Short-term rentals soar outside Chicago…way outside

Reservations plummeted citywide in June, but were up 200% in parts of Wisconsin and Michigan, new report finds

TRD CHICAGO /
Aug.August 03, 2020 02:00 PM
Short-term rentals in Chicago dipped in June, but spiked in  Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (left) and (right) Saugatuck, Michigan (iStock)

Short-term rentals in Chicago dipped in June, but spiked in  Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (left) and (right) Saugatuck, Michigan (iStock)

As with other big cities across the country, the coronavirus crisis has sent many Chicagoans in search of short-term rentals with more space. But those with the means aren’t just driving out of the city. They’re also leaving the state.

In June, Airbnb bookings soared 200 percent for popular spots like Saugatuck, Michigan, and Lake Geneva and Door County, Wisconsin, according to Crain’s, citing short-term data analytics firm AirDNA.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Airbnb recorded 46 percent fewer reservations in June year-over-year.

One Airbnb host, Tim Raduenz, told Crain’s that revenues are 15 percent higher compared to the same time in 2019. Despite the pandemic, he said, “Moneywise, it’s probably our best year ever.” Raduenz rents out homes in the Door County, Wisconsin areas of Sister Bay, Ellison Bay and Jacksonport, he told the outlet.

Meanwhile, reservations are down about a quarter in Chicago for Kasa Living, a short-term rental company that operates about 100 units in a few downtown buildings, Crain’s reported.

Still, the short-term rental business is doing better than hotels, especially in Chicago, where the occupancy rate has hovered 35%. That rate has been even lower in downtown.

AirDNA founder and CEO Scott Shatford said that “people are fleeing to where they can have more space,” Crain’s reported.

But Chicago has also been applying strict standards on home-sharing companies and hosts. Last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed new rules that would tighten enforcement around companies such as Airbnb and Vrbo. Those include prohibiting single-night stays, which is meant to target so-called “party house” owners; and giving the city added power to toss hosts who violate the rules.

The mayor’s recent move requiring people coming from Wisconsin to self-quarantine for 14 days could also give some prospective renters looking outside the city reason to reconsider. [Crain’s] — Alexi Friedman


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