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A decade ago, former correctional administrator Earl Huch and his wife, Lois Eldred, decided to become Airbnb hosts.
“We had just done a renovation with a bedroom, bath and separate entrance,” recalls the Catonsville, Maryland, retiree, 84. “We wanted to make a little extra money,” and someone told them about Airbnb.
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Now their $75-a-night digs are almost fully booked on Airbnb through the end of 2022 by travelers seeking affordable rooms in the Baltimore area. With their 4.76/5 average rating from guests, Huch and Eldred have become Airbnb “Superhosts” (a Superhost, according to Airbnb, is “someone who goes above and beyond in their hosting duties and is a shining example of how a Host should be.”)
Travelers in increasing numbers are opting for vacation rentals over hotels, particularly in the COVID-19 era of caution and teleworking from anywhere. The demand has inspired more property owners to turn their houses, extra bedrooms or vacation homes into rentals.
Many hosts are older. In 2021, more than 30 percent of Superhosts were 60 or older, says Airbnb spokeswoman Liz DeBold Fusco. “Older adults are some of our most beloved hosts,” she says, noting that they earn on average more than $8,000 a year through the site. The Vrbo rental site (formerly known as Vacation Rentals by Owner) is also seeing more older hosts.
“We expect the momentum to keep up in 2022, so it’s a great time to think about listing a vacation rental to generate extra income,” says Alison Kwong, spokeswoman for Vrbo.
“Rental rates are soaring,” says Cindy Vinson, 73, a San Francisco area resident whose three-bedroom beachfront Hawaii condo is booked through Vrbo for the rest of 2022.
Vinson adds that she’s able to finance a vacation home in Lake Tahoe by renting it out on Vrbo when her family isn’t using it. “We could not have afforded [the properties] otherwise,” she says.