Pocono STR Owners Answer the Question: Would You Do it Again?

I am a realtor who specializes on helping people find vacation homes that they can use as a short-term rental. My clients range from young first-time real-estate buyers all the way to sophisticated investors who have large portfolios of income properties and support staff to guide their decisions. Often, I am asked to provide my opinions as to the state of the market and where I see things headed. With a region as vast as the Poconos, so many submarkets and so many homes for sale, there is never a simple answer, so I thought, why not ask the market?

There are numerous Facebook groups with a focus on vacation rentals and STRs in the Poconos, so I posed the follow question to a few of them:

“With all the ups and downs of the regulations, the management office bureaucracies, grumpy full-time residents, and the behavior of today’s renters, would you do it again? Would you say to a stranger that investing in a STR in Poconos is worth it?”

I received 17 responses and as you can see below, there is no consensus: 5 yes, 6 no and 6 neutral. Here are the responses, direct quotes from current STR owners in the Poconos:

  • “Absolutely! This is a great community, and we are just working through some issues. In the long run, it will all work out!”
  • “I lay it all out on the table for my clients. When the temperature took a severe turn to the “Karenisms I explained what I knew they would potentially have to deal with. When you have people running things that do not understand our economic dependency on tourism, to the point that their actions may diminish their own home values by their actions etc. Between jobs, taxes, and spending local money at various restaurants, activities and entertainment etc, STR brings in close to $19 million into the local economy, around $9 million from our community alone when you include the community fees. Those numbers were calculated about 18-24 months ago and based on the total STRS of about 440 STRS in the township, 80% occupancy, 6 guests per house. The number of STRS have increased increased dramatically since then, and the rentals are spread out amongst the larger number now, so the numbers may not have increased in line with the number of STRS we currently have since a lot of folks are renting less nights.”
  • “Right now due to saturation, I think it’s time to sit and wait. If a person is looking to offset their expenses, they will do fine.”
  • “100%! I love hosting and it has allowed me to quit my stressful 9-5 job and I make more money. I have an income stream for retirement and an asset growing in equity. And I’m contributing to the economy and businesses in the Poconos!”
  • “Sadly, no. At least not as an income producing investment. If you are just trying to break even to have a house to enjoy with your family when it is not being rented, then sure. But with the attitude toward renters and the STR owners, unnecessary admin fees, and some of the restrictions that are imposed on renters here that are not imposed in other communities (fire pits, not being allowed to use owner’s kayaks etc.) I would advise people to do their research and purchase elsewhere. We sold two of our properties in the area for these reasons.”
  • “Like all things in life you get out what you put in. If you are prepared to spend the time on design and renovations, and enjoy it, I think you can still do ok. You need to have a natural eye for it and be handy with a full toolkit. If you need to pay a handyman every time something needs fixing then that will wipe out your earnings fast. Also important to note that it’s no longer a passive investment. If you don’t have the time to do all the work then your property will languish. You need to be up here every other week to keep improving the property in every way possible. I agree with the comment that if you are just looking to cover costs then you will do fine.”
  • “Nope. Not at all. Don’t do it.”
  • “Yes! Folks must do their research, join groups, get the rules/regs, understand that it is not an easy business and it’s not set it and forget it.”
  • “People saying yes likely had their house pre covid or bought cash. I bought in December 2021 and paid a premium, with the mortgage payment I needed over $2600/mo just to break even on the bills, plus the cleaning & packets. In the summer that was easier but the rules are trying to squeeze that out, in the winter with just weekends I was falling behind. I had to sell it after just 14 months.”
  • “Yes and no. We bought in 2020, rented successfully for two years, and sold when the market was up. Financially it was great. I loved redesigning the house (my hobby) and using it for my family. Now, would I buy again where I did in 2020? No. We had great experiences with the community overall but the uncertainty of the ever-changing rules gives us too much pause.”
  • “If managed by owner, or a legit manager, yes. But most managers are fluff and mirrors”
  • “I would never invest in an HOA area again. Karen’s everywhere. Operating expenses more in a community also. Community and municipal water cost more than well water, HOA fees, Rental permit registration fees. I’m selling my HOA house And keeping my non-community house for these reasons. the house not in a community. It does have lake access so that also helps it. My family loves the house in the community especially with a ski mountain. But I want to sell the weakest link and invest in multi-family with it. Just trying to hedge against the economy.”
  • “I would say do it first as a home for your enjoyment on something you can afford and the STR piece as a BONUS. Don’t count on it and use your head when investing. btw. HOA can offer many amenities that you cannot from ski hills, snow tubing, mini-golf, beaches and lakes, etc. so you have to weigh all your options. It is a very personal decision and definitely not a one size fits all answer.”
  • “Absolutely!”
  • “Personally, I would not be able to offer the extras an HOA community does; pools, playgrounds, sports courts, lakes, security, etc.”
  • “I would do it again if the prices were what they were when I bought my house. Today’s numbers don’t make sense”
  • “I prefer cohosting now over owning. I sold my STR and see how difficult it is becoming.”

The above is far from a scientific survey and is a very small sampling of opinion. To me, it affirms that investing in a vacation home has some uncertainty. Running a vacation rental business is different that occasionally renting your vacation home and will absolutely have very different outcomes. Professionally managed operations that invest into their properties and operations will find a way to succeed and those hoping for easy money, will likely be disappointed. You might like reading a few related posts:

Running a Short-term Rental Business is Running a Hospitality Business
Beyond the Numbers, Finding your Niche in the Poconos STR Market
What Brings People to the Poconos

The post Pocono STR Owners Answer the Question: Would You Do it Again? appeared first on Pocono Vacation Home Sales & Short-term Rental.

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The post Short-term Rental Friendly Pocono Communities appeared first on Pocono Vacation Home Sales & Short-term Rental.

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The post STR Municipal Scorecard: Rules on Short-term Rentals in Boroughs and Townships in Poconos appeared first on Pocono Vacation Home Sales & Short-term Rental.