The Real Deal New York

Commercial units make up a third of Airbnb hosts’ revenue: report

Profit motive could push startup to focus more on “commercial units”
August 24, 2016 03:54PM

Map of Airbnb listings (credit: Inside Airbnb)

Map of Airbnb listings (credit: Inside Airbnb)

While commercial listings on Airbnb make up a tiny sliver of the total units available, they do account for an outsized portion of profits – and that could motivate the controversial startup to focus more on those commercial listings as it grows.

Commercial listings — or units that are rented at least 180 days a year — make up 8 percent of the more than 30,000 units listed on Airbnb in New York City, according to an analysis by the data blog FiveThirtyEight.

But those listings make up 32.5 percent of the $384 million in revenue the San Francisco-based company pulled in between June 2015 and May 2016, the website reported.

As Airbnb looks to grow, the profit motive could push it to focus more on these listings as investors, such as large national real estate firms, jump on board.

“Landlords might see it as a better option in the market than conventional renting,” said George McCarthy, president of think tank the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. “I’m not convinced it’s that big a deal yet, but the growth rate would be of concern.”

Tenants at Equity Residential’s 259-unit rental building at 400 West 37th Street sued their landlord earlier this month, claiming the company was running the building as a de-facto hotel through Airbnb.

The jury is still out on Airbnb’s effect on rents.  The company has only about 2,500 commercial listings in New York City – a tiny fraction of the city’s 2.2 million rental units, FiveThirtyEight noted.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to make a decision on a bill the state Legislature passed that would impose penalties on tenants who advertise their apartments illegally on Airbnb. [FiveThirtyEight]Rich Bockmann