SHERIDAN — When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation, there was a surge in rental listings in Sheridan County and an influx in the short term rental market as a whole, which impacted the way people purchase and rent houses in the area.
According to data from Shawn Parker, executive director of Sheridan County Travel and Tourism, active listings for short-term rentals in Sheridan County significantly grew in recent years, with 59 active listings in October 2020 growing to more than 174 active listings in October 2023, meaning an additional 126 short-term listings became available — a 195% increase in three years.
With the pandemic lockdowns in place around the country from about 2020 to 2021, people all over the nation were eager to return to vacationing and traveling, Zack Cummins, founder and broker/owner with Concept Z said. Short-term rental companies provided an option for people looking to relax and work remotely.
“You had people going back to traveling for work where they could work remotely and live anywhere,” Cummins said.
With an influx in visitors and an unchanging supply of houses, individuals owning short-term rentals attempted to provide a solution, he said.
But are short-term rentals taking over the market? It would be a stretch to say so, Cummins said.
Cummins said he viewed the rental market in post-COVID-19 years as a sort of “pendulum swing,” and with businesses opening up again and many of them requiring people to return to the office, the revenue for short-term rentals decreased. There are also a lot of short-term rental options to consider.
“There’s Airbnb, VRBO, Homes.com, Expedia, Travelocity, etc. All those types of sites can be used to market short-term rentals,” Cummins said.
There have been clear effects that rentals have on the market. Parker said that when people buy expensive homes to rent out, it boosts the local economy and helps during large events like Sheridan WYO Rodeo week in July.
“If you imagine that the average tourist is spending $60 to $120 an evening just on dinner, and they’re here five to seven days living in their rentals, it adds up very quickly,” Dalton Goodyear, CEO and founder of Wyostays.com, said.
Goodyear said while this was good for Sheridan’s economy as a whole, there could also be some economic harm that comes with short-term rentals, with possible risks of oversaturating the market. Rental companies have had fluctuating numbers in the aftermath of the pandemic, so the likelihood of oversaturation is low, he said.
Parker said when there are a lot of people buying housing space in order to turn them into short-term rentals, they take a home out of the affordable inventory for long-term rentals.
“Sometimes people look for rental housing because they either cannot find or afford to purchase a home they would like,” said Dixie Johnson, CEO of the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce.
According to Jodi Hartley, marketing and communications director of the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce, there are estimated to be about 700 long term housing units needed within the next 10 years, and for senior and non-workforce housing, there is an estimated need of about 300 long-term housing units.
Cummins said the projected housing shortage could be linked to a lack of well-built, affordable apartments.
“When people think of rentals available, they automatically go to houses, but really, a lot of people start in an apartment, and they work their way to renting a house, to working their way to owning a house,” Cummins said. “So when you don’t have availability of apartments, then that can affect the availability of other rentals.”
This story was published on December 26, 2023.