A new report commissioned by HomeAway says that fewer than 500 properties in Seattle were listed on the short-term rental site between April 2015 and 2016, adding weight to the argument that proposed regulations would not have a meaningful impact on housing affordability.
HomeAway, which is owned by Bellevue, Wash.-based Expedia, asked third-party consulting firm EcoNorthwest to conduct the study.
Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess and Mayor Ed Murray are championing new city regulations, designed to prevent property owners from converting long-term rentals into HomeAway and Airbnb listings. They argue that the lucrative nature of these short-term listings compels homeowners to take long-term housing inventory off the market, adding to the city’s affordability crisis.
The EcoNorthwest study also says that the majority of HomeAway properties are located in more expensive neighborhoods and would not be converted into affordable low-income housing under the new regulations.
Airbnb, a titan of the short-term rental industry, released a report of its own in January as lawmakers began debating regulations. The study said that Airbnb generated $178 million in “total economic activity,” in Seattle between August 2014 and July 2015.
“The number of short-term rentals available through these platforms has been rapidly increasing and there are now spin-off businesses that make it easier for individuals to manage short-term rentals,” Burgess wrote in a blog post that prompted the Airbnb study. “At a time when we face a shortage of affordable rental housing, this issue deserves a closer look.”
Airbnb isn’t disclosing the total number of short-term rentals it facilitates in Seattle but did say that 81 percent of hosts in the city are primary residents of the home they share.
Representatives from HomeAway are expected to present the findings from the EcoNorthwest report at a meeting of the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods & Finance committee tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. in Seattle.
The full HomeAway report is available below.