Thursday, April 6, 2017

Airbnb and the rent in Sydney

Today we released our report into the impact of Airbnb on the rent in Sydney. You can check out the full report here: Let's have a closer look at some of the findings.

One of the interesting numbers we've examined is the number of Airbnb listings that are actually active in any given month. While it's true that people keep creating more and more listings on Airbnb, that doesn't always tell us the really important number - how many are active, and therefore what impact these listings are having on the rental market.

We really can't explore some of these issues due to the lack of data around housing in Australia. We don't know which properties are rented homes or owner-occupied, and this makes it difficult to read a lot into the numbers.

We can be clear that simply being listed on Airbnb does not mean a property has been removed from the rental market and there are two clear examples we can imagine to illustrate the point. Imagine a 2 bedroom unit in Bondi. The occupant lists the place on Airbnb for the week between Christmas and New Year's while they go away and visit family. If the occupant was an owner-occupier then this property wasn't available for rent, and Airbnb hasn't changed anything about that. If the occupant was a renter, then this property has also have not been removed from the rental sector - it is still in it.

The Greater Sydney area 
Whether it is owned or rented, what is more relevant is how often a property is booked. This chart covering the whole of Sydney from August 2014-August 2016 illustrates that there actually is a large number of listings on Airbnb which don't even receive one booked night in any given month. This suggests a large number of people have listed their property in the lead up to summer, booked it perhaps for a few nights over summer, and have no intention of listing the place again.

We can clearly see the summer bump both in December 2014 and December 2015 - far more activity then, than for the rest of the year. What is interesting though, is that the numbers of listings with 8 or more nights booked in a single month (or roughly 100 nights in a year) is much more constant throughout the year. This effect is very clear in our three hotspots with really large summer bumps in beach-side Bondi and Manly, and a still sizable but reduced bump in inner city Darlinghurst.

All of this leads us to think that for the majority of users, Airbnb activity is sporadic. However more commercial operators of course act differently, and are looking to maximise their occupancy all year round, leading to a more consistent level of activity. Regulation of short term lets should look to effectively control commercial operators, and ensure that their activity in short term lets does not produce harmful effects on residential tenants.

For the full report, including interactive maps - check out

1 comment:

  1. Such a great take on short term letting agents sidestepping strata laws to make a profit and adding to the rental affordability crisis. The arrival and popularisation of short-term letting platforms and apps have caused major disruption and are exacerbating vulnerability. These platforms have quickly and dramatically introduced short-term tourists into apartment blocks that were previously housed owner-occupiers and long-term rental tenants. The government really needs to be more present and acknowledge the disturbance short term rentals are doing to the renting and housing market. Feel free to check out my blog post I wrote on the issue. G.F.


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