While the real estate market has lots of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, a tsunami of houses being sold by Airbnb hosts isn’t one of them.
Airbnb’s tally of 850,000 whole-house listings is just 0.8% of the nation’s stock of single-family homes. Even if a big chunk of them came on the market – and there’s no evidence that will happen – it would be a welcome relief to the severe shortage of housing inventory.
Some property owners who bought or leased real estate with the aim of maximizing profits through Airbnb rentals are finding they’re in a jam. Airbnb hosts saw $1.5 billion in bookings cancelled in mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the U.S. While guests got full refunds, per an Airbnb decision, hosts still had to pay mortgages on the properties.
The company has provided grants to a selection of hosts to offset the cancellations, but for some it may not be enough to make their monthly home loan payment.
The 1.47 million homes listed for sale at the end of April was the lowest number ever recorded, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. The real estate market has been dogged for years with a shortage of available properties because of under-building in the wake of the financial crisis more than a decade ago, he said.
“I would welcome more investor properties including Airbnb-type of properties to come onto the market for potential homebuyers,” he said. “That would be a welcome relief.”