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How much is that Airbnb? Vast differences between Kamloops, Kelowna

Image Credit: Airbnb Grant Powell

Short term rentals in Kamloops have a higher occupancy rate than the Okanagan but get paid a lot less.

The international website AirDNA reports that the average rent in Kamloops for properties listed through Airbnb and VRBO was $124 a night over the last year. That’s the mean rate between high and low months for the year.

Kelowna, by comparison, had one of the highest average rates in the province at $267 per night.

Only 72% of the Kelowna units were occupied in the past year versus 81% in Kamloops. Rental rates were only slightly lower in Penticton ($264) and West Kelowna ($256) but their occupancy rates were only 68%.

Vernon, at $173 per night, had a 65% occupancy rate.

“We’re a tourist town so, basically from September through to May, most of the rentals turn over to student rentals,” Tim Lalor, operations manager for Kelowna Resort Accommodations, told ”That is what skews the numbers and vacancies. Really, the market for Kelowna is from May 1 to Aug. 30.”

Kelowna Resort Accommodations is listed on the AirDNA site as the largest property manager in the city with 59 listings.

Most of those, Lalor said, are condos. The student rental side of things are handled by a separate, licenced firm.

READ MORE: Hobbit-themed Airbnb near Osoyoos named one of Canada’s most wishlisted unique stays

The AirDNA website, which is based out of Spain, shows rents peak in Kelowna at $347 a night in July and drop to $184 per night, on average, in February.

Even with the higher rental rates, it can be touch and go for people trying to rent their condos, Lalor said.

Startup costs from scratch in an empty condo, including beds and furniture, can be in the $12,000-$15,000 range. Even in a furnished home, buying towels, sheets and making sure smaller items like toasters and kettles are in order, can cost a few thousand dollars.

In Kelowna, the annual business licence for a short term rental is $750 plus a $25 filing fee. Then there’s $2-$3 million in liability insurance and cleaning bills.

“For some people, it is touch and go,” Lalor said. “For May and June, you don’t get $350 each night, If you get between $350 and $500 per week for those two months, that’s when you start looking at your costs and what it’s actually costing you to operate.”

That, of course, changes in the summer when occupancy rates climb above 90%. The AirDNA site shows a 94% occupancy rate in Kelowna for July compared to 46% in December.

READ MORE: Renovictions, Airbnb major drivers behind rising homeless numbers in Kelowna

The peaks and valleys are different in Kamloops.

It shows a peak rate of $136 in April and a low of $115 in June. The best month for occupancy is September at 90% versus 65% in November.

The site does not give provincial averages so individual cities have to be called up.

Victoria shows an average rental rate of $179 with an 83% occupancy rate while Vancouver is at $189 and 81%.

Possibly the most expensive destination in B.C. is Big White. That comes in at $447 per night. In December the average rate is $530. Even in June it’s higher than most of the province at $287.

Sun Peaks averages $385 per night and Whistler is at $350.

The AirDNA site says it has data for more than 10 million properties around the world in more than 120,000 markets.

It took data released by Airbnb in November 2020 to compare with its own and says “by using AirDNA’s data, we can explain 96.1% of the movements in Airbnb overall level of revenue.”

Kelowna has 1,432 listings cited on AirDNA while Kamloops has only 187 listed. West Kelowna has 410, Penticton 414 and Vernon 274.

Big White has 376 listings, Victoria has 1,063 and Vancouver 3,468.

Check out AirDNA here.

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