The Smokey Mountains, a range that spans the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, is currently the hottest place in the U.S. for vacation rentals, according to a new report from vacation rental startup Vacasa.

The report, released Tuesday, named Sevierville, Tennessee, the top vacation rental market in the U.S. for 2019. Sevierville has a population of just over 15,000 people and, though it was first settled in the late 1700s, has more recently evolved a tourism-focused economy. The median home sales price in Sevierville according to Vacasa is $239,976.

A vacation rental in Tennessee. Credit: Vacasa

In its report, Vacasa notes that the broader Smokey Mountain region where Sevierville is located is “peaking” and a “popular vacation rental destination.”

Case in point: The report lists Whittier, North Carolina, in fourth place on the list of hottest markets. Whittier is also located in the Smokey Mountains, less than two hours from Sevierville.

Other cities that did well on Vacasa’s list include second place Killington, Vermont, third place Davenport, Florida, and fifth place Kissimmee, Florida. The Sunshine state in particular was well represented in general.

“In 2018, a whopping nine markets throughout Florida ranked high on that year’s list of the best places to buy a vacation home,” Vacasa stated in the report, “In 2019, Destin, Key West, Kissimmee, Marathon and Panama City Beach landed on the list once again, proving that white sand beaches are still a major draw for travelers.”

Aerial View of downtown Kissimmee. Credit: Vacasa

To compile the report, Vacasa looked at both home sales numbers and performance data for vacation rentals. The idea, the report states, was to highlight “the best places to buy if you’re looking to maximize the return on your investment.”

Shaun Greer

“Buying a vacation rental property requires more consideration than simply where you’d enjoy owning a vacation home that you could visit a few times a year,” Shaun Greer, Vacasa’s senior director of real estate, added in a statement. “If you are seeking to maximize your investment, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with markets that have a strong rate of return, consistently high occupancy rates and local regulations.”

Vacasa has had a banner year so far. The company — which manages and markets vacation homes as rentals on behalf of owners — has steadily expanded via acquisitions, launched a new interior design service and recently hired multiple new executives. Late last month, Vacasa also announced plans to buy Wyndham Vacation Rentals in a deal that will significantly expand its footprint.

The company’s new report hints that more growth could be on the horizon as well. Though recent days have seen rising concerns about the economy and a possible recession, Vacasa report argues that it remains a “great time to buy a vacation rental.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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