Thursday, February 11, 2016

Airbnb in Houston; Final Four and Super Bowl Speculation

Now that Super Bowl 50 is over, people can start making their plans for Super Bowl LI here in Houston. The Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau predicts that a million people will be making their way to Houston that first weekend of February 2017. While the Houston Press featured a timely reminder this week that the City of Houston as a whole will likely see a great economic benefit from hosting the Super Bowl, there may be some people standing to make a great deal next February.

A few weeks ago the Houston Chronicle featured an article explaining the growing push back from Houston's hotel industry in the light of the growth of private rental accommodations. In order to host the Super Bowl Houston had to make sure that there were at least 19,000 hotel rooms available for rent. That doesn't seem to be stopping people from renting out their home. The Houston Chronicle this morning showed us the $10,000-a-night Los Altos Hills house that hometown Houstonian Beyonce rented last weekend. Unfortunately, we don't have the sort of natural scenery and topography that accompanied her latest rental, but we do have some expensive rentals out there right now.

Just last night a KHOU story featured two places to stay through Airbnb, highlighting a Humble family, who haven't offered their home for rent until now, as well as a home along the Washington Avenue corridor for a weekly fee of $10,000. The renter noted that the money made from the rental of her home would be donated to the Houston Food Bank.

While Houston has not gotten as enterprising as some of the folks who were trying to cash in on the snow that Winter Storm Jonas dumped a few weeks ago in the northeast (Brooklyn Igloo for 2), there are a growing number of Airbnb and VRBO listings in Houston in anticipation of Super Bowl LI.

When looking at available options for the days surrounding Super Bowl LI, I am guessing that some have overlooked the fact that Houston is hosting the event the weekend of February 5, 2017, as there are a number of affordable Airbnb rooms available all over town. But, there are a growing number of rentals reflecting the weekend's high rental demand.

A few weeks ago I noticed a home for rent in Houston's First Ward area for $1,500 during the NCAA Final Four. Another nearby town home is advertised for $1,499 a night, advertising a short walk to a bus route and light rail line.

As I looked at the accompanying map I noticed that one of these same homes is advertised for $10,000 a night during Super Bowl LI. While the house has all the bells and whistles one could imagine, it's interesting to see how people market their lodging. If I were staying somewhere for the Super Bowl, I'd be looking for places that are accessible to transit, as parking will cost a pretty penny, while METRO's Red Line will drop you off right in front of NRG Stadium for a cool $1.25 per trip. This home's listing advertises a 1-mile walk to the U of H Downtown light rail stop. (Not exactly a marketable distance to walk...) After a Super Bowl game, no one is wanting to walk a mile at midnight to get back to their lodging.

For anyone attending the Super Bowl festivities, $10,000 a night (nearly $1,000 a night when considering shared costs among a group of guests) might be a bit steep, considering you're likely to spend more time at game events rather than sitting in front of a big screen TV or kicking up your feet. It might make more sense to stay somewhere closer to the action, with more readily available transit access. So, why not Downtown Houston? You and seven other guests can rent this Super Bowl Penthouse for $5,000 a night. Or, if it's just two people coming to town, you can rent a Downtown loft for $950 a night.

Still too expensive? Here's an East Downtown apartment for $1,500 a night directly across from BBVA Compass Stadium. Or, try an East Downtown garden apartment located a few blocks from METRO's Purple and Green light rail lines.

Want to be closer to NRG Stadium? Here's a 2 bedroom apartment for $1,173 a night. This might not be the most fund place to stay, as it's not really near any sort of entertainment district, but you could just walk home after the Super Bowl, which would save a great deal of time.

If you're looking for charming and quaint, check out this $1,500 a night Museum District House and Cottage for 8. Or maybe this $4,000 a night Executive Home and Media Studio Oasis (where apparently actors and film crews usually stay).

And, if you're really looking to stay outside the Houston area, there's an $8,300 a night rental in Sugar Land. Either way, property owners in Houston are looking to score some extra cash by renting out their homes and apartments. If I'm coming in from out of town for the Super Bowl (or Final Four), I'd look to be as close to the METRO Rail as possible, as you can easily get to Downtown Houston for all the events earlier in the weekend, as well as NRG Stadium for the game on Sunday.