Airbnb’s Impact on Hawaii’s Housing Supply

Hawaii Independent Staff

Via AF3IRM Hawai’i:

Annie Koh, a Ph.D. candidate in Urban & Regional Planning at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, urges us to focus on larger systems and look beyond the short-term convenience of short term rentals in Hawai’i. She discusses the impacts of Airbnb according to real estate investors and housing advocates around the world. A broader perspective makes clear Airbnb’s common argument of “no material impact” on Hawaii’s housing market is fantasy.

Only a small fraction of homes in Hawaii right now are listed on Airbnb, supposedly only 8,000 entire home listings, but cities that have had a longer experience with Airbnb are experience a very serious material impact on their housing supply. Annie urges: we can’t just think about the 8,000 homes, we need to think about changes in how the market is going to operate with this new incentive. Real estate investment trusts are now salivating at Airbnb in Hawaii being another stream of income.

Developers often argue that regulation is the problem but even if we said no regulations and build wherever you can, we still would not build enough to replace what would be lost from the rental market by units being pulled off by Airbnb.

Individual Airbnb hosts are not demons, in that moment it makes sense but the larger picture is that you’re changing housing incentives and converting housing into investment stream where renting to locals does not make economic sense.

The City of San Francisco concluded the Airbnb is a net negative: the cost of replacing a single unit is $250,000/year—to replace a lost unit by investing more in public housing or subsidizing emergency housing. We need to ask, “What are the costs of tilting our housing from the logic of shelter and home to the logic of investment?” Hawaii is unique but also in a global system so we need to look at how other tourism-dependent cities are experiencing Airbnb. In Paris, Amsterdam and Barcelona (high tourism cities) are saying that taxes from Airbnb aren’t worth it—we need to rebalance the housing terrain in favor of local rentals over vacation. Paris now requires any short term rental host must register with the city because of their housing shortage. In terms of legislation, we need real data that shows us the story that Airbnb does not want us to see.