As Seattle lawmakers decide how to regulate Airbnb, the Bay Area hospitality company wants to show the positive impact it is making on the local economy.
Airbnb Regional Head of Policy David Owen joined local leaders and Airbnb hosts in Seattle today to discuss a new 29-page report based on internal company data from August 2014 to July 2015.
“We hope this report is the first of many steps in working with the City of Seattle and members of the larger community to create common sense regulation,” Airbnb wrote in a blog post.
During that time period, Airbnb said that 151,000 guests stayed in one of 2,900 Seattle-based Airbnb locations and generated $178 million in “total economic activity,” which includes direct, indirect, and induced spending. The company reported that $30 million went to local Seattle hosts and “Seattle businesses benefitted from $108 million in direct spending.”
- The typical Airbnb host in Seattle earns $8,000 per year, renting out their space for an average of 79 nights per year. “This modest, yet significant amount of income has helped more than half of hosts — 60 percent — stay in their homes,” Airbnb noted.
- On average, an Airbnb guest spends $945 per trip, with $526 spent in the neighborhood in which they are staying.
- The average Airbnb host in Seattle is 45 years old. About 33 percent of them earn less than $75,000 per year in household income.
- About 67 percent of hosts rent their entire home or apartment; 30 percent rent a private room; 3 percent rent a shared room.
- About 80 percent of hosts rent out their primary residence and 10 percent rent out their secondary residence.
Today’s report follows a separate study that Airbnb released last month showing 60 percent of hosts who claim that Airbnb lets them afford to stay in their homes. In that study, Airbnb also noted that half of its home listings in Seattle are rented on a short-term basis for less than 30 days per year, while 80 percent are rented short-term for less than 90 days per year.
The timing of this new report is not surprising, given that Seattle councilmember Tim Burgess wrote his own blog post on Wednesday outlining his views on how the city should regulate online rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, which he says “just might provide enough financial incentives to cause homeowners to switch long-term rentals to short-term vacation rentals” if the government doesn’t step in.
“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,” wrote Burgess, who chairs the Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods & Finance committee. “At a time when we face a shortage of affordable rental housing, this issue deserves a closer look.”
Like many other lawmakers, Burgess wants to make sure there is balance between the “economic opportunity created by short-term rentals with the need to maintain supply of long-term rental housing stock available at a range of prices.”
Aside from the short-term vs. long-term housing issue, there are also differing opinions on how Airbnb should pay a hospitality tax.
In October, the company announced that it would collect taxes on behalf of hosts in Washington state. In the past, Airbnb has come under fire in other major markets, like New York City, for not being held to the same tax standards as hotels. Several cities in other states and countries also have tax relationships with Airbnb, including Amsterdam, Chicago, Malibu, Oakland, Palo Alto, Paris, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Jose, and Washington D.C.
Founded in 2008, Airbnb now hosts listings in more than 35,000 cities worldwide. It raised $1.5 billion in December and is now valued at more than $25 billion.
See the full report here: