Chung wrote:When it comes to real estate bubbles and Airbnb, I only partially agree with you. While for some people Airbnb is indeed an important way for homeowners and tenants to make ends meet (then again, if anyone needs a carousel of very short-term boarders to keep him/herself financially afloat for any extended period in an overpriced city, I'd say that such people are in deeper trouble than they want to admit), Airbnb makes the problem of low vacancy worse. Moreover just like people wanting longer-term accommodation wouldn't want to stay in a hotel, how does it help when many potential landlords can turn their homes into unofficial hotels when wielding a short-term option like AirBnb? That basement suite that could have been leased by a student or working class family for 12 months for $700/month ($8400 for the 12 months as taxable inome) is now on airBnB where the rate of $50/night (untaxed income may I add) is too tempting for the landlord-host to turn away (even if it's occupied just half of the time or 15 days per month, that host is ahead because that's $750/month untaxed).
Airbnb was the solution for my 6 month long stay in Bordeaux. Why? because it didn't require 12 months of deposit (that is required even when you stay for shorter time, and it cannot be done as a forward payment. I would have had to to pay my six rents normally AND let 12 rents rot in the bank.) or a French citizen vouching for me. And don't forget that in a city with an already oversaturated market of flats for students, noone will prefer a foreigner with all this hassle to a native.
So I cannot agree. Airbnb is not necessarily pushing flats away from the mid-term renting market. It is filling a space in the system. It is a simple system. Not perfect of course. But a well working market wouldn't leave so much space for it.
I do think that more housing should be built where it's needed but high density isn't necessarily the way to do it (urban planners have a nasty habit of losing sight of the whole picture and forget that the inhabitants of these shiny apartment blocks/housing estates need infrastrucure, which in turn needs space that is usually hogged by the same housing that was just built). Call it xenophobia or not, but when you see enough outsiders or non-citizens buying homes (as opposed to summer cottages) as anchor properties where they're dark for at least two thirds of the year, it's no wonder a lot of these (local) people are less keen on globalization and outsiders than before (on top of the problem of tourist overflow in some places). The crowding out in big cities won't end well. I know of the problem with Prague as I've been hearing it a lot from my Czech friends there who've been increasingly priced out of the place and moving closer to the edge of town (or even to Kladno and Beroun).
Your czech friends may have forgotten to describe all the problems of the municipality preparing a long term development plan, and the building regulations. There is the problem. But I agree that it is not so in some other cities, perhaps Paris or Bordeaux or Barcelona are awesome at this, I can't tell.
Yes, the tiny appartments and high density are a problem. But airbnb is not to blame, and nothing can be done, at least not anything simple. As Prague is the practical example here, I'll add you may blame half Bohemia for immigrating en masse, we don't even need people coming from elsewhere to have this problem. Those small towns suck and fail to evolve. There have even been cases of very good projects in small towns being hated by the inhabitants and later refused by the town because "oh, such a thing doesn't belong to a small town". They prefer to commute for three hours a day to Prague, or to move there or to a satellite. I am not surprised they want to go to Prague, I wouldn't want to live in their home towns either. My mother comes from such a small town, my grandmother still lived there, so I know exactly why the people are doing everything possible to flee to Prague. Especially the younger ones.
It is not just about the immigrants from far away. There is little purpose in small towns and villages, when the agriculture and industry gets moved to other countries, or centralised. It's not just globalisation, it is modernisation and agriculture being more efficient then ever before. Therefore, the whole standard of living, the job market, services, (and the attitude of the people too) everything is just so much worse than in a large city. It is the worst for young people. More people than ever study at university. And what are they supposed to do with their degree in their home town? Put it on the wall and stay unemployed?
It is not just pricing the people out. Another strategy: you want to turn a building in a beautiful locality in those dark residencies and profit. You are lucky and can buy one apartment, great. But you need more. What to do? You get creative and make the daily lives of everyone else there as miserable as possible at any opportunity.
This whole problem with tourists and the resultant stress on some places is just part of globalization and rising overall global wealth (never mind actual income inequality and the punchy but simplified dichotomy of 99% versus 1%). It doesn't take that much of an increase to personal income for travelling to grow. In addition to the growth of tourism from Russia, there have been planeloads of Chinese tourists jostling in queues beside the usual (stereotyped?) "rich" Westerners, who feed the growth of the cruise business, and traffic of flying cattle cars branded "Ryanair" and "Wizzair".
One of our young politicians damaged his reputation greatly by suggesting that most people shouldn't go abroad for holidays, that it is not ecological and it is too much luxury. Well, I dislike most of his opinions, but this one got him really unpopular. Well, going abroad is one of the things making my life in a cold second rate country more bearable. So, I think trying to make the tourists feel guilty is never a good option.
But as I said, individual tourism should be more supported than the large organised crowds, those are the worst. Even if we look just at the european tourists, we can see that the EU is failing at promoting multilingualism. Otherwise, many more would go alone without the need for a guide knowing the language (the guides are usually horrible anyways, as they tend to know even less than a basic book. And why would anyone want to be orders and having their time hyperorganised even on a holiday?)
The chinese tourists are complicated. They are subject to many complaints even from the hotel owners, as the cultural differences translate as very poor behaviour here, including damages to the property. The russian tourists have their specifics too, but those are actually scarcer now, as the country is not exactly getting richer. Those are more likely to come for a permanent stay and job (and this is not just in the Czech Republic, they have numerous communities in may cities). But perhaps the european tourist destinations should focus on profiting from asia getting rich more wisely. For example by convincing people to come at various times of the year, not just the few most popular months.
Don't these rich foreigners rent out their flats while they're away, whether on airbnb or elsewhere?
When browsing the options I generally avoid the rooms or flats owned by (not necessarily rich) Russians, Britons, Americans etc
No, they don't.
Those from the middle class probably do. But the historical center is being sold to very rich people. If you can afford to have six flats all over the world, you can certainly afford not to rent them. I can't imagine a millionaire on airbnb.
Another problem: too many buildings are bing turned into administrative buildings, not apartments. For some reasons, those are more profitable. Again, this is something that could be addressed, the municipality could look of options to balance this better.