ASHEVILLE — While short-term rentals tend to draw mixed reviews from Asheville residents, a recent study shows investors have a much rosier outlook.
Financial advice website SmartAsset said this week a study of 17 major U.S. cities placed Asheville at the top of cities where investors are taking advantage of the short-term rental market. The study found Airbnbs make up more than 3 percent of Asheville’s housing stock, the highest total recorded in an analysis that includes New York City, Chicago, San Diego and Los Angeles, among others.
Of the city’s Airbnb options, about half of them see at least three visitors per month, the most in the study — ahead of Nashville and Columbus, Ohio.
The study cites Asheville’s popular tourist market, the rise in its median gross rent since 2011 and the increase in travelers at the Asheville Regional Airport — utilized more than twice as much as it was in 2012 — as reasons for the high ranking among investors.
SmartAsset built the ranking using five metrics, including the percent of Airbnb listings of entire homes or apartments, the total number of Airbnb listings divided by the total number of housing units as well as the percentage of Airbnb listings considered “very active.”
Others cities rounding out the top five were Nashville, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.
Airbnb’s success in Asheville is hardly a secret. Local Airbnb hosts earned $19.8 million in 2017, hosting more than 160,000 travelers. That represents a 10 percent increase year-over-year and was collectively more than the next four highest cities in North Carolina.
Airbnb also named Asheville as its most hospitable city in the U.S., generating the highest percentage of five-star reviews left by short-term rental guests.
The city moved this year to restrict the number of short-term rentals in its downtown area. Downtown property owners now must seek permission from Asheville City Council for a conditional zoning variance to do rentals.