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Super Bowl LIII’s impact on short-term Atlanta rental market is staggering

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In some cases, it’d be cheaper to sign a one-year apartment lease than stay the week

Despite an expected influx of 9,200 Airbnb guests, this Adair Park listing marketed by owner Wyatt Roscoe had no takers this week.
Despite an expected influx of 9,200 Airbnb guests, this Adair Park listing had no takers this week.

Wyatt Roscoe, a project manager for an Atlanta-based solar startup, had high hopes for what his Airbnb listing might fetch on Super Bowl LIII week. It’s a two-bedroom, 1923 bungalow in Adair Park near the Beltline that Roscoe handsomely renovated himself a few years ago, about two miles from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He was traveling for several weeks surrounding the Super Bowl anyhow.

But as of Friday morning, Roscoe’s property was the exception in a short-term rental market rocketed into overdrive by American football’s biggest game.

“No dice on the house yet,” Roscoe reported. “I keep lowering the price and minimum nights. Down to $400 [per night, with a] two-night minimum.”

He usually charges $200 per night, and the relative windfall he hoped for is hardly uncommon as Atlanta hosts its first Big Game in 19 years. Hines Ward, for instance, had switched his for-sale Sandy Springs manse to a $50,000 rental for the week—ditto for an unsold, refreshed Robert Green modern in Buckhead, asking $10,000 per day—while hotel prices had exploded before Super Bowl teams were even determined, for the rare rooms still available.

Airbnb, the leading platform in the industry, expects an influx of 9,200 guests at its properties in Atlanta between January 27 and Sunday. They’ll come from 1,408 other cities in 59 countries and 49 states, according to the company.

An illustration included in Roscoe’s Airbnb pitch that’s geared toward Super Bowl LIII attendees.

Interestingly, Airbnb estimates that almost one-fourth of Atlanta hosts will be handing over their dwellings as short-term rentals for the first time this week. A typical host will rake in about $700 over the week, the company estimates.

According to VRBO reps, travel demand across core Atlanta counties (Fulton, DeKalb, and Cobb) had skyrocketed by 765 percent over the same weekend last year, as of January 28.

For 1,300 listings across metro Atlanta, standard average VRBO rates had climbed from $215 to $530, and the typical homeowner stood to earn $1,590 for Super Bowl weekend alone.

Even as of Tuesday, those average nightly rates trumped Houston’s for Super Bowl LI in 2017 ($470); but they paled compared to Minneapolis last year, where listings were commanding $785 per night on average, per VRBO data.

That company’s priciest ITP listing is a four-bedroom “executive home” in Brookhaven where checking in Saturday and leaving Monday would cost a cool $20,649.

The astronomical numbers have sparked complaints of price-gouging in Atlanta by industry watchdogs. The most vocal among them appears to be Airbnb Watch, which pointed to properties across the city, such as a Buckhead high-rise condo, commanding what they perceive as unfair prices. Curbed Atlanta’s inquiries with Airbnb Watch weren’t returned.

UPDATE: Airbnb spokesperson Ben Breit points out that Airbnb Watch’s pricing claims that had been critical of Atlanta’s short-term rental market were inaccurate. The group, according Breit, “is simply an astroturf operation by the hotel lobby,” as has been reported.

Jacked-up short-term rentals also prompted an interesting observation by Apartment Guide (obviously with vested interests) that in some cases, Super Bowl visitors could actually save money by signing apartment leases in Atlanta—for a full year—and then just leaving on Monday.

That applied to short-term rentals versus more traditional apartment arrangements in Old Fourth Ward, Castleberry Hill, Midtown, and West End, according the search site, which wrote in summation: “It might be more cost effective for you and your buddies to split an Atlanta crash pad for a year instead of borrowing someone’s home for a week.”

This article was updated on February 4 to include new information provided by Airbnb.