COVID-19 continues to reshape thereal estate market—this time, it's altering the short termrental market. According toa report by realtor.com,owners are transitioning properties from daily or weekly Airbnb andVrbo rentals to seasonal rentals, securing leases of one tothree-months in duration.

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This spike in seasonal rentals isshowing up in certain tourist destinations: Nashville (185%),Austin (160 %), Orlando (82%), Las Vegas (56%), Chicago (49%), SanAntonio (49%), New Orleans (48 %), Honolulu (47%), Jacksonville(42%) and Bridgeport/Stamford, Connecticut (35%). Since the end ofFebruary, these locations saw an average increase of 74% inseasonal rentals, while seasonal rentals in the top 100 U.S. citiesrose only by 21%.

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Renting out a home for one to three months represents a "massivechange" for owners who were accustomed to much-shorter termrenters, reports realtor.com. But the uncertainties posed byCOVID-19 makes longer term rentals an economic necessity.

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"Many short-term vacation rental owners rely on rental income topay the property bills and meet their mortgage obligations," saidGeorge Ratiu, senior economist at realtor.com. "If people aren'ttraveling or don't feel comfortable staying in someone else's home,that lost income could lead to missed payments or even foreclosure.For this reason, owners are looking for seasonal renters, who canprovide occupancy and income for a longer period and give ownersthe breathing room to weather the current drop in short-termdemand."

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Unfortunately, this change isn'tadding inventory to the housing market, which has been down 19%nationally in the last year. Nor is it likely to help long termrenters looking for an affordable home.

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"In the short-run, it's unlikelythat we'll see many of these units turn into more traditionalrentals, as owners can likely make more money with seasonalfurnished rentals. However, the longer COVID alters consumerbehavior, the more difficult it will be for vacation rental ownersto cobble seasonal leases together, and this could eventually meanan increase in for-sale inventory in these markets," saidRatiu.

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