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Vacation rental prices skyrocket for summer


By Dana Gentry
This story was originally published by Nevada Current.

That Fourth of July getaway in the vacation home of your dreams is likely to cost more this year than pre-COVID.  

Vacation rental rates are up more than 50% from 2019 in some locations, according to the website TripstoDiscover.com, which found price increases may be thwarting travel to favored destinations in favor of less expensive options.

The travel website analyzed Google Trends data and short-term rental (STR) bookings in locations tracked by AirDNA, a company that mines and analyzes STR booking data from Airbnb and VRBO.  

The analysis found STR prices in Reno in the first quarter of 2021 climbed 47% compared to the first quarter of 2019, from $103 to $152 a day.  However, searches for the destination fell 31% from two years ago.  

The Washoe County Commission approved short-term rentals earlier this year over the objections of Lake Tahoe residents who say mini-hotels are taking over neighborhoods.

“Average daily rates on Airbnb and Vrbo are up 23% nationwide in the first quarter of 2021 over 2019,” says the analysis. “Although the travel market is recovering, analyzing the ordinarily most in-demand U.S. vacation destinations reveals interest is still down 26% from two years ago.”

Joshua Tree in California led STR rate hikes with the average daily rate of $169 in 2019 jumping to $302 in 2021, an increase of 79%. At the other end of the spectrum, the average daily rate fell almost 35% in Augusta, Georgia. Other historically popular destinations experienced decreases in STR rates, including mountain resorts such as Aspen, Colorado; Park City, Utah; and Mammoth Lake, California. 

What’s causing the increase in short-term rental rates in America?  

One factor, according to the analysis, is the median price of a home, which is up 24% from last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. Additionally, vacation rental owners may be trying to make up for revenue lost to the pandemic, according to TripstoDiscover.com, citing a Wall Street Journal article from February detailing Airbnb’s earnings bust. And not all pre-pandemic listings are back online, according to AirDNA, creating an imbalance in supply and demand.    

Hotel room rates are also rising. A room in New York City that sold for $123 a day last year is fetching $151, according to CNBC. But that’s well below the 2019 price of $269.

In Las Vegas, midweek occupancy in May was 63%, about 25% lower than in 2019, but up from the previous month, as convention business trickles back, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Weekend hotel occupancy climbed to 88%, closing in on pre-pandemic levels in the high 90s, according to LVCVA. 

Room rates on the Las Vegas Strip in May averaged just under $133, down 12.4% from 2019.

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