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April’s occupancy levels climbed to 61.6 percent, above March’s 60.9 percent. (iStock)

Demand for Short-Term Rentals Surges Past Pre-Pandemic Levels

Activity in April was 5.4 percent greater than two years ago

It’s gearing up to be the best summer ever — for short-term vacation rentals.

Last month, demand for short-term rentals was 5.4 percent greater than in the same period of 2019, according to data from AirDNA reported by Inman, and 66.4 percent more than last year.

The boom has reached 201 of the 265 markets AirDNA tracks. Rental activity usually drops between spring break in March and the beginning of the summer travel season. But, buoyed by vaccine rollouts and loosening restrictions, April’s occupancy levels climbed to 61.6 percent, above March’s 60.9 percent.

The greatest month-over-month increases were in Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; Gulf Shores/Mobile, Alabama; and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Beach towns have also seen a boom in bookings. Santa Rosa/Rosemary Beach; Panama City, Florida; and Hilton Head, South Carolina, are already 80 percent occupied for next month.

As a result, average daily rates have spiked to about $245, more than 16 percent above 2020 levels and 20 percent higher than in 2019.

An increase in short-term rental listings in destination markets and small cities has offset the 25 percent drop in listings in large urban areas such as New York, Boston and San Francisco. Resort markets have 12 percent more listings and small cities 34 percent more than they did before the pandemic.

The surge in short-term rentals is unique to the U.S. Among the countries with the 10 largest markets for short-stay vacation rentals, the U.S. ranked first. Mexico was second with a 3.4 percent decline compared with April 2019.

Italy, which suffered another Covid spike in March, saw demand plunge 63 percent in the same period.

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