With Super Bowl rooms in short supply, private home rentals rise
On Monday, his brick-and-timber condo will hit the market for $10,000 a night for the week before the Feb. 4 game. “If someone wants to paint the walls purple, we’ll negotiate the price,” Yekaldo said. “But if I only rent it for one day and make $5,000, I’ll consider that a windfall.”
Game-week hotels in the Twin Cities are filling up fast, so homeowners with a room — or a whole house — to spare are preparing for an onslaught of football fans in search of a place to stay by signing up with VRBO, Airbnb and other short-term rental sites.
Prices for such rentals in the Twin Cities already exceed those of previous Super Bowl host cities because the Twin Cities area has fewer hotel rooms, and the vast majority of housing in downtown Minneapolis is off-limits.
Most condo owners won’t be offering their units, because all but a few buildings strictly ban short-term rentals. The companies that manage those associations are calculating steep fines and patrolling various websites to make sure no one is violating those policies.
Nearly every rental apartment will be unavailable, as well. Most property managers require a six- or 12-month lease, and temporary sublets are usually strictly forbidden because of security issues
Those restrictions downtown are giving a boost to other property owners around the Twin Cities. A St. Paul family is offering their RV, which can sleep four people, at $500 a night, but they say the water hookup will depend on the weather. The owner of a 20,000-square-foot house on a private island in Lake Minnetonka is making it available for $30,000 a night, helipad access included. Super Bowl week listings are even popping in farther away communities like Cannon Falls, Northfield and Hutchinson.
Homeaway.com, which owns VRBO, anticipates “Minneapolis surpassing Houston’s huge demand for vacation rentals,” according to a company representative.
During October, there was a 120 percent increase in listings on HomeAway sites compared with last year at this time. For those that were available Super Bowl weekend, 70 percent are already booked. If you’re still looking, the average nightly rate is $2,305.
In Houston, which hosted the Super Bowl last year, the average price for a rental was $1,715 compared with a normal nightly rate of $217.
“We’re encouraging people to book now,” said Kristen Montag, communications manager for Meet Minneapolis Convention and Visitors Association. “When you look at what’s online, it’s pretty thin for [the] weekend of the game.”
She said there are 8,973 hotel rooms in Minneapolis and 41,612 in the metro area — far fewer than in Houston — but it’s unclear how many are still available for Super Bowl weekend because some hotels might be holding rooms for release closer to the game.
The Twin Cities is unlike many popular vacation destinations, where homeowners have become accustomed to the so-called “sharing economy” and there are few restrictions on short-term rentals.
“I’m in a quandary right now about how to price it,” said Lynne Larsen, who recently started renting out a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor of a house in Uptown that she lists on Airbnb, which had 1,500 active hosts in Minneapolis and another 350 in St. Paul as of last week.
That was a 73 percent increase in six months, according to Laura Spanjian, Airbnb’s Midwest policy director. Spanjian said the company is launching local “Host Club” meetings to encourage more property owners to participate and to offer support to those who are considering it.
Normally, Larsen and her wife, Linda, are able to get $90 per night not including a cleaning fee, but they’re waiting to see how much rentals are actually fetching before deciding if, and for how much, they’ll offer it during the Super Bowl festivities. They’ve considered quadrupling their normal rate.
“I’m concerned about party people. We don’t have a party place, so I might take it off the site entirely,” she said. “I don’t want a bunch of folks coming in and having a lot of fun in a loud way.”
Officials in the Twin Cities have struggled to regulate short-term rentals, and Minneapolis recently approved new rules that require hosts who rent out a property they don’t live in, and those who move out when guests are present, to pay for a rental license. St. Paul is considering its options.
Prudden Cos., a Twin Cities rental management company, is working with several homeowners’ associations that have considered changing their rules to allow short-term rentals. Very few, however, have been willing to do it. “This has kept supply low and is a contributing factor to a higher price point than Houston,” said Jessica Prudden, who runs the firm.
Some buildings are compromising by making their common spaces available. Prudden’s firm recently helped a major cable network lease space in a downtown building where it can host all of its TV and radio shows. “It was a six-figure deal to the lessor,” Prudden said, “but substantially less than what they initially envisioned.”
She said that properties that are closer to the venue and those that offer a one-of-a-kind experience are fetching far more than the $2,000 nightly average. “We have multiple luxury homes north of $10,000 a night,” she said. “A hedge fund manager from New York or one of the NFL owners are targets for these exclusive homes.”
She said there’s already a shortage of luxury options and expects a last-minute rush once the teams are known.
“Fans will have a small window to solidify their housing,” she said.
Yekaldo, who owns the condo two blocks from the stadium, isn’t waiting to see how things shake out. He said that the owners in the 31-unit building where he’s on the HOA board have been discussing the situation for several months. It took the entire summer to forge an agreement about changing the bylaws to allow for short-term rentals.
Those bylaws previously said the minimum rental period was one year, but 75 percent of the homeowners voted in favor of the change. While individual owners are still evaluating their options, the board has been actively working to take advantage of the building’s proximity to the stadium.
It approved a contract with an advertising company to hang a 30-by-60-foot banner on the side of the building that faces the stadium even though the city prohibits buildings from becoming billboards. He’s sent a letter to his City Council representative asking for a change in the rules.
For now, he’s focused on finding a well-heeled renter, and he’s confident that anyone who is willing to pay his $10,000 nightly asking price isn’t likely to cause much damage.
“The type of person who will pay that is the type of person who will take care of this place,” he said. “I still have to live here once they’re gone.”
By Jim Buchta Courtesy Star Tribune