrales. “The pandemic pushes it over the edge.”
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