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Santa Fe short-term rentals market languishes

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

One of the large vacation rentals managed by Casas de Guadalupe near downtown Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE – As in many other tourist destinations in the United States, a large portion of Santa Fe’s housing market is short-term rentals, where guests can stay in family-sized homes for a few nights instead of a hotel.

Oftentimes, owners rent properties through such websites as Airbnb and HomeAway.

But the demand for these vacation rentals, as in so many other sectors of the economy, has dropped off dramatically since Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a public health emergency March 11 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and since Airbnb is currently offering would-be tenants full refunds on bookings made before March 14.

Shane Morris, a Houston-based machine learning engineer, tracks online traffic for short-term rentals across the country and said the market has evaporated in a short span of time.

In Santa Fe, internet searches for terms like “places to stay in Santa Fe” fell by 97%.

“That’s deadly,” Morris said. “They’ve all cratered in the past two weeks.”

A report from last year indicated there were more than 1,600 active listings for short-term rentals in Santa Fe, ranking it 12th in the country on a per capita basis.

Morris said those who own multiple short-term units will be affected most by the lack of demand.

One of those people is Mary Ann Kaye, who owns 12 units, all in the same block of Park Avenue, through her company, Casas de Guadalupe.

Kaye said she was planning for a busy season with spring break, but now nearly all her guests have canceled.

Mary Ann Kaye, owner of Casas de Guadalupe, stands in one of her empty vacation rental units in Santa Fe on Friday.

“We went from a sold-out situation to a ghost town situation,” she said.

Her company purchased all the units several years ago and converted them from apartments into short-term rentals. Now, she has to figure out how to pay for a dozen mortgages with few or no guests.

“We made all our payments for the month of March, but if this continues into April and May, it’s going to be really difficult,” said Kaye, who is now applying for a small-business loan.


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