Airbnb hosts are planning to sell their properties with global travel screeching to a halt during the pandemic.
Amy Offield always dreamed of running a vacation rental in Galveston, Texas. Five years ago, she and her husband Chris got their wish and bought a house there minutes away from the beach.
They immediately began restoring the property, which she named the “Blue Skies Beach Bungalow,” adding vintage items as well as retro and bright-colored decor.
But as coronavirus spread across the United States in March, Offield, who has been a full-time Airbnb host for nearly two years, started seeing a wave of cancellations. When Galveston temporarily shut down short-term rentals as part of its stay-at-home order, Offield switched her Airbnb to a 30-day stay, the minimum required to be considered a long-term listing. She didn’t get a single reservation, and her beach bungalow has stood empty for two months.
Finally, after the long dry spell, her husband losing his software sales job and the continued burden of mortgage payments on the home, Offield made the difficult decision to sell the beach bungalow and shut down her Airbnb business.
“It’s been kind of an emotional roller coaster,” Offield told CNN Business. “We’ve lost pretty much all of our income in the last three months.”
With global travel screeching to a halt during the pandemic, a number of Airbnb hosts are planning to sell their properties — at an uncertain moment for the broader real estate market — or get rid of some of their rentals as well as the furniture they bought to deck out their homes.
These desperate moves come as hosts face the possibility of losing thousands of dollars a month in canceled bookings while bills, maintenance costs and mortgage payments pile up.
The sudden and painful whiplash for hosts highlights both the broader financial fallout from the pandemic and the potential risks of betting one’s livelihood on the staying power of newer tech platforms.