Monday, February 26 marks the date the Village Board will determine whether our Village should join the “shared economy,” via short-term rentals (STRs), listed on line with various rental services like Airbnb.
Along with other Village residents, I have participated in some of these discussions and appreciate the willingness of the Trustees to engage with residents on this topic. I understand there are many considerations at play and that this may not be a simple decision. However, I worry that billion dollar marketing entities like Airbnb (WSJ $31 Billion) may be passively manipulating our Village to ill effect. I feel that just because folks stay in an Airbnb in someone else’s vacation community doesn’t necessarily mean that STRs are appropriate for our Village. Nonetheless, I’d like to focus here on just one aspect that I don’t believe has been given enough attention—the possible negative effect of STRs on the market values of our Village’s homes.
During the January 27th Village Workshop on STRs, discussion was had on the numerous issues and aspects of whether to permit such rentals in the Village. Although various studies and analyses were reviewed by the Trustees and discussed at the Workshop, it was conceded by all that none of these studies were dispositive or even that helpful in assessing the effect of STRs in Lake Bluff, given the lack of any applicable or comparable data to our Village. Certain Trustees did state that they have been told by young families that they would not be interested in buying homes near a STR, and I have spoken with realtors who have said that they believe STRs could negatively impact the sale of a home adjacent to it.
Accordingly, I believe that the Village Board may be proceeding at substantial risk to its residents, if it permits STRs without seeking more data on whether STRs, located adjacent to homes listed for sale, would negatively impact the sale of those homes—either with respect to sale price or to the time involved in getting the home to sale.
The significance of this issue is obvious since it focuses on a home’s monetary value determined at sale, and the fact that these homes—our homes—are in many cases our most significant investment, which clearly should not be trifled with, especially during the present time when the financial situation of our failing state and its population’s outmigration is undercutting real estate values everywhere.
I would hope, therefore, that it would seem reasonable to our Trustees to conclude that, before proceeding to allow STRs, even on a trial basis, they should know whether it is likely or not that residents might suffer a loss in value or a delay in the sale of their homes, if they were to put their homes on the market and a STR were located nearby. (I am in the process of having such a survey designed to test this issue and I am willing to offer it to the Village for its use.)
If the Village proceeds to allow STRs without having more information to illuminate this question of market value, I fear that that the Village risks and, perhaps, courts injury to residents who wish to list their homes for sale. For example, if such impairment to a home’s value were to occur, and evidence showed that an adjacent STR was to blame, how then would the injured party seek recourse? Clearly, via a lawsuit against the Village for creating a result that could have been avoided if studied further. Such a lawsuit, in and of itself, would obviously create further negative notoriety and unnecessary divisiveness. Consequently, I ask the Village Board to simply do more research on this issue before taking any further action. Whether an ordinance passes now or later doesn’t really matter; let’s just get it right.
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