Try Before You Buy

Airbnb lets potential Houston homebuyers take their new neighborhoods for a test run

Airbnb lets potential Houston homebuyers try out new neighborhoods

Houston skyline with buildings day
Airbnb and realtor.com are making it easy to try out a new neighborhood. EverydayHoustonHomes.com

The concept of "try before you buy" is a hard one to implement in the world of real estate. But a new partnership between Airbnb and Realtor.com aims to do just that for potential homebuyers, letting them experience a specific neighborhood before purchasing there.

The partnership is particularly focused on millennials, who now represent the largest group of homebuyers in the U.S. at 32 percent, recently taking over from Generation X. This age cohort, born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, is about 79 million strong, and their purchasing power is estimated to be $170 billion per year.

 The partnership is particularly focused on millennials, who now represent the largest group of homebuyers in the U.S. at 32 percent. 

The Airbnb-realtor.com partnership aims to reduce some of the unknown factors associated with relocating to a new community. Here's how it works: Visitors to realtor.com will see an "Airbnb before buying" option for certain properties, and the choice will also appear on the homepage and on for-sale listing pages. Potential buyers will be able to book accommodations on Airbnb ranging from single-family homes to condos, lofts, and other properties located near their chosen neighborhood.

"As we offer a variety of unique accommodations in neighborhoods across the country, we'll be able to allow potential home owners the special opportunity to experience those neighborhoods as if they already live there," says Chip Conley, Airbnb head of global hospitality and strategy.

Millennials are extremely technology-driven in their home-buying efforts, according to the 2015 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study. This partnership plays perfectly into that, allowing them to make all arrangements online.

"I think it's brilliant — this could give (millennials) a taste of a neighborhood and change them from renter to buyers," says Jay Forrester, a Realtor with Ebby Halliday Preston Center.

So let's say you're a 20-something thinking of moving out of mom and dad's house and into the Upper Kirby area. You might want to check out this Airbnb listing for a large apartment for $110 a night. The exact location is not revealed on the website for safety reasons, but it's located near West Alabama and Kirby Drive.

Or how about the Heights? This listing for a private room in a 1908 home — $119 a night — is within the historic Heights area, just a short walk from a plethora of shops, restaurants and coffee shops on bustling 19th Street.

If a buyer is eyeballing a location in the burgeoning EaDo area, this listing for a beautifully updated 1920s loft with an incredible view would allow them to get to know the area for $115 a night.

"This collaboration with Airbnb reinforces our commitment to giving consumers unparalleled insight to make informed real estate decisions," says Ryan O'Hara, CEO at Move, Inc., a subsidiary of News Corp that operates realtor.com under an agreement with the National Association of Realtors.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb is a website that allows people to rent out lodging in their homes. It has over one million listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries.

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A version of this story originally was published on Candy's Dirt. CultureMap contributor Elizabeth Rhodes researched the Houston housing examples.