The meteoric rise of the sharing economy has been met with praise by some, and scorn by others, not least in the property space. Those profiting from the sharing economy will argue that it is increasing the efficiency with which we use the assets at our disposal, something that should benefit everyone. Critics on the other hand, will argue that it is changing communities for the worse and inflating asset prices. In reality, it’s doing both. But it doesn’t have to be this way - we’re doing the whole thing wrong.
Current forms of the sharing economy focus on short-term arrangements, with property, vehicles and people being offered up for one time use. Of course, this is great when you fall asleep on the tube and need a half-past-midnight Uber back from the back end of nowhere, but with this short-termism comes high transaction costs, as well as seasonality and endless maintenance for the ‘asset owner’. For property sharing in particular, the effort it takes to continuously change the sheets, organise the handing over of keys and accept or reject bookings from miscreants looking for a place to party, is enough to put many people off sharing their home altogether.
But the problems run deeper than this - communities are built on the ability for people to find common ground with the person next door, and to get to know the people who you trudge past on the way to work. Although property sharing behemoth Airbnb is looking to curb the number of days that people can rent their whole house out, there are still huge numbers of properties in London which function as mini hotels. This creates a clash of uses - holiday makers need a place to crash for a few days, whereas the people who live there want to live somewhere with a bit more soul than a block of makeshift hotel rooms.
It seems like every day that we hear a new story about various governments enacting new laws or restrictions on different factions of the staring economy. This is down to all of the reasons we’ve talked about, which mean than certain elements of the sharing economy are not sustainable - we’re just doing it wrong.
We’re doing it differently - Hermit is looking to create long-term relationships between homeowners and businesses, where people can genuinely get to know one another and needless to say our business users are not disrupting communities - partly due to the fact that they are not looking for a place to party, but also because they are using the space when the other members of the community are not! A genuine increase in the efficiency with which people use the space at their disposal - but done right.