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Nearly half of Airbnb properties are owned by ‘investors’ and ‘professionals’

18:25 06/09/2021

Some 45% of properties in Brussels listed on Airbnb are run by property management firms or private investors, according to a new study by VUB university. Despite the idea that the accommodation platform offers a more authentic experience of any given place, most of the properties are concentrated in tourist hotspots and the European quarter.

In 2019, 11,427 rooms, apartments and houses in Brussels were on offer on the Airbnb website. VUB chose to study 2019 because it didn’t want findings to be influenced by the coronavirus crisis.

The properties were highly concentrated around Grand Place and La Monnaie, the European institutions and the Atomium. “The distance from the city centre and the number of restaurants in the area appear to be strong predictors for the Airbnb density in a neighbourhood,” says VUB economist Marek Endrich. “The further away from the Grand Place and the fewer restaurants there are, the less dwellings there are available on Airbnb.”

‘Detrimental effect on housing market’

About 16% of the Airbnb market in Brussels are owned by professionals, who offer three or more houses or apartments as a short-term rental. “Thirty-two hosts even offer 10 or more apartments at the same time on Airbnb,” says Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe, a professor of urban planning and poverty issues at VUB.

And 29% of the market consists of investors: People who offer two listings on Airbnb or only one listing, but for a period of longer than 120 days a year. “We suspect that these are people who own a second and even a third home as an investment and offer them on the lucrative Airbnb market,” notes Endrich. “It’s clear that they don’t live in these residences.”

This means that only 55% of Airbnb hosts in Brussels are in line with the original ‘sharing economy’. “In the coming years we want to examine the consequences Airbnb has on the supply and rental prices of the local housing market in Brussels,” says Verhaeghe. “We’re talking about more than 5,000 residential units that are offered by professionals and investors for tourists and business travellers. That means 5,000 homes that are not on the local rental market for people who live here. It’s very likely that this has detrimental effects on the tight housing market in the capital.”


Written by Lisa Bradshaw