Note: This story has been updated to reflect VRBO demand and an uptick in Airbnb bookings over the last couple of days.
Demand for housing is intense for the NBA All-Star Game, the biggest sporting event in Charlotte’s history that’s expected to draw 150,000 visitors to the city. Many residents are looking to take advantage of the demand by renting their homes or apartments out over the weekend to make some extra cash.
With many hotels filled to capacity, thousands of visitors need a place to stay. They’re visiting for the game itself and also for the dozens of fan activities, parties and other NBA events throughout the weekend.
The All-Star weekend, in fact, is expected to be the busiest weekend ever in Charlotte for Airbnb, the short-term home rental service.
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Airbnb estimates 3,800 guest arrivals during the All-Star weekend Feb. 15-17, the most that the company has ever seen over a one-weekend stretch in Charlotte. Hosts here are expected to make a combined income of $855,000, Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said in an email.
The typical host in Charlotte over the All-Star Game weekend will make about $395 in supplemental income, Breit said. In determining those figures, Airbnb looked at rentals just inside Charlotte’s city limits, not in the suburbs.
The NBA contracted about 32,000 hotel rooms for the event from Feb. 7 to Feb. 15. Uptown has only 5,700 rooms, so overflow is expected well outside the city center.
“We just see particular value from our platform during these types of major events that cause hotels to reach peak capacity,” Breit said in an email.
“Our host community can expand lodging capacity to ensure everyone who wants to be a part of the experience can stay within the corporate limits of Charlotte.”
Lejena Wynn is leasing two properties over the All-Star weekend. Her two-bedroom townhome near Villa Heights, roughly 2.5 miles from the Spectrum Center, is going for $400 per night over the All-Star Game weekend, for instance. Over the course of two nights, and including the cost of cleaning, a service fee and occupancy taxes and fees, the total comes to $960.
The following weekend, Feb. 22-24, however, it’s about half that price ($160 per night, and $482 for the weekend).
“We have been doing Airbnb for three years and are Super Hosts and love people. That’s why we are doing this,” Wynn said of renting her home.
Prices get even steeper the closer you get to the arena, where the NBA will host a number of events over the weekend, including the Rising Stars game on Feb. 15, the All-Star Saturday Night events Feb. 16 and the All-Star Game on Feb. 17.
A one-bedroom high-rise apartment near Romare Bearden Park will cost $800 per night, or $2,015 for the the weekend, with taxes and fees included.
VRBO, another vacation home rental marketplace, says that the average income potential for homeowners who rent their home for All-Star Weekend in Charlotte is $1,035. The average nightly rate during the All-Star weekend is $345 per night, according to VRBO, compared with $220 during the same weekend in 2018.
For first-time home renters, the Better Business Bureau is cautioning against scammers.
Tom Bartholomy, CEO of the BBB of Southern Piedmont and Western North Carolina, said that the bureau received notices of a type of fraud called “overpayment scams” by Airbnb renters during the Democratic National Convention in 2012.
When that happens, a renter/fraudster will pay in advance for the duration of their stay, often with a cashier’s or other type of check. They’ll then contact the host again saying they sent too much money, and request that it be wired back after the host deposits the check. The host complies, only to find that the check has bounced, and that he or she has been scammed.
“Anyone who asks you to wire their money back … run away,” Bartholomy said. “Just go away and tear (the check) up because it’s going to be worthless.”
The BBB also advises hosts to keep their valuables in a double deadbolt locked closet for security.
Heightened Airbnb demand is typical when a large-scale event comes to town.
Forbes reported last month that average Airbnb hosts in Atlanta stood to make about $690 from Jan. 27 to Feb. 3 for Super Bowl LIII. Airbnb hosts welcomed an estimated 9,200 guests from 59 countries and 49 states, according to Forbes.
Short-term rentals are popular throughout North Carolina as a way to generate supplemental income.
According to an Airbnb report last year, North Carolina residents who rented out their homes on the site made $97 million in 2017. Rentals were the most in demand in Asheville, where hosts earned almost $20 million. In Charlotte, hosts made $8.7 million, and in Raleigh, they made $3.8 million.