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Economy

Airbnb, Short-Term Rentals in Greece Whacked by COVID-19

ATHENS — The lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, gradually lifted, saw the bottom drop out of the market for short-term rentals such as Airbnb in Greece, with far fewer tourists expected in 2020.

May revenues from short-term rentals fell more than 60% in Athens,the average monthly income from the properties, including on the HomeAway site, dropping below 400 euros ($448.20) said industry researcher AirDNA.

That was less than half the 1,016 euros ($1138.43) in September, 2019, the market’s peak, said Kathimerini, with the pandemic driving property owners to frantically try to switch back to monthly rentals.

The same data also point to a drop in occupancy from 82% in September 2019 to just 35% in May 2020, the paper said, although the demand wasn’t reported for the rest of the summer or year with the reopening of more airports and tourists from additional countries on July 1.

The effect of COVID-19 is expected to be devastating and long-term after the short-term rental craze saw whole neighborhoods in Athens transformed from long-term residents to tourists and transients, spiking up rents everywhere and driving down availabilities beyond nightly or short-time rentals.

Tourists account for about 80% of guests at the accommodations, the paper said, especially those from the United Kingdom and the United States, both prohibited for now because of the high COVID-19 rates in those countries.

Earlier in June it was reported that more property owners were quickly switching from platforms such as Airbnb to long-term rentals.

At least 2,270 houses and apartments in central Athens were taken off short-term rental platforms between the start of the year and the end of May, boosting the supply of properties for rent by the capital’s residents, said Kathimerini.

Whole neighborhoods had been emptied of residents to make way for tourists using properties for short stays and higher overnight rentals that boost the monthly income for property owners who now find they can't attract tourists who aren't coming.

According to figures compiled daily by AirDNA researchers, the number of active property ads on short-term rental platforms stood at 11,338 at the start of 2020, while that figure had dropped to 9,068 by end-May, the paper said.

That was confirmed in a similar analysis by property ads website Spitogatos, citing a study by Ernst & Young, which found a 7.1 percent increase in the number of ads for long-term monthly and longer rentals instead of short and overnight stays.

In some neighborhoods that had proved particularly attractive for tourists, the phenomenon also spiking monthly rents because of high demand and small supply, there has been a giant change, such as Petralona, with a 44.4 percent jump in long-term rental ads as property owners now are competing against each other for clients.

In Neos Cosmos the increase reached 43.6%. In the “historic triangle” in the center of Athens (Plaka, Monastiraki, Acropolis that growth amounted to 30.8%. In Ilissia, Exarchia, Polygono and Pangrati the rise in the number of ads ranged between 11% and 11.8%, and in Gazi-Metaxourgeio and Votanikos supply expanded by 18%.

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