After seeing unprecedented demand over the summer, property owners in Florida are anticipating a busy winter rental season and predict that rents could nearly double, even with COVID-19 cases starting to trend upwards in the state.
Summer is traditionally the slowest time of the year for Florida rentals, but this summer, prices were up 15 to 20% from last year, says Farid Gazizov, a property manager who runs units in South Florida.
Average daily rents were up from $165 in June 2019 to $193 this year, $172 to $201 in July and $189 to $207 in August, according to data from Airbnb and VRBO compiled and analyzed by Gazizov using a platform he runs that allows owners to research rental competition in their area.
Based on his analysis, Gazizov predicts that winter rental prices will jump from $220 to $240 in January and from $234 to $468 in February.
Kimberly Martinez, an investor who rents out properties in Siesta Key through Airbnb and Booking.com and the other channels, says she is already seeing higher demand and prices.
“I have duplex units, and instead of renting them out as one- and two-bedroom apartments, we started marketing them as ‘retreat’ properties, renting both units of the duplex, which sleep 10 to 12 and have had a great response from groups of family and friends concerned about the ‘big C,’” Martinez says. “The limited inventory on these types of accommodations, coupled with the ability to spread the cost over several families, seems to make the cost a non-issue.”
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As a result, Martinez says her average revenue per night for October was double what it was in October 2019.
Irina Roth, who manages 21 short-term rental properties in Tampa Bay, through a company called MIDZ Home Services LLC, saw rates jump from an average of $99 per night to $135 per night.
“When COVID happened, we had lots of cancellation due to travel restrictions — we have lots of international guests — followed by the short-term rental ban,” Roth says. “A few days before Memorial Day weekend, we got a green light to resume renting again. Immediately, 100% of our listings got booked within hours.”
Many people who couldn’t leave Florida due to the travel ban ended up extending or moving from other rentals to Roth’s properties.
“We had lots of one- to two-month stays, which was very unusual,” Roth says.
Summer then saw unprecedented demand.
“Usually, we have a pretty steady summer,” Roth says. “June and July are good months, but we offer lower rates. This time, it was the opposite. Guests kept coming and we saw a 90% occupancy rate compare to last year’s 60%. Our summer rates alone increased by about 15% compared to last year. August and September are always slow, but we had a very busy month and September beat all records.”
Aside from managing properties, Roth works as an agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty, and she has also been seeing interest from people looking to move to Florida permanently.
“I help tons of buyers moving down here from all over the U.S.,” Roth says. “They usually end up renting our properties short-term for one to two months, while they look for a home to purchase and close on. One property we have, with 10 units, has been at a 100% occupancy rate for the past month.”