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…)

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 and 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

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 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.


Recently former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert sold his $6.2 million ski-in, ski-out house, right near the Dreamcatcher Lift in Park City Utah. It was sold at auction to another Dallas family who bought it for their grandchildren. Now here is the best part of the story: the family already owns a home in Deer Valley. They just wanted a place for the grandchildren to ski where snowboarding was allowed. So of course, they bought a house in Park City. Got a good deal, too: $4.2 million. The auction was conducted by the good folks at Heritage Auction here in Dallas.

The vacation home market is estimated to be at $100 billion worldwide, and a lot of it is because of grandparents wanting fun for their grandkids. In New Orleans at NAREE this month, I gathered five top vacation home experts, including Bill Furlong of HomeAway, Jackie Doak of Dart Enterprises Ltd., the developer of Camana Bay on Grand Cayman Island, Hunter Harman, Broker/Owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida, Tina Necrason of Montage Hotels & Resorts, and Tyler Niess of Crescent Communities.

Vacation home sales are robust but not as furious as they were in 2014. Still, 920,000 vacation homes were sold in the U.S. in 2015, the 4th highest number in NAR survey’s 13-years. In 20015, 16 percent of all US home sales were vacation homes. In 2014, 21 percent of all were vacation homes, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The median price vacation home is now up to $210,000 in 2015 from $197,200 in 2014. To find out where the hottest markets are — surprising! —  and see the entire panel in full video, click on over to our sweet sister blog,

homeaway eiffel tower

HomeAway’s Eiffel Tower apartment. Photo: HomeAway

If Paris is the city of love, then the Eiffel Tower is one of the most romantic landmarks in the world. Lots of people get engaged there, but what if you could do that, or renew your vows, in an Eiffel Tower apartment?

Vacation rental website HomeAway has partnered with architect Benoit Leleu to design a temporary and totally fabulous apartment inside the Eiffel Tower. They’re running a contest, called the HomeAway LoveAway sweepstakes, which ends tonight at midnight.

Read the whole story on SecondShelters!



(Photo: Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University)

(Photo: Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University)

“The rules and tax-planning strategies for a vacation home are complex if the home is rented,” says Dr. Jerrold Stern, a research fellow at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

Truly, that’s an understatement.

More and more people are buying vacation homes thanks to growing employment and stock market gains. And as services such as VRBO, Airbnb, and HomeAway become more popular, more and more people are renting out their vacation homes. Find out what you can do to keep the IRS at bay when tax day comes over on