Airbnb Co-Founder’s New Business Is Building Small Homes in Backyards
Kanebridge News
Share Button

Airbnb Co-Founder’s New Business Is Building Small Homes in Backyards

The startup is launching in California, one of the states trying to boost its housing supply

Tue, Nov 15, 2022 9:25amGrey Clock 2 min

Joe Gebbia co-founded Airbnb Inc. as a company that helped people rent out their homes to guests. His new venture is about adding small homes to people’s backyards.

The new startup, known as Samara, plans to sell factory-produced studio and one-bedroom units to homeowners. The company is looking to capitalise on laxer laws and rising demand for affordable housing spurred by surging home prices and ballooning rents.

Samara is initially launching in California, which is one of the states trying to boost its housing supply by easing restrictions on accessory dwelling units. The modest residences are located on the same lot as a single-family home and in California can be as small as 150 square feet. The state now allows homeowners to build ADUs in their backyard even if the homeowners association prohibits it.

The company, which takes its name from the samara fruit, hopes eventually to expand beyond California. It is betting that worsening housing shortages and the rising popularity of remote work will increase the need for ADUs.

Unable to afford houses of their own, more Americans are moving into converted garages or guesthouses and multigenerational households are on the rise. Meanwhile, people working from home are more likely to need additional space away from noisy children and other distractions.

“Work from home at least once per week has fundamentally changed people’s relationship to their home,” Mr. Gebbia said.

Starting prices for Samara’s ADU line, dubbed Backyard, will range from $299,000 for 430-square-foot studios to $339,000 for 550-square-foot one-bedroom units in the San Francisco Bay Area, with slightly lower prices for homes in Southern California, the company said.

Mr. Gebbia, who co-founded the company with Mike McNamara, the former chief executive of electronics manufacturer Flex Ltd., said the units will be built in factories by a modular construction company. Samara will design and market them. It will also handle applications for building permits and the installation. The customisable homes come with solar panels on the roof designed to meet all the unit’s electricity needs.

Samara isn’t the first company to roll out these small homes, and faces competition especially in California. The state issued nearly 20,000 building permits for ADUs in 2021, up from 12,520 in 2019 and just 1,160 in 2016, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Samara also faces a challenging economic environment. Construction costs are high by historical standards while inflation, rising interest rates and a weakening housing market are eating into homeowners’ spending power.

Mr. Gebbia, 41 years old, graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design before becoming roommates with fellow Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky in San Francisco in 2007. The roommates quit their jobs that year and launched the short-term rental company in 2008.

Mr. Gebbia became interested in ADUs when he wanted to build one on his land but found the options underwhelming. “That was a tiny seed that was planted, you can say, by personal frustration,” he said.

Samara started off in 2016 as a research and design unit of Airbnb. Mr. Gebbia said he began working on the ADU concept with Mr. McNamara while still at the short-term rental company. “It got to the point where we both realized this needs to be an independent company. So earlier this year, we moved out of Airbnb,” he said.

In July, Mr. Gebbia announced that he would leave his full-time role at Airbnb. Samara is now an independent startup, although Airbnb owns a minority stake, according to Mr. Gebbia.



Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Related Stories
Greener Homes, Living Alone And Ongoing Rate Pain
By Bronwyn Allen 28/11/2023
Why Stars Are Renting Out Their Homes for Dirt Cheap
By ASHLEY WONG 28/11/2023
What We Fight About When We Fight About Money
Greener Homes, Living Alone And Ongoing Rate Pain

Ray White’s chief economist outlines her predictions for housing market trends in 2024

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Nov 28, 2023 2 min

Ray White’s chief economist, Nerida Conisbee says property price growth will continue next year and mortgage holders will need to “survive until 2025” amid expectations of higher interest rates for longer.

Ms Conisbee said strong population growth and a housing supply shortage combatted the impact of rising interest rates in 2023, leading to unusually strong price growth during a rate hiking cycle. The latest CoreLogic data shows home values have increased by more than 10 percent in the year to date in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Among the regional markets, price growth has been strongest in regional South Australia with 8.6 percent growth and regional Queensland at 6.9 percent growth.

“As interest rates head close to peak, it is expected that price growth will continue. At this point, housing supply remains extremely low and many people that would be new home buyers are being pushed into the established market,” Ms Conisbee said. “Big jumps in rents are pushing more first home buyers into the market and population growth is continuing to be strong.”

Ms Conisbee said interest rates will be higher for longer due to sticky inflation. “… we are unlikely to see a rate cut until late 2024 or early 2025. This means mortgage holders need to survive until 2025, paying far more on their home loans than they did two years ago.”

Buyers in coastal areas currently have a window of opportunity to take advantage of softer prices, Ms Conisbee said. “Look out for beach house bargains over summer but you need to move quick. In many beachside holiday destinations, we saw a sharp rise in properties for sale and a corresponding fall in prices. This was driven by many pandemic driven holiday home purchases coming back on to the market.”

3 key housing market trends for 2024

Here are three of Ms Conisbee’s predictions for the key housing market trends of 2024.

Luxury apartment market to soar

Ms Conisbee said the types of apartments being built have changed dramatically amid more people choosing to live in apartments longer-term and Australia’s ageing population downsizing. “Demand is increasing for much larger, higher quality, more expensive developments. This has resulted in the most expensive apartments in Australia seeing price increases more than double those of an average priced apartment. This year, fewer apartments being built, growing population and a desire to live in some of Australia’s most sought-after inner urban areas will lead to a boom in luxury apartment demand.”

Homes to become even greener

The rising costs of energy and the health impacts of heat are two new factors driving interest in green homes, Ms Conisbee said. “Having a greener home utilising solar and batteries makes it cheaper to run air conditioning, heaters and pool pumps. We are heading into a particularly hot summer and having homes that are difficult to cool down makes them far more dangerous for the elderly and very young.”

More people living alone

For some time now, long-term social changes such as delayed marriage and an ageing population have led to more people living alone. However, Ms Conisbee points out that the pandemic also showed that many people prefer to live alone for lifestyle reasons. “Shorter term, the pandemic has shown that given the chance, many people prefer to live alone with a record increase in single-person households during the time. This trend may influence housing preferences, with a potential rise in demand for smaller dwellings and properties catering to individuals rather than traditional family units.”


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Related Stories
Netflix Stock Surges on Subscriber Beat. More Price Hikes Are Here
By TAE KIM 19/10/2023
Return to Work Is Coming for Your Pandemic-Era Home
From the country to the coast
By Kirsten Craze 26/10/2023
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop