HOUSTON (KTRK) --Houstonians are hosting Final Four fans in their homes and preparing for stays for the Superbowl.
The Men's NCAA Final Four basketball games will draw a crowd of more than 70,000 people to Houston this weekend, according to the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. Unless they are staying with family or friends, the fans will need somewhere to stay.
For those looking to book something on the cheap, online home rental sites like Airbnb can be a less expensive option. Now, Houstonians are taking advantage of the crowds by opening their homes and hosting game visitors to make some extra cash.
For only $80 a night, a cozy bedroom, in an East Downtown townhome, stocked with all the comforts of home could have been yours, except for the fact that it has been booked for months ahead of the Final Four.
Kim and Gabriel McDonald are Airbnb "superhosts" who rent out two extra bedrooms and sometimes a loft space in their home.
"It can be kind of addicting," said Kim McDonald. "I want to rent this space out and this space in my house just because of who you meet and who you can help."
The couple pitches their place as an affordable alternative to a hotel room, conveniently close to the George R. Brown Convention Center, public transit, BBVA Compass Stadium and Minute Maid Park. They say they've hosted travelers from more than thirteen countries since May and made about $8,000 hosting last year.
"It's making the world a little bit smaller because you get to know people from all over the world," Kim said.
Though Airbnb gives hosts a recommended per-night rate based on availability, amenities and proximity to events, the McDonalds adjust the rate as they go.
"Final Four, Superbowl, we'll probably make it a lot higher," Gabriel McDonald said about their nightly rate.
At her home between Texas Medical Center and NRG Stadium, Kathryn Iribarren will fund home improvements with the money she's made from hosting more than 70 "completed trips" as Airbnb calls them. She will be renting out her entire house for next year's NFL Superbowl. If you're interested in becoming a host, Iribarren recommends checking out a potential guest's online profile to see if they're likely to respect your space and lifestyle.
"So, I can read through there and see what kind of guests they are and how they are," Iribarren said.
Other tips from Airbnb:
-Check the contract with you landlord, housing authority or co-op board. Many restrict subletting and hosting.
-Check to see if any permitting, zoning, safety or health regulations apply to short term rentals.
-Look up any local taxes or license requirements that might apply.
In Houston, much like hotels, short term rentals like Airbnbs are taxed 7 percent. Enforcing the tax can be challenging. The semi-pubic agency Houston First says it is working with companies like Airbnb to figure out a responsible way to ensure the tax is collected from hosts.
Kim McDonald, it is a tax she doesn't mind paying, as long as there is a payoff.
"If I can give 7 percent of what I'm making to the city of Houston to beautify it and get it ready for the Superbowl and that I can enjoy for years to come, I feel like it's worth it," Kim McDonald said.
While they will use some of the money they made to fund a trip to the 2016 Summer Olympics, the McDonalds say they've also developed friendships through hosting. Among some of the fascinating people they've met from near and far --a social secretary for the Obama administration.