AUSTIN (KXAN) — A self-proclaimed “Willy Wonka”-esque house in west Austin is one of Airbnb’s most popular “unique” rental properties, and the company is working to expand the number of unusual and bizarre homes among its listings.
Airbnb launched Wednesday the OMG! Fund, a $10 million initiative to finance “100 of the craziest and most unique property ideas,” company officials said in a release. Property owners are able to submit applications for the OMG! Fund through July 22.
From there, a panel of judges will select the 100 winners, who will each receive $100,000 to fund their dream property creations.
Sam Randall, senior communications manager with Airbnb, told KXAN Thursday the company is seeing growing interest in people using Airbnb as an opportunity for additional income streams.
“Last year in Texas, Airbnb hosts with unique listings earned approximately $35 million, and we know people are using this income to help cover rising costs,” he said.
And unique properties are a growing trend across the company, with Randall saying properties are becoming as much of a draw for renters as the destinations themselves. The Bloomhouse in west Austin is described as “part Willy Wonka, part Big Lebowski, and totally unlike anywhere else.” It nears the top of Airbnb’s OMG! list, with a ranking of 4.89 stars and a nightly fee upwards of $600.
And The Bloomhouse isn’t the only unique Airbnb listing attracting visitors to the Lone Star State. Other leading properties include the “Naturalist Boudoir” in Lumberton; the Silo House at Laughing Llama Farm in Troy; the Kettle House in Galveston; the Geodome in Leander; and the Treehouse in Dallas.
“I think that really goes to show the opportunity for people to come up with and really create their most wild ideas that they could possibly have, and the earning opportunity that is presented when they’re able to make that a reality,” Randall said. “And this is what our goal and our hope is with the OMG! Fund.”
As for the reasoning behind the fund’s name? Well, Randall said it speaks for itself.
“When somebody goes to the site and they see a giant UFO, just to say ‘oh my god’ is really the reaction,” he said. “And I think that people will have a lot of fun searching on our site and looking at some of the very unique properties both in Texas and, really, globally.”