Finding the Best Short-Term Rental Properties for Sale: Guide for New Airbnb Investors

short term rental properties for sale

 Investing in short-term rental properties for sale is an excellent way to start your journey as an Airbnb investor. Unlike traditional long-term rentals, these homes can generate higher returns and provide you with greater flexibility and control. And, with the ever-booming tourism in popular destinations in the US, you can be sure that there will always be a demand for accommodation.

However, finding the best vacation rentals to buy can be challenging. Many factors come into play when evaluating a property’s potential for Airbnb, including location, amenities, and market demand. Additionally, there are legal and regulatory hurdles to navigate, such as zoning laws, insurance requirements, and tax implications.

But fear not, in this guide, we will walk you through the process of finding the perfect properties, from identifying the right location to analyzing the important factors when assessing them. By the end of this article, you’ll have all the tools and knowledge necessary to make informed decisions and maximize your profits as an Airbnb investor.

Choosing a Location

Where your vacation rental is located can make or break your success as an Airbnb host. That is why you should do your due diligence when deciding where to buy.

The more popular the location, the higher the demand for accommodation and the higher the rate you can charge. So, consider places that have a high number of attractions, events, and activities throughout the year. These locations not only attract tourists but also business travelers, making them ideal for a short-term vacation rental business.

You should also look at the local development plans and upcoming events in the area that could increase demand for rentals in the future. By investing in an area with significant growth potential, you may be able to generate higher returns on your investment.

Remember that there will be local regulations regarding short-term vacation rentals too. For example, some cities might have restrictions on the number of guests a rental property can accommodate or impose limits on how long a guest can stay in one place, which can affect your potential profits. Or, they may not allow any structural additions, which might hinder growth in case you want to expand your business.

Of course, you should assess the competition in the area. Look at how many short-term vacation rentals are available in the area and what they offer. Try to find a gap in the market and offer something unique that differentiates you from your competitors.

Top 7 Markets to Invest in Vacation Rental Properties for Sale in the US

While the US has plenty of popular destinations, there are certain cities that stand out above the rest and are quickly becoming hot spots to buy investment properties for vacation rentals.

1. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

With strong rental and occupancy rates, as well as gross yields, this mountain city in Eastern Tennessee is quickly becoming one of the hottest markets for vacation rentals. Its close proximity to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park makes it a top destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Gatlinburg also offers plenty of activities and attractions, such as nature parks, shopping centers, cultural sites, and outdoor recreation. Here, travelers can enjoy the stunning views, local cuisine, and luxury amenities.

Moreover, the city has an ample supply of vacation rental properties for sale, ranging from cozy cabins in the woods to luxurious homes with breathtaking views. Plus, the local laws greatly favor Airbnb investments, making Gatlinburg an ideal place to invest in these types of properties.

2. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Known as the “Waterpark Capital of the World”, Wisconsin Dells is a highly sought-after destination for families and adventure seekers alike. With its stunning natural landscape, beautiful lakes, thrilling outdoor activities, and a plethora of waterparks, it is no wonder why this city is one of the most visited in the country.

For these reasons, Wisconsin Dells has become a hot spot for vacation rental investments. As the demand continues to rise, more and more properties are being listed for sale on popular websites, like Airbnb, in this market.

3. Lead, South Dakota

In recent years, the South Dakota real estate market has seen a massive shift toward short-term vacation rentals, and Lead is no exception. This small mining town is located in the northern part of the majestic Black Hills, offering access to a variety of attractions, such as Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, and Custer State Park.

Here you can find plenty of cozy vacation homes for sale at lower-than-average prices. But be aware that the market is highly competitive, with many investors vying for these properties. Therefore, act fast if you spot an attractive deal.

4. Windham, New York

Dubbed a gem of the Catskill Mountains, this charming city is popular among skiers, trekkers, and mountain bikers. Windham offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, from ski resorts to hiking trails. Plus, it is home to numerous wineries, restaurants, galleries, shops, and other cultural attractions that make it an ideal destination for tourists. And, the food is top-notch!

All these factors make the city an attractive investment opportunity for Airbnb hosts as there’s strong demand here from both local and foreign travelers alike.

5. Panama City Beach, Florida

The sugar-white sand, emerald green Gulf of Mexico, and exciting nightlife make Panama City Beach a top destination for beach lovers. Not to mention, this city also offers close access to the St. Andrews State Park where you can take part in plenty of outdoor recreational activities, such as kayaking and fishing.

Panama City Beach is home to many luxurious Airbnb investment properties for sale at competitive prices. Many of these homes come with all the modern amenities that guests expect from their stay, including private pools, hot tubs, outdoor kitchens, and more.

6. Gulf Shores, Alabama

Like Florida, Alabama has plenty of beachfront cities with great vacation rental properties listed on the market. And, Gulf Shores is one of them.

This city is known for its pristine white sand beaches, oyster-filled bays, and a variety of cultural attractions, such as art galleries and music venues. The cost of living here is also very affordable compared to other beach destinations in the country.

Here, you will find many condos and beach houses that are perfect for Airbnb investments. Not to mention that there are also great tax incentives if you purchase these types of properties here.

7. Austin, Texas

Last but not least, we have Austin. The state capital of Texas is quickly becoming a top destination for travelers from all around the world. This city offers plenty of attractions such as museums, galleries, and music venues. It’s also home to some of the best restaurants in the country.

The market for vacation rental properties here remains strong even during recessions. And, there are always plenty of deals for investors looking to purchase these types of properties. From luxury townhomes to cozy apartments, you’ll find a variety of fairly priced Airbnb investment opportunities here.

Other Essential Factors to Consider When Buying Short Term Rental Homes for Sale

investor checking Airbnb investment properties for sale


Apart from the location, there are other important factors to consider when searching for short term rental properties for sale.

Cap Rate

Your main goal of buying short term rental properties for sale would be to have a steady source of income. That’s why it’s important to determine the cap rate, which is the estimated annual return on investment. The higher this rate, the better your return will be.

To calculate the cap rate, you need to divide the net operating income (NOI) by the purchase price.

For example, if you are eyeing a property that is worth $500,000 and has been generating $50,000 in rental income annually, then the cap rate is 10%, which is a good number for vacation rentals.

Remember that, while a high cap rate is good, it also means that it comes with higher risk. So, make sure to re-evaluate your risk tolerance before deciding on a certain property.

Condition of the Property

A good vacation rental home to buy is one that is in top condition. This way, you can start renting it out right away. In case it does need some repairs and sprucing up, make sure it’s only minimal.

So, before buying a property, make sure to have it inspected by a professional inspector who can help identify any existing or potential problems with the property. This will give you an idea of how much money and time is needed for any renovation work that needs to be done before renting out the place.

Extra Leisure Amenities

Travelers would like to rent a place that has all the amenities they need. So, you should always look into what extra features or leisure amenities a potential property offers, such as a swimming pool and an entertainment room. Having these additional features may attract more guests to your place and boost your income in the long run.

With these essential factors in mind, you can surely find the best short term rental homes for sale and reap the rewards of being an Airbnb investor.  

Starting Your Short-Term Vacation Rental Business

Once you’ve bought a property, you need to take a few important steps to ensure that your short-term vacation rental business is set up properly.

Listing Your Vacation Rental Property

There are various vacation rental platforms available these days. Apart from Airbnb, there are also Vrbo, Sonder, and Oliver’s Travels. Each of them has its own set of benefits, so it’s important to do some research and find the one that best suits your needs before signing up.

When setting up your listing, make sure to use clear and attractive photos as well as detailed descriptions of your property. Also, include all the amenities that your guests can enjoy during their stay.

Creating a House Rules and Regulations Sheet

Your rental policies will inform your guests of everything that is expected from them during their stay in your home. They set out what you expect from them in terms of respect for the property and its contents.

You should also indicate other important details, such as check-in and check-out times, deposit fees, refundable damage deposits, cleaning fees, etc. This will help make sure that both you and your guests comply with the rules.

Setting Up an Automated Payment System

Having an automated payment system in place can help streamline the booking process for both you and your guests. You can use online payment platforms, such as PayPal or Apple Pay, to securely process payments made by your guests. You can also set up automatic payment reminders to help them make sure they pay on time and reduce the chances of any late payments.

By knowing how to start an Airbnb for real estate beginners, you can start on the right foot and make the most out of your investment.

Final Thoughts

Hunting the best short term rental properties for sale is no easy task. You need to do some research and evaluate every option before making a final decision. Also, patience is the key to finding the right property for you. So, take your time and never rush into anything.

And, if you think you’re not ready to handle it on your own, you can always hire a real estate agent who specializes in vacation rentals. With them, you get expert advice and assistance in finding the best property.

For more tips and information that you can use in buying and investing in real estate, feel free to browse our site!