The road to housing leads to investor-owned short-term rentals.

Anna is our Community Outreach Specialist, and she’s one of the countless year-round residents aspiring to homeownership on Nantucket. We’re grateful she’s sharing her experience.

After being on island for seven years, I thought I knew why owning a Nantucket home was so difficult. But our team’s research made me realize just how much investor-owned short-term rentals contribute to our housing shortage.

A good portion of the short-term rental inventory comes with “exclusive” amenities and accommodates 12 to 20 or more. The number of properties equipped with a pool, a guest cottage, a bathroom to every bedroom, etc. is staggering.

When I look closer, I recognize some of the houses that were for sale three to five years ago. They were listed between $900,000 and $1 million. They were “affordable.” My husband and I weren’t ready to buy at the time, but I thought, “maybe we could buy a house someday.”

Now those same houses are on Airbnb, completely modified to attract large parties and weekend warriors. Cato Lane is just one example of a street that is being transformed.

In 2015, a long-time Nantucket family home on Cato Lane sold for $1.4 million – within reach of some given the cottage could bring steady rental income.

Instead, an out-of-state commercial property manager purchased it, improved with a pool and updated finishes, and turned into a short-term rental. There’s no debate; it’s now beyond the means of a year-round resident.

Further down the street, a property for sale is advertised as a great investment opportunity, with room for a pool and cabana. Most houses on the market either have a pool or are advertised as having room for one. What will happen to these properties?

Once they have pools and fancy interiors, they won’t be in reach of residents like us. Will anyone live in these houses, even part of the time?

It’s no question our housing crisis is complicated to solve. But when looking at short-term rentals in year-round neighborhoods, you start wondering if the cycle will ever end. That’s why we need to consider more ways to put our community first.

Sincerely,

Community Outreach Specialist

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