By Steve Schnell, Charlevoix County Housing Ready Program Director for Housing North
Short Term Rentals are important to the economy of northern Michigan, especially for many communities in Northwest Michigan. We have an abundance of natural beauty that attracts people to the area, yet many rural communities lack tourist lodging options. Converting homes to short term rentals for vacationers to use for a long weekend or a week at a time is a great way to bring visitors and the resulting economic development to our area. The visitors who come to our communities and stay in a vacation rental will spend money at local businesses and may even relocate to the area someday. It is also important to understand the balance that is needed between keeping houses available for family, students, and the local workforce.
Each short term rental that is created is one less home in our community to house teachers, families with kids in local schools, to house year-round residents who will run for local office, volunteer with local organizations, and shop at local businesses. There are many factors in our economy that are making housing harder and harder to afford. In this case, the competing demand for short term rentals drives prices up and removes homes from the local housing stock. This is happening at the same time demand for housing is on the rise.
In Charlevoix County, housing demand is estimated to be 1,192 housing units each year. That includes 400 homeowner-occupied and 792 rental units. That is the estimated demand every year for the next 4 years. While demand for year-round homes is increasing, so is the market for short term rentals. In the 12 months from late 2019 to late 2020 it was estimated that East Jordan saw a 41% increase in short term rentals. The estimate for Boyne City was more than 180%.
Implications of a short supply of housing means that local businesses have serious challenges recruiting new employees from outside the area and people who want to move to a home that better suits their changing needs are not able to. Even more difficult in this market, renters are having a harder time finding a first home that they can afford. In addition, businesses that provide services to year-round residents have fewer customers. Ensuring that there is a balance between permanent year-round housing and short term rentals is important for the long-term growth of our economy.
For more information about short term rentals and other housing matters, please contact Steve Schnell, Charlevoix County Housing Ready Program Director for Housing North, at firstname.lastname@example.org and 231-330-7070 or visit www.housingnorth.org.