Greek Properties Switching from Airbnb Back to Long-Term Rentals

Αssociated Press

A general view of the city of Athens with the ancient Acropolis hill on the background, Tuesday Jan. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – With the bottom dropping out of the short-term rental market in Greece over the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic and a lockdown that's being lifted, more property owners are 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.

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%.

The pandemic has revised conditions in the short-term rentals market as the average occupancy rate in March was halved to 41% from 82% in September 2019, and bookings slumped 70%, the paper said in its report.

Curiously though, in the week May 18-24, new bookings recorded on Airbnb and HomeAway for stays in Greece rose to 20,037, against 13,054 on May 4-10 and 15,378 on May 11-17. In February weekly bookings exceeded 25,000, showing willingness of people to travel as the pandemic winds down although international air traffic hasn't resumed in full force to Greece, which urged domestic tourism and from countries within relatively short driving rang.