In many markets, homeownership is not an option for a great deal of workers. This is true in the USA as well as the major cities in the UK, with prices meaning workers cannot afford to get a first foot on to the property ladder. More people are renting, in all age groups, and this trend is set to continue. In fact, in the USA, the number of people owning a home has fallen to its lowest level for more than 50 years. Now 63% own their own home. In the UK 67% of 25 to 34-year-olds were once home-owners, but this figure had dropped to 36% in the financial year ending 2014, according to government figures.
Many renters already look for their properties online, either using specialised sites like Rightmove or Zoopla, or through a simple Google search. However, there could be a further change on the cards, as Airbnb is said to be entering the long-term rental market. At the moment, the company concentrates on short-term lets such as overnight or holiday stays. However, Bloomberg has reported that sources are saying Airbnb is researching the long-term rental market. Airbnb has declined to comment, but it is already possible to make reservations on the site by allowing spaces to be booked at a monthly rate.
It certainly shook up the hotel profession when it launched the short-term rental platform and it could do the same to the long-term rental sector. If the Airbnb platform allows for long-term leases, it is likely that property management companies and landlords could advertise their houses for rent on the site. Apartment listing sites at the moment are usually made up of professionals in the industry who are marketing what is available. With the market opening up through Airbnb, as well as small-time landlords being able to offer their listings on Airbnb, it could help to drive down rental rates or, at the very least, provide another platform for seeing what is available and at what rental cost.
Once again, letting agents and landlords will need to adapt to the changes being made by online companies. This is already happening, with many offering greater flexibility and convenience to tenants. However, Airbnb would need to allow for a tenant-screening process to be done through its site, so that potential tenants are vetted in the same way as they would if they worked with a letting agent or professional landlord.
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