A irbnbs and short-term rentals have grown exponentially in popularity over the years, and tourist destinations in the north country, such as Sackets Harbor and Clayton, have seen many Airbnbs pop up throughout their villages.
Lance M. Evans, executive officer with the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Realtors, says that, anecdotally, he has seen an increase of people purchasing properties and turning them into Airbnbs, even though they don’t specifically track that at the Board of Realtors.
“There has been a rise of AirBnb, I know nationwide, they’re talking about … corporate buying of properties, some of which are Airbnbs and some they’re just renting out,” he said. “I know it’s a big problem … over in Lake Placid; Chaumont has done some work on it too.”
Emilie J. Cardinaux, an Airbnb “superhost,” who has been a host since around 2012, says that there is a difference between using your home as a short term rental versus buying a property for the sole purpose of using it for a short-term rental.
“There’s a big difference with, you know, renting out your home that you live in, and … buying a house … (which) takes it off the market for someone to live in,” she said.
Shannon B. Carmon, who owns multiple properties in Watertown and in Clayton along with her husband and business partner, Adam Carmon, said that she personally views the river community turning into more of a vacation spot, rather than a residential neighborhood, and she believes short-term rentals may have even driven the market up at some point.
“It may be someone that has a little more financial freedom, and then it’s causing maybe the first-time homebuyer who really would like to, you know, live in the village, then they can’t afford it and maybe they’re being outbid by someone who, exactly, they’re looking to use that as a rental,” Mrs. Carmon said.
Ms. Cardinaux said that she blames the lack of housing not just on Airbnb, but also the pandemic as well.
“There’s a lot of things that have happened in the past few years, of course COVID happened, so the housing market is wild across the entire nation,” she said. “And I think that people have caught on that Airbnbs or short-term vacation rentals, I’ll say, can be lucrative and so therefore, there has been a shortage of inventory, you know, houses available for sale, especially in the village of Clayton.”
She also said that people could be buying houses more as investment opportunities, while also adding that other factors play a role as well, such as low interest rates, or people leaving cities.
“There’s all kinds of other factors that were caused by the economy and the pandemic that have affected the housing market on a national level,” she said. “So I wouldn’t say that that’s just the one sole thing. You know ‘Hey, everyone’s figured out Airbnb, now there’s no houses to buy in town.’ I’m sure it’s a contributing factor, but … there’s just a bigger picture to what’s going on in the housing market.”
“Superhosts”, such as Ms. Cardinaux and another “superhost” Tim S. Garner, do have a little bit of a process to go through in order to become a host, and even more for a “superhost.”
In order to become a “superhost,” Mr. Garner says that he believes the host needs to be in the top five or 10% of all Airbnb hosts. In order to achieve this, the host needs to average 4.8 out of five stars.
“It’s possible to do with only one, but it’s kind of challenging if you just have one place,” Mr. Garner said.
Mr. Garner currently owns and operates five different Airbnbs throughout the north country: three in Sackets Harbor; one in Watertown; and one in Harrisville.
“And then I have two that I’m working on in Cape Vincent,” he said.
Mr. Evans said that he has seen people use their cottages for short-term rentals along the river community.
“Not everyone can spend all summer at their cottage,” he said. “ So, they’re going to either want to rent it out to somebody, or they’re going to leave it … either one’s fine, it just depends on what you want to do.”
The bed tax, which requires hotels and motels to pay 3% in Jefferson County, hasn’t applied to Airbnbs in Jefferson County, but has been a topic that has been recently brought up, and has people on each side of the fence.
“I’m really against it,” Mr. Garner said. He went on to say that he tries to see both sides of the argument, but says that he has put “Tens of thousands of dollars in each property,” and says that all of the Airbnb properties he owns are former foreclosures. He also says that Airbnbs bring in a lot of tourism and that he even gives his guests gift cards.
On the other hand, Ms. Cardinaux said she doesn’t think having the bed tax extended to Airbnbs would be a bad thing at all.
“If the town or the village or the county or whatever voted that, you know, Airbnbs would be subject to this tax; I don’t think it’s a horrible thing at all,” she said. She went on to say that she doesn’t believe it would affect business, and help “prevent negative effects to the actual hotels, which are subject to that.”
Although Airbnb’s have grown exponentially in popularity, one can only assume that they will continue to grow.