Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10
343 Views

Ive been noticing something interesting and wonder what my fellow hosts think. I am looking at stays in a few different urban locations. The overall ratings of listings seem to be quite a bit lower overall than listings in a more rural location outside of the city. 4.6s, 4.7s are not uncommon for listings among the urban group. They look perfectly nice and the reviews mention things like "I had to walk up the stairs with luggage" or "kind of expensive per night" or "you can hear traffic." When reviewing these listings it seems pretty darn obvious to me that all of those things are just part of "living like a local" in that city. 

 

On the other hand the rural listings (and I will include mine in this pot as well) have lots of 5s and high 4.9 ratings and glowing reviews with the occasional grousing about bugs or an amenity like a dishwasher not working. 

 

Is it just me, or do you think guests are tougher when rating stays in a city? If so why do you think that is?

22 Replies

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

in
Greenville, SC
Level 10

Good question. Perhaps more competition with hotels, so they are comparing against a hotel-like stay? More relaxed, less phrenetic out in the country, and therefore in a better mood to write a good review? Your guess is as good as mine.

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

Yeah I am puzzzled. We bought a place in New Orleans as a personal getaway and stayed at ABBs when we were house hunting. Low ratings (comparatively...you can't go THAT low or be kicked off the platform) but the stays were very nice. Looking at places in other cities I see the same trend but if you search just outside the ratings jump back up. It frankly doesn't seem fair to urban hosts. 

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

Level 10

@Laura2592  It could be that the rural listing do looks better than the listing from urban area. In the busy area, the property is hard to keep in great shape. More expensive labor? Also the space is smaller. Peoples go to rural area probably have prepared for some more bugs,.,. But not for urban listing, they are more compared it with hotels.

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@Z-2 lol, you would think they would be prepared for bugs....not so much. 

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

Level 10

@Laura2592i hope.😁

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Laura2592    I think there are a lot of "it depends" factors.

 

If someone is coming from a rural or suburban location to a downtown area, it might well seem noisy, crowded, small and expensive. On the other hand people stay downtown for the convenience of being near their planned destinations. 

 

If someone is coming from an urban location to a rural location, it's going to be scenic, quiet, rustic, spacious and (presumably) less expensive, unless one is paying for a spectacular view. But, possibly,  further from amenities. 

 

My place is definitely in the city, but not downtown, so has more of a suburban feel. Houses are a bit further apart, there are pretty gardens, parkways, and space. It's quieter than downtown, but not rural quiet.  I get mostly great ratings - the occasional "4" for the dreaded "location" rating. 

 

One time there was a bad car accident right outside, while I had guests. Fire engine, ambulance, police car - all lights and sirens !    I was very apologetic and told my guests I hope they hadn't been too disturbed by the noise. They said not to worry, they live next door to a fire station. 

 

If anything, I think people measure the places they stay at not on their own merits, but on what they have in their own homes, or against other places they have stayed at. 

 

 

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Laura2592  I can only speak for my own listing, but maybe it's pertinent. 

I market towards guests who want a relatively quiet environment. Also, it's a 20 minute walk to town and the beach, so I get guests who tend to be outdoorsy or at least not mind walking. So between the marketing, the guests who are attracted to it, and the reviews I've gotten, the guests are a fit for my place.

 

I've had so many guests who have or do live off-grid or rurally, travelled or lived in 3rd world countries, most are quite environmentally aware. They've often lived in much more challenging circumstances than what they encounter here, which is actually quite civilized. They are adaptable and self-sufficient. They also tend to be readers, who actually read through all the listing info.

 

So they aren't fussy complainers- they are people who inform themselves of what to expect, are suited to my place, and all have left 5* reviews.

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

in
Charleston, SC
Level 10

@Laura2592 

"I had to walk up the stairs with luggage" or "kind of expensive per night" or "you can hear traffic." 

 

With comments like that 4.7 would be very good. It would need to be gutted and all new everything to stay above 4.6. Most STR aren't in the nicest part of town. Usually where investor might score something cheap, no one else want to live there, do it up, and list it, with a bunch of pic of popular local attractions.

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

@John5097 interesting. I hadn't thought about investors buying up urban properties that may not be super desirable but it makes sense.  I know that people also list their own spaces instead of selling or long term rental.  I do wonder what the proportion is of formerly owner occupied to investors. 

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

in
Charleston, SC
Level 10

@Laura2592 

 

The zoning laws in our urban city only allows non owner occupied houses in some of the commercial areas, called the commercial zoning overlay district. They tend to be on busy streets. So at least some of the guest are going to be disappointed. The last time I read Trip Advisor it said the downtown area had areas where safety might be a concern, and that if it looked like a bad neighborhood it probably was. Usually commercial area have a lot of bars and such, kinda like New Orleans I guess. Even I have guest who might see the listings downtown and think its going to be located in the areas where average house is multi million. And prices are high everywhere. So its just a lot of extra expense as well. For rental property taxes are 3x as much, maintenance, and cleaning crews might not be the best so it would be a challenge. 

 

Before the regulations went into place one investor was some kind of nude model or something and had divided up a historic house into apartments and was renting that out STR. So that would have been used as an example of what the residents didn't want. The city had a commission with high end consultants and public meetings over the course of a year at least before it went to city council. 

 

There was a shooting at one at a house party at one in the commercial area. Investment property that was long term lease before STR. I googled this one and one of the long term tenants wrote a bad review on yelp for the landloards property management company, because he kept everyone's deposit for normal maintenance that should have been his responsibility.

 

So the city may decide to do away with non owner occupied STR even in some of these commercial areas.   

https://www.counton2.com/news/officers-respond-to-reported-shooting-in-charleston/ 

 

 

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@John5097   I think price becomes a factor here. If people are booking spaces in parts of town that aren't so nice, it's probably because the places in the best parts of town would be way over their budgets.

Chicago has some spectacular downtown condos listed on Airbnb, views of the lake, steps from everything, doorman, elevator, all the mod cons, but definitely not cheap.

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

in
Charleston, SC
Level 10

@Michelle53 

 

It would be interesting to know what the zoning laws are in Chicago. In our city they only allow them in some areas. I just read the Airbnb finally agreed to a settlement with NYC and that ABB would provide all the names of the accounts listed in the city to weed out ones in code violation. Of course NYC has always had a lot of basement apartments and such in zoning violation but that also carries risk. 

 

I'm always interested in this kind of things though and what other cities are doing or not doing. 

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@John5097   The STR ordinance was updated last year September to put in place direct registration with the city, and to ban single night stays.

 

Condo building HOAs are allowed to ban STRs in a building completely.  Also, an entire building can't be turned into STRs. There is a maximum allowed number of units, depending on the number of units in the building.  In smaller buildings, STRs have to be owner-occupied, by a "natural person".  The new registration system doesn't allow LLCs or Corporations to register for a single unit registration. 

 

Some of the more upscale buildings banned STRs completely, so any which still exist in prime areas are pretty expensive. 

 

https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/bacp/supp_info/sharedhousingandaccomodationslicensing.html

Re: Urban ratings vs Rural ratings

in
Berlin, Germany
Level 10

@John5097 Whenever a listing prominently features photos of attractions that are not actually part of the listed property (especially in the lead photo in Search), you can safely assume that it's not a good place to book.

 

I don't know what percentage of Airbnb hosts are investors who bought up properties just to STR - I'm sure it's a much higher number than I'd like it to be, but probably not quite a majority.  But anyway, where I live, this type of investor tends to focus on neighborhoods that are desirable for tourists - not the posh parts of town, but the ones that people think of as convenient and hip. There are some nice areas of Berlin that aren't walking distance from interesting cultural attractions, nightlife, and fast public transport links, and they cost a fraction of what my neighborhood costs, but most of them don't have any Airbnb listings. That makes sense to me, because nobody in the history of the world has ever flown here from Canada to have a nice walk in our suburban forests. 

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