Lucrative Super Bowl listings tempt brokers — despite risks

From left: Airbnb's NYC page, Super Bowl logo and MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ
From left: Airbnb's NYC page, Super Bowl logo and MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ

The number of short-term rental listings – and their prices – have skyrocketed ahead of Super Bowl XLVIII, and not even New York City real estate brokers are immune to the siren call of potential cash.

Airbnb, arguably the most popular site for short-term rental wheeling and dealing these days, still has more than a 1,000 listings available for this weekend only two days before the big game. The site has seen a 46 percent week-over-week increase in bookings on listings near MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, a spokesman for the company told The Real Deal. Bookings in the surrounding area – including the five boroughs – are expected to double from their volume at the same time last year.

The boom has prompted users to dramatically lift their rates, much as the city’s hotels commonly do during especially busy periods. Some hosts are charging as much as $1,000 per night for their pads over the weekend and are pointedly courting gridiron junkies. “Perfect party space for Super Bowl weekend,” reads one StuyTown offering asking $6,500 for six nights. Even famous faces are getting in on the action, with Kevin Jonas, eldest of the eponymous brothers, renting out his Denville, New Jersey home (near the game site in East Rutherford) for $20,000 per night. The five-figure tab does include tickets to the game, at least.

Brokers are tempted by the potential windfall as much as anyone else. Several told The Real Deal that they have been approached by past or long-term clients seeking help marketing their property as a Super Bowl outpost.

“I had a client ask me to deal with her Staten Island lease for the weekend for $20,000,” said Jonathan Tager, managing director of MNS Real Estate. He didn’t wind up taking her up on the offer, he said, but was intrigued enough by the possibilities to list his own Brooklyn apartment for $6,500 per night after the inquiry. (As of press time he hadn’t snagged any takers.)

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He isn’t the only one. Morgan Graham, a broker with Miron Properties, said that the Super Bowl isn’t on his radar but that he “sure as H-E-double hockey sticks” would rent via Airbnb if he had the space. “I live in Hell’s Kitchen and this neighborhood is very Airbnb-friendly. During the summer I meet several random Europeans in my building who are staying for the week [because of the] convenience of Midtown.”

Though it’s quicker and cheaper to list an offering themselves on a site like Airbnb, Roomorama or HomeAway, going through a broker may ease worries of party destruction over a beer and buffalo wing-filled weekend. The peace of mind, some brokers said, is what often makes a broker’s involvement, and commission, worth it.

“The reason I think they would use a broker is because they want the tenant vetted,” said Emily Beare, a broker with the CORE Group. “Most people do post it themselves, but I think that is the reason.”

The rush to cash in on the weekend’s potentially pricey rentals flies in the face of New York City’s 2010 illegal hotel law, which bars residential apartment rentals for fewer than 30 days. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is currently on the march against Airbnb to this end, having subpoenaed data on the site’s 15,000 hosts in October. Most brokerages and individual agents are aware of the risks, and quite a few told The Real Deal that they are steering clear of short-term Super Bowl listings to avoid any potential legal fallout.

Others, however, appeared unfazed by the potential dangers.

“I would totally do it regardless of the risks,” Graham said. “And landlords seem to be okay with it because their rent is still getting paid, if not being paid quicker and in full.”