From the NYT:
New Yorkers who welcome strangers into their homes by becoming Airbnb hosts have found that the experience can be at turns nerve-racking, humorous and sometimes embarrassing. But for some determined hosts, it has proved profitable enough to replace more traditional revenue streams.
The first paying guest Evelyn Badia invited into her home was Ted, a professor from Amsterdam. Ted was a coffee drinker, but Evelyn didn’t own a coffee maker. “My first mistake as a host,” Ms. Badia said. “I don’t drink coffee. Why would I get a coffee maker?” She promptly went out and bought one.
Ted, it turned out, didn’t mind the oversight. When he traveled again to New York a few months later, this time with his wife, the couple stayed with Ms. Badia, whose guests have given her a five-star rating. “As an Airbnb host you have to remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them.”
Airbnb, the short-term home rental service that began operations eight years ago and is now valued at $31 billion, estimates that there are 46,000 hosts statewide, with more than 45,000 active listings in New York City alone, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in rental income every year. (Inside Airbnb, an independent data-tracking website, estimates the number of hosts in the city to be about 36,888.)
The annual median earnings for a host are $5,468 — money, the New York State attorney general has said, that may escape local sales, hotel and unincorporated business tax. State officials have instituted fines against illegal listings, arguing that Airbnb helps turn permanent housing into de facto hotel rooms. (Other cities around the world have also moved to crack down on illegal short-term rentals.)
While the debate continues over how Airbnb might affect housing availability and rental prices in the city, the incentive to host is clear. Why rent out the average New York one-bedroom for $2,700 a month when there is potential to make $200 every night, or $6,000 a month, during peak tourist seasons? Some housing advocates believe that if transient rentals like those on Airbnb were no longer available, the available long-term rental housing stock could be as much as 10 percent higher citywide.