Set Sights on Year-End Holidays
- 68 percent of homeowners who rent vacation properties in peak summer markets report occupancy rates of 76 percent or higher
- More than half of owners (56 percent) spent more money on improvements to their vacation home than their primary residence in the past 12 months
- Nearly a quarter of owners (22 percent) say “it’s going to be a jolly holiday” for rental business during the upcoming holiday travel season; many already reporting an increase in bookings
AUSTIN, TX, September 21, 2011 — Vacation rental owners report a better than expected summer travel season, with strong bookings and rental revenue, according to HomeAway, Inc. – the world’s largest online marketplace for vacation rentals. The latest “HomeAway® Vacation Rental Marketplace Report” finds 84 percent of owners say their rental business during the summer was about what they expected or better.
More than two thirds of owners (68 percent) with vacation rental properties in areas where summer is the peak season report occupancy rates of 76 percent or higher this summer. These owners also report an average weekly rental rate of $1,685 or $241 per night, to book an entire home. By comparison, Smith Travel Research, Inc. – a hotel industry research firm – reported the average occupancy rate for U.S. hotels from June to August was approximately 68 percent with an average rate of $101.99 per room. In addition, for owners with vacation rentals in destinations where summer is not the peak season, more than half of owners (55 percent) with properties considered in “shoulder season” and 18 percent with off-season rentals report occupancy rates of 50 percent or higher.
Owning a Vacation Home: A Love Affair from the Beginning
While owners witnessed strong bookings this summer, the love they have for their properties began before ever renting their home. According to the report, 62 percent of owners report “it was love at first sight” when describing when they fell in love with their vacation home.
Fifteen percent fell in love “when they got to know ‘her’ better,” after staying in the home for some time and 10 percent say the love came “when she got a job” and started producing rental revenue.
Owners also pour a lot of care into their vacation rental properties. More than half (56 percent) spent more money on improvements – everything from interior and exterior painting to new furniture and appliances – to their vacation home in the past 12 months than they did on improvements to their primary residence.
Winter 2010/2011: Likely to Be a Jolly Holiday for Some
Looking ahead to the remainder of the year, nearly a quarter of vacation rental owners’ (24 percent) bookings for the last four months of 2011 are higher than the same time last year, up from 16 percent in 2010. Approximately 44 percent of owners say bookings for the end of this year are about the same as last year.
Forty-one percent of those owners who report higher bookings this year are raising their rental rates; 52 percent are keeping them the same as last year.
As the key year-end holiday travel season draws closer, 37 percent of vacation rental owners “have no idea yet what Santa will bring” in terms of rental business, but 22 percent say “it’s going to be a jolly holiday.”
Sharing the Love with Travelers: Owners Open up Their Homes
Most owners originally purchased their vacation home for personal use (35 percent) or as a long-term investment (22 percent). Upon purchase, 66 percent of owners are choosing to rent to travelers to cover some or all of their expenses.
While vacation home owners are turning their homes into vacation rentals to help offset ownership costs, very few owners (9 percent) say they just rent their home out without thinking about the house during the rental season. Instead, most (67 percent) say they like to be a good neighbor, checking in regularly to see how renters have treated the home, and 24 percent say they check-in occasionally.
According to the HomeAway report, the historic river town of Galena, Ill., had the largest increase in people listing their vacation home for rent on HomeAway.com during the second quarter of 2011, putting the city in the top two markets with the largest increase in new vacation rental listings for the past three quarters.
Mesquite, Nev.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Bradenton, Fla.; and St. George, Utah, also ranked among the top 10 markets with the largest increase in new vacation rental listings for the first time.
Emerging Travel Destinations Present Opportunity for Those Looking to Buy
For those who haven’t taken the plunge and are looking to buy with the intent to rent, they might consider Venice, Fla., which saw a 367 percent increase in inquiries from travelers looking to rent vacation homes on HomeAway.com during the second quarter of 2011.
The top 10 markets where traveler demand is on the rise, based on a year-over-year analysis (Q2 2010 vs. Q2 2011) of inquiries from travelers looking to rent a vacation home, include:
- Venice, Fla. (up 367%)
- Fort Morgan, Ala. (up 347%)
- Indio, Calif. (up 337%)
- Miramar Beach, Fla. (up 313%)
- Port Aransas, Texas (up 281%)
- Carillon Beach, Fla. (up 265%)
- Charlottesville, Va. (up 260%)
- Sonoma, Calif. (up 237%)
- Rockport, Texas (up 226%)
- Sunnyside, Fla. (up 223%)
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