Airbnbs aren't major cause of Fox Valley's housing market issues, but concerns linger (2024)

Appleton is keeping an eye on how many tourist rooming houses operate in the city, but has yet to see short-term rentals affect the supply of homes for residents.

Although there's been more Airbnb-type properties licensed in recent years, "we're not seeing the number of tourist rooming houses that, say, a community like Ashwaubenon or the neighborhoods around Lambeau Field might experience," said Kara Homan, Appleton's director of community and economic development.

Still, she said, it's something to monitor going forward.

Among its neighbors, Appleton is home to the most short-term rentals. It's difficult to pin down exactly how many, but there are likely more listingsthan there are licensed.

The Post-Crescent identified about 120 properties in the Fox Cities in late 2023, by compiling data from state and local agencies. Meanwhile, Pam Seidl, executive director of the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimated there are probably between 300 and 500 listings for the area in any given month.

The Post-Crescent is looking at Airbnb-type properties in context of the local housing market, as part of a series focused on short-term rentals in theregion. Previous stories exploredAppleton's response andNeenah's permit system, among other topics.

Articles in the coming weeks will delve into other issues, including how other municipalities handle short-term rentals, and who's responsible for licensing them.

Short-term rentals can be a 'distraction' in debate around housing issues

Although there are early signs of relief, Wisconsin homebuyers have faced a tough market in recent years, as demand outpaced supply, with high interest rates.

"There are quite a number of contributing factors that have got us to where we are today," in the Fox Valley, according to Jennifer Sunstrom, director of public relations and government affairs for the Realtors Association of Northeast Wisconsin.

The biggest issue, she said, is supply, especially as new housing units have been significantly underproduced over the years. There's also an increase in the cost of building materials, a decline in available labor and changing interest rates.

"When you take all of, I would say, the top five, six to 10 issues ... that have contributed to the housing situation, short-term rentals don’t even get on the radar," according to Sunstrom.

She added, "if we eliminated short-term rentals tomorrow, no one would notice. It would not create ... this enormous increase in available supply in the market, and the people are like, 'Oh, well that really helped.' It just wouldn't."

"Now, does it help having short-term rentals? Well, no," Sunstrom said. But she stressed that short-term rentals should not become "a distraction from what the real issues are, and what we need to do about it." Rather, she said, the focus should be on the local level, changing development and land use policies to increase density and variety of homes, among other factors.

More:Wisconsin home inspectors, once a staple of property sales, report rollercoaster of demand

Still, housing market concerns linger

There are communities around the state where "housing shortages are really, seriously affecting business," according to Bill Elliott, president and CEO of the the Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association.

"So, there's concern that short-term rentals are eating up the housing market for employees, not just of our industry," Elliott said, "but of a broad swath of industries."

Appleton and the surrounding area need more housing to keep up with a growing population, for households of all incomes, according to a 2022 Fox Cities and Greater Outagamie County Regional Housing Strategy report.

"If I'm an employer here in the Fox Cities, and I'm trying to attract a new employee here, and they can’t find a place to live, that’s a problem," said Seidl, with the local Convention and Visitors Bureau. "And if someone’s taking that home off the market to rent out on just a rotating basis, instead of just selling it for someone to live in, it plays into a little bit of that housing stock issue, as well."

Alex Schultz serves on the Appleton Common Council, and this topic "continues to be challenging for a city of our size," he said, "to balance short-term rental home purchases with affordable low-income housing opportunities."

Schultz also operates a short-term rental in the city with his wife; the couple live right next door, he said.

Airbnbs aren't major cause of Fox Valley's housing market issues, but concerns linger (1)

"We understand what it means to take a home out of the market for family ownership," he said, "but we balance that knowing that we are adding value to our community by sharing this historic house and promoting local businesses with our appreciative guests."

Schultz argues there's an important distinction with short-term rental owners, like him and his wife, "who live in close proximity to the homes they're renting," whether they live in the house themselves, next door or on the same block.

"They are vested in to neighborhoods and relationships with neighbors," he said. "That connection is lacking with someone who owns or manages multiple properties around the city, and the owners themselves are not really present."

Is Appleton reaching a saturation point?

Mark Biesack lives in Appleton, and he manages about 100 short-term rentals around Wisconsin, including about 40 in the Appleton area, through his company,Powerhouse Properties 920. His team works closely with city inspectors, he said, and they introduce themselves to neighbors to let them know they're only a phone call or text away.

People create short-term rentals for a variety of reasons, according to Biesack. He's had homeowners from the area rent out their property, but still use it once in a while when they come back to visit family and friends. Or, he said, people may want to rent out a house they've outgrown, he said, and they find it more appealing to be an Airbnb host than a traditional landlord.

When looking at the effects that short-term rentals have on communities, Biesack argues it's important to put numbers in context. For instance, the Appleton Health Department recorded 82 licensed tourist rooming houses in late 2023. Meanwhile, the city has roughly 31,000 total housing units, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Generally, it's hard to say whether there's been an increase in Airbnb-type properties in the Fox Cities, or if municipalities are just aware of more now, as more listings get licensed. Still, Biesack thinks that Appleton is right around, while Green Bay is already past, a saturation point for short-term rentals, he said.

"What I'm starting to see," Biesack said, "is that people who were maybe not fully committed to this, or wanting to just give it a try, are now realizing, 'You know what? The housing market’s still really good. I could still just ... list this house and get a really good price for it if I sell.'"

Biesack said he's had a couple of properties in his portfolio do that. He's also seen former Airbnbs listed for sale convert back into single-family homes, through the "ebb and flow," he said.

"Honestly," Biesack said, "if an investor came to me and said, 'Hey, I want to buy a house in the area for when I come back twice a year. I have $250,000. Where should I buy one?' Unless they’re really dead set on Appleton or Green Bay, I'm probably going to tell them to go spend their money in Oshkosh or somewhere else," like Stevens Point or the Plover area.

Editor's note: This article is part of a series about short-term rentals in the Fox Cities that will publish in the coming weeks.Do you have experiencewith such rentals,either as an owner, customer or neighbor,that you'd like to share? The Post-Crescent wants to hear from you.

Reach Becky Jacobs at or 920-993-7117. Follow her on Twitter at@ruthyjacobs.

Airbnbs aren't major cause of Fox Valley's housing market issues, but concerns linger (2024)


Airbnbs aren't major cause of Fox Valley's housing market issues, but concerns linger? ›

Airbnbs aren't major cause of Fox Valley's housing market issues, but concerns linger. Appleton is keeping an eye on how many tourist rooming houses operate in the city, but has yet to see short-term rentals affect the supply of homes for residents.

Is Airbnb to blame for the housing crisis? ›

This conclusion is consistent with other independent academic studies which like this recent paper published by researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California concluded that on a national basis “a 10% increase in Airbnb ...

Are Airbnbs bad for the housing market? ›

The simple answer is that they are making housing scarcer and less affordable for Angelenos. A landmark study led by Kyle Barron of the National Bureau of Economic Research found that Airbnb was responsible for nearly one-fifth of all the residential rent increases in the United States between 2012 and 2016.

Why are Airbnbs collapsing? ›

Because there are so many more listings now, Airbnb hosts say they are watching their bookings plummet. The flood of new hosts has meant fewer can earn good money. “Now, the markets are completely oversaturated,” says Melody Wright, founder of mortgage strategy and technology company Huringa.

Why is Airbnb problematic? ›

Airbnb can have negative impacts on locals' quality of life. This is one of the lesser-known Airbnb problems. Tourists hiring a place on Airbnb to enjoy a “cheaper” holiday actually pushes rent prices up for locals who need to live in the city. Tourists are visitors competing with locals for accommodation.

What are the biggest complaints about Airbnb? ›

5 Common Airbnb Complaints and How To Handle Them
  • Complaint #1: Issues With Cleanliness and Maintenance.
  • Complaint #2: Inaccurate or Misleading Property Descriptions.
  • Complaint #3: Problems With Check-In and Accessibility.
  • Complaint #4: Lack of Amenities or Supplies.
  • Complaint #5: Unresponsive or Unhelpful Hosts.
Mar 18, 2024

What is the biggest problem with Airbnb? ›

Based on feedbacks from other Airbnb hosts, we can highlight five main issues:
  • Guest-related problems. Some guests may damage property, steal items, or cause disturbances. ...
  • Additional costs. ...
  • Legal obligations. ...
  • Time commitment. ...
  • Uncertainty.
Mar 10, 2024

Which states are banning Airbnb? ›

California Cities That Have Banned Airbnb
  • Redondo Beach.
  • West Hollywood.
  • Partial Bans:
  • Santa Monica...Ban on whole house STR's.

Why are cities banning Airbnb? ›

Why is Airbnb Illegal or Restricted in Certain Places? Some localities have outlawed or put restrictions on Airbnb hosting for several reasons. One is that it takes away tax revenues (although now Airbnb works with cities to collect such taxes), or siphons business from traditional hotels that do pay taxes.

Why are people banning Airbnb? ›

The exponential growth of Airbnb, combined with building restrictions that have severely limited the growth of housing supply, have led to the widespread perception that short-term rentals must be swallowing housing units at the expense of local residents, who now face higher rents.

Is Airbnb a dying business? ›

We hit a record in 2021. We increase that number by another 20% in 2022, and then we increase it by another 10% in 2023. There are more people than ever staying in short-term rentals. We are seeing a normalization in terms of industry performance.

Is Airbnb getting over saturated? ›

Considering the current trends and market analysis, it can be concluded that while the Airbnb market has witnessed a surge in listings and increased competition, it is not necessarily oversaturated. The market continues to exhibit healthy demand, and certain locations remain strong and resilient.

Why are people selling their Airbnb? ›

Reasons behind Airbnb Owners Selling their Properties

The saturation of the market and the subsequent decline in revenue have forced many Airbnb owners to sell their properties.

How do you shut down your neighbors on Airbnb? ›

How Do I Stop Neighbors From Using Their House as an Airbnb or Other Type of Vacation Rental?
  1. Step One: Try Addressing the Vacation Rental Issue Informally With Your Neighbor. ...
  2. Step Two: Check the Local Law or Community Rules on Short-Term Rentals. ...
  3. Step Three: Alert the Zoning Department to Your Neighbor's Violations.

Why is Airbnb bad for the economy? ›

It is not merely excessive tourism that can raise the cost of living for citizens. Homestays, especially on the massive scale of an Airbnb, have been seen to have an inflationary impact on economies as well. And this is most felt in the prices of residential real estate and home rentals.

What are the disadvantages of an Airbnb? ›

Cons of Airbnb Hosting
  • You might need additional Insurance for your vacation rental. ...
  • Local Laws May Not Allow Short-Term Renting. ...
  • Consider the Additional Costs of Hosting. ...
  • Inconsistent Income. ...
  • Maintaining a Short-Term Rental is a full-time job. ...
  • You'll Sometimes Get Bad Reviews. ...
  • Some Guests Can Be a Nuisance.

What is Airbnb liable for? ›

Basics of California Premises Liability Law

Slipping and falling on a slick floor. Falling down a stairway that has broken stairs. Tripping and falling in an area of the property that is not properly lit. Slipping on loose area rugs, tiles or cobble stones.

What are the community consequences of Airbnb? ›

However, while individual hosts and guests may benefit economically, the use of short-term rentals produces significant consequences for the surrounding community. Airbnb proliferation causes fewer affordable housing options, higher average asking rents, and erosion of neighborhood social capital.

Is Airbnb a threat? ›

Airbnb has been considered a disruptive force in the hospitality industry, posing both challenges and opportunities for traditional hotels. However, it's important to note that industry dynamics can evolve, and the impact of Airbnb on hotels may change over time.

Is Airbnb good for the economy? ›

Hosts on Airbnb helped support approximately one million US jobs. Airbnb guests generated more than $80B in visitor spending. Guest spending generated more than $24B in taxes for governments.

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