The Smoky Mountains STR Market: Opportunities in 2024

The Smoky Mountains Short term rental Market Opportunities in 2024

As we move into 2024, let’s take a peek at national trends that might shape the short term rental market.

Things like interest rates, inflation, and travel trends. 

 

Macroeconomic Factors Influencing the STR Market

 

Inman.com provides an interesting take on  2023’s occupancy rates.

“In 2023, the short-term rental space was defined by its ups and downs, with the supply of available nights increasing 12.6 percent year over year, compared to a more subdued 6.5 percent annual growth in demand, according to AirDNA’s 2023 U.S. Market Review.

Last year also marked the end of the incredibly high occupancy rates hosts and investors have enjoyed since 2021. Occupancy dipped 5.8 percent year over year to 49.9 percent —  below pre-pandemic levels — as supply increased considerably. The increase in supply also brought average daily rates down 2.4 percent to $311.09.”

 

We can’t overlook that the Federal Reserve’s rate adjustments impacted both property prices and how much people spent on vacations, which had an impact on occupancy rates. 

While travel trends might have more folks opting for staycations, or exploring new areas. 

 

The Smoky Mountains Market: A Case Study in Resilience

The Smoky Mountains have always been a gem for vacation rentals, and 2023 was no exception. 

Despite the economic ups and downs, this region proved resilient. Its natural beauty and diversity of attractions kept it high on the list for travelers! 

This stability is key for investors. It means that, even in uncertain times, the Smoky Mountains remain a solid bet. 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has seen over 10 Million visitors each year since 2015. There has been a 37% increase in visitation over the last decade.

 

Tennessee ranks 11th in the nation for travel spending, the highest rank ever and the fastest-growing state in the top 40 since 2018.”

 

Smoky Mountains STR Market: Opportunities in 2024

As 2024 unfolds, the vacation rental market is gearing up for what looks like an eventful year. 

“Based on early data, 2024 is already looking to be a promising year for vacation rentals. Demand in January is 8 percent higher than it was at the same point in 2022, and demand for the succeeding months is already between 13 and 21 percent higher for every month through June, reflecting the improved economic outlook for 2024 versus the start of 2023 when fears of a recession hung over many consumers.”

 

The general economic outlook for 2024 seems more stable and positive compared to the start of 2023. This shift plays a crucial role in shaping consumer confidence and travel spending. With more people likely to plan vacations and trips, popular destinations like the Smoky Mountains stand to benefit significantly.

 

The Smoky Mountains region stands out as a promising area for investment in 2024. With its proven track record of resilience and its ongoing appeal to tourists, the area is equipped to capitalize on the positive trends forecasted for 2024.

 

Navigating the Shifts: Predictions for 2024 Housing Marketing

2023 has been a trying time in the housing market. In this post, we’ll explore the things that shaped the housing market in 2023 and take a look at the forecasts for the real estate market in 2024. 

 

Factors Behind the 2023 Housing Market Slowdown

The real estate market in 2023 was affected by rising home prices, increased mortgage rates, and low inventory. 

The spike in mortgage rates, which surged beyond 8% for the first time in over two decades, became a barrier for many potential homebuyers. 

This increase not only diminished buying power but also sidelined a portion of the market.

The Federal Reserve’s response to inflation involved a hike in interest rates which further increased the market’s slowdown.

New listings dropped to their lowest level on record – just 5.4 million new listings in 2023, the lowest level on record and a massive 16.4% drop from 2022. 

“The unusual combination of low supply and low demand caused home prices to remain elevated throughout the year, which was bad news for pretty much everyone,” laments Daryl Fairweather, Redfin Senior Chief Economist. “The market was extraordinary; it felt hot, even though very few homes changed hands.”

 

Housing Inventory and Price Trends in 2023

Despite the overall market slowdown, the prices of homes continued on an upward trajectory. This was primarily fueled by the shortage of inventory, a challenge that has been lingering for years.

The supply of homes remained significantly below the levels considered healthy for a balanced market. 

Reports indicated that the housing inventory was about a two-and-a-half-month supply, starkly lower than the ideal six-month supply. 

This scarcity of available homes for sale not only limited options for buyers but also kept the market tilted in favor of sellers. 

 

Predictions for the Housing Market in 2024

The housing market is poised for a period of gradual recovery and adjustment. 

Industry experts predict a few key trends that could shape the real estate landscape in the coming year:

  • Mortgage Rates: After reaching two-decade highs in 2023, mortgage rates are expected to start declining, providing some relief to potential homebuyers. While the rates are anticipated to ease, they are likely to remain within the 6% to 7% range, not low enough to significantly boost the inventory of existing homes​​.
  • Housing Inventory: The inventory of homes for sale is forecasted to see a modest increase. This is partly due to more sellers expected to enter the market, having delayed selling in the past two years. A 30% increase in housing inventory is anticipated, which could help balance the demand-supply dynamics to some extent.
  • Home Prices: Despite the challenges, house prices are projected to continue their upward trend, albeit at a slower rate compared to 2023. The prediction is a national increase of around 2.7% in home prices for 2024​​.
  • Market Recovery: Certain U.S. markets are expected to experience a faster recovery in home sales. This recovery is likely to be influenced by the regional economic conditions and the specific characteristics of local housing markets

“The demand for housing will recover from falling mortgage rates and rising income,” Yun said. “In addition, housing inventory is expected to rise by around 30% as more sellers begin to list after delaying selling over the past two years.”

 

In summary, while the housing market in 2024 may not witness a dramatic turnaround, the expected easing of mortgage rates and a slight improvement in inventory levels hint at a more favorable environment for both buyers and sellers. This anticipated shift could mark the beginning of a new phase in the housing market. While the full impact of these changes remains to be seen, they signal a move towards greater stability and opportunity in the real estate sector.

 

2023 Sevier County Real Estate Market Statistics

Below you will find year end market statistics that compare 2023 to 2022.

 

 

This week we’ll take a look at 2023 year end real estate market statistics for Sevier County, TN

Average Price per Month

Average Days on Market

Average reporting income

 

 

We’ve segmented Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge by property type, condo and single family home, and provided average price, average price per square foot, and average days on market for each.

 

Gatlinburg – Condos

Average price ranged from $240,860 to $446,250.

Average price per square foot ranged from $314 to $414.

Average days on market ranged from 57 to 96.

 

Gatlinburg – Single Family Home

Average price ranged from $495,071 to $1,710,000.

Average price per square foot ranged from $305 to $441.

Average days on market ranged from 50 to 108.

 

Pigeon Forge – Condos

Average price ranged from $317,625 to $424,500.

Average price per square foot ranged from $310 to $408.

Average days on market ranged from 21 to 52.

 

Pigeon Forge – Single Family Homes

Average price ranged from $428,981 to $1,858,901.

Average price per square foot ranged from $317 to $443.

Average days on market ranged from 2 to 105.

December 2023 Sevier County Real Estate Market Update

Homes in Sevier County, Tennessee

Average price saw the highest price we’ve seen all year at $794,087. Days on market held steady at 6571days during the month of December, falling within the range we’ve seen throughout the year from 55 days to 83 days.

Price per square foot saw an decrease to $378. Still landing within the range of $358.72 to $401.65 that we’ve seen this year.

 

 

Land in Sevier County, Tennessee

The average price for land/lots saw an increase to $128,599, which is within the range we’ve seen for most of the year between $73,123 – $161,225, except for the outlier we saw in June at $243,763.

Lots that sold in December spent 267 days on the market. We’re experienced a large range of days on market this year, from 85-292 days.

 

 

 

 

Short Term Rental Market Statistics in Sevier County, TN – November 2023

Homes in Sevier County, Tennessee

Average price saw a drop back into the range we’ve seen this year at $712,525.

Days on market held steady at 65 days during the month of November, falling within the range we’ve seen throughout the year from 55 days to 83 days.

Price per square foot saw an increase to $395. Still landing within the range of $358.72 to $401.65 we’ve seen this year.

 

Land in Sevier County, Tennessee

The average price for land/lots saw an increase to $112,161, which is within the range we’ve seen for most of the year between $73,123 – $161,225, except for the outlier we saw in June.

Lots that sold in November spent 169 days on the market. We’re experienced a large range of days on market this year, from 85-292 days.

 

 

Understanding the 2024 Short Term Rental Permit Program in Sevier County

Sevier County is releasing a new short term rental property permitting process!

If you could like to receive a packet from the County explaining the program —  fill out this form and you will receive one. (Note: we submitted our information and are still not in receipt. We’re unsure of when they will be sending out the information)

The packet will contain a letter explaining the program, the application, a “Pre-Inspection” checklist, and all of the contact information if anyone has questions.

Here’s what we know so far:

The permit application period will open on January 1, 2024.

Property owners have until June 30, 2024 to apply for a Short Term Rental Unit Permit to be assessed with the codes from the time their home was built. 

From what we understand, as long as the house is permitted, and does not lapse — the permit passes with the sale.

Example: You bought a house that was built in 1990. You apply for a permit before 6/30/24. Permit gets approved, you never let it lapse. You decide to sell in 2025 — new owner gets to take over permit (that was issued against 1990’s building codes).
Win.Win.Win for everyone! 

It’s imperative that you apply for your permit before June 30, 2024.

The inspection/permitting program allows the Sevier County to inspect all STRUs in our county to ensure that all life safety measures are in place and that there are no obvious hazards that could result in causing harm or death to any residents or visitors. The inspection includes fire safety, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, electrical safety, structural integrity!

The cost will be $250.00 for a STRU that sleeps 12 or less and then for any STRU that sleeps 13 or more, the cost would be $250 plus $25 per additional occupant (person). Occupancy will be stated when each property owner or management company submits their application; however, upon completion of inspection, we will verify that there are not sleeping accommodations for more than what is claimed and that it is not being advertised for more than what is claimed.

Due to the fact that there are approximately 6,500 rentals in Sevier County (outside of the cities), they will be completed as received and then the following year (2025) the owner will receive a renewal invoice the month that their inspection was completed in 2024. Example: if your property wasn’t inspected until June of 2024, then you would receive the renewal invoice in June of 2025; this would then stagger when permits were issued.

The county in the process of getting additional information on the county website. We are going to add some of the frequently asked questions in the near future as well to hopefully help answer some of these questions.

Answers to a few questions you may have:

Sprinkler Requirements
Short-Term Rental Units that are more than 3 stories, more than 5,000 square feet, or sleep 13 or more people and were built before February 1, 2016, will not be required to install a fire suppression system as long as they meet the following:

1.) The property owner applies for a STRU permit between January 1, 2024, and June 30, 2024

(However, if there are not adequate means of egress in sleeping areas then the sleeping capacity may have to be reduced or an alternate solution be determined)

2.) IF you don’t self-apply for a STRU permit during the above-referenced period – that exemption may be void.

Short-Term Rental Units that are more than 3 stories above grade, more than 5,000 square feet, or sleep 13 or more people and were built after February 1, 2016, will be required to install a sprinkler system.

If the property is only meeting the one rule of sleeping more 13 or more then reducing the occupancy will be an option. However, this is due to the rules and regulations of the State of Tennessee which Sevier County must follow.

For Properties Located in the City of Gatlinburg – Nothing changes.
ALL STRs in Gatlinburg corp. city limits must apply for and/or renew their TR (Tourist Residency) permits and are subject to annual fire/safety inspections. You likely know who you are; however, if you have doubts, call the city at (865) 436-1400.

For Properties Located in the City of Pittman Center – Nothing changes.
As of 2/20/2020, ALL STRs in the corp. city limits of Pittman Center must apply for and/or renew an ATRP (Annual Tourist Residency Permit) and are also subject to annual fire safety inspection. You likely know who you are. If in doubt, call the City of Pittman Center (865) 436-5499), give them your property’s street address, and they will let you know.

For Properties Located in the City of Pigeon Forge – Nothing is in place – YET.
According to the Sevier County Fire Administrator, it’s in the works – but nothing is final yet. As we hear more, we will let you know.

For Properties Located in the City of Sevierville
They have approved a S.T.O.P. (Short-Term Operational Permit) program.
ALL STRs in corp. city limits must apply for and/or renew this annually. STRs are also subject to annual fire and safety inspections. If you have any questions, call the city at (865)453-5504

Therefore, if a property is being rented that was built after February 1, 2016, and it is sleeping 13 or more occupants and does not have a sprinkler system it is not in compliance with the state rules and regulations and does not have a Certificate of Occupancy for 13 or more.

So, if you reduce the number it sleeps, there might be an exemption available…

 

We’ll update this blog post as more information becomes available!

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 

Energystar.gov 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!