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Short-term vacation rentals becoming a boom for area

By Clint Parker

Weaverville area – A recently completed study into the fastest-growing vacation rental markets in the country revealed that the Weaverville area is one of those areas, according to Andrea Ramirez, Head of Media and Public Relations at AllTheRooms.com. Area residents might be interested in knowing some of the stats the study revealed:

  • The number of vacation rentals in Weaverville available on platforms like Airbnb and VRBO increased by 54.88% over the last 12 months.
  • This took the total number of vacation rentals in Weaverville on these platforms up to 254 as of May 2019, as homeowners put more rentals on the market.
  • Over the last 12 months the average price per night at these rentals was $307, and the occupancy rate, or the proportion of days that these properties were rented out, was 47.95%.
  • Over the last 12 months, homeowners in Weaverville took $5,597,398 in bookings in total. A growth of 123.23% year-on-year, as they took advantage of buoyant demand from travelers for short-term rentals (STRs).
  • Besides growing demand from travelers for vacation rentals, another factor that probably contributed to the growth in vacation rental supply was the continued drop in mortgage rates in 2019, which improves the potential returns for investors in buy-to-rent properties.

The study from AllTheRooms.com, which is based in New York, might have some area residents concerned. These residents could be worried about short-term renters turning their quiet communities into party central for the weekend.

Just ask Woodfin resident Eleanor Floyd. At this month’s Woodfin Board of Aldermen meeting, Floyd was upset about the fact that she was living beside a short-term rental home (see story page 2). Eleanor explained that it was “like living beside a motel.” She believed the short-term rental was against a town ordinance that says that there should be no businesses in residential areas. Eleanor expressed her desire for the law to be enforced. Woodfin Town Attorney Joe Ferikes explained the case was currently in litigation with the homeowners and the town was awaiting a judge’s response as to whether or not they could enforce the ordinance.

Asked about the study, Weaverville Town Manager Selena Coffey made it clear that the research was over a greater area than just the Town of Weaverville. “James [Eller, who is the town planner] and I have both looked into your source and offer the following responses. Our overall obsevrvation is that the numbers reflected in the study provided appear to represent an area much wider than the Town of Weaverville.”

She went on to say, “The 254 units suggested in the report would represent 13% of the town’s housing stock using numbers from the 2016 American Community Survey. A quick browse through the Short Term Rentals (STRs) listing sites suggests that this is not an accurate figure unless you account for vast areas of land outside our jurisdiction. Also, on the private side, we have several subdivisions which have anti-subletting or anti-STR provisions in their covenants and restrictions.”

Asked what ordinances are currently in place governing homes as vacation rentals in the Town of Weaverville, she said, “The Town of Weaverville does not currently regulate STRs. Common complaints and/or concerns related to STRs (noise, traffic, parking, trash) are currently addressed by various sections of ordinance.”
When asked should residents of the town be concerned over this growth, Coffey explained, “We do not believe the numbers presented to be an accurate reflection of STRs in the Town of Weaverville. A quick survey of VRBO and Airbnb produced far fewer STRs than reported. It is often difficult to ascertain an address of the property as it is often only revealed once the booking of the property has been completed. James, in his three and a half years of being a Town employee, has received no complaints. An argument can be made that STRs are harmful to housing prices, but an equally compelling argument can be made that others need the income from STRs to supplement their housing costs.”

Asked if there are any kind of taxes that the town receives from these types of rentals, Coffey responded, “Any occupancy taxes collected within our jurisdiction, whether through STRs or the Fairfield Hotel once constructed, go to the Buncombe County Tourism and Development Authority (BCTDA). It would take an act of the General Assembly for the Town of Weaverville to break from the BCTDA and establish our own organization.”

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Clint Parker

Publisher & Editor Weaverville Tribune

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