Airbnb professionals are driving up rental prices in Athens

It is estimated that, in central Athens, one out of every two Airbnb properties are owned by professional hosts, who charge higher rates compared to hosts offering up to two properties on the short-term homestay platform.

“2023 was another incredible year for Airbnb […] we ended the year with our highest-ever number of global active listings”, remarked Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky in the full-year financial results report for 2023. When Chesky launched Airbnb in 2008 as a cost-effective and more intimate alternative to hotels, the future impact on the global real estate economy was difficult to foresee.

iMEdD analysed data from the Inside Airbnb database for the municipality of Athens, collected by the platform in December 2023. It revealed that over half (54%) of the properties listed in central Athens were owned by what the Greek government now defines as professional hosts, who charge higher rates compared to amateur ones.

The professional Airbnb hosts in Athens

iMEdD's investigation reveals that 14.2% of Airbnb property owners in the Athens area possess three or more properties, primarily located in the city center, including areas such as Zappeion, the commercial district, Plaka, Gazi, Kerameikos, and Koukaki.

The proliferation of Airbnb and short-term rental practices has had a major impact on the rental market, exacerbating living conditions, particularly in urban areas. Short-term rental is defined as the renting of a dwelling to a second or third party for fewer than 60 consecutive days. According to a report by the European Parliament, the short-term rental market experienced significant growth up to 2023. European governments have initiated interventions, including restrictions or outright bans to mitigate the situation.

In Greece, discussions began in September 2023, with a new tax bill to be implemented from January 2024. The legislation acknowledges multi-hosts, categorizing income from short-term rentals of three or more properties as business income—a designation previously reserved for hotels or guesthouses. This means that individuals owning such a number of properties must undergo business registration procedures.

"Make yourself at home"

According to Inside Airbnb data, in December 2023, in Athens, 90% of the listings were for entire places. "Entire places are best if you’re seeking a home away from home. With an entire place, you’ll have the whole space to yourself. This usually includes a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen and a separate, dedicated entrance". Airbnb describes the types of accommodation available. This means that "entire place" provides an entire apartment or residence.

The Sky-High Rent project reveals that more than half of Attica's Airbnb listings are located in central Athens with the highest concentration is in the areas around the Acropolis and Lycabettus areas. In the central Athens, 17.8% of all accommodation listings are located in the the Commercial Triangle and Plaka, 9% in Koukaki, while 7.8% in Neos Kosmos and 7.4% in the wider area of Museum - Exarchia - Neapolis.

According to the study titled "The Gentrification of Airbnb: Closing Rent Gaps Through the Professionalization of Hosting," gentrification involves properties gradually depreciating in value as they are inhabited by lower-income residents, followed by their purchase by developers who purchase and renovate properties to attract more affluent middle and upper-class residents. When short-term rentals become part of the gentrification process, these properties are removed from the traditional long-term rental market, leading to a general rise in rents and property prices, while also resulting in a phenomenon termed “hotelisation” or “airbnbfication,” wherein permanent residents vacate areas that have undergone gentrification.

According to the analysis, professionals offer accommodation at higher rent prices. The average daily rate for an apartment owned by hosts with three or more properties is €68, compared to €60 for hosts with fewer than three properties, representing a 12% difference. iMEdD examined a total of 43 neighborhoods in the municipality of Athens, revealing that in half of them, apartments owned by professional hosts are more expensive than those owned by amateur hosts. Among these neighborhoods, Pedion tou Areos, 1st Cemetery, Nea Kypseli, Zappeion, and Lycabettus exhibit the largest price disparities.

Javier Gil and Jorge Sequera confirm in their research on Madrid's "multi-listing hosts" that a property managed by a multi-listing host receives […] more revenue per available night than a property managed by a single-listing host in a month. This suggests that, similar to Madrid, in Athens a significant portion of properties in the historic center are controlled by a lucrative minority.

Translated by: Anatoli Stavroulopoulou