Seattle Spotlight: For Tim, Airbnb helped forge a path to homeownership

We’re excited to continue the Seattle Spotlight series — a weekly highlight of stories from the local home sharing community. Seattle residents have democratized travel by turning their largest expense — their homes — into an asset to earn extra income, allowing travelers to live like locals and generate economic activity across the city.

Airbnb demonstrates the best way to explore a new city is through the lens of a local. And few locals can provide a better experience than a lifelong Seattleite. “I grew up in Ballard, lived in Fremont, and now we’re here in West Seattle,” Tim says.

Tim is a freelance filmmaker who, like many, tries to live on a budget to make ends meet in an increasingly pricey city. “As a person in a creative industry, my income can vary dramatically year to year,” says Tim. “So my girlfriend and I try to live a very modest lifestyle.”

Two years ago, Tim had aspirations of homeownership, but didn’t see many paths forward. “Most homes were well out of our price range, or were homes that needed thousands of dollars of work,” Tim notes. “But we felt owning a home was better than continuing to pay rent.”

“We would’ve missed out on homeownership if it wasn’t for Airbnb.”

Eventually, Tim’s fortunes turned around and he was able to find the perfect place. “We got lucky,” he adds. “We found this home in West Seattle that was just within our budget, and we were able to squeak into the real estate market and buy a home.”

What made Tim’s home ideal was the unfinished basement. “Some of our friends use Airbnb, and we wanted to be able to share a space in our new home to help cover some costs,” Tim says. “So when I saw this basement, I knew it’d make a perfect project to convert into an Airbnb listing.”

After a few DIY projects, Tim had set up one of the most popular listings in his area. “My Airbnb listing contributes about one-third of my mortgage,” Tim exclaims. “We would’ve missed out on homeownership if it wasn’t for Airbnb.”

“We feel like we’re on vacation with our guests.”

Though it’s not typically a destination for tourists, Tim absolutely loves his neighborhood of West Seattle. “We’re a mile from the beach, we have a great view of the mountains, and West Seattle offers one of the best views of downtown,” notes Tim. “Most people wouldn’t even know to come out here, but I love it, and make sure my guests do West Seattle things. We feel like we’re on vacation with our guests.”

As an Airbnb traveler, Tim understands the growing appeal of home sharing. “People want to experience different neighborhoods,” says Tim. “With home sharing, people get to experience a city from a ‘lived in’ perspective… a hotel can’t give you that.”

For Tim, home sharing creates entirely new travel opportunities. “Home sharing can allow you to take trips that you wouldn’t normally take,” he says. “In big cities, hotels are too expensive for quick trips, and for smaller towns, there may not be that many hotel options to begin with. So Airbnb can extend your vacation, or allow you to visit a smaller town and have a great place to stay with a great host.”

“Home sharing can allow you to take trips that you wouldn’t normally take.”

Tim says his neighbors love the convenience of having a listing in the area. “My neighbors use my Airbnb for family visiting from out of town,” he adds. “It’s much more convenient to have them next door than having to shuttle back and forth from downtown where the hotels are.”

Tim is aware of the climate around home sharing in Seattle, and is glad the city is working with the host community. “I’m glad they’re starting to embrace home sharing,” he adds. “I’d like to have one or two additional listings, and hope the city will allow that. Hotels are always booked and concentrated downtown. Seattle needs alternative options for people visiting the city.”

“Seattle needs alternative options for people visiting the city.”

Ultimately, Tim thinks Airbnb addresses many needs in the city. “Airbnb helps people like me find a path towards homeownership, brings people to areas that don’t normally see travel dollars, helps satisfy overflow capacity when hotels are booked, which is all the time, and makes travel more affordable,” he notes. “With home sharing, you can actually see what it’s like to live here.”

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