With the property market suffering from oversupply, more Malaysians are turning to Airbnb to pay off their loans. Based on an Airbnb survey of over 2,000 Malaysian guests and hosts, half of the responding hosts indicated that Airbnb helped them in settling their loan payments, while 40 percent said the platform provided them with supplementary income.
Airbnb is an internet-based booking platform that allows owners to rent out their properties or extra rooms to guests.
With more than 53,000 Airbnb listings, Malaysia saw over 3.25 million guests in the last 12 months ended 1 July, or up 73 percent from the previous period, reported The Star.
Siva Shanker, investment head of Axis REIT Managers Bhd and former president of Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents, however, believes that there is a bad side to the Airbnb trend.
According to him, Airbnb hosts were speculators and investors who bought properties during the upturn, with the goal of selling them at a higher price.
“However, when the property market started to make a turn for the worse, many of these speculators found it difficult to sell or rent out their units but at the same time they needed income to service their loans.”
He added that many investors and buyers bought units on the advice of a few people with questionable credentials and skills.
“Many of the people, who claimed to be experts, gave false assurances that the properties could be sold at a premium of up to 40 percent within a couple of years, or that they would be able to get high rental yields.”
“This is essentially a get rich quick scheme and many people believed in them. But then the market crashed and many of the buyers are saddled with a property that they can’t sell or rent out,” he said.
Meanwhile, PPC International managing director Datuk Siders Sittampalam called for the regulation of Airbnb.
“It’s never been regulated in the past, especially in terms of taxes. How do you determine things such as cost and security?”
Siva agreed that there is a need to set up proper regulation for Airbnb operators.
“You don’t know who’s going into your apartment. Every other day, your occupants are changing…They could be illegal immigrants, running criminal activities, being a nuisance and disturbing the neighbours,” he said.
“How is the unit considered ‘gated and guarded’ when the owner is the one that opens the door to these strangers?”