Exploring the 2024 State of the Short-Term Rental Industry: Key Insights and Local Impacts

The short-term rental (STR) industry has experienced significant changes and growth, especially in recent years. The 2024 State of the Short-Term Rental Industry Report by Rent Responsibly and the College of Charleston represents the largest and most comprehensive study ever conducted on this sector and the regulatory environment surrounding it across the United States. This report provides valuable insights for STR operators and local governments alike, offering data that can inform better community management and responsible operation of private accommodations.

Understanding the Study

In April 2024, researchers conducted a sweeping survey, collecting responses from more than 5,000 STR owners and property managers. They gathered information about various aspects of STR operations, including properties, technology, marketing, and regulations. Additionally, over 2,000 local government staff and elected officials provided insights into their communities, covering topics such as housing supply, tourism, STR ordinance provisions, and policy objectives. The outcome was substantial: a total of 4,004 responses from STR operators and 1,540 from government officials, resulting in more than 130,000 data points.

This blog will be divided into two parts: the first part will delve into metrics related to STR owners and the local economic impact, while the second part will focus on housing and policy initiatives.

Key Findings on STR Owners

Small-Business Owners:

  • Property Ownership: On average, STR owners possess 1.9 properties, with more than two-thirds owning just one. Impressively, nine in ten owners manage their STRs personally.
  • Demographics: A significant portion of STR owners, over 71.8%, are aged 50 years or older.
  • Personal Use: The data reveals that four in five owners use their property personally for some duration each year. Additionally, one in three STR owners use their properties for more than just short-term rentals.
  • Income Generation: STRs serve as a supplementary income source for most owners, accounting for 27% of their income on average. About half of the owners (44.1%) rely on short-term rentals for 41% or more of their income. Interestingly, one in four made no profit or even experienced losses, while 47.8% earned up to $24,999 in profit.
  • Motivations for Renting: The primary motivation for renting properties was having purchased or built a vacation home (42%). Other reasons included a desire to host guests, building or buying a home for retirement, and covering the costs of property improvements.

Local Economic Impact

Community and Economic Contributions:

  • Supporting Local Businesses: A remarkable 94.6% of respondents reported supporting locally owned and operated businesses through purchases and referrals. The most common amenities offered by STR hosts to their guests included personalized recommendations to local restaurants, attractions, and activities.
  • Demographics of Guests: The majority of STR operators (75%) catered primarily to families. Other significant guest groups included wellness travelers, public event attendees, and corporate travelers.
  • Employment: STRs are a source of employment in their communities, with 68% of managers employing full-time staff and 72% employing part-time employees.
  • Tourism and Economy: Government officials place high importance on tourism for their local economies, with guest spending ranked as a crucial factor, second only to property values. Elected officials frequently cited the amount of guest spending driven by STRs as critical data for informing policy decisions.

This data underscores the significant role STRs play in supporting local economies and providing a valuable income source for small property owners. The next part of this blog will delve into housing issues and the policy initiatives shaped by the insights from this report.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we will explore the broader implications of STR regulations on housing markets and the various policy initiatives that aim to balance the benefits of STRs with community needs.

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or thoughts about the findings shared here. Let’s continue the conversation about how STRs are influencing our communities and economies

Barb is the president of NASTRA and has spent her professional career in hospitality and real estate. After acquiring her first short-term rental in 2018, Barb moved her focus to legal advocacy after she sued the city of Nashville over a permit issue. Over the last three years, she has mentored more than 2,800 new STR hosts and is the Community Leader for Airbnb in Nashville, as well as an Airbnb “Ask a Superhost” Ambassador. Barb has appeared on numerous radio broadcasts, television shows, and podcasts to talk about her love of hosting. She also manages and co-hosts a number of short term rentals across Tennessee and Arkansas. Barb and her husband Pat own a hotel brokerage, development and consulting company. Look for her upcoming podcast series, “Women of Airbnb.”

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