US short-term rental demand recovers above 2019 levels

US: In its latest monthly review, short-term rental data and analytics provider, AirDNA has reported that the US short-term rental industry has recovered demand above 2019 levels — marking the first month since the outbreak of Covid-19 to exceed performance from two years ago.

In April 2021, US short-term rental demand increased by 66.4 per cent compared to 2020 levels, and 5.4 per cent over 2019 levels. Occupancy figures also built on March’s strength, rising to 61.6 per cent in April from 60.9 per cent in March; a deviation in traditional seasonality considering that occupancy typically falls in April after strong Spring Break demand in March.

In a number of US markets, particularly beach locations, demand for this summer is not just pacing well ahead of prior years: it 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 per cent occupied for June 2021, with an additional seven markets seeing occupancy levels above 75 per cent.

Of the ten largest countries in terms of short-term rentals, the United States was the only country with growth, followed by Mexico where demand was only down by 3.4 per cent.

Europe still trails in recovery, with demand in Italy, Spain, and Germany down more than 45 per cent in April. Better performance is ahead, though, as all of these countries have seen improved booking trends as vaccines roll out and people plan for summer travel.

Demand surging, will supply return?

Higher levels of demand are putting pressure on short-term rental booking platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo to rapidly increase their supply. Destination / resort markets have now increased their listing count by 12 per cent while small city / rural areas have increased supply by 34 per cent, compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Jamie Lane, AirDNA VP of Research, said: “The search for new hosts is heating up and in April the combined supply of Airbnb and Vrbo reached 1.5 million in the United States — even surpassing pre-pandemic peaks.”

Not surprisingly, listings are down in urban areas where demand recovery is lagging. New York, Los Angeles, and Boston have all lost more than 25 per cent of their listings.

In its previous monthly review, AirDNA reported all-time high US short-term rental occupancy in March as travellers took advantage of easing restrictions and headed to the beach. This marked a return to travel as the US saw occupancy rise to 60.9 per cent for the month – the highest March occupancy on record.