A newly minted sweepstakes allows Realtor.com users to book a rental through Airbnb to let them “live like a local,” by experiencing a neighborhood before buying. It’s a great concept that feeds into consumers’ desire to research before buying, and pushes the idea of the value of a neighborhood before an offer is ever submitted. Consumers will now see an “Airbnb before buying” option on the homepage and listing detail pages.
In a statement, Move CEO, Ryan O’Hara said, “This collaboration with Airbnb reinforces our commitment to giving consumers unparalleled insight to make informed real estate decisions. Our relationship with Airbnb—a company that helps millions of people feel at home in communities around the world—allows us to reduce some of the unknown factors associated with relocating to a new community. It is what we mean when we say realtor.com® puts the ‘real’ in real estate.”
Encouraging the home buying process
Airbnb had equally kind things to say, as Chip Conley, their head of global hospitality and strategy said, “We’re pleased to team up with realtor.com® to encourage and support the home buying process. As we offer a variety of unique accommodations in neighborhoods across the country, we’ll be able to allow potential homeowners the special opportunity to experience those neighborhoods as if they already live there – before making the decision to buy.”
To celebrate their partnership, they’re running a sweepstakes wherein every week through August 23rd, one consumer will win $500 toward their local experience with Airbnb.
But wait, didn’t realtor.com just roast Airbnb?
On realtor.com’s news page this April, a story was published entitled “No One Can Agree on Whether Airbnb Is Good or Bad for Housing,” outlining all of the horror stories associated with the booking site.
“But guests from hell aren’t the only problem the service is facing,” the story notes. “Cities continue to sound the alarm about a potential housing bubble brought on by the service. As The Economist eloquently put it, ‘What began as a platform for homeowners with spare rooms to make a bit of pocket money on the side, is becoming overrun with property entrepreneurs looking for lucrative short term gains.’”
On the flip side, they showcase the fact that some empires have been built using Airbnb and it’s a great way to line your pockets. “To be honest, we aren’t sure whether Airbnb is a nefarious plot to bring down the hotel business or the perfect way to see the world on a budget, but we do know it’s become a model for a number of startups hoping to set sail for Series A in its well-financed wake. Not bad for a modest dream that began with a rather humble pitch deck that named Hostels.com (?!) as the closest competitor.”
Airbnb has become a model that many emulate, but the story concludes with warning of the potential perils.
The contrast between the story and the sweepstakes is stark, but anyone in the tech industry knows that Airbnb is this strange creature that everyone wants to trash and be like at the same time, so our final analysis is that the new feature on realtor.com could be a huge help for the real estate industry by helping consumers commit and make more educated choices.