Airbnb rise hits rental mar­ket

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Janessa Ekert

AN IN­CREASE in Airbnb homes in the Dou­glas Shire is re­duc­ing the num­ber of per­ma­nent rentals on the mar­ket and driv­ing up prop­erty prices.

A Uni­ver­sity of Syd­ney study re­vealed that at least one in 10 prop­er­ties in Dou­glas Shire is listed on on­line rental plat­forms, while the num­ber of Airbnb rentals across the state dou­bles in the past 18 months.

Moss­man and Port Dou­glas Raine and Horne di­rec­tor David Cot­ton said there had been an in­crease in peo­ple buy­ing prop­er­ties to ren­o­vate and rent out specif­i­cally for the Airbnb mar­ket.

“Which is tak­ing per­ma­nent rental prop­er­ties off the mar­ket … so it’s driv­ing prices up,” he said.

Over the past year Mr Cot­ton said there had been a 10 to 20 per cent in­crease in rental prices in the re­gion.

“Which in turn is giv­ing own­ers of prop­er­ties a higher yield … and is driv­ing prop­erty prices up,” he added.

The lack of per­ma­nent rental prices may have an ad­verse im­pact on the re­gion’s cor­ner­stone in­dus­tries such as hos­pi­tal­ity and tourism, es­pe­cially dur­ing peak sea­son.

“I’ve heard sto­ries where chefs and wait­ers and staff on the boats … if they can’t find ac­com­mo­da­tion they ob­vi­ously can’t live here so they move on,” he said.

“And if they can’t get staff to ser­vice the cus­tomers dur­ing the sea­son … we cer­tainly saw it last year when peo­ple left town be­cause they couldn’t find ac­com­mo­da­tion.”

Tourism Port Dou­glas and Dain­tree ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Tara Ben­nett said peo­ple were turn­ing to short term rentals be­cause they wanted higher re­turns on their in­vest­ment prop­er­ties.

“The nightly rates are much higher than long term rentals with a num­ber of ad­di­tional costs that needed to be fac­tored in when peo­ple make the move from long to short term rentals,” she said.

“Airbnb is a great op­tion for trav­ellers look­ing for a dif­fer­ent style of ac­com­mo­da­tion away from tra­di­tional ho­tels. The growth in this sec­tor has pre­sented a huge op­por­tu­nity for the ac­com­mo­da­tion sec­tor in the Dain­tree with a large num­ber of hol­i­day home now en­joy­ing far greater ex­po­sure through these sites.”

Ms Ben­nett agreed that a draw­back to the Airbnb phe­nom­e­non, es­pe­cially in small com­mu­ni­ties like Dou­glas Shire was the re­duc­tion in af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tion for the com­mu­nity and sea­sonal work­ers.

But Mr Cot­ton said as more Airbnb prop­er­ties flood the re­gion the mar­ket will be­come tougher forc­ing com­pet­i­tive prices.

“Es­pe­cially if some peo­ple are not get­ting the oc­cu­pancy lev­els they want,” he said.

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