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The 'Airbnb Effect' could be one reason behind Austin's skyrocketing housing prices

Experts worry short-term rental companies are taking too many properties off the market, contributing to low supply and high prices.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Austin housing market continues to see high demand and high prices. It's a tough time to be a first-time homebuyer, and experts say companies like Airbnb are making matters worse.

Experts worry short-term rental companies are taking too many properties off the market. While those vacation rental homes can help stimulate the economy and increase tourism, in the long run, the negative consequences of short-term rentals can outweigh the good. 

This theory is called the "Airbnb Effect." It says that when hosts buy homes to turn them into short-term rentals, that decreases the supply of housing available for locals. 

One U.S. study found that a 1% increase in Airbnb listings leads to a 0.018% increase in rents and a 0.026% increase in house prices. 

And some worry that all these units being taken off the market will mean more
Austinites displaced. 

However, Airbnb is just a piece of the puzzle. 

One Austin Realtor said he doesn't think Airbnb has much of an impact on the market. He said our problems are much bigger than that. 

"I think what people have to realize is we've got a lot more inventory than we have in the previous, you know, 10 years," said Ryan Rodenbeck, CEO of Spyglass Realty. "So, I think that the talk of Airbnb is maybe a distraction from the real issue."

Rodenbeck said we need higher housing density. 

"We don't have density in Austin," he said. "You cannot build a fourplex on a quarter-acre lot, and that's something that has been a problem for a long time."

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