Super Bowl LI is rapidly approaching and, as the clock counts down to February 5, Houston is ramping up for the big event. George R. Brown Convention Center and Discovery Green have spruced up with new public art installations, making way for Super Bowl LIVE, a ten-day fan fest that includes a virtual reality trip to Mars.
Officials with the Houston Police Department tasked with security predict we'll see even more visitors than during last spring's 2016 Men's Final Four. Uber is aggressively advertising for more drivers ("Get your side hustle on") and enterprising businesses are jockeying for a piece of the financial pie.
So where are you going to watch Super Bowl LI? Believe it or not, thousands of Houstonians have decided they're willing to flee town or get on the couch circuit in exchange for some cold, hard cash. We did some digging around on Airbnb and noticed a pattern: Many of our neighbors have recently placed their homes on the site in hopes of catching that big fish.
Each visit to airbnb.com yields different results as homes are rented, price points change and new inventory is added. Our pre-Thanksgiving search for a three-night stay (check in Friday, February 3; check out Monday, February 6) pulled more than 1,000 hits. We narrowed the search, looking at those properties renting for more than $750 per night, and that still resulted in 300+ available rentals. Considering that many area hotels are requiring a four-night minimum, that's not such a bad deal for a football fan trying to book a room.
Here's an idea of what's out there, though rates do not include cleaning fees, security deposits or service fees.
Deborah is offering up her two-bedroom apartment near Bagby and Gray for $5,008 a night, though she'll charge a bit more for groups of six or more. Previous renters gave this actress/coffee seller the “thumbs up,” leaving a bottle of wine for guests and offering recommendations for neighborhood eateries.
Bennett has priced his three-story townhouse in Midtown for $4,997 to $5,039 per night, noting that he's got a brand new air-conditioner, though we're not sure that's going to be necessary come February. It has an industrial exterior and contemporary furnishings, and guests give props for the memory foam mattress.
Stephanie is willing to give up her one-bedroom apartment near the University of St. Thomas for just $5,500 per night, and promises that both she and her dog will relocate for the big weekend.
Alexis's one-bedroom apartment is located in a charming 1940s building near the Museum District, also renting for $5,500 per night. It's a gamble: With the exception of a photograph of her brown sofa with nailhead trim, she hasn't posted any pics of the interior.
On Westheimer, just inside the Loop, Jack is offering up his artfully decorated three-bedroom house for $5,000 per night. It has a lovely, ivy-covered back patio and enough granite in the kitchen to sink a ship.
Have a big family? Andrew has named his downtown townhome "Superbowl Heaven," and he might be right. For just $5,000 per night, his four-bedroom abode on Washington Avenue sleeps ten, but it's his fourth-floor media room, with a 100-inch projection TV and a patio with amazing views of downtown, that sealed the deal.
Jereme makes no secret that he's only on Airbnb for Super Bowl weekend. He's willing to vacate his three-bedroom home for $5,000 per night. It sleeps six, pets are allowed, there's room to park six vehicles and he even has a trampoline in the back yard.
Blossom's three-bedroom house in the Heights has a rooftop terrace, a cozy back patio with teak furniture, and a soothing gray color palette with pops of red. It sleeps eight, and it's yours for $6,000 per night.
John plays things close to the vest. He hasn't posted any pictures of the interior, but says his three-bedroom/two bathroom townhome will sleep eight and is pet-friendly. It's located near the Rice Military area and Washington Avenue and goes for $5,689 per night.
For Krystal, it's time to go big or stay home. Her two-bedroom condo, in a prestigious Uptown Park highrise, goes for a cool $10,000 per night. She skimps a little on the photos – using cell phone screen shots of the exterior from HAR.com and Google Street View – but if the bedroom photograph is legit, you'll have fantastic panoramic views. Caveat emptor.
When we grow up, we want to live like Steve. His open-concept, 3,900-square-foot, five-bedroom house sleeps ten, and he's got it all. Activate the motorized shades to look out on the pool with a waterfall and fire feature, or venture outside for a game of Putt Putt golf or to grill a steak in the outdoor kitchen. He has so much space that he converted one room into a Kardashian-worthy closet. Live like Steve over Super Bowl weekend for just $8,000 per night.
Our lemon award goes to Colin, however. He's got a one-bedroom apartment in old Spring Branch, and he's offering up the use of two couches for $5,000 per night (he's staying in the bedroom, but says he'll close the door). We really like his framed posters of Marvel comic books, and the denim couch reminds us of our college days, but you'll have to share the space with a cat tower and two cats (“1 friendly and 1 that hides”).
It all sounds tempting, but before you start singing Billy Joel's "If that's movin' up then I'm movin' out," be aware that a recent Texas appellate court decision could prohibit this activity.
A case was settled last week that involved a man who purchased a home in San Antonio and was transferred by his employer to Houston two years later. He listed his home online and rented it out 31 times, ranging from one to seven days per rental. He thought he was playing it safe, collecting and paying the Texas Hotel Tax, but the association sued and Justice Karen Angelini ruled in favor of the association (San Antonio's Fourth Court of Appeals; No. 04-16-00022-CV, Kenneth H. Tarr v. Timberwood Park Owners Association Inc.).
Airbnb just updated its terms of service in October of this year. Any renter or host who signed up prior to October 27, 2016, will need to agree to the terms to continue using the service after December 7 of this year. The company seems to be aware of actions involving homeowner and condominium associations:
IN PARTICULAR, HOSTS SHOULD UNDERSTAND HOW THE LAWS WORK IN THEIR RESPECTIVE CITIES. SOME CITIES HAVE LAWS THAT RESTRICT THEIR ABILITY TO HOST PAYING GUESTS FOR SHORT PERIODS. THESE LAWS ARE OFTEN PART OF A CITY’S ZONING OR ADMINISTRATIVE CODES. IN MANY CITIES, HOSTS MUST REGISTER, GET A PERMIT, OR OBTAIN A LICENSE BEFORE LISTING A PROPERTY OR ACCEPTING GUESTS. CERTAIN TYPES OF SHORT-TERM BOOKINGS MAY BE PROHIBITED ALTOGETHER. LOCAL GOVERNMENTS VARY GREATLY IN HOW THEY ENFORCE THESE LAWS. PENALTIES MAY INCLUDE FINES OR OTHER ENFORCEMENT. HOSTS SHOULD REVIEW LOCAL LAWS BEFORE LISTING A SPACE ON AIRBNB.
Last Updated: October 27, 2016
If you decide to make the leap and list on Airbnb, our only advice is to not get too greedy. There are hundreds of lovely homes at reasonable price points, and they're going to be snapped up a lot faster than Colin's cat-hair couches. And don't forget to mark your calendars for that virtual reality trip to Mars. Future Flight's “WOW” Factor experience will be open to the public from January 28 through February 5. It's part of Super Bowl LIVE, a free event in and around Discovery Green with music, games and attractions.