The Essential Guide to Emergency Preparedness for Short Term Rental Owners in Gatlinburg, TN

 Emergency Preparedness for Short Term Rental Owners in Gatlinburg, TN and the surrounding areas

In light of the recent uptick in unbecoming weather as we are nearing the anniversary of the Gatlinburg wildfires in 2016 we thought now might be a good time to pull together resources for you, a short term rental property owner, about emergency preparedness relative to Sevier County, TN. 


Understanding Local Risks

Sevier County is very fortunate to experience all four seasons, but that often means weather comes along with those seasonal changes. Below are a few natural occurrences to be aware of: 

  • Floods: The mountainous terrain and bodies of water in Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas make it prone to flooding, particularly during heavy rains and rapid snow melts. Flood risks are higher in low-lying areas and near streams or rivers. It’s important that you check the flood zoning for your property and understand the potential impact heavy rainfall or snowmelt may have on your property. 
  • Severe Storms: Gatlinburg experiences severe storms, including heavy rainfall, lightning, and sometimes hail. These storms can cause damage to properties and disrupt essential services, like electricity. 
  • Wildfires: The Great Smoky Mountains are susceptible to wildfires, especially during dry seasons. Factors contributing to wildfires include the region’s forest cover and sometimes human activities. 


Importance of Staying Informed About Local Risks Through Reliable Sources

Reliable resources allow you to respond effectively to natural disasters. Here are a few resources that will allow you to stay in the know, even when you are not in town. 


Developing Your Emergency Plan

There are a few steps that you can take to begin developing an emergency plan for your short term rental property. 

Complete an assessment. 

    • Determine what specific risks might be associated with your property, considering its location, structure and surrounding environment. 
    • Determine what resources you may need to stock your property with such as safety equipment, supplies, and communication tools. 

Develop a Strategy 

    • How will you mitigate risks?
    • Will you improve exterior materials?
    • Will you provide additional safety equipment?

Create Response Procedures

    • How will you communicate with your guests and/or property manager?
    • In what ways can action be taken in the event of an emergency to mitigate damages? Are those steps clearly outlined and displayed?


The Sevier County Sheriff’s office provides an extensive resource for developing your emergency plan.  Here are just a few components you might want to include. 

  • Evacuation routes 
  • Shut off procedures for utilities 
  • First aid measures
  • Safe shelter locations 
  • Communication plans

It’s important to continuously improve and update your emergency plan based on feedback from these authorities to ensure it aligns with local standards and practices.


Communication with Guests During Emergencies

It’s important to ensure you have a way to communicate with your guests about what to do in case of an emergency and during emergencies. 

You can prepare guests for potential emergencies by designing a Guest Information Packet

This packet can include information like 

  • Emergency procedures 
  • Maps showing evacuation routes and safety equipment locations.
  • List local emergency resources, including hospitals, pharmacies, and shelters.

Utilize a way to communicate digitally with guests via email, SMS, or property management apps to provide real-time updates on weather alerts and emergency situations.


 Additional Measures for Guest Comfort and Confidence

Equipping your property with items like emergency lights, blankets, and basic supplies adds an additional layer of comfort for guests during unforeseen situations.

Taking a proactive approach to emergency preparedness is an investment in the safety and well-being of your guests and property! Remember, preparedness is an ongoing process, evolving with the changing landscapes and weather patterns of Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas.

Cold Weather Prep: How to Winterize Your Vacation Rental in Gatlinburg

Winter is upon us! As the falling leaves turn to falling snowflakes, now is a good time to focus on winter home maintenance – inspections, heating system checks, and protecting pipes from freezing.


Inspecting Your Insulation provides a DIY inspection checklist. While this may be something that your property manager assists you with, it’s good to know what they will be looking for and why. 

The checklist suggest that you check your:

  • Attic insulation: This requires your physical presence in the attic. You can either read the R value printed on the batts of your insulation, or measure the depth.  Insulation’s heat resistance is measured by its R-value. The letter “R” stands for “resistance”. It refers to the materials resistance to heat flow or temperature conduction. 
  • Wall insulation level: This can be done by removing an outlet cover – shine a flashlight into the crack around the outlet box. This will allow you to see how much and what type of insulation is in your walls. 
  • Air leaks: Begin this inspection by visually looking for cracks and gaps at common leak points. If you find any leak points you’ll want to make a place to fill them with things like weather stripping or insulating foam. 


Inspecting Your Roof and Gutters

It’s important to inspect your roof and gutters to ensure that they are in optimal shape. 

Roofing repairs can be expensive. Time inspections allow you to fix problems before they arise. 

You’ll want to be on the lookout for 

  • Leaves and debris
  • Potential ice dams 
  • Water Damage
  • Missing or damaged shingles


Heating System Maintenance

Scheduling regular professional inspections allow you to ensure your heating systems are operating efficiently and safely.

There are a few things you can do yourself to ensure that your heating system has optimal performance. 

  • Regularly clean or change filters 
  • Ensure all vents are unobstructed 
  • Install a smart thermostat to help maintain a comfortable temperature at all times 


Protecting Pipes from Freezing

Before the winter freeze arrives it’s important to inspect and protect your pipes from freezing. There are a  few simple steps you can take to do so:

  • Inspect pipes to unheated areas – think, basement, attics, and near exterior walls that are most at risk for freezing 
  • Insulate the pipes that are frozen or could potentially freeze 

There are a few things you can do to prevent your pipes from freezing, other than insulating them! 

  • Keep the thermostat set at a reasonable temperature at all times 
  • Consider leaving cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate if you will not be in the home for an extended period.


Winterizing your short term rental allows you to protect your investment, ensure that your guests are comfortable, and avoid potential costly maintenance! 


Real Estate Market Update – Sevier County, Tennessee, October 2023

Homes in Sevier County, Tennessee

Average price was the highest we’ve seen this year at $774,086.

Days on market held steady at 66 days during the month of October, compared to September’s 65 days, and still falling within the range we’ve seen throughout the year from 55 days to 83 days.

Price per square foot saw an slight decrease from Sepember at $387, to $376 during the month of October. We’ve seen a range of $358.72 to $401.65 this year.


Lots/Land in Sevier County, Tennessee

The average price for land/lots during the month of October was the lowest we’ve seen all year at $73,123.

Lots that sold in October spent less time on the market at 108 days, than they did in Septmber at 145 days. We’re experienced a large range of days on market this year, from 85-292 days.

Fall Property Maintenance: A Comprehensive Guide for Short-Term Rental Investors

Welcome to our guide to fall property maintenance! Fall property maintenance is not only essential for the longevity and functionality of your investment, but it also plays a crucial role in attracting and retaining guests. 

In this guide, we will walk you through the essential exterior and interior maintenance tasks that every short-term rental investor should prioritize during the fall months. Let’s dive in and get your rental properties ready for the autumn season!

The Importance of Fall Property Maintenance for Short-Term Rental Investors in the Smoky Mountains

Not only does it ensure that the property remains in tip top shape it can also have a direct impact on rental revenue and guest satisfaction! By conducting inspections, investors can catch problems early on and prevent them from developing into larger, more costly issues.

When it comes to fall property maintenance, there are several tasks that should be prioritized. 

Exterior tasks include: 

  • Cleaning gutters and downspouts to prevent water damage
  • Inspecting and repairing the roof to ensure it is in good condition
  • Clearing debris from the yard and landscaping to maintain curb appeal
  • Cleaning and inspecting windows and doors for proper functionality
  • Inspection theHVAC system

Interior maintenance tasks include:

  • Checking and maintaining heating systems to ensure they are working efficiently
  • Inspecting and maintaining plumbing and electrical systems to prevent leaks or electrical issues
  • Addressing any pest control issues to maintain a clean and comfortable environment for guests
  • Cleaning, inspecting, and repairing appliances in your rental properties. This helps to prolong their lifespan and prevent breakdowns.
  • Cleaning and maintaining fireplaces, chimneys, and vents 


Safety and security measures should also be a priority when it comes to preventive maintenance! 

Safety and security maintenance tasks include:

  • Regularly reviewing and updating security systems
  • Checking and repairing outdoor lighting 
  • Checking and maintaining locks and entry points
  • Testing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are functioning properly
  • Inspecting and maintaining fire extinguishers

By staying proactive with fall property maintenance  you can reduce expenses, increase income, and ensure guest satisfaction in your short-term rental properties! 

Happy autumn and happy renting!


Sevier County, Tennessee Real Estate Market Update – September 2023

Homes in Sevier County, Tennessee

Average price saw a increase in September to $694,367, up from $690,994 during the month of August, but within the range we’ve seen through the year from $641,000 to $750,000.

Days on the market saw an fairly large increase to 65 days, up from to 58 days on market in August. Still falling within the range we’ve seen throughout the year from 55 days to 83 days.

Price per square foot saw an slight increase in Sepember to $387, up from $371 during the month of August. We’ve seen a range of $358.72 to $401.65 this year.


Land in Sevier County, Tennessee

The average price for land/lots during the month of September was $101,663, a decrease from August where the average price was $134,661.

Lots that sold in September spend an average of the time time on the market as they did in August at 145 days on the market.

Navigating Short-Term Rental Property Management in the Smoky Mountains: Questions Every Investor Should Ask

When diving into the promising world of short-term rentals in the Smoky Mountains, selecting the right property manager can make all the difference between a successful investment and a potential misstep.

With the region’s rising popularity among tourists and families looking for a getaway, the market is ripe for opportunity. Yet, just as important as the property itself is the expertise and local knowledge of your property manager.

For real estate investors looking to capitalize on the thriving short-term rental (STR) market in this picturesque region, having an experienced and knowledgeable property manager by your side is crucial. 

There are multiple types of property management options you can choose from! 

You could go with a full service property management team. A company like this caters to an owner’s needs and special requests for the management of their vacation home.  

You could choose to place your property with a full service property management service with a brick and mortar location locally. Full service brick and mortar property management provides the comfort of knowing your vacation home is being properly maintained and marketed. This is a wonderful option for owners not within reach of their property and who are looking for a less time consuming property management service.

You might choose a vacation management service. Flexible management options handle your marketing, answer guest inquiries, confirm bookings, process payments, and provide flexible options for onsite services like cleaning and guest support.

Or you could choose to self manage. DIY property management presents many obstacles to overcome. However if helping others experience their vacation dreams is a passion of yours DIY management presents an exciting opportunity!

WIth some many options – how do you decide which option works best for you?

Our advice? Weigh your options and interview a few potential property management partners! 

Below is a list of questions you might want to ask! 


Questions about the Property Manager’s Experience & Specialization

  • Would you say that short-term rentals are your core specialization or just a part of your broader property management portfolio?
  • How many years have you been actively managing short-term rental properties, specifically in this region?
  • What types of properties do you typically manage (condos, cabins, apartments, luxury homes)?


Questions about the Property Manager’s Local Expertise:

  • How do you stay up to date with local regulations affecting short-term rentals, and how do you ensure compliance for the properties you manage?
  • Can you provide a list of local vendors or service providers that you regularly collaborate with for property maintenance, cleaning, or emergency repairs?
  • How do you keep up with the latest market trends in short-term rentals, and how do you apply this knowledge to enhance property performance?
  • Does your knowledge of local events, seasons, or festivities allow you to advise on the best times to maximize occupancy rates and adjust pricing?
  • Are there any local challenges or nuances (like specific weather conditions, community events, or seasonal fluctuations) that property owners should be aware of, and how do you navigate them?


Questions about the Property Manager’s Operational Insights and Processes 

  • What property management software or systems do you use, and how does it enhance the operational efficiency of the properties you manage?
  • How frequently do you provide updates or reports to property owners about the performance and status of their rentals
  • What platforms or tools do you use for communication and updates (e.g., email, phone, property management software)?
  • In the event of an issue or emergency at a property, how do you communicate with the property owner, and what’s your typical response time? Do you have a 24/7 response system?
  • Can you explain your approach to dynamic pricing or seasonal rate adjustments based on market demand?


Questions about Guest Experience 

  • How do you ensure a consistent and high-quality guest experience across the rentals you manage?
  • How do you gather and incorporate feedback from guests to improve the rental experience and potentially increase occupancy rate?
  • What security measures and protocols do you have in place to safeguard properties and guests?


Questions about Maintenance and Upgrades

  • Can you describe your regular maintenance and inspection protocols to ensure properties remain in top condition?
  • How do you determine when to suggest  upgrades or additional amenities to a property owner, and how is this informed by market trends?
  • Can you detail your cleaning protocols, especially considering the increased emphasis on hygiene and sanitation? How do you ensure quick turnovers between guests?


Questions about Marketing Strategy and Personal Involvement 

  • How involved are you personally in the day-to-day operations of the properties you manage?
  • How often do you personally visit the properties you manage, and do you have a routine check-in schedule?

Sevier County, TN Real Estate Market Update – September 2023

Homes in Sevier County, Tennessee

Average price saw a decrease to $690,994 during the month of August, which is a slight dip from July, but within the range we’ve seen through the year from $641,000 to $750,000.

Average home price in Gatlinburg, TN Year to date 2023 – $742,604
Average home price in Sevierville, TN Year to date 2023 – $666,828
Average home price in Pigeon Forge, TN Year to date 2023 – $601,402

Days on the market saw an fairly large decrease to 58 days on market, which falls within the range we’ve seen throughout the year from 55 days to 83 days.

Price per square foot saw an slight decrease to $371 from $378. We’ve seen a range of $358.72 to $401.65 this year.


Land in Sevier County, Tennessee

The average price for land/lots during the month of August was $134,661.

Lots that sold in August spent an average of 145 days on the market.

Fall in the Smokies 2023


Autumn is upon us and the Great Smoky Mountains are coming alive with color, charm, and festive events! We’ve curated a list of exciting events to make your fall season memorable.


Things to do in Sevierville, TN in October

  • Sevierville’s History and Haunts: Wander historic downtown Sevierville on October 19, from 6pm-8pm. Embrace family-friendly frights, historic walking tours, costume contests, and end the night with fireworks. Admission is free with nominal charges for some activities. 
  • Kyker Farms Adventure: Experience an authentic farm adventure from September 30-October 31 at Kyker Farms. Navigate corn mazes, relish hayrides, and indulge in fun activities. Kyker Farms is a testimony to nine generations of farming. Get ready to be “Kornfused”! 


Things to do in Gatlinburg, TN in October

  • Gatlinburg’s Winter Magic & Chili Cookoff: Kickoff the Winter Magic with mouth-watering chili recipes on November 9, 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Relish live entertainment with the tribute band, On The Border, echoing the legendary tunes of The Eagles. 
  • Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair: From October 5-22, explore 200+ booths of unique, handmade products. With a rich assortment of arts and crafts coupled with live music, this fair is a tribute to creativity and skill. 
  • Smoky Mountain Fall Festival at Ober Mountain: Starting September 29 through October 28, celebrate the season atop Ober Mountain. Enjoy concerts, delicious food, hay games, movie nights under the stars, and the Giant Pumpkin Festival. 
  • Boo Bash at Gatlinburg SkyPark: From October 1-31, enjoy the best view of the fall foliage at Gatlinburg SkyPark. This family-friendly Halloween Boo Bash offers an unmatched Smoky Mountain experience in the heart of Gatlinburg. 


Experience the Vibrant Colors the Fall Foliage of Gatlinburg Provides From the Comfort of Your Home

The vibrant hues of autumn in Gatlinburg are a sight to behold, painting a vivid tapestry across the Smoky Mountains!

While being there in person is an unparalleled experience, we understand that not everyone can make the trip. That’s where the live webcams come in! Offering real-time views of the breathtaking fall foliage, Gatlinburg’s webcams bring the splendor of the season right to your screens.

Whether you’re planning your trip and want a sneak peek or simply wish to indulge in the scenic beauty from afar, these cameras provide a captivating window into the heart of the Smoky Mountain fall.

Tune in here and enjoy the fall foliage in the Smokies! 


Did you know the staff at the Leconte Lodge shares a photo everyday?!

They post a daily blog featuring photos daily! Such a good way to experience the Smokies even when you can’t be here!


What’s happening with Short Term Rentals right now?


AirDNA released an article this week, which reviews their data on the Short Term Rental Market.

The most notable data point was July’s stays. 

“July 2023 broke the record for the most short-term rental (STR) stays in one month, with 35.4 million nights stayed, beating the previous high recorded in July 2022 by 9.4%.”


Even with  challenges like a heatwave and inflation-cautious consumers, the demand for short term rentals was strong!

“Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that July saw the addition of 187,000 jobs, keeping unemployment at one of its lowest rates in half a century. Even as inflation looms above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target, our economy seems stable, as wages grow and inflation remains relatively controlled.”


Looking forward

“August appears to be seeing a somewhat slower pace than current demand trends would indicate. Lead times have shortened since last year, so while August pacing is currently only 4% ahead of this time last year, last-minute bookings should still push the final realized demand for August higher.”


Check out the AirDNA article  for a few projections through the end of the year. 

Interesting to note, AirDNA’a data shows that the occupancy levels are much closer to 2022 levels, than 2019 levels. 

Maybe you are wondering what does this mean for prospective property investors or those interested in securing their dream Smoky Mountain retreat?

The steady economy and potential pause in interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve could keep the real estate market buoyant for some time!

For those considering a dive into the STR market, now is still a good time! If you dream of owning a slice of the Smoky Mountains or wish to invest in a thriving STR market, reach out. 


Pet-Friendly Perks: How to Make Your Smoky Mountain Rental Property a Haven for Furry Friends

The Benefits of Offering a Pet-Friendly Short Term Rental

The Great Smoky Mountains is a sanctuary for families, couples, and adventure seekers. For many of these visitors, a vacation isn’t complete without their furry friends. 

Offering a pet-friendly rental not only widens your target audience but also adds an emotional touch to your property – it signifies that you care about the entire family. 

After all, pets are family too!


Tips for Creating Pet-Friendly Spaces Indoors and Outdoors

When designing a pet-friendly indoor space, it’s crucial to consider both comfort and durability. 

  • Furniture selection is so important! Fabrics that are spill proof and resistant to damage are a good choice. Slipcovers can be a lifesaver, because they can be removed and washed when needed. 
  • Choose floors that are resistant to scratches and dents and are easy to clean. Muddy paws happen! 
  • Providing safety gates will allow guests to keep a close watch on their pets while in an unfamiliar home, creating a sense of safety! 
  • Having a pet emergency kit is an excellent extra touch. Provided pet specific supplies and a list of local emergency vet services, just in case! 


When designing a pet-friendly indoor space, it’s crucial to consider safety and security. 

  • If your short term rental offers outdoor space for pets a secure fence is a must! A secure fence prevents adventurous pets from wandering away, and provides a safe place for them to explore. You can enhance your pet play area by providing fun activities like ramps or a mini obstacle course! 

These considerations not only enhance the experience for pets but also ensure a hassle-free environment for homeowners.


Top Amenities for a Pet Friendly Short Term Rental

To stand out as a pet friend Short Term Rental property, the little things matter. There are a few ways you can separate your short term property from the rest! 

Provide a local pet guide for your home, with a list of pet friendly trails  in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, along with pet friendly restaurants and other activities. 

Wash stations make a day of romping around in the park a breeze! Not only does this make adventuring more fun for your guests, but it also ensures you the cleanliness of your home. 

Looking to go above and beyond for your pet guests? You could provide a small welcome gift of treats or a toy! 


Recommendations for Pet-Proofing Your Short Term Rental Property

While ensuring pets are comfortable inside your short term rental is important, keeping them safe is even more important! How can you do that? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Check your electrical cords, making sure they are covered or safely tucked away. 
  • Purchase a locking trash can, this helps keep curious pets out of the waste. 
  • Ensure your plant choices are pet safe. 


Making your Smoky Mountain rental pet-friendly isn’t just a strategy; it’s a warm invitation to a broader clientele. Because in these mountains, everyone, including our four-legged friends, deserves a home away from home!