Not Renting my House for the Superbowl. Did I Fumble?

So ICYMI, the Superbowl is coming to Houston this weekend.   I live in Houston and for the past few months, my neighbors and I have discussed the idea of renting our houses for the big game.  It is certainly appealing — the chance to possibly earn a mortgage payment from a few days of inconvenience.  In fact, I know from previous experience that there is money to be made renting through Airbnb.  My husband and I co-own a rental property in New Orleans with my mother and for 2.5 years we rented it through Airbnb, including the weekend that New Orleans hosted the Superbowl in 2013.

The Work

We ran the New Orleans property as a dedicated short-term rental business, with a defined system in place to manage it.  My Mom took care of the day to day issues that arose, I handled all online correspondence and bookings, and we had a maid service that came in before and after each rental to clean.  To translate this work to my own house at this point would not be as seamless.  Our house is not set up as a rental.  We have personal effects which would need to be safeguarded. And while I have good intentions to declutter, the progress has been slower than I would like.

The Cost

In addition, as with any business, a short-term rental has its start up costs.  To get our house ready to host, there are a number of things we would have to do.  First, we’d need to purchase new sheets and towels. Although these are not necessities, someone paying to stay at a house would probably not expect to dry off with a ratty Elmo hooded towel or sleep on well-loved Thomas the Train sheets.  It would probably also be a good idea to have our carpets cleaned and fix some marks on the walls here and there.   If we planned to rent our house for more than one week per year, as I hope we can one day, these costs may very well be worth it, but at this point they’re not.

The Inconvenience

Moving out of our house for a few days might be exciting if it were just my husband and me.  We could explore someplace new  or go visit friends.  That’s not the case, though.  We would have to uproot our three kids 6 and under.  The baby is one and still doesn’t sleep easily out of his crib.  More importantly, the Superbowl is on a school night, so we’d have to find an alternate place for ourselves and still get everyone to school on time the next day.

The Reality

The Airbnb site boasts that “Many Houston hosts will make more than $3,000 for the week leading up to kickoff,” but from the experience is San Francisco last year, it seems that these high profile weekends increase inventory which causes prices to remain somewhat stable.  That was my experience with our New Orleans rental property.  We generally rented the house for $150/weekend night and during the Superbowl we got $199/night.  An increase, yes, but nothing dramatic.

Applying this situation to the case at hand is helpful.  Our home is super comfortable and I like it.  It can fit a lot of people for its 2000 square feet, and if you have kids, you would be all set: amenities include a crib, toddler bed, highchair, and overstocked playroom.   But I am betting that most Superbowl attendees are not traveling with the fam.  In addition, most people are looking for a high-end splurge during the big weekend and my special decorating blend of hand-me-downs, supplemented by IKEA, is probably not what they’re thinking.

The hustler inside of me hates to miss this opportunity, but I’m not sure the opportunity costs are that high in this situation. What do you think?  Would you have thrown a Hail Mary instead?

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