The COVID-19 pandemic has transferred the tourist use houses to the residential market, a transfer that is “light” according to the employers of the sector and that it can be punctual, since many of these properties are now advertised as “seasonal” rentals.
The aesthetics, with renovated floors and photos that are more similar to those of a hotel than those of a house for rent, give these properties away among the advertisements on the real estate portals.
Often, too, the text, “save Airbnb commissions, secure one of these offers.” Sometimes the same property continues to appear on tourism pages.
The residential market has become a formula for “keeping business.” It is pointed out by a owner of a studio offered for 700 euros per month in the Madrid neighborhood of Lavapiés, for rent from May to December because it normally works as a tourist home, explains when more information is requested. It could be more months depending on the “rhythm of the city”, he adds.
Fevitur, the employers of the sector, considers that this transfer of tourist flats to rent is “light” and that the percentage is “not significant”, according to Efe the president, Tolo Gomila.
“They will be used for tourism again“he affirms. And he uses three reasons: the houses for tourist use will be, in his opinion, the first offer to reopen because hotels need a minimum occupancy to avoid losing money; the offers are “seasonal leases” and in these cases the owner cannot recover the property “immediately”.
Javier Gil, researcher and member of the Madrid Tenants Union, points out to Efe that there are hosts who are pulling “the Airbnb floors”, but others are “very optimistic” and hope that the market will recover or that the rental prices are back on the rise. It predicts a “waterfall” of tourist apartments that will move to the rental market in the coming months.
“They are doing business calculations with their home to see how to get more profit with housing operating on these two markets. Evidence that Airbnb is supported by an offer of flats that have been extracted from the rental market, “says this expert, who advocates legislation such as that of San Francisco, where you can only stay in your usual home.
The Idealista real estate portal points out that the number of new ads in urban centers remains stable, although its typology does suggest that some are vacation rental homes.
“It is still too early to ensure that these homes return definitively to the long-term rental market,” says Fernando Espinar, co-founder of Idealista, who believes that many owners already valued changing the market “and the pandemic has helped them make the decision.”
TOURIST HOUSING AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES
During the confinement, some neighbors have no one to share the applause at eight because the apartments dedicated to tourism are empty of tourists.
It happens to Leticia, that when he looks out to applaud from his Lavapiés balcony, he sees no one in the building opposite. An emptiness that is also noticeable in the Plaza Mayor in Madrid.
The researcher of the Union of Tenants ensures that mass tourism expels residents. The needs of tourists, in leisure or commerce, do not match those of the neighbors and are imposed by their higher purchasing level.
On the other hand, the president of Fevitur defends that the impact of tourist flats on the cities’ residential market is “negligible” since this type of property represents 0.49% in Madrid or 2% in Barcelona.
Abundant in the Madrid example, Gomila points out that empty homes account for 16% and asks “not to demonize” the owners, but “to seduce them so that they go on the market”.
THE FUTURE OF TOURIST FLOORS
The researcher of the Union of Tenants sees in the crisis of COVID-19 an opportunity to rethink the future of tourism through “more sustainable ways” that do not have “negative impact” and to think about whether the city is “a place to live” or what function should the houses fulfill.
For his part, President Fevitur expects activity to restart in the last quarter of the year and return to normal by Easter 2021.
The key will be the domestic market and the most affected destinations will be the islands, due to the lack of connectivity, and the urban environments, because there will be fewer fairs and congresses. In his opinion, they will come out winning inland tourism and “emptied Spain”.
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