Real-Estate

What Happened to Airbnb During the Pandemic?

When Covid-19 restrictions took travelers off the road, it was no surprise that the short-term rental industry suffered. A new study of 20 major Airbnb markets conducted by LendingTree showed that in 19 the number of short-term rental listings dropped precipitously between May 2020 and March 2021.

Among the 20 markets examined, only Broward County, Fla., saw an increase in the number of listings (they rose 2 percent). In every other market, they fell by at least 10 percent. Jersey City, N.J., saw the steepest decline, with Airbnb listings falling 61 percent. This week’s chart, which displays data from Inside Airbnb, as analyzed by LendingTree, reveals just how drastic the reductions were among these 20 markets.

Even before the pandemic, there had been pressure on lawmakers to crack down on short-term rentals. Complaints from neighbors about disruptive Airbnb guests had become commonplace, and some unscrupulous landlords were turning entire buildings into illegal Airbnb hotels. New legislation lengthened minimum stay requirements in some municipalities, including Jersey City and New York.

Airbnb hosts are also free to set their own minimum stay requirements, and the pandemic suddenly gave them more reasons to do so, including lowering the possibility of infection and reducing post-checkout cleanups. In Jersey City, the average required minimum stay jumped 195 percent from May 2020 to March 2021, up to 20.8 days. But New York City had the biggest percentage increase during that time, up 237 percent, to 20.6 days.

Now many Airbnb hosts are eager to get back to business as usual — although there has been something of a silver lining for these property owners: rising home prices. While hosts lost rental income amid the pandemic, many saw an increase in the value of their property, as there were price increases in 19 of the 20 markets.

These are the 10 cities where the drop in Airbnb listings and the increase in length of stay were the greatest among the 20 major markets studied.

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