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The Best Places to Buy a Vacation Rental Home

Better Homes & Gardens

In case you missed the growing number of articles dedicated to the topic, the vacation home rental industry is booming. A recent report from Guesty, a property management platform, found that reservation volume is skyrocketing, with rentals from July through September up 270% over the same period a year earlier. Additionally, average nightly rates for the same time frame were up about 30%.

It’s hard to read news like that and not want to get in on the action. As it turns out, it just might be an opportune time to do so. A 2021 study by Vacasa, a vacation rental management company, found that second-home buyer demand is starting to decline, which could result in more affordable purchases for those still shopping around. The cooling market might be due to the fact that many of the people who were on the hunt for a vacation home purchase already sealed the deal during the past 18 months.

Figuring out whether your budget can accommodate the purchase of a vacation rental home is merely half the battle. You’ll also need to answer the million-dollar question: Where does it make the most sense to buy such a property? Luckily, it’s a question plenty of data analysts and previous buyers have spent a significant amount of time contemplating. Both Vacasa and Magnify Money (part of the LendingTree family) have recently issued reports detailing the best markets to invest in real estate intended to be used as a vacation rental home.

Here are some of the top locations identified, as well as a few locations recommended by current (and very successful) vacation rental hosts.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee
A mountain town in eastern Tennessee that puts you near the entrance to the popular Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is the number one place to own a rental vacation home, according to Vacasa’s 2021 data. The median home sale price here is about $320,111, says the report, and an annual gross rental revenue of $47,328.

Vacasa isn’t the only company that says Gatlinburg is the place to be a rental vacation homeowner. Jeff Shipwash, CEO of Shipwash Properties, a small real estate investment company based in Tennessee, also suggests this location.

“The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s most visited national parks, attracting more than 12 million visitors per year. Many of these visitors are traveling from out of town and need lodging,” says Shipwash, whose company owns several Airbnb rentals in the area.

Shipwash also says Gatlinburg is a great option because the supply of hotel and motel accommodations is very limited, making vacation rentals even more critical.

“Gatlinburg is also an affordable place to purchase investment properties compared to other popular cities,” says Shipwash. “With its affordability and attractions close by, Gatlinburg is an excellent investment market.”

St. Augustine, Florida
Sunny Florida is another safe bet for a vacation rental home, and the top location in the Sunshine State is historic St. Augustine, according to Vacasa. Known for being the oldest city in the country, and for its charming Spanish colonial architecture, the median home price is $365,576, while the annual gross rental revenue is about $46,557.

Some of the reasons travelers love this destination? Pristine beaches, a historic downtown, and an overall European feel.

Gulf Shores, Alabama
Another sun-drenched option popular with vacationers and spring breakers, Gulf Shores is a top-ranked vacation rental home destination, says Vacasa. However, the median home price here is not cheap at $402,905. Annual gross revenue for rentals in Gulf Shores is about $46,107.

There’s a lot to attract visitors to Gulf Shores though, including nearly every water sport you can think of as well as a long list of legendary bars and restaurants. As an added bonus, each spring the destination hosts The Hangout Music Festival, a wildly popular event that attracts a crush of travelers and famous musicians (all of whom need lodging, of course.)

Blue Ridge, Georgia
Blue Ridge has a lot going for it, not the least of which is the affordable home purchase prices. The median sales price is about $290,934, while annual gross revenue for rentals is about $38,266.

The draw for travelers and visitors includes many popular hiking trails, 16 waterfalls, horseback riding, fishing, and a long list of orchard festivals in the fall.

Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs has been a hot spot (literally and figuratively) for decades. It has long been the playground of celebrities and golf enthusiasts. And as it turns out, this desert community is also a solid choice for a vacation rental property, albeit one of the pricier places to get into the market.

The median home price here is a steep $539,370, which should come as no surprise given that the destination is home to many people fleeing Los Angeles and San Francisco, and is a popular place for vacation homes among the glitterati and well-heeled.

Still, if you can afford to get into the market here, it will surely pay off. The annual gross rental revenue is $52,784. The attractions for travelers and visitors are plentiful. There’s desert hiking, shopping on par with Beverly Hills, and a plethora of trendy restaurants and bars.

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland
Among the top 10 locations on the Vacasa report, Deep Creek is home to the state’s largest inland lake. That means water activities are a big draw and include boating, tubing, and waterskiing. Deep Creek is also a popular choice for skiing and snowboarding at nearby Wisp Resort, says Vacasa. The area also offers abundant hiking thanks to Swallow Falls State Park. It’s no wonder that Deep Creek ranks so high as a vacation rental destination.

The average home purchase price here is $439,367, while the annual gross rental revenue is $51,031.

Seaside, Oregon
Oregon has a lot going for it as a vacation destination thanks to its stunning natural beauty. So it should come as no surprise that more than a few Oregon locations can be found among the top choices for vacation rental properties. The highest-ranked community on Vacasa’s list is Seaside, a small coastal town where biking, walking, and strolling along the 100-year-old promenade are all popular ways to spend time. The Seaside Aquarium is another notable attraction. But really, what more reason do you need than the beautiful beach?

At $466,086, the median home price is not exactly inexpensive, but the annual gross rental revenue is $45,249.

Ludlow, Vermont
Rounding out the top 10 on the Vacasa list, Ludlow is all about quality time outdoors. The community is convenient to the Okemo Mountain Resort, which offers plenty of fun for skiers and snowboarders. Another notable attraction is Buttermilk Falls, a picturesque series of three waterfalls and swimming holes.

Home prices in Ludlow are also attractive with the median sale at about $346,950, while annual gross rental revenue is $42,638.

Big Bear, California
California residents need little explanation regarding the popularity of this destination as a vacation rental property location. But for those not familiar, Big Bear is a year-round activity-filled destination convenient to both Los Angeles and San Diego. Thanks to its proximity to these two urban centers, the destination attracts hordes of travelers. Skiing is one of the top reasons to visit, thanks to Snow Summit ski resort. But there’s also snow tubing and, in warmer seasons, hiking among the San Bernardino National Forest. The lake is also an attraction entirely of its own.

“Big Bear Lake is a public lake with two public boat launch ramps. Six marinas offer boat rentals and other concessions including pontoon boats, speedboats, and personal watercraft,” says money-saving expert Andrea Woroch, who owns three vacation rentals, one of which is in Big Bear. “There’s a variety of activities, such as parasailing, water skiing, fishing excursions, and boat tours. People can picnic lakeside and enjoy the iconic rock formations at Boulder Bay Park. Swim Beach at Meadow Park has an on-duty lifeguard, floating dock, and water toys.”

The median home price here is $372,667, according to Vacasa.

McCall, Idaho
The resort town of McCall is Magnify Money’s top choice for a vacation rental investment property. Experts recommend McCall because home prices in the area have been on a hot streak in recent years. But that’s just one of the reasons the destination is a safe bet, says Jacob Channel, senior economic analyst for LendingTree.

“Not only are a majority of homes in McCall vacation homes (64.6%), but home prices in the area also rose by 64% from 2015 to 2019 and have continued to rise since the start of the pandemic—up more than 50% from September 2021, according to Realtor.com,” says Channel. “This means those who invest in a second home in this area will likely see a solid return on their investment, both in terms of income generated from renting the home out as well as in terms of home price appreciation.”

The median home value in McCall was $206,800. As of 2019, that price shot up to $339,900. Attractions in McCall include miles of whitewater rapids for rafting, hiking and backpacking trails, craft breweries, wineries, and hot springs.

Cape Canaveral, Florida
Cape Canaveral is another Florida destination that receives high marks as an investment option because of its robust home price, says Channel. Between 2015 and 2019 median home values here rose from $167,300 to $244,900, which is a 46% change.

Of course, Cape Canaveral is well known for being a convenient place to visit The Kennedy Space Center. There’s also a Manatee Sanctuary Park here and a waterfront boardwalk.

Vail, Colorado
When it comes to Vail, think skiing, skiing, and well…more skiing. And all those travelers need somewhere to stay when visiting, making Vail a solid place to purchase a vacation rental property (it landed at number four on Magnify Money’s list of choices).

However, the median home price in Vail shot up from $534,400 in 2015 to a staggering $773,700 in 2019.

Sunriver, Oregon
Slightly more affordable than Vail, but still among Magnify Money’s top picks, the median price for a home in Sunriver is about $564,800, which is a 43% increase from 2015 when median prices were about $393,700.

Sunriver is a 3,300-acre planned residential and resort community ideal for spending time outdoors whether skiing, exploring the national forest nearby, or enjoying the miles of paved biking and walking trails. Additional activities include golf, tennis, and visiting the Sunriver Nature Center.

Cape May, New Jersey
Although not on either the Vacasa or Magnify Money ranking, Airbnb Super Host Anna Papalia says the beach community of Cape May should definitely be on your shortlist.

“Cape May is one of the best places to vacation, and invest in a vacation home for several reasons,” says Papalia, who owns a rental property in the community. “Not only are the beaches stunning and pristine, but it’s America’s first seaside resort—the first settlers came to Cape May in the 1600s.

“There is never a shortage of renters in Cape May,” continues Papalia. “I easily paid my annual mortgage plus expenses ($60,000) in five months of renting out to summer beachgoers.”

The beach isn’t the only attraction here. Cape May is the location of more than 100 historic Victorian properties, a buzzing restaurant scene, and is also popular with birders because of its migratory patterns and many nature preserves, says Papalia. What’s more, a Harriet Tubman museum recently opened in the area.

While Cape May is unlikely to be the most affordable place to purchase an investment home (the median sale price is about $523,000), you can rest assured it’s a destination that is very well-trafficked, says Papalia.

The Catskills and Hudson Valley, New York
As the owner of the rental company Red Cottage Inc., Jennifer Grimes knows a thing or two about vacation property purchases. She also owns a real estate brokerage, Country House Realty, a boutique agency focused on the second-home market that serves The Catskills and Hudson Valley.

With all of this experience, Grimes recommends a purchase in upstate New York, specifically in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley. “Given the proximity to metro New York, and the stunning natural surroundings, the area is on fire for short-term vacation rentals,” says Grimes.

One of her top choices in the area is the town of Livingston Manor, which features numerous breweries and shops, fly fishing, and a small-town feel. Nearby towns that are worth checking out include Callicoon and Narrowsburg, both of which are located along the Delaware River.

“Guests renting in those towns, they have a lot of outdoor experiences on their doorstep like hiking Jensen Ledges, kayaking or tubing down the Delaware in season, swimming in the river at Skinner’s Falls, or just going on scenic drives through farm country and finishing up at Callicoon Wine Merchant for a tipple and tapas,” says Grimes.

The average home price in Livingston Manor over the past year was about $317,893, while in Callicoon it was $294,536 and in Narrowsburg, you’ll find prices around $249,712, says Grimes.

Tips for Picking a Vacation Home Location
Here are a few parting tips from the experts about selecting a location for a vacation home rental investment.

Generally speaking, areas where home prices are quickly rising, and where vacation homes make up a large portion of the area’s total housing supply, are good places to invest in a second home, says Channel. “This is especially true if you’re planning on renting your second home out or otherwise using it to generate income,” says Channel.
Sunny coastal spots make up most of the places in high-demand across the U.S. right now because they’re year-round holiday destinations, says Marcus Rader, CEO of Hostaway.
Places that have a lot of attractions for families or are renowned beauty spots are also safe bets, adds Rader. Destinations such as Lake Tahoe are also a safe investment because they continue to be popular year-after-year, adds Rader.
Local regulations surrounding vacation rentals and property taxes have big variations. It’s easy to get tripped up by these, so do your research on this front before purchasing.
Ultimately, like any other real estate investment, the key is location, location, location.

“The location is the most important thing because this determines your revenue—not just what nightly rate you can set, but also if you can actually rent it out all year round,” says Rader.

The 10 Best Places To Buy a Vacation Home in 2021

Gabrielle Olya From GOBankingRates

If you’ve thought about buying a second home as a vacation property, now may be a good time to do so. According to a recent report by Redfin, second-home buyer demand is slowing down, which will open up more affordable inventory for those still in the market. And while buyer demand for second homes is decreasing, guest demand is still high, which is great news for those looking to make rental income off their vacation home, Vacasa reported.

According to a recent Vacasa survey, most prospective buyers interested in purchasing a second home are looking to spend under $399,999, and 46% hope to generate rental income ASAP. Fortunately, many of the top places to buy a vacation home in 2021 — as determined by Vacasa based on home sales and vacation rental performance data from the last 12 months — meet these qualifications.

Take a look at the top 10 vacation rental markets.

  1. Ludlow, Vermont
    Median home price: $346,950
    Annual gross rental revenue: $42,638
    Vacation rental market cap rate: 5.2%
    Ludlow appeals to vacationers with a love of the great outdoors, with Okemo Mountain Resort and Buttermilk Falls located nearby. With a relatively high vacation rental market cap rate, this New England locale earned the No. 10 spot on Vacasa’s ranking.

  1. Seaside, Oregon
    Median home price: $466,086
    Annual gross rental revenue: $45,249
    Vacation rental market cap rate: 5.2%
    This coastal town is easily navigated by walking or biking, and is home to a 100-year-old promenade. Water enthusiasts can do plenty of surfing or kayaking here as well.

  1. Deep Creek Lake, Maryland
    Median home price: $439,367
    Annual gross rental revenue: $51,031
    Vacation rental market cap rate: 5.7%
    Deep Creek Lake is home to the state’s largest inland lake for boating, tubing and waterskiing. During the winter months, it’s a great place for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and even going for sleigh rides.
  1. Palm Springs, California
    Median home price: $539,370
    Annual gross rental revenue: $52,784
    Vacation rental market cap rate: 5.9%
    Palm Springs is an ever-popular vacation destination on the West Coast thanks to its mid-century modern homes and thriving downtown restaurant scene.

  1. Blue Ridge, Georgia
    Median home price: $290,934
    Annual gross rental revenue: $38,266
    Vacation rental market cap rate: 6.1%
    Located on the border of Georgia and Tennessee, Blue Ridge offers a number of outdoor activities for vacationers, from hiking to see one of its 16 waterfalls, going for horseback rides or attending one of its numerous fall orchard festivals.

  1. Norris Lake, Tennessee
    Median home price: $343,907
    Annual gross rental revenue: $42,450
    Vacation rental market cap rate: 6.2%
    Norris Lake boasts 52 square miles of fresh water, ideal for activities like stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and wakeboarding. Plus, it’s a short drive from Knoxville and all the attractions and amenities there.
  1. Dauphin Island, Alabama
    Median home price: $382,699
    Annual gross rental revenue: $43,371
    Vacation rental market cap rate: 6.8%
    Dauphin Island is a family-friendly beach destination. It’s home to the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, as well as uncrowded white sandy beaches.

  1. Gulf Shores, Alabama
    Median home price: $402,905
    Annual gross rental revenue: $46,107
    Vacation rental market cap rate: 7.1%
    Plenty of opportunities for water sports and a plethora of bars and restaurants make Gulf Shores an ideal vacation destination.

  1. St. Augustine, Florida
    Median home price: $365,576
    Annual gross rental revenue: $46,557
    Vacation rental market cap rate: 7.4%
    Beautiful beaches and a downtown historic district attract many visitors to St. Augustine. It’s also home to the No. 1 whiskey tour in America at the St. Augustine Distillery.
  1. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
    Median home price: $320,111
    Annual gross rental revenue: $47,328
    Vacation rental market cap rate: 8.6%
    With a median sale price of around $320,000 and a cap rate of 8.6%, Gatlinburg easily took the top spot on Vacasa’s ranking. The Southern destination is home to Skylift Park — North America’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge — and Anakeesta adventure park.

Fireworks displays set for Independence Day weekend

The Garrett County Republican

OAKLAND — With COVID-19 putting a damper on many summer events, it’s not holding back a pair of mainstay fireworks displays in Garrett County.

Fire on the Mountain

Fireworks will light up the sky July 4 as the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce presents the annual “Fire on the Mountain” Fireworks Display.

The display is set to begin at dark. The fireworks are launched from the top of the Tubing Park at Wisp Resort. Prime viewing locations include the Scenic Overlook on U.S. 219, Wisp Resort, local businesses in McHenry, and from boats on the lake, particularly around McHenry Cove.

For any location from which you choose to view the fireworks, remember to practice social distancing.

Wisp Resort is the associate sponsor.

Supporting sponsors are Deep Creek Shop n Save; Huey’s Ice Cream; Bear Creek Traders; Perkins Restaurant and McHenry Beverage Shoppe compliments of Hugh Umbel and Ray Shurg; Ledo Pizza, Pasta & Pub; Property Owners’ Association of Deep Creek Lake; and Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sales.

Contributing sponsors are Railey Realty, Railey Vacations and Silver Tree Marine LLC.

To read the full article click here.

Maryland eases some coronavirus restrictions on outdoor recreation, allowing golf, boating and more

The Baltimore Sun

Maryland remains under a stay-at-home order with schools and many businesses closed, but Gov. Larry Hogan announced a slight easing of restrictions Wednesday on outdoor recreation and nonemergency medical procedures.

The governor amended his stay-at-home order to allow for individual and small group sports — such as golfing and tennis, outdoor fitness instruction, recreational fishing and hunting, recreational boating and horseback riding — starting Thursday.

Also, Maryland’s state-owned beaches and parks will open Thursday for walking and exercise. Local governments will have the flexibility to take similar actions at their discretion, Hogan said.

“I know how anxious people are to get outside, both for their physical and mental well-being, and we know that outside activity is safer than inside activity,” Hogan said during a news conference Wednesday at the State House in Annapolis.

He said his coronavirus advisory team had “much discussion” Tuesday on the issue of outdoor activities, and members ultimately agreed to allow “lower-risk outdoor activities.”[Ocean City to reopen beaches, boardwalk this weekend, as resort town sees first coronavirus cases] »

Hogan also announced that hospitals can resume nonemergency procedures, which had been barred in an attempt to keep inpatient populations low in case a surge of COVID-19 cases threatened to overwhelm them.

“Many Marylanders may have put off important procedures, screenings and other things that they really need to attend to,” Hogan said. “If there’s something that you have had to delay — like a PET scan or a biopsy, an angioplasty or an orthopedic procedure — you should now be able to take care of those time-sensitive procedures.”

The changes marked the first easing of Hogan’s strict statewide restrictions, imposed starting in March to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The governor has pushed back against a wider reopening, saying the state needs to reach a sustained decline in the number of hospitalizations for treatment of the illness.

The governor’s move to reopen golf courses followed lobbying by owners and operators of clubs. A Politico reporter even asked him about it in April during a live interview.

“I want to get you on the record on this critical issue,” Politico reporter Jake Sherman asked. “Will golf courses in your state open any time in the near future?”

“Is there particular golf course that you would like to have open?” Hogan responded, chuckling. Hogan went on to say that opening golf courses would be “one of the early things that we do” as part of reopening — a pledge he fulfilled Wednesday.

David G. Bannister, board member of the Caves Valley Golf Club in Baltimore County, said he thinks golf is an activity that can be done safely.

While some courses might reopen immediately, Caves Valley plans to take its time preparing the facility and open May 22.

“We need a couple weeks to get things ready to go,” Bannister said. “Caves is a high-end experience. In order to present it the way you want, it takes a little time to tidy up.”

Republican lawmakers also had pressed to allow golfing, including U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s only Republican in Congress. Though he’s not a golfer, Harris said as an anesthesiologist he understands how to control infections.

To read the entire article click here.

Western Maryland Health System Joins UPMC

The Garrett County Republican

CUMBERLAND — Western Maryland Health System officially has become UPMC Western Maryland, merging into the UPMC hospital network to ensure patient care for communities in the region.

“We are extremely pleased that our health system has joined one of the nation’s largest and most successful integrated health-care providers and insurers,” said Barry P. Ronan, WMHS president and chief executive officer. “Becoming part of UPMC will allow us to further enhance health-care services, leverage UPMC’s innovation and clinical expertise, advance quality initiatives and continue our longstanding commitment to provide superior, compassionate care to patients throughout our tri-state service region.”

UPMC Western Maryland operates the Advanced Lakeside Medical Care urgent care facility in McHenry, as well as Grantsville Lab Services.

To read the full article click here.

Lakers move to 6-2 after splitting pair of games

The Garrett County Republican

MCHENRY — The Garrett Lakers’ men’s basketball team moved to 6-2 on the season after blowing out Pennsylvania Highlands Community College last Wednesday (Dec. 4) before falling in overtime on the road to Montgomery College.

Penn Highlands

at Garrett

Seven Lakers scored in double figures as the hosting Lakers defeated Penn Highlands, 117-52, at the CARC Arena for the team’s third consecutive victory.

Garrett, down 10-7 early, got a three-point play from D’Monte Brown and a three-point basket from Meron Gheybreyesus as the Lakers took the lead. Cameron Selders later drained a three-pointer 10 minutes into the first half to give the hosts a double-digit lead at 27-17.

This would prove to be the spark plug for the rest of the match, as from then on it was all Lakers. Garrett finished the first half on a blistering 26-6 run to create an insurmountable 64-29 lead going into the locker room and then proceeded to outscore the Black Bears 53-23 in the second half.

Strahinja Ivic led all scorers with 21 points for the Lakers and snagged eight rebounds. Gheybreyesus finished with 19 points and six rebounds. Brown added 15 points; Sam Martin and Merlon Devine each had 11; and both Oliver Jacquot and Ngoye BobManual chipped in with 10 to round out the team’s double-figure scorers.

To read the full article click here.

Colder temperatures projected for Maryland later in winter

The Washington Post

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — While many burrowed indoors the third week of November as extreme record-breaking cold impinged upon life across the Mid-Atlantic, the snow machines at Wisp Ski Resort were busy whirring and churning out a base layer of snow for the upcoming winter.

The third week of November is the earliest the ski resort has started making snow in the past five years, said Lori Zaloga, director of marketing for Wisp, in McHenry, Maryland.

Climate scientists are pretty sure of one thing: This winter, the weather could vary. A lot.

The slight snowfall that glided over most of Maryland and portions of northern Virginia late Tuesday into Wednesday morning was a prime example.

The strong cold front that enabled the changeover from rain to snow was the result of an amplified, S-shaped jet stream that dipped through the eastern U.S., said Stephen Baxter, winter weather lead at the national Climate Prediction Center.

While this swing in weather from mild to frosty was predicted by one type of model through the Christmas holiday, another model indicates milder weather from now until Santa hitches up the sleigh.

There is the chance for another wintry mix on Monday, although once again the varying temperatures make it hard to say whether the region will receive freezing rain, sleet, or snow from the holiday grab bag of precipitation.

To read the full article click here.