Short-term vacation rentals matter in the Poconos. For as long as there have been vacation homes in the Poconos, there have been vacation rentals. Now referred to as short-term rentals, these properties are a key component in our local economy and without them, and the tourism industry it feeds, our region will suffer.
As professionals who specializes in helping people find and operate vacation rental properties, we see firsthand the benefits and positive impact that comes from short term rentals (STR).
Many of the investors that we see are most often successful, young individuals, not big corporations and these individuals have tied a good portion of their life savings into these investments. They invest in rehabbing their properties, they encourage their communities to upgrade facilities, and they promote the region as a destination to bring in rentals. Successful operators reinvest in the community by hiring local cleaners, property managers and service providers and bring a host of entrepreneurial activity and optimism to the region.
We now call all vacation homes that rent short-term rentals, using the acronym of STR. According to the PA Supreme Court, running a STR is running a business and townships can license the practice and use zoning to restrict where STRs are permitted.
Most Pocono municipalities now have Short-term Rental Ordinances. Responsible owners don’t want party houses, they don’t want rowdy guests and don’t want their investment damaged by bad guests; good guests are good for business.
Responsible owners accept that licensing and regulation are needed to maintain the good reputation of vacation rentals in the Poconos. Regulation helps set standard operating procedures and levels the playing field. Licensing can keep out bad operators and assure the quality of the rentals for future guests. We all have examples of a rental that has gone wrong and responsible owners and responsible community managers are constantly looking for ways to be effective and be good neighbors and good members of the local community.
The draw of bringing families and friends together in a modestly priced home setting is one of the area’s biggest tourist attractions. For families who are hard pressed to afford a vacation that requires airfares, the Poconos presents a vacation environment on a budget. Contrary to what was stated in the previous article, we see a lot of similarity between today’s vacation homeowners and those of a generation ago.
STR is literally a cottage industry with individual owners renting their cottages, they just do it a little differently, using websites like Airbnb and VRBO rather than using vacation home brokers or visits to the local real estate agency.
Our area has resorts, hotels, and inns, but they do not provide nearly enough capacity to support the local tourist industry. The region has by some estimates nearly 20,000 vacation homes and 7,500 licensed STRs. Rental income might be near $60 million making the Poconos one of the best vacation rental markets in the country.
The private communities that provide amenities like lakes, pools, and recreation facilities, make the Poconos an ideal place to for getaways, gatherings, and family reunions. The image of coming together around a big indoor fireplace or outdoor fire pit and seeing old friends is the perfect remedy to the daily grind and key to our successful vacation rental industry.
Many of the homes in the region were built as vacation homes. Contrary to the claims, the supply of vacation homes is steadily declining as more and more full-time residents move to the region and these new residents push to restrict vacation rentals.
Regulations that were intended to foster responsible operation are increasingly being used to drive out the vacation rental operators and turn our iconic mountain communities into residential communities making long term rentals an only option for investors. The previous article neglects to state that there is little or no regulation of the long-term rental properties or tenants.
As vacation rental owners, we recognize that the Pocono region has grown, and our economy has diversified over the years. We agree that STR is not a Panacea and that there is more to the Poconos than tourism, but at the same time it is important to remember that tourism is the biggest factor in our local economy and the catalyst for so much of the region’s success.
If each of these 7,500 STRs brings just 100 guests each, then you can see how we can say that vacation rentals are vital to our region.
Mark Shay is a realtor with Keller-Williams and is editor of PoconoVacationHomeSales.com, a website for those interested in Short-term Rentals.
Marty Nicoll owns Ideal Property Management, specializing on 5-Star vacation rental operations.
This first appeared in the Pocono Record Newspaper on February 9, 2023 with the title “Why short term vacation rentals matter in the Poconos | Our Turn”