Calm Down, People: Data Shows Airbnb Isn't Really Driving Up Rent
from the not-that-bad dept
Last year, we did an episode of the Techdirt podcast discussing whether or not Airbnb was good or bad for cities, and afterwards I heard from a few people insisting that we were too quick to dismiss the concerns of the anti-Airbnb crowd. It seemed to us that the problem, if there was one, was in the overall housing stock of cities, rather than Airbnb having a legitimate impact. Yes, certainly there are some people who just use some homes/apartments/condos for doing short-term rentals, but it was difficult to see how (even at Airbnb’s scale) it was enough to significantly impact housing prices.
And now there’s some data to back that up. FiveThirtyEight did an analysis going through the data from a consulting firm, Airdna, that obviously collects a ton of Airbnb data, and it found little evidence that it’s impacting housing prices in any significant way. The analysis does note that while such “commercial” listings (i.e., places that are only used to rent out on Airbnb, rather than for someone’s actual residence) make up only about 10% of the site’s total listings, they do make up about 1/3 of its revenue. That also shouldn’t be that surprising. Of course places that rent out continuously are going to make more revenue. But, either way, there really just aren’t that many such listings:
The revenue numbers alone don?t necessarily mean Airbnb is having much effect on rents in the cities where it operates. That is because the raw number of commercial units in most cities remains low, under 1,000 in all but the biggest cities. Even in New York, Airbnb?s biggest U.S. market, the service had only about 2,500 commercial listings, a sliver of the city?s roughly 2.2 million total rental apartments.
The 538 report keeps hedging this conclusion by saying “but, well, the rate of commercial listings is growing…” but it’s still not clear that it’s having a major impact on housing prices. And, again, if it is then that seems to be a sign that the focus should be on increasing overall housing stock, as things like Airbnb can provide plenty of other benefits for residents as well — from alternative revenue sources for homeowners to more tourist dollars coming in to cities. But, overall, it seems like the rush to blame Airbnb for rising rental prices and costs for housing is overblown.