Short-term rental demand surpasses 2019 levels

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A Vrbo rental in Fort Myers, Fla.
A Vrbo rental in Fort Myers, Fla.

The U.S. short-term rental market has officially recovered demand above 2019 levels, a new report from AirDNA finds.

April 2021 marks the first month since the start of the coronavirus pandemic to surpass 2019 performance.

According to AirDNA, short-term rental demand increased by 66.4% in April compared to 2020 levels and 5.4% over 2019 levels.

Occupancy levels also built on the strength seen in March, notching up 61.6% in April from 60.9% in March. The trend is a deviation in traditional seasonality: Occupancy typically falls in April after the spring break rush in March.

In some U.S. markets -- namely beach locations -- demand for summer 2021 is already ahead of previous summers' levels. As of early May, Santa Rosa/Rosemary Beach and Panama City in Florida and Hilton Head, South Carolina, are already more than 80% occupied for June. An additional seven U.S. markets are seeing occupancy levels above 75%.

While the U.S. saw short-term rental growth, other regions are trailing in recovery: In Mexico, demand was down 3.4%, however in Europe, demand in Italy, Spain and Germany was down more than 45% in April.

Improved performance in these regions is expected as vaccines roll out and more people plan for summer travel.

Average daily rates increased in April to $245.42, 16.6% higher than April 2020 and 20.8% higher than April 2019. Combined with higher occupancy levels more than 13.6%, the average RevPAR increased to $151.09, or 37.3% higher than the same month in 2019.

Supply question

As demand increases, pressure mounts for booking platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo to rapidly increase their supply.

In April, the combined supply of Airbnb and Vrbo reached 1.5 million in the U.S., surpassing pre-pandemic highs.

According to AirDNA, destination/resort markets have increased their listing count by 12%, while small city/rural areas have increased supply by 34% compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Meanwhile, listings are down in urban areas: New York, Los Angeles and Boston have all lost more than 25% of their listings.

However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's recent decision to relax mask guidelines could allow for more activity in such markets.

"Up until this point, the demand recovery has mainly been limited to destination/resort and small city/rural areas. The easing of the mask mandate and relaxing of social distancing requirement should allow more attractions that draw guest to major cities like museums, sporting events and restaurants to reopen to full capacity," says AirDNA vice president of research Jamie Lane.

"That, in turn, may encourage people to return to the cities for both business and leisure travel."

Looking further ahead into 2022, AirDNA predicts demand will begin to resemble traditional patterns, and the record summer for 2021 may be difficult to repeat.

Source: PhocusWire

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