Homeowners aim for big paydays on RNC rentals

Plus: Truist and Truliant now ready to throw down; Developer sues developer over Providence Road site; Bishop wins Dan battle for Congress

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Reality check lies ahead for ambitious Airbnb RNC listings; $2,600/night for Beverly Woods split-level?

A lot of people in Charlotte are wary of next year’s Republican National Convention and the traffic, crowds, security measures and protestors it will bring.

But another group of people — primarily homeowners close to uptown — is hoping to make some big money off the convention by renting out their houses on Airbnb. Some are asking as much as $3,000 a night.

Ken Smith and his wife built a five-bedroom, three-bath townhouse in Elizabeth in 2017 and occasionally rent it out on Airbnb for $600 a night. It sleeps 11 people and attracts out-of-town Panthers fans and professionals. But for the week of the RNC next August, Smith decided to ask $2,400 a night after seeing a similar property on the lake asking $2,800.

“I don’t know if I’ll get that, but right now, that’s what I’m listing it as,” Smith says.

Ken Smith usually rents out his luxury townhouse about a mile from the Spectrum Center for $600/night on Airbnb, but he figures his spacious and prime location will command much more than that during the Republican convention.

Although the convention is nearly a year away, homeowners and renters are already making plans:

  • Airbnb said this week that guests have booked 100 properties in Charlotte for convention week. The company said in a news release that it plans to host a total of at least 20,000 guests at the two parties’ conventions.

  • The property-management company Rabbu says it has already rented out 20% of its 60 Charlotte Airbnb homes for the convention — at a 400% markup.

Airbnb lists more than 300 properties in Charlotte for the week of the convention, with an average nightly price of $374 — more than double the usual price. That includes 52 houses with list prices of $1,000 or more per night, such as:

Houses outside of a five-mile range from uptown, like this split-level in Beverly Woods, are expected to have a harder time attracting renters willing to pay big money.

More options, realistic prices: Aggressive early pricing might not hold up. Since the 2012 Democratic convention in Charlotte, uptown has been steadily adding hotel rooms, which should lessen the need for private residences. At the same time, there are many more homeowners listing their properties.

“Don’t expect to make thousands of dollars a night off your property. That’s unrealistic,” says Emir Dukic, founder of Rabbu, the Airbnb property-management company. “There’s going to be an oversupply.” But he says two- to four-bedroom homes within five miles of uptown are going to be “highly desirable.” So will super-luxury homes farther out.

Gouging journalists and lobbyists: Because delegates tend to secure their lodging through the official convention channels, the primary renters tend to be journalists and lobbyists. Those are two groups that will receive no sympathy if they’re gouged on accommodation pricing, but they know they might have better and cheaper options if they wait.

Renting out your house also isn’t hassle-free. When Stephanie Gallagher and her husband used Airbnb to rent out their five-bedroom, four-bath Dilworth house for the 2012 DNC, she had to declutter; move belongings into a locked closet; figure out where to stay; arrange to board their cat, Spanky; and buy nice towels and extra sheets. “You don’t want people to think you’re a slob,” she says. Still, she says the $1,000 a night was worth it, especially since renters occupied their house for two weeks: A PR firm took one week, and members of the Pennsylvania delegation reserved a second week. Each booked about five months ahead of time.

If you’re thinking about renting, people who have done it offer this advice:

  1. Take good photos. Smith, the Elizabeth homeowner, says he paid the photo company TourFactory $140 for shots to put online. “It makes your place pop,” he says.

  2. Consider your location. Homes closer to uptown will command a premium. Rabbu says it expects houses to rent for between $259-$339 a night for a two-bedroom and up to $619-$799 a night for a five-bedroom. Spots closer to uptown and premium properties will be on the high end.

  3. Start now. Renters might not decide on a property for several more months, but there’s no harm in setting up a page now. Provide as much detail as possible about location and amenities and put “RNC” somewhere in the property title to help with search results.

  4. Plan for it. Think about what you’d need to do if somebody rents your home, like thoroughly cleaning before and after, installing a lock on a closet or removing personal belongings and leaving town or staying with friends. You might decide it’s not worth the effort.

Truliant vs. Truist: It. Is. On.

The trademark-infringement lawsuit filed by Truliant Federal Credit Union against Truist Bank in June now looks to be revving up.

Federal court records show the suit was finally served last week to BB&T and SunTrust, which are merging to become Truist and moving their HQ to Charlotte with about 2,000 jobs. There had been no action in the case since it was filed June 17. Truliant claims the name “Truist” is too similar to Truliant and customers will be confused.

A trademark lawyer told the Ledger last month that companies routinely file cases but don’t serve them on defendants as both sides try to work out an amicable solution. Serving notice — which Truliant did last week via Federal Express — indicates the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement. Let the nasty court filings continue!

SunTrust and BB&T are expected to file a response before the end of the month.

Say a prayer that the BB&T/SunTrust legal briefs match wits with Truliant’s complaint. As the Ledger reported in June (third item):

It’s a battle over which financial institution will have the right to make awful puns using the prefix “Tru.” Truliant, in its federal court filing, lays out its long history of groaners, including:

  • “TruFinancial Checkup” (financial counseling, since 2006)

  • “Tru2Go” (mobile app, since 2015)

  • “TRUism” (piece of financial advice, since January 2019)

And, of course, who can ignore the confusion that would stem from “Truceratops,” the name of the cartoon dinosaur Truliant unveiled in 2018 to teach financial literacy through the “Dino Dollar Kids Club.” An attachment to the court filing (below) says Truceratops lives in North Carolina, “where I love to snack on veggie tacos and teach kids really cool stuff about money.” (Really.)

Truliant is being represented by the Greensboro office of national law firm Fox Rothschild, records show.

Admit it

The name “Truist” sounds far less awful now than it did when you first heard it. Right?

Loves me some internet

Apple introduced the iPhone 11 on Tuesday, and the big innovation is that it will have multiple lenses to take better photos. The design was quickly ridiculed online, Mashable reports:

Developers wrangle in court as prime corner sits idle

The corner of a major south Charlotte intersection is remaining undeveloped years after plans for it were announced, as the two developers who were working on it square off in court.

In a court case filed over the summer, a development company run by Charlotte developer Daniel Levine sued a company run by Raley Miller Properties. In 2015, the two had announced they were working together on a mixed-used development on the 11-acre site that would include a grocery store, retail and 225 residential units in buildings up to six stories tall. The plans, though, apparently kept changing.

The land, across Providence from the Strawberry Hill shopping center, was rezoned in October 2015 and again in January 2017. At a community meeting — back when the developers were on friendlier terms — they forecast that the development would be open by summer 2018.

According to Levine’s lawsuit, Raley Miller had agreed to place the land in a jointly held LLC with Levine after the rezoning but hasn’t.

In brief

  • Dan battle finally ends: Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop defeated Democrat Dan McCready by about 4,000 votes, 50.7% to 48.7%, to win a seat in Congress. (CNN)

  • Midtown land sale: JPMorgan has bought a 1.3-acre piece of undeveloped land next to Metropolitan in midtown for $2.9M. It’s at the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and South Kings Drive. No word on what’s planned for the site. (Biz Journal/paywall).

  • Sharper writing: Amy George of Charlotte’s By George Communications, writing in Inc., shares “4 trendy words to avoid on LinkedIn, resumes and marketing.” Her list: “bespoke” (“custom” is better), “authentic” (“rendered meaningless”), “curated” (“selected” is preferable) and “connect” (“get more specific”). “It’s really about making sure we select the right words and don't rely on crutch words or lazy words,” George writes.

  • BofA declines to reimburse charity: A Massachusetts Peace Corps volunteer says hackers stole more than $18,000 from the BofA checking account he uses to feed and clothe orphans in Africa. “I told the bank we’re a little organization that takes care of orphans, and we really can’t afford to lose this money,” the volunteer said. “The bank, one of the largest and richest in the world, refused to cover the loss, offering only baffling reasons for its decision.” (Boston Globe)

This week in podcasting

A round-up of interesting moments in recent Charlotte podcasts

  • Here’s your sign: Democratic City Council member Larken Egleston talks about a few things he thinks local government spends too much time obsessing about, like strictly enforcing the city’s sign ordinance: “I think there’s a lot of silly stuff. … An ice cream shop could have a mural of a shoe on the side, but it can’t have a mural of an ice cream cone. And a shoe store could have a mural of an ice cream cone but not a shoe, because it’s basically then viewed as an advertising sign. … To me, if every store in the city wanted to do their sign in mural form, I think more art is a good thing. That was one of those things that was just absurd. … If one of the reasons people go to Two Scoops Creamery [in Plaza-Midwood] is because they’ve got an ice cream mural they can take a picture in front of, why would we want to paint over that?” His co-host, Republican council member Tariq Bokhari, replied: “I’m glad you’re so pumped about the sign ordinance. I haven’t seen you so nerded out in a while.”  (R&D in the QC, Sept. 3, 55 minutes)

  • Jury nullification: Author Cathy Pickens talks with host Mike Collins about one of her favorite true-Charlotte-crime cases she unearthed in researching a new book – the 1926 trial of “Razor Girl” Nellie Freeman: “She has this worthless, shiftless husband, who was actually a bigamist, who was taking her mill-worker wages and runnin’ around and drinkin’ and carousin’, and then he announced he was leaving her. And she wasn’t going to have that. So she was huggin’ him and beggin’ him to stay, and just somehow managed to almost cut his head off.” (Freeman was acquitted.) (Charlotte Talks, Sept. 3, 49 minutes)

  • Going viral: Host Sarah Blake Morgan interviews former WBTV reporter Kristen Hampton about becoming an “internet sensation” for her comical video reviews of beauty products. Hampton: “I think it was 2017 that I went to Sally Beauty supply, and I got these stamp-on eyebrow stamps, like, these foam things. And just I thought I’d fire up my Facebook Live and try it.. … I thought, you know, maybe a couple people will watch this. … All of a sudden, like, 700 or 800 people were watching. Then, like 1,200 people were watching. … It got a lot of attention. Even now, I still haven’t quite figured out what is the funny formula. … I guess people were drawn to this lighthearted [video], there’s nothing serious about it. … I don’t ever do anything right. It’s not professional. A couple years later, I did one with those — you have to have seen this one, whether you have Facebook or not — it’s the big red lips. That one has like 43 million views. That’s when things really went nuts.” (Charlotte Newsmakers, Sept. 9, 44 minutes)

Cheap getaways from CLT

  • This weekend: Charlotte to Providence, $86 round-trip on Frontier (nonstop), Sept. 13-16.

  • Charlotte to Miami, $92 round-trip on American (nonstop), Sept. 21-24.

  • Charlotte to Newark, $70 round-trip on Spirit (nonstop), Oct. 4-7.

  • Charlotte to Orlando, $46 round-trip on Frontier (nonstop), Oct. 5-8.

  • Charlotte to Philadelphia, $94 round-trip on American (nonstop), Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

  • Charlotte to Marrakesh, Morocco, $492 round-trip on Delta (two stops), various dates November to February.

  • Charlotte to Baltimore, $70 round-trip on Spirit (nonstop), Dec. 12-16.

  • Charlotte to Las Vegas, $210 round-trip on Frontier (nonstop), Jan. 24-27.

Source: Google Flights. Fares retrieved Wednesday morning. They might have changed by the time you read this.

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The Charlotte Ledger is an e-newsletter and web site publishing timely, informative, and interesting local business news and analysis Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, except holidays and as noted. We strive for fairness and accuracy and will correct all known errors. The content reflects the independent editorial judgment of The Charlotte Ledger. Any advertising, paid marketing, or sponsored content will be clearly labeled.

The Charlotte Ledger is published by Tony Mecia, an award-winning former Charlotte Observer business reporter and editor. He lives in Charlotte with his wife and three children.