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Airbnb’s Growth and What it Means for Greece

Airbnb’s turnover in Greece is expected to hit 4 billion euros this year. Indeed, Airbnb has become profitable in Greece thanks to the increase of short-term rentals not only in tourist destinations like Mykonos and Santorini, but also in Greece’s smaller, unknown islands. 

 

When the short-term registry was created in Greece in 2018, Airbnb’s economy was 180 million euros. By 2022, the turnover hit 3.3 billion euros. On Airbnb, an estimated 100,000 rooms, apartments, and homes are available in Greece. Central Athens alone has 12,345 listings, according to the Inside Airbnb website. In Crete, there are 25,425 registrations, and in the South Aegean, where some of the touristy Cyclades islands are found, the number increases to 32,186.

Santorini, Greece

Airbnb in Athens

Athens is in the center of controversy around Airbnb. Because so many short-term rentals are available in the city center, local Greeks fear increasing rents and the loss of the identity of the city. In Koukaki, for example– one of the most central neighborhoods – permanent residents sometimes put their own residence on Airbnb and then leave to find a new home. This is especially true in neighborhoods that are close to tourist attractions and metro stations. Despite rising rents, there are many benefits of Airbnb’s growth.

Anafiotika District, Athens

Benefits of Airbnb’s Growth 

Boost to Local Economy

The increase in short-term rentals means that many buildings have been upgraded. Also, local services in the area that serve the needs of Airbnbs – for example, laundromats or stores with language storage, have increased business.

 

Benefits for Greek Homeowners

The rate of home ownership in Greece is high, at 73%. Also, on average, real estate property is 70% of a Greek household’s assets. So, most homeowners in Greece have seen their home increase in value. This means that many Greeks benefit from rising property prices, but for the other 27%, it is of course more difficult. 

Government Aid

The Greek government is introducing new programs to help local Greeks, especially students and those living on a low fixed wage in the city center.

 

Limits to Short-Term Rentals

The Greek government wants to set a maximum number of days a property can be available for short-term rental. This of course will vary in each local area where the law is applied. Right now, there is no VAT on Airbnbs for owners. Starting in 2025 a European VAT will be added on short-term rentals.

 

Golden Visa Changes

For example, In September of 2022, Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced that the minimum investment required for a Golden Visa would increase to 500,000 Euros in select areas. The logic behind this change is to help local Greeks by making real estate more affordable.

 

The new minimum of 500,000 Euros will apply to the North, Central and South Areas of Athens in the Attica Region, Mykonos, Santorini, and Thessaloniki. 

Santorini Hotel

Housing Subsidies

The Greek government announced in September 2022 a new 1.8 billion euro housing package that is designed to help 137,000 Greeks. For example it will give subsidies on housing loan interest for the young, energy upgrade subsidies, more student housing allowances, and a program to develop vacant buildings into residential properties. 

 

Solutions for Students

For students, who understandably have a different time finding housing when rents are high, the government announced they will build student residence halls in Thrace, Western Macedonia, Thessaly, Western Attica and Crete. These halls will have a total of more than 8000 beds and will be completed in 2027. 

 

Using Empty Houses

Andreas Chiou, president of the Panhellenic Association of Property Managers (PASYDA), notes that “In Athens there are 120,000 closed apartments which are not in use, which could be used in the context of housing policy.” From the last census in 2011, we know that 35% of all properties in Greece were empty. The Independent Authority for Public Revenue (IAPR) counts 770,000 empty houses in Greece. 

 

Alexis Patelis, the Chief Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister, says that “Making better use of vacant properties is a key point in solving housing problems.” He adds that “Greece has the highest number of dwellings per capita among OECD countries. Prices will be kept down when supply is triggered”. In other words, if more homes are available, the average price per home will go down. 

Athens Skyline

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