Friday Cabins #28: Thinking About Treehouses
And the cyclical nature of unconventional architecture driving up house prices because of short term rentals and stuff
Howdy, Graham here, founding editor of Field Mag, filling in for Ellen, your usual Friday Cabins writer who is currently on a well deserved holiday.
You already know the deal, each Friday (except last week, I shirked my duty to go to the beach, sry not sry) we share a selection of the latest and greats cabin content from Field Mag, our editorial uncle. But, in the spirit of switching things up, today’s newsletter is more of a chain of thoughts loosely cobbled together than the usual heres-some-cool-cabins post. Though don’t worry, we’ve got some cool cabins (errrr, treehouses) to share towards the bottom.
Today we’re talking treehouses (again).
While doing my weekly Zillow search for fantasy properties to send to my aging relatives back in the NW with email subjects like “buy this please,” yesterday I came across a funky “treehouse” outside of Hood River, OR that incapsulates the insanity of the real estate market right now. Listed for nearly $1M, the “artist-built” house sits nestled in a classic, dense evergreen forest with unobstructed views of iconic Mount Hood—yet somehow seems to think it’s in a Costa Rican jungle overlooking a sick left point break.
The house is not in great shape. Neither is the property itself. Not bad, but not great. It’s small, it’s weird, it’s not even near any towns or other points of interest. Yet somehow, it’s asking for a Freakin Million Dollars. Why? For the very same reasons just listed—it’s weird and in 2022 that means it has Airbnb potential.
This isn’t likely news to anyone reading this newsletter (you’re all smart & with it!) but it’s interesting to consider how this trend is both a response to and a minor possible cause of the inane housing market. And a trend that is likely to only grow.
Take Airbnb’s new redesign for example, which now allows users to browse categories like tiny houses, treehouses, A-frames. They’re literally giving away $10 million dollars to ppl building “OMG” houses. I get it. Who wants to rent some boring, popcorn ceiling, wall-to-wall carpet, 6 bedroom Boomer Suburban American Dream house, when they could stay in a potato in Idaho? Or, from a buyers perspective, who wants to buy that same McMansion when they could invest in a treehouse that can deliver income almost immediately via short term rental (STR)?
For many homebuyers, ensuring a property has STR potential isn’t a bonus, it’s a prerequisite. In order to even compete in this bonkers housing market, most buyers will need to generate additional income to cover their mortgage (shout out wild unequal generational wealth distribution) and what better way to ensure that than by buying weird! It’s a cyclical issue, and in extremely over simplified terms, prices are skyrocketing because of high demand and low inventory (and some definite price gouging), especially within this unconventional housing segment, which only continues to gain mainstream interest due in part to websites like our very own Field Mag. And now, inventory is even lower because of an increase in properties being turned into short term rentals, which drives up prices higher leaving the only way to afford to buy in is if you yourself join that STR movement in some capacity. What a nasty and very 2020s situation. What a tongue twister of a run on sentence!
But back to treehouses. When I interviewed Airbnb entrepreneur slash real estate vlogger Rob Abasolo for this very newsletter last winter, I asked which building style he is investing in most rn, between glamping sites, tiny houses, cabins. And he went off script and responded: “I'd go treehouse, man. I mean, I've always been super fascinated. [Treehouses] really are like a childhood dream come true.”
(Fun fact: When I was maybe 5 yrs old my brother and I built a treehouse and named it “the bug club”)
Where does this leave us? Idrk *shrug*. Without offering any solutions, further insight, or pseudo intellectual musings on the state of the union whatsoever, your beloved Friday Cabins newsletter will revert to sharing some cool cabins to look at and maybe visit sometime.
The following are a handful of cool treehouses for rent across America. Scroll on, click thru, and do your best to not think too much about how all this shit could come crashing down if the impending recession hits hehe
It’s classic. It’s cute. And there’s a dog on the property! A rugged but cozy getaway.
Goodness gracious. If Instagram and Airbnb fodder fathered a baby this would bit.
On a historic property that was once a 1920s speakeasy, a Latvian church camp, and many other things in between, this treehouse is part of a restored lakeside cabin retreat that’s now basically an adult summer camp.
This thing looks so sketchy I love it.
loool a yurt in a tree? Texas u crazy for this one.
That’s all for now, for today. Have a great weekend! Catch ya next week (don’t worry Ellen should be back by then).