What Airbnbs are actually doing to housing prices around Maine

More Mainers across the state have begun to rent their homes out to vacationers on Airbnb and other short-term rental sites. But many have questioned whether their decisions could be contributing to more expensive housing for everybody else.

More than half a million guests stayed at an Airbnb in Maine in 2019, the latest year available, generating $91 million for hosts, according company data. It is difficult to determine an identical effect of Airbnb units across all neighborhoods and communities, but studies over the past few years show a clear trend of decreasing the supply of long-term rentals and likely raising costs of renting and buying.

Maine faces a housing crisis that has made many communities unaffordable for middle-class residents and the increased popularity of Airbnbs could pose a problem for buyers and renters, especially in tourist communities including Portland and Bar Harbor, which have begun to regulate them. But restaurants, bars and shops rely on vacationers being able to easily stay in Maine and communities who regulate the market too much lose out on business.

Though people stay in short-term rentals across Maine, many of Airbnb’s top spots are clustered along Maine’s coast. The county with the highest rate of stays in 2019 per capita was Hancock County, where the 82,700 guests far exceeded the county’s population of 55,000 in 2020. The company no longer releases data by community, a spokesperson said.

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