Property Managers: What if Airbnb follows Uber’s lead?
Uber had a problem. They needed more drivers. So they got together with a car manufacturer, a bank and people who wanted to own a car but couldn’t afford one. So now, as a recent Wall Street Journal article outlined, anyone who wants a new car and is willing to work for it can have one.
Airbnb has a problem. They need more landlords. What if they get together with a home builder, a bank and people who want to own a home but can’t afford one? Then anyone who wants a new house and is willing to rent part of it out can have one.
The Uber situation is fact. It’s happening right now. The Airbnb thoughts are just that, a strange correlation that occurred to me today. I haven’t read anything to support it, but I can’t help but think it could work and the impact would be staggering. Keep in mind that to get their deal done, Uber didn’t have to go bottom feeding. They are working with Toyota and Goldman Sachs to provide the vehicles and the capital. Why couldn’t Airbnb work with KB Homes or Lennar and Bank of America or Citibank to create a similar model? It’s crazy, I know. But last year I would have never thought Uber would be approved for $1 billion line of credit to fund new cars for their drivers.
By now you probably see why I’m writing this on the Rental Home Pros site. Property Managers have to keep their heads on a swivel these days. As the real estate market heats up, investors are more and more likely to flip properties rather than turn them into rentals. Then if you start taking people who could not qualify for a new home and making them homeowners or “homeleasers,” the number of potential tenants gets smaller too.
It’s not all doom and gloom for property managers though. Sites like Airbnb provide just as much opportunity as threat. The important thing is that you and your firm do not view them as competitors. Sites like Airbnb can provide great new revenue sources for your existing properties. One idea that just surfaced with our team is around off-campus housing. College students are usually forced to sign 12 month leases even though they are only going to occupy the property for 8 months. If you have a lot of properties you rent to college students, you might consider offering a slight discount for vacating after 8 months and using a site like Airbnb to offer the property as a vacation rental during the summer season.
Whether or not the Uber car leasing program makes its way to real estate doesn’t really matter. What matters is technology is not only changing the way we do things, but it’s also changing the way we pay for things and, more recently, the way we qualify to pay for things.
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