Airbnb fees could add as much as 48 percent to total rental cost, study finds

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Editor’s note: This story’s headline has been corrected to reflect that the analysis of Airbnb fees, some of which are not determined by Airbnb, add to the total cost of a rental.

Vacationers looking to rent a space through Airbnb could be subject to fees that add up to nearly half on top of the rental cost in some cities, according to a recent study.  

The study from Forbes Advisor shows various fees tacked on to the end of customer’s bills may add up to more than 45 percent of the total cost. On average, for rentals this summer, customers face 36 percent in added fees on top of the nightly rental rate.

In Atlanta, where the nightly rate is $192, extra costs — like cleaning and service fees — added an average of 48 percent. And in Phoenix, where the nightly price hit more than $200, an average of 47 percent in fees were tacked on to the bill. 

Listings in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.; Davenport, Fla.; and Memphis, Tenn., round out the top five cities where the percentage of added fees is highest. 

For the study, Forbes Advisor analyzed more than 32,000 listings in 102 Airbnb markets in February, with an average analysis of 320 listings per market.

Then, it searched for properties available from July 14 through July 19, 2023 (five nights), to be occupied by four people.

Airbnb said it has not raised fees and pushed back on the study’s findings, saying greater transparency in its listings now shows renters the total cost upfront.

“In December, we began rolling out the option to display total price in countries without existing price display requirements,” Airbnb’s spokesman Sam Randall said in a statement.

“Total price will include all fees before taxes and be shown in search results, as well as on the map, filter, and listing page. Before confirming their booking, guests can still view a full price breakdown that shows Airbnb’s service fee, discounts and taxes.”

For the best value, the study suggests customers should search for listings in the Midwest and Florida.

Customers face an average of 36 percent of the total cost in additional fees. And more than a quarter of these go toward cleaning and service fees.   

The average cleaning fee across the country is $160 for a five-night stay, while five Florida cities, including Fort Myers Beach, boast the highest rates for these services.  

“In 2022, we saw new heights in demand on the Airbnb platform while providing great value to our guests. When compared to a hotel, Airbnb often provides more space and more amenities: travelers can get an Airbnb with two bedrooms and two bathrooms for approximately the price of one hotel room at a major chain,” Randall said in a statement.

“As Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky previously shared, we are always listening to our community on ways we can improve. In December, guests received early access to total price display, featuring the option to view total price – inclusive of all fees before taxes – within search results,” Randall said. “It is one of many updates to come, including new pricing tools for Hosts to help set competitive prices and provide even greater value for guests.

Spaces in Cleveland had the lowest average nightly cleaning fees at $32. The highest was $313 in Telluride, Colo. The analysis found that Phoenix, Atlanta, and Orlando, Fla., had the highest average cleaning fees as a percentage of the subtotal. 

But 15 percent of listings don’t charge cleaning fees, according to the study’s findings. 

For the best value, the study suggests customers should search for listings in the Midwest, including Ohio and Missouri, and Florida.

Randall addressed those fees in a statement from Airbnb.

“In addition to the nightly price and cleaning fee set by Hosts, guests pay a service fee as well as occupancy taxes in some locations,” it reads. “Service fees are set by Airbnb and cover the costs of the products and services we provide, such as 24/7 customer support. For most stays, guests pay a service fee that is under 15 percent of the booking subtotal.”

“In addition to the nightly rate, Hosts may apply a cleaning fee. Among active listings globally, 45 percent do not charge a cleaning fee.  For listings that do charge a cleaning fee, the fee on average is less than 10 percent of the total reservation cost,” the statement reads. “We will continue to test new updates around pricing so that we can continue to improve our service.”

Tags Airbnb Airbnb Brian Chesky Housing Housing housing market Housing market housing prices Housing prices real estate Real estate real estate market

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