Airbnb Luxe launched without listings in one of their biggest potential markets — why?

There are plenty of $1K+ NYC units for rent on Airbnb, but none are featured on the new vertical
By Katherine Kallergis | June 26, 2019 01:18PM

A West Village Airbnb listing (Credit: Airbnb)

A West Village Airbnb listing (Credit: Airbnb)

UPDATED, June 26, 4:10 p.m.: On Tuesday, Airbnb announced it was rolling out Airbnb Luxe, a vertical featuring properties that rent for $1,000 or more per night. Sourced from listings on Luxury Retreats, which the firm acquired two years ago, Luxe features about 2,000 properties worldwide. Renters using the service can take advantage of the services of a concierge who can arrange tours, transportation, and more.

The launch of Airbnb Luxe is limited to listings in only six locations in the U.S. — Los Angeles, Palm City, Hawaii, Vail, Utah and Park City — and in countries in the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Europe and Africa.

Why aren’t there any listings in New York City?

When asked why Gotham listings were excluded, an Airbnb spokesperson said that only 2,000 properties worldwide met the criteria for the new vertical. TRD asked for clarification as to why no New York City units met the criteria — particularly since there are in fact plenty of local units on Airbnb in the $1,000-plus price range. But the company maintained that it was due to the Airbnb Luxe criteria.

The properties on the Luxe website must pass a 300+ point inspection, including a strict set of standards, from chef-grade appliances to high end finishes; and from desirable location to the proper amount of bathrooms corresponding to each bedroom, the spokesperson said.

It may be that the company is steering clear of NYC due to the fact that Airbnb is heavily regulated in the city. In most buildings it is prohibited for an apartment to be rented out for less than 30 days unless the permanent tenant is also residing there. But local brokers added that it would also be difficult to offer enough options of that kind to meet the level of demand you find in a place like New York City.

“Most of our properties are co-ops and condos. I don’t really see how they’re going to be able to roll this out in New York City with much success,” said Sean Murphy Turner, a broker at Stribling & Associates who handles long-term leases of high-end units. “If someone needs a really glamorous rental, they’re going to have a hard time if it’s for a short period of time.”

The high-end vacation rental agent is something of a rare bird, but brokers within that specialty don’t believe Airbnb Luxe will impact their business — and that it wouldn’t, even if short-term rentals were generally less regulated.

Christopher Stewart, a Douglas Elliman agent in East Hampton, said that the restrictions for short-term rentals in the Hamptons likely kept Airbnb Luxe away from the area.

“I think the business platform of it is probably good. The road blocks are what’s allowable under town code,” he said.

In East Hampton, homeowners are only allowed to rent out their properties twice in a six-month for periods of less than 15 days. Luxury properties rent out for anywhere from $100,000 a month to $1 million a month in season, which is between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Stewart said the personal touch of an agent will remain essential to Hamptons vacation renters, considering the nature of the housing stock in his market.

“Out here, given the fact there are so many different styles, ages, locations of luxury homes, people will always want to look at them. So we’ll survive,” he said. “If you’re not uber familiar with where you’re renting, that’s where the agents come into play.”