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How The Pandemic And Virtual DNC Have Hurt Milwaukee's Airbnb Hosts

Many Milwaukeeans hoped to make some extra cash renting on Airbnb for the 2020 Democratic National Convention. But with the pandemic and the virtual DNC, some may now be looking for more traditional renters.

The Democratic National Convention was expected to have a $200 million economic impact in Milwaukee. In the days following the announcement that Milwaukee beat out its competitors to host the DNC, there was a lot of energy and excitement, especially among those hoping to get a piece of that $200 million pie.

One group that was looking to capitalize on the massive influx of people and money for the convention: people opening up their homes to rent through Airbnb. Matt Eisenhower, a real estate agent in greater Milwaukee, went so far as to purchase a home to rent to convention-goers.

He had been looking to get into the Airbnb market and thought the DNC would provide enough of a payday that even if his time as an Airbnb host was short-lived, it would still leave him ahead on his investment.

“Now, I am at decision point of what to do with this property. I still can rent it as a regular rental, I’ll make $100 to $200 a month on it, which is a lot of risk to make not much money,” says Eisenhower. “I’ll have to do something with it.”

In the interim, he has used the property as an office and a space for some family members to quarantine. He says Milwaukee is a seller’s market right now. So, if he decides to sell the property, it may only take hours until he has an offer on the house. He is leaning toward selling the house but still wants to explore all rental options before doing so. 

Angelina Mosher Salazar joined WUWM in 2018 as the Eric Von Broadcast Fellow. She was then a reporter with the station until 2021.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.