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Just How Many Airbnb Hotels Are There In NYC?

A review of Airbnb’s data in the city shows that a tiny percentage of hosts earns a large share of the revenue.

Just How Many Airbnb Hotels Are There In NYC?
[Photo: Flickr user Nathan Siemers]

To push back against the perception that Airbnb helps facilitate illegal hotels and exacerbates the housing shortage in big cities, the company released a trove of data this week showing that the vast majority of its New York City hosts have only one listing. What it didn’t mention in its public blog post was that the tiny percentage of hosts who rent out more than three apartments or homes on the online platform earn a relatively large share of revenue.

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Regulators, housing advocates, and critics have pointed to “Airbnb hotels”–entire apartments or homes rented in already tight housing markets for the sole purpose of booking Airbnb guests–to argue that the platform is driving up housing costs in cities like San Francisco and New York while evading hotel safety laws.

To counter those critics, the company posted data this week that showed 90% of hosts in New York City who rented their entire homes (as opposed to a room or shared space) between November 2014 and November 2015 had only one listing on the platform. Another 6% of entire-home hosts had two listings. The remaining 4% rented out three or more properties on the platform throughout the year. Together, the later rented 3,541 homes.

This 4% of entire-home Airbnb hosts who rent three or more homes make about 24% of the revenue Airbnb brings in from entire-home hosts. This makes sense: Across Airbnb’s New York listings for entire homes, the median number of nights booked each year is 43, about four nights per month. A home used exclusively by Airbnb tenants would book many more nights and make a lot more revenue.

As the Huffington Post pointed out, 127 hosts in New York City are making between $100,001 and $350,000 per year renting out entire homes. But this doesn’t necessarily disprove Airbnb’s point about how hosts typically use its platform.

According to Airbnb’s data, which was reviewed by Fast Company, hosts that took reservations for three or more entire homes on Airbnb throughout the 12-month period booked at 3,541 homes. Hosts with one or two listings booked at about 24,200 homes. Such Airbnb hotels might make up a large share of the listings (about 13%), but not when compared to New York City’s 182,571 vacant housing units, which aren’t available for rent or sale.

Update: A spokesperson from Airbnb says the number of listings posted by hosts with three or more entire homes on the site “continues to decrease as we go forward. It’s also worth noting that some of those listings belong to boutique hotels, traditional corporate housing providers and folks who share space for 30+ days.”

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About the author

Sarah Kessler is a senior writer at Fast Company, where she writes about the on-demand/gig/sharing "economies" and the future of work.

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