Why Stars Are Renting Out Their Homes for Dirt Cheap
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Why Stars Are Renting Out Their Homes for Dirt Cheap

A-listers are becoming short-term rental hosts. But you might have to sign an NDA or stay in a celeb’s sneaker closet.

By ASHLEY WONG
Tue, Nov 28, 2023 8:37amGrey Clock 3 min

Martha Stewart’s 150-plus-acre property in Bedford, N.Y., includes a farm with horse stables and a chicken coop, a fruit orchard, a peacock pen and seven stately houses.

One of the abodes opened for a night’s stay this month.

The domestic goddess is among the A-listers, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Mariah Carey, putting their estates or penthouses up for short-term stays on rental sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com for nominal fees or no cost at all.

“It is a very pleasant weekend in the country,” Stewart said in an interview.

Why would a celebrity invite strangers to traipse through their home? Rental companies can use the attention to reach new audiences and distract from public criticism over hassles such as rising fees. Luminaries can promote their own brands, and guests get to briefly live like a star, in a highly orchestrated way.

Stewart said she had never used Booking.com or Airbnb for her own travel, and was intrigued by what the experience would be like as the homeowner. She recently announced that one of her farmhouse’s residences—her “tenant house”—in Bedford, would be bookable for two guests for one night starting Nov. 18. The Thanksgiving-themed overnight (Thanksgiving is among her favourite holidays) included a guided tour of the farm, a wreath-making class and a brunch with Stewart herself.

In keeping with the holiday vibe, the getaway was priced at $11.23, as in Nov. 23, this year’s Thanksgiving date.

The two-bedroom cottage where her guests stayed is always prepared for visitors, she said. (Of course it is.) That meant she didn’t have to worry about removing personal items, and she was unfazed about opening her home to people she didn’t know.

But don’t expect to post all over Facebook about your stay at Martha’s. Booking.com said celebrities can ask their guests to sign nondisclosure agreements, something Stewart required for hers. What exactly it is like to spend a night in any of these VIP homes will likely remain rarefied knowledge.

Celebrities are compensated for the home stays; Leslie Cafferty, Booking.com’s chief communications officer, declined to disclose how much.

People have long had a voyeuristic fascination with the lifestyles of the rich and famous. In Los Angeles, companies compete to offer celebrity-home tours, where passengers crane to see mansions behind gates and humongous hedges while sitting in faraway buses. Dwellings with even a patina of historic relevance draw fans. “George Washington slept here!” says a title for one Virginia farmhouse on Airbnb. (Wrote one reviewer: “This is a beautiful old home with wonderfully scenic views. There are horses, donkeys, and the oddest assortment of charismatic dogs.”)

Some can even be enthralled to sleep in a dorm room—if it once housed American royalty-turned-U. S.-president. At Harvard University, visiting politicians and notable figures including actor Alec Baldwin have stayed overnight at John F. Kennedy’s senior-year dorm suite, though it hasn’t been available for personal use for several years.

Companies such as Airbnb have faced scrutiny over soaring cleaning fees and host demands. In September, New York City began cracking down on short-term rentals by requiring hosts to register with the city and meet multiple requirements, such as not renting out an entire property. During a recent travel-industry event, Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky acknowledged seeing thousands of complaints on social media about rising rental costs.

The inexpensive and publicity-drawing celebrity home stays are one of several ways short-term rental companies are marketing to new hosts and guests.

Earlier this year, Paltrow invited guests to spend the night at her Montecito, Calif., home free of charge through Airbnb. The sunny, white-marbled rental featured a bathroom filled with products from Goop, Paltrow’s lifestyle company, and activities such as transcendental meditation. Through Airbnb, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis opened up their Santa Barbara beach house. The stars greeted their guests personally, and Kutcher documented part of their stay on his Instagram. Airbnb declined to comment.

Those who walk through the doors of a celebrity-anointed home might wonder: Should they expect to see family photos, or Paltrow’s personal trinkets hanging on the walls? And do they really get the run of the whole house?

That is up to the stars, Cafferty said. The entirety of Stewart’s guesthouse is available for the duration of the guests’ stay. Carey, the queen of Christmas, opened both her New York City penthouse and her rental home in Beverly Hills, Calif., to fans via Booking.com—yet Carey’s penthouse was only available for a cocktail hour; her guests stayed overnight at The Plaza Hotel.

Producer DJ Khaled opened only one room of his Miami house for Airbnb—his sneaker closet. To be fair, his sneaker closet doesn’t look like your sneaker closet. His is the size of a small dorm room, large enough for a bed for two, a shoeshine station and floor-to-ceiling sneakers (which guests weren’t allowed to touch). This was bookable last year for $11.

One of the guests who spent the night with DJ Khaled’s shoes wrote that the stay came with a free sneaker-shopping trip and chauffeurs, deeming it “an experience from start to finish.” No word on how the sneaker closet smelled, though the reviewer called it “immaculate.”

Sarah Jessica Parker invited two guests to her Hamptons home via Booking.com. It came with access to a crystal-blue private beach, a free pair of heels from Parker’s shoe line and reservations at some of her favorite local restaurants (though no appearance from Parker herself). Her rental went up for $19.98—priced for the year “Sex and the City” premiered.



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We reveal the No. 1 areas for price growth in each capital city

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Home values across Australia rose by a median 8 percent in FY24, delivering the equivalent of $59,000 in new capital growth to the two-thirds of the population that owns a home, according to CoreLogic data. Investors received total returns of 12.2 percent over the year, including capital gains and gross rental income.

Very tight supply and demand in most capital cities except Melbourne and Hobart was a significant driver of the capital growth, with the smaller and more affordable capital cities of Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide experiencing the most price appreciation over the year. A lack of properties for sale trumped the usual dampening effect of higher interest rates.

As usual, some areas outperformed their city’s median growth benchmark. Here are the top SA3 areas for capital growth in each capital city of Australia in FY24. SA3 areas are large suburbs, or districts incorporating clusters of suburbs, with more than 20,000 residents.

 

Sydney

Home values across Sydney rose by a median 6.3 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Mount Druitt. Its median value rose by 13.96 percent to $859,939. Mount Druitt is located 33km west of the CBD. It incorporates the suburbs of Mount Druitt, Ropes Crossing, Whalan and Minchinbury. The Mount Druitt community is very multicultural with almost one in two residents born overseas. It is home to many young families, with the median age of residents being 33 compared to the NSW median of 39.

 

Melbourne

Home values across Melbourne rose by a median 1.3 percent in FY24. The top area for capital growth was Moreland-North with 4.71 percent growth. This took the district’s median home value to $746,488. Moreland-North includes the suburbs of Hadfield, Pascoe Vale and Glenroy. It’s a multicultural community with a particularly large contingent of residents with Italian ancestry. One or both parents of 66 percent of residents were born overseas, according to the 2021 Census.

 

Brisbane

Home values across Brisbane rose by a median 15.8 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Springwood-Kingston in Logan City. Its median value swelled by 25.55 percent to $710,569. Springwood-Kingston is approximately 22km south of Brisbane CBD. It incorporates the suburbs of Springwood, Kingston, Rochedale South and Slacks Creek. It is a multicultural community with one or both parents of 55 percent of the residents born overseas, according to the 2021 Census. More than 15 percent of residents have Irish or Scottish ancestry.

 

Adelaide

Home values across Adelaide rose by a median 15.4 percent in FY24. The best area for capital growth was Playford in Playford City. Its median value soared by 19.94 percent to $530,991. Playford is approximately 40km north of Adelaide. It incorporates the suburbs of Elizabeth Downs, Elizabeth Grove, Angle Vale and Virginia. It is home to many young people under the age of 40. The median age of residents is 33 compared to the state median of 41.

 

Perth 

Home values across Perth rose by a median 23.6 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Kwinana in Kwinana City. Its median value skyrocketed by 33.19 percent to $618,925. Kwinana is approximately 37km south of Perth CBD. It includes the suburbs of Leda, Medina, Casuarina and Mandogalup. Henderson Naval Base is located here and there is a significant community of servicemen and ex-servicemen living in the area. It is home to many young families, with the median age of residents being 33 compared to the state median of 38.

 

Canberra

Home values across the nation’s capital rose by a median 2.2 percent in FY24. The best area for capital growth was Weston Creek. Its median value rose by 5.24 percent to $937,740. Weston Creek is approximately 13km south-west of the CBD. It includes the suburbs of Weston Creek, Holder, Duffy, Fisher and Chapman. Approximately 43 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree, which is on par with the ACT median but much higher than the national median of 26 percent. Household incomes are about 35 percent higher than the national median. Almost one in five residents work in government administration jobs.

 

Hobart

Home values across Hobart fell 0.1 percent in FY24. The top performing area for capital gains was Sorell-Dodges Ferry with 2.78 percent growth. This took the area’s median home value to $615,973. Sorell-Dodges Ferry is approximately 25km north-west of Hobart. It incorporates the suburbs of Richmond, Sorell, Dodges Ferry, Carlton and Primrose Sands. The area has a large community of baby boomers and retirees, with the median age of residents being 43 compared to the Australian median of 38.

 

Darwin

Home values across Darwin rose by a median 2.4 percent in FY24. The No. 1 area for growth was Litchfield. Its median value moved 3.21 higher to $672,003. Litchfield is about 37km south-east of Darwin and includes the suburbs of Humpty Doo, Acacia Hills and Southport.  It has a high proportion of middle-aged residents, with the median age being 39 compared to the territory median of 33. About 12 percent of residents are Indigenous Australians. The biggest industries are government administration and defence. Median household incomes are about 35 percent higher than the national median.

 

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This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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