The Golden Tee arcade game in the entertainment room offers up clues to the home’s appeal. Located on Linden Road in Pinehurst, this seven bedroom short-term rental is one of the area’s most popular vacation properties.
“It consistently rents out for top dollar,” said Marcus Larose of Sandhills Rentals.
The big house — it sleeps 20 — was acquired last fall by a group of Virginia-based investors. They added destination friendly features like an outdoor fire pit, poker table, ping pong, flat screen tv’s and an inground pool.
“A lot of people have money out there and they are investing in properties. The returns on short-term properties are great right now,” added Larose, noting this has driven up real estate demand. “Looking at the market, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Tourism has long defined Moore County. The pandemic created a temporary rift, notably in the hospitality industry’s business and convention traffic volume, but leisure travel and golf have seen a resurgence. The pandemic also encouraged an exodus from big cities, especially as more people have discovered they can work remotely from anywhere.
“In April 2020, we did nothing but cancel reservations. But then things began to change. Starting on May 15, we did 50 percent more in rentals last year than all of 2019,” Larose said.
Looking at this year’s figures, Sandhills Rentals has already exceeded all of last year’s returns. Larose credits the uptick, at least in part, to 20 new rental properties he added to his inventory this year.
“Anything that comes on the market is gone in hours,” Larose said.
Debbie Putz of Village of Pinehurst Rentals said her inventory of short-term and long-term properties is booked solid.
“I have not had any available rentals for over a month,” she exclaimed. “You have people coming here because of COVID fears who want a safe place. You have an influx of people who weren’t able to PSC (military permanent station change) last year plus you’ve got the regular PSC crowd coming in. Then you have the fact that people can sell their houses for substantially more, so they are taking them off the rental market to sell instead. And the price point on condos is soaring.”
Looking ahead, the depleted inventory is making it especially challenging for U.S. Kids Golf Championship families, many who travel from overseas and would typically stay for a month or two.
“It’s a flippin’ hot mess, that’s what it is,” Putz said. “You feel so bad for these people who planned to come. If we had 10 more furnished condos, I could use them. If we had 10 more unfurnished homes, I could use them,” added Putz.
“This isn’t just me. In the entire rental industry, there is no inventory. Will the market settle down? Eventually. It is just very challenging right now.”