Jennie Quinlan was one of the first Airbnb hosts in San Antonio when she opened up a room in Alta Vista. Photo by Gretchen Greer.
The City of San Antonio generated over $2 million in Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) revenue for the year 2021 from about 2600 short-term rental properties. Credit: Gretchen Greer for the San Antonio Report

Airbnb hosts raked in $2.37 million in revenue from more than 2,000 active San Antonio listings in February, according to the latest tracking data. Other data sources show that San Antonio is the state’s fourth highest-grossing city for Airbnb rentals in the third quarter of 2017.

Top-grossing neighborhoods in February were Midtown (near the Pearl), Alta Vista, Monte Vista, Tobin Hill, and Olmos Park, which make up the 78212 zip code. That zip code pulled in a total of $333,364 from more than 200 properties in February, according to data from AirDNA, which tracks and analyzes Airbnb data.

The 78210 zip code that includes Denver Heights, Highland Park, Lavaca, and King William had the second highest host revenue total, $210,770, from 122 listings in the area.

A map of active Airbnb listings in San Antonio, including entire properties (purple), private rooms (blue) or shared rooms (green). Credit: Courtesy / AirDNA

AirDNA data reports only Airbnb listings, although several other short-term rental platforms are active in San Antonio, including HomeAway, VRBO, and others. Data analyzed by the Rivard Report tracks revenue from Airbnb listings for February 2018. Listings are considered active if they have been booked at least once in the past 36 months.

Hover over each zip code below to learn about the number of active listings, occupancy rates, and median monthly revenues for different types of Airbnb listings in San Antonio.

Meanwhile, San Antonio City Council is contemplating proposed regulations for short-term rentals developed by staff and a stakeholder task force. Some say those rules won’t be strict enough, some say they go too far, and others say they aren’t needed at all or that the City should use other regulatory methods. As the number of short-term rentals grows in San Antonio, there is no shortage of opinions on short-term rentals.

Short-term rentals in San Antonio have been on the rise since 2014, the data shows. The number of listings featuring entire homes, studios, or apartments increased 947 percent from 127 in October 2014 to 1,330 in December 2017. The number of private rooms available on Airbnb in San Antonio increased 581 percent from 100 to 681 listings over the same time period.

Booked listings rise at similar rates to available listings, increasing since 2014 by 1,431 percent for entire properties and 90 percent for private rooms, respectively.

“What’s bringing in the traffic is the Henry B. Gonzalez [Convention] Center,” said Kristopher Lopez, the founder and CEO of L2BNB, which offers short-term rentals targeting executives and business travelers mostly from across the United States and Mexico. “People are wanting to be in this environment and get away from hotels.”

L2BNB, which its website says offers a “luxury homesharing experience,” manages four listings in San Antonio, including properties in the Pearl and Alta Vista neighborhoods.

Lopez said his business, which currently operates in four states, is growing rapidly. He plans to list 16 more homes over the next two months, focusing on the Five Points neighborhood near the San Pedro Creek redevelopment.

“Right now you have a mixture of a St. Mary’s vibe and abandoned houses in that area. … A lot of people who go into that area at night are skeptical about what they’re going to be encountering,” Lopez said. “We just want to make that more of an expectation of cleaning up that area … making it more livable for the residents and for people that are visiting San Antonio.”

Abe Juarez, 54, president of the Five Points Neighborhood Association, operates several short-term rentals in his neighborhood. Homesharing has had a positive impact on the neighborhood, Juarez said, by encouraging patronage of local businesses and preserving single-family building stock.

“I’ve worked really hard to clean up the neighborhood,” Juarez said. “I made a few homes into Airbnbs because there was a need for it.”

Juarez is not deterred by the possibility of a City ordinance regulating short-term rentals, which he said won’t increase his operating costs.

The proposed ordinance proposes fees, taxes, and a permitting process for short-term rental property owners – but stricter rules and higher fees for listings that are not owner-occupied. Stakeholders have said there is less controversy surrounding short-term rentals at which the property owner also lives – an extra room in a home, for instance.

“I think [city regulations are] going to have a positive impact on our Airbnb business because it puts everybody on the same playing field,” Juarez said. “There’s a lot of rogue operators right now who don’t pay their taxes.”

Without City regulations, Juarez said, his competitors would be able to offer lower rates by not having to pay a mandatory Hotel Occupancy Tax, as proposed in the draft ordinance. City Council is scheduled to consider the regulations during its April 11 briefing session.

But some people, especially those who live in historic districts, say the proposed regulations don’t do enough to protect housing stock that should be occupied by residents, not visitors. Michael Guarino, former resident of King William Historic District and interim executive director of King William Association, worries that short-term rentals will push out residents.

“The concern in the neighborhood is about displacement,” said Guarino, who also chairs the City’s Historic Design and Review Commission. “If people are beginning to convert their carriage houses into Airbnb, are they displacing students and young professionals who work downtown who used to be a very strong market for these kinds of housing opportunities in King William?”

City regulations, as proposed, will not deter Lopez from expanding his homesharing business in San Antonio, he said.

“It won’t dramatically affect [our business],” Lopez said. “You just kind of move on.”

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Emily Royall

Emily Royall is the Rivard Report's former data director.