September 6, 2015

Commerce Is How It Will Pan Out

The Ocean Beach Rag reports from California. “Short-term vacation rentals are on the minds of a lot of people these days, especially with those who live at the coast in San Diego. The two sides are in contention, for example, over how many of the Airbnb listings in San Diego include the entire residence. The Short Term Rental Alliance of San Diego claims: ‘AirBNB has over 3,490 listings in San Diego alone. The majority of these listings are individuals sharing a portion of their home and go largely unnoticed to neighbors.’ In response, the Save San Diego Neighborhoods says: ‘Data obtained by Inside Airbnb on June 22, 2015 shows that the majority, 65% (2,283 out of 3,530), of Airbnb listings in San Diego are ‘Entire Homes or Apartments’ being rented out in their entirety.”

“We’d have to say, according to our research, by far most vacation rentals are advertised as an ‘entire place,’ as for example, recently for Mission Beach, Airbnb has 349 rental units where 330 – or 95% are for the entire unit.”

“The Voice of San Diego found: ‘Most of San Diego’s short-term rentals are run by property managers who don’t live on-site — not by homeowners renting out a room or two. … Twenty of the city’s top short-term rental management companies operate about 40 percent of those units, with each operating between 20 and 109 rental units. Another 22 percent of the registered short-term rentals are run by small companies and individuals who list at least three units. That leaves a little more than a third of short-term rentals registered with the city run by individuals who list just one or two units.”

“A July study of Airbnb and the units they have available for OB showed that on July 8, 2015, they advertised 212 rental spaces, of which 157 were the ‘entire place’ (74%), 51 were private rooms and 4 were a shared room. Another review of Airbnb in August showed that the company for OB had 198 rentals, of which 141 were for the entire place – 71%.”

24 East in New York. “Summer with its whirlwind of festivities and fun can also be time of consternation for those who feel the sting of rentals gone awry. The growing demand for website-driven summer rentals like and has rankled some neighbors and nicked the lodging business in Southampton Village. Adding a layer of complexity to the issue, some of these rentals are houses in foreclosure. Owned by banks, these homes are essentially being ’squatted in,’ said Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley. Making matters worse, banks occasionally deny owning them, making it difficult for the municipality to know whom to cite for grievances.”

“Former Southampton Village Trustee Harald Steudte, who has been legally renting a house he owns on the corner of Hill Street and Tuckahoe Lane, was fielding complaints from his tenants that their next-door neighbors were being loud and disruptive. Mr. Steudte found the house listed on Airbnb, and eventually discovered through public records that Chase Bank has been listed as its owner since 2011, when the previous owners presumably defaulted on their mortgage.”

“After the village cited Chase for a new fence on the property that was 2 feet over what the code permits, a lawyer for the bank denied owning the home in court, and the case continues to be adjourned, according to Mr. Steudte. ‘This is an Airbnb house owned by Chase Bank,’ the former village trustee said. ‘If I were running a house of ill repute, would they keep adjourning this in court? No!’”

“‘It was on Airbnb for two times in the beginning of the season and then it was taken off,’ said Charles Regensburg, who claims he owns the home through a limited liability corporation. The contract to purchase the house was finalized in February of this year, but Mr. Regensburg is waiting for Chase to transfer a clear deed to the LLC, as it has several judgments against the title, he explained. The house had been rented through the website toward the latter part of July through an independent booking agent, but ‘I realized it really wasn’t fitting the criteria of the neighborhood and who I was renting to, and I disengaged from it,’ Mr. Regensburg added. The house no longer appears on the website.”

The Australian. “The sharing economy. It’s not, is it? Sharing, that is. The billionaire owner of Uber isn’t doling out dollars on the street. The chief of Airbnb isn’t housing the homeless. The sharing economy is not run by the Pope, it’s not owned by the people doing the exchanging, and none of us are getting in on the initial public offerings.”

“But we should not be alarmed. Our inability to nail this new economic force with an appropriate title simply reflects the fact that it is so alien. It’s so radical that it’s mucking up our MBA lexicon. It’s so next century that spellcheck doesn’t yet recognise the words.”

“So, we improvise. We use expressions such as: this business is the Airbnb of office space, or the Airbnb for live music. Or we describe new operations as the Uber for boat owners, the Uber for pets or the Uber for pot (a delivery system linking dope smokers with suppliers). Or we say Hipchat will do to email what the internet did to the post office. Or the GoPro drone will be the selfie for estate owners. Or simply, get Netflixed. We make the early innovators the generic expression for a whole industry.”

“But the great appeal of these expressions is that they sound human. They are more social than economic. And in the beginning it felt like sharing. It felt like a socialist utopia. It felt fresh and revolutionary and a little big naughty. We didn’t want to pay exorbitant credit card fees in taxis; we wanted to bypass sterile hotel experiences; we didn’t want to pay for music when we could rent. We liked going straight to the source — and shaking hands with them.”

“Sharing is how it felt. Commerce is how it will pan out. But it’s a lot of fun along the way — if you’re not a legacy business with a big building, a wage roll and an attractive profit margin.”

Bits Bucket for September 6, 2015

Post off-topic ideas, links, and Craigslist finds here. Please visit my Youtube channel which you can also find here: