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5 Best Places to Buy Vacation Rental Property in 2019

Buying a vacation rental is one of the best ways to build your portfolio, but you have to make sure you buy into the right market. Our guide outlines five of the very best vacation rental markets for 2019.
Buying a vacation rental is one of the best ways to build your portfolio, but you have to make sure you buy into the right market. Our guide outlines five of the very best vacation rental markets for 2019.

One of the worst-kept secrets of real estate investing is that vacation rentals are one of the easiest and most lucrative ways to build wealth. Of course, “one of the easiest” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy. Owning a vacation rental means employing a property manager, dealing with tenants, and, first and foremost, finding the right market to buy into.

The top vacation rental markets in the country come from across the spectrum; some are warm and known for beaches, some are snowy and ski-centric, and others are, well, in Tennessee. Let’s survey some of the very best vacation rental markets in the country.

Killington, Vermont

The home of some of the best skiing on the east coast is, not surprisingly, one of the best markets to invest in a vacation rental. Buyers have long noted that rentals in Killington are much cheaper than comparable ski homes out west, and sales have been picking up in recent years.

Median list prices in Killington currently hover just under $350,000, and with an estimated annual rental income of $46,709, this is one of the best non-beach vacation rental markets on this side of the country.

Panama City Beach, Florida

This entire list could’ve been various cities in Florida, but among all those possibilities, Panama City Beach is the undisputed champ; many experts say it could be the best vacation rental market in the entire country. Drawn by its world-class beaches, tourists, retirees, and college students alike swarm Panama City Beach almost around the calendar year, creating nearly bottomless demand.

Right now, the median home value in Panama City Beach is $280,300, and property values have increased an eye-popping 10.1% over the past year. They’re forecast to rise a further 4.9% in the next year.

After years of minimal increases, rents in Panama City Beach have increased by almost 20% in the past year, to a high of $1,782 a month. The perception is that Panama City Beach is still an affordable market to buy into, so you’ll have plenty of competition if you do decide to buy in. Looking at the numbers, though, you won’t regret it.

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Dollywood might seem whimsical to you (okay, and to me too) but Pigeon Forge, TN has a $1.4 billion (yes, billion with a “b”) tourism industry built around the world’s one and only Dolly Parton-themed theme park. And any city with a billion-dollar tourism industry is going to have a LOT of demand for vacation rentals.

Right now, the median home value in Pigeon Forge is $182,300, and over the past year, home values there have risen by a whopping 12.7%. They’re forecast to rise an additional 6.4% over the next year. Rents fluctuate throughout the year, but there’s rental demand even in the winter months, when there’s skiing and, yes, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas.

Surfside Beach, Texas

This unspoiled beach town is just an hour outside Galveston, and boasts some of the finest beaches in Texas. The town itself is remarkably pristine, with few of the tourist traps you see in most beach towns, making this a hidden gem with a loyal following.

The median home price in the county is $224,800, and home values have increased 7% over the past year, with a forecast of a 2.9% increase over the next year. Considering that the median annual rent revenue is $29,321, Surfside Beach could be a stellar investment, if you find the right property.

The Poconos, Pennsylvania

There’s a reason that generation after generation has gone on vacation in the Poconos; with mountains, lakes, beaches, and skiing, the Poconos has something for everyone, in every season.

Not surprisingly for a place where your parents and grandparents may have visited in their youth, a lot of the housing stock is outdated. Though rental demand is always high, modern renovated properties tend to book first, so keep that in mind when you’re looking. And as with any vacation destination, waterfront property is going to be the most desirable.

Right now, the median home price in the area is a very reasonable $118,300, and the median annual rent revenue is $25,058. Just from these basic numbers, it’s clear that this could be a very lucrative market for vacation rentals.

These are the top vacation rental markets in the country, but picking out your market is just the first step. From there, you then have to look at countless properties before settling on one, and then comes the hard part: buying it. In markets this hot, it’s safe to say you’ll have competition. How will you outsmart and outbid them?

That’s where the experience of a local real estate agent comes in. A great agent will understand the fluctuations of the local market, as well as the mindset of the seller. They’ll help you formulate a winning offer, and navigate the negotiations, all the way through closing.

Clever Partner Agents are top performers in their markets and can help you build your investment portfolio in many different ways. They come from top brands and brokerages, and whether you’re looking for a beach house in Florida or a ski lodge in Vermont, they’re your best ally in your home buying journey. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation!


Ben Mizes

Ben Mizes is the co-founder and CEO of Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top agents to save thousands on commission. He's an active real estate investor with 22 units in St. Louis and a licensed agent in Missouri. Ben enjoys writing about real estate, investing, personal finance, and financial freedom. He's a serial entrepreneur, having run several successful startups before Clever Real Estate. Ben's writing has been featured in Yahoo Finance, Realtor News, CNBC, and BiggerPockets.

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