ANN ARBOR, Mich. - On Saturdays in the fall, Michigan's second-most populated city isn't Grand Rapids: It's Ann Arbor.
Michigan football gamedays are fun for fans, but they're also big business. Numbers show residents in Ann Arbor are finding a way to cash in by renting out.
Workers and homeowners are preparing for Michigan's last home game at 4 p.m. Saturday against Indiana. It's been a good season all around, but Airbnb had an exceptionally good year with the Wolverines.
Ann Arbor is a property owner's dream: a college town listed as one of the nation's top places to live, a top-five football team and the biggest stadium in the country that fills hotels to the brim.
Airbnb is the side hustle that allows homeowners to rent their homes to strangers.
"It's not exactly kosher with her landlord, but she makes a ton of money on it," said University of Michigan student Megan Andersen, who knows a fellow student cashing in.
Ann Arbor barber Bill Stolberg said he hears from customers all the time about how it works.
"A person can rent a place out here for anywhere from $900 to $1,300 a night, and they go to Chelseas, rent out a room, stay there," Stolberg said. "They can come in for the game or stay right there."
Airbnb is happy to spell out the numbers for the 2018 home football season. There have been 8,900 guests who rented homes, helping renters bring in $1.5 million.
Big Ten games against out-of-state teams yielded the best performances. There were 1,600 renters paying $134,000 for the Nebraska game, 1,700 renters paying nearly $350,000 for the Wisconsin game and 1,700 renters for an even bigger payday for the Penn State game.
The numbers tapered off a bit ahead of the Indiana game. There are fewer than 1,000 renters, but $117,000 was brought in.
Andersen said she regrets she didn't catch onto the trend sooner.
"I'm going to be gone next semester to graduate from law school, so if I'd known, I definitely would have done it," Andersen said. "It's easy money for sure."
Now that the secret is out, there are other players getting in on the act. Rent Like a Champion is another service moving into the space. Airbnb said they did 10 percent better than last year and expect to do even better next season.
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