VUB-study reveals Airbnb market in Brussels

VUB-study reveals Airbnb market in Brussels

45% are offered by ‘investors’ and ‘professionals’

Airbnb claims that it enables people to let their room or house sporadically to tourists and expats and that this allows travelers to experience the more authentic, non-touristic neighborhoods of a city. A new study from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel funded by Innoviris shows that almost half of the dwellings on Airbnb in Brussels Capital Region are offered by ‘investors’ and ‘professionals’ and that they are highly clustered in the touristic hotspots and the European quarter.

11.427 dwellings on Airbnb in 2019

In 2019, 11.427 dwellings were offered on the Airbnb platform in Brussels Capital Region. “These dwellings were offered for 159 days per year on average”, states professor Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe, “We chose to study the year of 2019 because we wanted to know the situation before Corona, but we plan to analyse soon the stock of Airbnbs during the Covid years of 2020 and 2021.”

These Airbnb dwellings were highly concentrated in the touristic neighborhood around the Grand Place and La Monnaie (the so-called Îlot Sacré) and around the European institutions near Parc Léopold and Schuman (see the map below). But also around Atomium we see many Airbnb listings. “The distance from the city centre and the number of restaurants in the environment appear to be strong predictors for the Airbnb density in a neighborhood: the further away from the Grand Place and the less restaurants there are, the less dwellings are available on Airbnb”, clarifies economist Marek Endrich.

Who are the Airbnb hosts?

The people who offer their dwelling on Airbnb (the so-called ‘hosts’) are very diverse in nature. Circa 34% of the hosts only offer a room in their apartment or house and thus not their whole dwelling. Another 21% do offer their entire dwelling, but only for less than 120 days per year (e.g. expats who travel abroad or people who take a holiday). These two types of hosts are more evenly spread over the region, although there are still clusters of these hosts in the city centre and in Elsene, Etterbeek and Sint-Gillis.

In addition, circa 16% of the Airbnb market in Brussels consists of professionals who offer three or more houses or apartments as a short-term rental on Airbnb. “32 hosts even offer 10 or more apartments at the same time on Airbnb,” adds professor Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe. “Especially these listings are highly concentrated in de Îlot Sacré and near the European institutions.

Finally, ca. 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 per year. “We suspect that these are people who own a second or third dwelling as an ‘investment’ and offer these dwellings on the lucrative Airbnb market. It’s clear that they don’t live in these dwellings,” clarifies Marek Endrich.

Consequences for the housing market?

In sum, this means that only half of the hosts are in line with the original ‘sharing economy’ philosophy of Airbnb. “In the coming years we want to examine with further funding of Innoviris what consequences Airbnb has on the supply and rental prices of the local housing market in Brussels”, states professor Verhaeghe, “We talk about more than 5.000 dwellings that are offered in Brussels by professionals and investors on Airbnb for tourists and business travelers. That are 5.000 dwellings that are not offered on the local rental market for the inhabitants of Brussels. It’s very likely that this has detrimental effects on the tight housing market in Brussels.”

Contact person in Dutch and English:

Prof. Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe (0473/865375) – [email protected]

Contact person in French:

Prof. Sylvie Gadeyne (0498/236043) – [email protected]

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