Who will buy this US$3.8 million New Zealand penthouse?

In the good old days, the wealthy used to scoop up gold and jewels and flee in the dead of night before poor, angry peasants descended upon their estates. Today, the million-dollar jewels are often red carpet loans where today’s décolletage is rented like a yesteryear billboard.

Hiding assets from pillagees, modern-day pillagers have offshore banks, blind trusts, LLCs and cryptocurrencies. Fleeing is now the purview of private jets to far-away lands – but the local residents in those faraway lands are getting ticked-off at being priced out of their own markets and they’re mobilizing. (more…)


Dallas company NoiseAware says its noise-detection device is the answer for Airbnb hosts that want to be good neighbors (Photo courtesy: NoiseAware).

A couple of weeks ago, I looked at a problem a few neighbors approached me with — a nearby property owner renting out a house on Airbnb that had become a nuisance, they felt, with a succession of parties.

That column prompted David Krauss to email me. Krauss and his business partner, Andrew Schulz, have a product they feel is a boon to homeowners taking advantage of the short-term rental market — a noise detector that alerts a host when the noise level is reaching neighbor-irritating levels.

“We like to call it a smoke detector for noise,” Krauss told me. The device plugs into any electrical outlet, and after a fairly easy setup, begins churning out data for homeowners. (more…)


This Northaven Park home has become a bone of contention between the property owner and the neighbors nearby, who say the property owner has rented it out as a party house.

Some Northaven Park homeowners are pretty peeved about a house they say has become a party house on Airbnb. But what really chapped their hides was what happened last weekend — a nekkid photo shoot around the pool.

As a Southern girl from way back, I learned the difference between “naked” and “nekkid.” Naked, you see, is when you don’t have clothes on. Nekkid is when you’re naked and up to something.

And Northaven Park neighbors say the company, Arsenic.TV, was definitely up to something – and those neighbors reached out to me this week about it.

(Note: After the jump, there are some photos depicting nudity or partial nudity. Angle your phone or computer away from small children and those easily offended by black bars over naked people and continue reading.)


The city’s fourth largest city is being pummeled by one of the most destructive storms in American history. 30% of Harris County is flooded. It appears that Houstonians in a single family house need a boat as much as they do an auto to navigate. And worse of all, at least five people have now lost their lives due to this storm.

So Airbnb, trying to be flip (I guess), sent out a promotional email campaign on Monday touting “floating world” destinations.

The marketing email included headlines like, “How to spend a day – or an entire trip – without touching dry land,” and “Stay above the water: live the life aquatic with these floating homes.”

Airbnb does engage in promotional campaigns for unique accommodations, such as treehouses and geodesic domes for rent. And the floating home promo may have been done months ago, before Harvey was known as a destructive hurricane. Still, this could have been caught. When I was in TV news, we pulled airline ads whenever there was a plane crash report. This campaign should probably have been put on hold despite automation.

Still, Airbnb has waived its service fee for homeowners listing their properties on the site who will take in Houston’s homeless for free. Which is a very nice gesture.

Bart Thrasher is nothing if not honest with his clients. And when Matt Simons wanted to renovate 5235 Vickery Blvd., Thrasher was reluctant to hitch onto the project. The home was in such a sad state that, as Thrasher admitted, it was a better candidate for a teardown. But Simons wouldn’t be dissuaded, and Thrasher, who is not one to back down from a challenge, fully signed on for the stem-to-stern renovation of this charming Vickery Place Craftsman bungalow. 

The results speak for themselves, and we couldn’t be happier to call this incredible project our High Caliber Home of the Week sponsored by Lisa Peters of Caliber Home Loans. It’s a huge success story for Thrasherworks, the design/build firm helmed by Karen and Bart Thrasher that focuses on historic renovation and commercial spaces that inspire. We can’t wait to see what they do next, but first, let’s ogle the results of this completely redone 1923 Craftsman bungalow.  




Yeah, as slim and skinny as your turkey carcass is right about now. And the decision could affect Airbnb properties all over the state, which could mean those holiday guests stay with YOU!

The 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio has ruled in favor of a San Antonio homeowners association screaming that a homeowner was violating deed restrictions when he rented out his house for short-term stays. As in what you do wth Airbnb.

Kenneth Tarr rented his San Antonio house about 31 times after being transferred to Houston in 2014. The property was in a deed-restricted neighborhood.

Residential use, it appears, means you cannot turn your home into a hotel whenever you need a little extra cash.

The appeals agreed that turning your home into a piggy bank with short term rentals violates a restriction in the deeds: properties must be for residential use only.

Are short term rentals a commercial use of your home? (more…)

 airbnb dadaAirbnb’s meteoric growth has shaken the hospitality industry, and is making homeowners mighty nervous about who their next-door neighbors might suddenly be. There have been regulatory fights to leash the short term rental site from New York to Barcelona.

screenshot airbnb commercial

Recently I moderated a panel on Vacation Homes for NAREE in New Orleans, like a little over a week ago. One of my panelists was Bill Furlong of HomeAway, the nine year old Austin-based “alternative accommodation” site that runs VRBO.com and VacationRentals.com. As I may have told you, the vacation home rental industry is huge and growing as more people find ways to make piggy banks out of their homes and second homes. HomeAway IPO’d in 2011. Airbnb is exploding. What did Bill tell us?

The vacation rental industry is estimated to be $100 billion worldwide.

HomeAway lists more than 1.2 million vacation rentals in 193 countries

The average owner listing on HomeAway books their property for 18 weeks and grosses more than $28,000 in rental income each year

More than half (59%) of HomeAway owners cover 75% or more of their mortgage renting to travelers

It’s such a juicy market that Expedia paid $3.9 billion for HomeAway in late December, ending their days of watching this industry from the sidelines. While Expedia and Priceline have continued to duke it out over hotel bookings, a new breed of competitors crept up using technology to help homeowners basically monetize what my grandmother did during the Depression: take in boarders. Like Bill said, who needs hotels when you can have a whole house for the same price?

Then along came Airbnb. In fact, the short term rental site has caused a lot of indigestion here locally. Now comes word that hoteliers and politicians in New York City have said, “enough”. Unlike San Francisco, where Airbnb started,  where there are new rules but short term rentals are legal, the Big Apple is losing hotel taxes to the private rentals and they are not going to take it anymore. We have the whole story over on SecondShelters.com.

But first, have you seen the commercial HomeAway ran to distance itself… and poke a little fun at… the home sharing companies? HomeAway listings tend to be managed properties and second homes that people rent out for most of the year. I’ve just leased a home in Lake Tahoe through VacationRentals.com: only $600 a night! Airbnb allows people to rent out rooms for brief stints; that’s how the concept was created. But now Airbnb also has expanded into the professional vacation rental businesses. So HomeAway Inc. wants to remind you how gross it can be to share someone’s home. I kind of agree: when I first heard the Airbnb concept, I said, dumbly, this will never work. But I guess I am too OCD.

The commercial is hilarious: Wouldn’t you love to find a stranger’s hair on a bar of soap? Have someone watch you while you sleep? Watch someone clipping their toenails in your home?

Ah the new sharing economy, toe nail clippings included at no extra charge.