'Back from the dead': Greek homes in Airbnb fever

According to Airbnb data, there are over 8 000 apartments for rent in central Athens alone, at an average of 67 euros per night.

26 March 2019 | Business

Homeowners think this is a cure-all that will solve their problems for life. - Angelos Skiadas, Head: Tenant Association

John Hadoulis - For Dimitra Dionysopoulou, who lives in the shadow of the Acropolis, there is no mistaking the signs of the Airbnb takeover in her neighbourhood.

"Renovation noise, debris disposal bins on every street, and rolling luggage," said the 50-year-old Athenian mother.

Dionysopoulou has lived her entire life in the middle-class district of Koukaki, now in the midst of a home-sharing frenzy. In 2016, it was named Airbnb's fifth fastest growing neighbourhood globally with an 800-percent jump in activity.

Its selling point? Walking distance from one of the world's most visited archaeological sites, as well as the state-of-the-art Acropolis museum.

Hundreds of apartments in Koukaki's ageing concrete buildings are now on offer. Rents have doubled and entire families of tenants have been pushed out by cash-hungry owners, said Dionysopoulou.

"Three families I know have already left, and we are currently trying to find a home for a fourth," she told AFP.

Greece is the eurozone country hardest hit by the 2008 economic crisis, losing around a quarter of its gross domestic product, suffering a surge in unemployment and a severe debt crisis that prompted bailouts from the EU and the IMF as wages stagnated and housing prices fell.

Mayor cities

Dionysopoulou is not alone in feeling that the Airbnb phenomenon, as in other major cities, has run amok.

Greek authorities this year belatedly introduced registration and tax rules for Airbnb homeowners.

According to Angelos Skiadas, head of Greece's tenant association, the home-sharing craze has even spread to far-off Athens suburbs with no tourist interest.

"Homeowners think this is a cure-all that will solve their problems for life. Many use Airbnb as a threat [to raise the rent]," he said.

The shortage is particularly acute on popular islands where visiting civil servants, teachers and university students are unable to find affordable housing beyond May, when the tourist season begins to pick up, Skiadas noted.

"It's a bubble," he said, before adding: "Things will balance out."

Hoteliers

Hoteliers also say the situation is out of control. Their trade association commissioned a study from Grant Thornton that found that more than 76 000 properties in Greece were available on home-sharing platforms.

The study argued that declining availability had pushed up rents in central Athens by 9.3% in a year, disproportionately affecting poorer segments of the population such as pensioners and single-parent families.

In a sign that Koukaki has reached saturation point, the government this month moved to halt the construction of a nearly completed nine-floor hotel with a stellar view of the Parthenon.

Opinions on home-sharing could not be more divided. Stratos Paradias, head of the Greek homeowners' association, counters that home-sharing - with Airbnb as the main player - has helped bring the country's real estate market "back from the dead".

Between 2008 and 2017, home prices fell by over 40% and only began increasing last year, Bank of Greece figures show.

"Home-sharing is an institution that's here to stay ... It creates jobs and revenue for people, many of whom have no other option for paying their taxes and debts," said Paradias, whose association has some 55 000 members.

"This activity has boosted tourism [and] made it affordable for more people to visit... Hotels can't meet the demand," he added, arguing that because of the crisis, there were "tens of thousands" of idle properties.

Data

According to Airbnb data, there are over 8 000 apartments for rent in central Athens alone, at an average of 67 euros per night, including some 1 200 flats in districts close to the Acropolis.

About half are multi-listings by owners with more than one property online, said Airbnb.

Among them are a few hundred foreigners - mainly Chinese, Russians and Israelis - who tapped into a "golden visa" programme launched in 2013 that gives them residency rights in exchange for property purchases over 250 000 euros (US$285 000), according to Lefteris Potamianos, head of the Athens real estate association.

"In a few cases, they buy entire blocks of flats," he said. "Home-sharing has certainly boosted the market."

Central bank

Bank of Greece figures show an influx of 1.35 billion euros in foreign capital for property purchases in 2018, a 172% increase over the previous year.

Paradias, the homeowners' association chairman, said he knows a woman who recently sold two basement storerooms in Koukaki, to be remodelled as flats.

"When she sees them all redone and realises what she's given up, she's going to burst into tears," he said.

Dionysopoulou, the lifelong Koukaki resident, also has a flat she could share. But she refuses to evict her full-term tenant, a civil servant, because she feels that would be wrong.

"In a country where prices keep rising and wages are falling, how can you bring yourself to raise the rent?" she asked bitterly.

"I regret to say, in Greece we do not look at the big picture. We only look out for ourselves." – Nampa/AFP

Similar News

 

The CFO driving digital change

5 days ago - 09 October 2019 | Business

Riana Esterhuyse - The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is rapidly redefining the business environment. In this environment, it is no longer enough for chief financial...

US races to build critical minerals alliances

5 days ago - 09 October 2019 | Business

Andy Home - President Donald Trump's offer to buy Greenland didn't go down well with either the inhabitants of the world's largest island or with...

37 000 jobs lost to grey chicken imports

1 week ago - 07 October 2019 | Business

Roleplayers in the poultry industry have for some time reported chicken in the retail sector which they say do not 'belong' in the local market....

Trustco starts trading in New York

2 weeks ago - 26 September 2019 | Business

Trustco Group Holdings, a local company with segments in financial services and resources, today became the first Namibian company to qualify to have its American...

Perfect storm destroys Thomas Cook

2 weeks ago - 25 September 2019 | Business

Roland Jackson - The brutal failure of travel firm Thomas Cook was sealed as a rescue floundered, but it was also sparked by mismanagement, the...

Lifestyle audits: Identifying hidden income

2 weeks ago - 25 September 2019 | Business

Lorenzo Strauss - Have you ever looked at an individual and wondered how he or she affords the lifestyle in line with their job or...

MTC hush-hush on listing, JV partner

2 weeks ago - 24 September 2019 | Business

MTC, which was supposed to be the poster child for a cash-strapped government looking to list its commercial state-owned enterprises on the Namibia Stock Exchange,...

Namport lends a helping hand

2 weeks ago - 24 September 2019 | Business

The Namibian Ports Authority (Namport), through the Namport Social Investment Fund (NSIF), recently donated stationery and educational materials to the Queen Sophia of Spain Primary...

Recalibrate your algorithm… and own it!

3 weeks ago - 20 September 2019 | Business

Vennduke Chigumba Have you ever had a piece of meat or corn stuck in your teeth, and it just so happens to be in...

Fearlessly chasing your dreams

3 weeks ago - 20 September 2019 | Business

MARISELLE STOFBERGWhether it is by faith, fate or destiny, Titus Shivute is exactly where he was meant to be in life. This educational officer of...

Latest News

Amupanda KOs Doeseb

10 hours ago | Sports

JESSE JACKSON KAURAISA - Namibian public figures had a chance to stretch their muscles after participating in the MTC Knockout Project at the Windhoek...

TransNamib gets N$2.5bn

10 hours ago | Transport

TransNamib CEO Johny Smith says Namibian and southern African development banks have approved funding of N$2.5 billion for the parastatal's ambitious business plan that was...

Crashes cost millions

10 hours ago | Accidents

Injury grants totalling more than N$21 million and funeral grants of N$2.5 million have been paid out by the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund in...

Nudo promises welfare state

10 hours ago | Politics

The National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) promised a welfare state when it launched its election manifesto in the Havana informal settlement on Saturday.Addressing a crowd...

Every anti-GBV effort counts

10 hours ago | Opinion

The MTC Knockout Project held over the weekend was a huge success in many ways. Naysayers, spurred on by armchair critics, had a field day...

The Desert Dash is on

10 hours ago | Sports

The 20th edition of the Nedbank Desert Dash is set to take place in the first week of December. The event, which annually attracts...

Pack and leave

10 hours ago | Sports

JESSE JACKSON KAURAISA I am writing this hoping that it will reach those that I believe do not have the interest...

Expired meds limit campaign

10 hours ago | Agriculture

Only some cattle in the northern communal areas will benefit from this year's free lung sickness vaccination.The agriculture ministry would neither confirm nor deny that...

PDM slams LPM's 'blatant lie'

10 hours ago | Politics

The secretary-general of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), Manuel Ngaringombe, has denied allegations that the party has struck a deal with Swapo to rig the...

Load More