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Furnished Apartments Hot—Landlords Shift Away From Airbnb

Chicago’s hotel and rental apartment markets are undergoing dramatic changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With tens of thousands of people following state and city guidelines to stay at home, downtown Chicago hotels are posting soaring vacancies and managers are slashing room rates. And, the once-booming Airbnb market is sputtering in the Windy City.

One top Chicago Airbnb manager revealed that the city’s once thriving business is off 30% to 50%, and thousands of future reservations have been canceled. It is likely that hotel and Airbnb reservations will not rebound until early 2021 or later when an anti-virus vaccine is developed, experts predict.

While some luxury downtown hotels are reducing room rates from the $300-night range to as little as $69 a night, apartment landlords who formerly hosted swank, completely furnished Airbnb units are quickly redrafting 2020 marketing plans with a shift to leasing apartments on six-month and one-year standard leases.

“Within the past six months 35 furnished apartments have been rented in Census Tract 8007, which includes Lincoln Park and Old Town,” noted Realtor Sara E. Benson, president of Chicago-based Benson Stanley Realty.

An analysis of currently available furnished apartments in Lincoln Park revealed 22 active listings with monthly rents ranging from $1,775 to $14,950, Benson said.

“Renting former Airbnb apartments on standard leases is proving to be a strong business model,” said San Diego-based Airbnb manager Paul Lougee of Native Travel, who recently leased a professionally furnished one-bedroom apartment on Lincoln Avenue in Old Town to a medical professional for $2,350 on a one-year lease.

Another professionally decorated and furnished one-bedroom-plus-den unit on North Park Avenue in Old Town is currently being listed by Benson Stanley Realty for $2,395 a month. The 1,000-square-foot apartment features a 16-by-18-foot great-room, and a 12-by-18-foot master bedroom.

The unit showcases a black absolute granite “tuxedo” kitchen with undermount stainless-steel sink, gas range, dishwasher, built-in Euro-style washer/dryer, refrigerator with ice-maker. The full bath with marble floor has a glass-walled shower and 2-person Jacuzzi tub with Grohe full-body sprays.

The furnished apartment features hardwood floors and new area carpets in the great room, den and master bedroom, tasteful new modern furnishings and the building owner’s original art, lamps, end tables, and a completely outfitted kitchen. Other amenities are track lighting, Levelor blinds, central air conditioning, and gas forced air heating system.

The rent includes access to a spacious deck which is perfect for entertaining. The deck features built-in seating and Weber gas barbecue grill and overlooks a gated private walled patio and garden with restful in-ground fountain, statue and waterfall.

Pandemic pushes rents lower

Average U.S. Apartment rents decreased by $2 a month to $1,457 in June, and year-over-year growth was in the negative for the first time since December of 2010, reported Yardi Matrix.

Gateway cities such as Chicago, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Houston and 15 other cities posted negative rent growth. The survey reported that rents have declined $12 a month nationwide since January of 2020.

Also, MRI Software reported a “worrisome trend” of an on-going rise in the use of credit-card debt to fund rent payments from unemployed renters of market-rate apartments.

The Yardi Matrix report also tracked an “exodus” from major U.S. cities, fueled by the success of remote working and the desire of many renters to exit populous areas, where it is harder to socially distance and rents are less expensive. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Indianapolis, Kansas City, St. Louis, Colorado Springs, and Tucson posted growth in rentals.

In California, Lougee noted the rise of a trend called “Staycations,” where city families are renting luxury suburban single-family Airbnb homes with swimming pools to avoid crowded cities over the summer.

For more housing news, visit Don DeBat is co-author of “Escaping Condo Jail,” the ultimate survival guide for condominium living. Visit


“The book is Escaping Condo Jail by Sara Benson and Don DeBat. I would say that anybody thinking about buying a condo, or even anybody serving on a condo board, or anybody who has any connection to a condo, this is must reading—all 600 and something pages. Thanks a lot for a great book!”


Steve Sanders, “Your Money Matters” WGN TV, December 22, 2014

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