The rapid rise of short-term property leasing to tourists via online platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway, FlipKey and HouseTrip has turned the Greek property market upside down.
There has been unprecedented growth in investment interest since late 2015, when the legislative framework was opened up. The other side of the coin concerns the creation of “special zones” within the capital, particularly in its so-called historic triangle, whose points are formed by Monastiraki, Omonia and Syntagma squares. The properties there appear to be leased exclusively by short-term visitors, in effect locking out local residents.
This issue, which has also arisen in other major cities around the world, has become quite significant as it concerns a phenomenon that extends to the country’s popular tourism destinations, so that the options of seasonal workers such as those in the tourism industry or permanent residents are severely reduced.
Panayiotis Merekoulias, head of surveying at Danos SA/BNP Paribas Real Estate, points to “the case of Hania, as in a short period of time ads on Airbnb soared from 800 to 1,600 so that there is now a shortage in properties for long-term renting.”
Besides the limited availability of properties in specific areas, observers point to a wave of rental rate hikes, at a time when rates in the rest of the market are either stable or in decline.
According to the vice president of the Athens-Attica Estate Agents’ Association, Lefteris Potamianos, Athens areas such as Koukaki, Plaka, Makrygianni, Thiseio, Acropolis, Monastiraki, Metaxourgio and Kerameikos are showing the highest demand for short-term leases, resulting in rental rates being increased there.
“In the above areas, as well as in neighborhoods of the southern suburbs by the sea that enjoy high demand from foreigners, rental rates have shown a small increase,” Potamianos notes.
He adds that besides the historic center, rates in the southern suburbs of Vouliagmeni and Glyfada are on a similar course.
Another consequence of the ever growing popularity of short-term property leasing is that in some areas of the capital, mainly close to the Acropolis, it is now virtually impossible to rent an apartment in the conventional way, for Greeks or others wishing to stay for a long time.
Agents are reporting an increase in the ousting of tenants and in the non-renewal of rental contracts as more and more property owners realize they can earn more by going short-term.