MANCHESTER — New data released by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency shows that the availability of short term rentals (STRs) – such as Airbnbs and VRBO properties – has risen steadily in the state, reaching 11,747 statewide as of September.
The new data marked a 16 percent increase over the number of STRs over September 2022, with a total of 51,290 reservations this September. Although the past numbers are not as firm, VHFA estimated about 1,000 STRs were available in 2014, based on information from industry analyst AirDNA.
The increasing numbers stalled during the pandemic, the data found, but quickly rebounded as travel and COVID restrictions were removed. The strongest months for STRs are September and October; February, March and November are among the least active for short term rentals.
Interestingly, the data indicated, ”average monthly revenue per rental slightly dipped from September 2022 to 2023, landing at $4,181 for the month. This leveling out comes after three years of significant revenue growth per STR since the beginning of the pandemic,” wrote Nate Lantieri, VHFA’s Research Coordinator.
MANCHESTER — A new report contracted by the town to examine the impact of short-term rental properties on Manchester found the obvious — short…
Short term rental hosts are mostly from Vermont – 55 percent; but some live in other states, including New York (13 percent), Massachusetts (10 percent), Connecticut (6 percent) and New Jersey (5 percent).
“Data shows that seventy-one percent (71 percent) of Vermont’s vacant homes are “seasonal, occasional use, or vacation homes,” Lantieri wrote. “Vermont’s long-standing preponderance of seasonal homes offers a stark contrast to its extreme shortage of another type of vacant home – those for sale (4 percent).”
He said only Maine exceeds Vermont in those statistics – 72 percent of vacant homes being seasonal or vacation properties, and 4 percent for sale.
The rapid increase in the short term rental markets has raised various issues in different communities, leaving town housing, planning and select boards wrestling with how – or whether to – regulate the properties.
In Manchester, the biggest problem linked to STRs is the concern these properties reduce the availability of long-term, affordable housing for families and working people – a challenge outlined in a report released earlier this fall.
“In recent years, Manchester has experienced more growth in population and housing than the average Vermont community,” stated a study conducted by Doug Kennedy Advisors of Norwich. “… Growth in the STR market is a response to both opportunity and market demand; a growing segment of the accommodation market prefers the product made available by STRs. However, rapid growth in the STR market has also generated housing related concerns.”
Londonderry officials also worry about the impact on local long-term housing, while Pawlet officials are concerned about the safety of the largely unregulated STRs. Issues such as adequate parking, the impact on quiet, residential neighborhoods, and more are being discussed across the state.
Vermont is not alone. Communities across the nation are having similar debates, in places such as Asheville, North Carolina; Ithaca, New York; and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Manchester’s Housing Task Force – a relatively new panel to focus on the housing challenges facing the town – discussed the STR issue at its most recent meeting, but has not reached a clear consensus on what, if any, recommendation to make to the Selectboard.
“I definitely think there is some room for regulation in terms of what is out there for short term housing … is it safe?” said Task Force Chair Melanie Johnson on Thursday.
Johnson noted that hotels are regulated; STRs probably deserve some level of scrutiny. However, she said a complicating issue is going too far to restrict someone using their property to make some money.
“You walk a fine line,” Johnson said. “We’re still learning. We’re still gathering information.”