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Are more Airbnbs good or bad for Milwaukee neighborhoods?

There's been a notable increase of these short-term rental options in our area over the years.
City of Milwaukee
Posted at 4:54 PM, Nov 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-18 19:19:55-05

MILWAUKEE — “For Sale” and “For Rent” signs have become harder to find in Milwaukee’s popular Bay View neighborhood.

“When there’s a shortage of supply or available homes like there is right now, demand is high,” said Pedro Rivera, owner of reThought Real Estate in Bay View. “So, when there is a property available, it becomes much more expensive and harder to afford.”

Because of this, Rivera says investment companies can make more money buying properties and turning them into Airbnbs rather than long-term rentals.

Rivera says in the relatively small area from Bay Street to Oklahoma Avenue in Bay View, there are currently more than 150 Airbnb properties.

“It's more lucrative from an investor’s standpoint to come in and invest in short-term rentals, where you can get more for the property, versus renting it to a regular tenant over time,” said Rivera. “When it’s a short-term rental you can charge more per night on weekends, in the summer, and when big events come to town.”

But, those investors don’t live in the home, so their Airbnb can go largely unsupervised. That’s the main criticism of many neighbors.

“That’s a completely legitimate concern, “ says Airbnb property owner Korinthia Klein. “When it’s a big company, or just looked at as an investment and not personal, that’s a problem.”

Klein owns Korinthian Violins at the corner of Delaware and Rusk in Bayview. She rented the storefront for years, then bought the building five years ago. Turning a second-floor apartment into an Airbnb has helped her pay off the mortgage already.

“It’s been really nice having people visit from all over, who want to learn about Milwaukee and see what our neighborhood is like,” said Klein.

Klein lives with her family about 10 blocks away but is in the violin store nearly every day.

“I think a lot depends on who owns the property and operates the Airbnb,” she said. “I think in a more private circumstance like ours, it can be done in a way that’s really positive for the neighborhood. We send a lot of our guests to restaurants, bars, and businesses nearby.”

Airbnb touts the economic opportunity short-term rentals create in supporting local tourism. And, the company says it has introduced new measures to crack down on any bad behavior at its properties.

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