Vacation Rentals on the Rise in the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Caitlyn Milton | May 10, 2019

With summer quickly approaching, many seaside destinations are preparing for a busy season hosting guests from near and afar.

A popular vacation area on the East coast of the U.S. is the Outer Banks, which is a series of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. The Outer Banks is made up of several towns and villages, including Kitty Hawk, where the Wright brothers famously made their first flight and set the stage for modern aviation.

The Outer Banks (OBX) has long been romanticized for its unique mix of New England coastal flare and southern hospitality. Its endless sandy shores and incredible sunrises have attracted writers such as Nicholas Sparks, who based his 2002 bestselling novel Nights in Rodanthe in one of the Outer Banks’ quaint villages.

There’s a strong tradition in OBX of generations of families visiting the same spot summer after summer, often renting the same vacation house.

But in the past few years, disruptive home-sharing platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway have been making gains.

In May, AirDNA’s Director of Business Development, Kellen Kruse, presented an overview of vacation rentals in Dare County, during the annual Outer Banks Tourism Summit.

This blog post provides highlights of Kellen’s presentation. You can download the full report (including a deep dive into Dare County’s largest vacation rental town, Nags Head) by submitting the form below:

Download the Full Outer Banks Market Overview

Airbnb and HomeAway Growth Outpaced the Global Rate

Over the past two years, vacation rental listings across the Outer Banks have grown 224%, well ahead of the average global rate of 140%.

Historically, HomeAway has been the driver of new supply. For the first time, however, Airbnb added more listings than HomeAway in 2018. Throughout the year, Airbnb added 1,178 new listings while HomeAway slowed its growth, adding 1,094 new listings.

What Areas Generated the Most Vacation Rental Revenue?

In Dare County, vacation rentals generated $230 million in 2018. 75% of that revenue came from just four towns and villages: Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and Avon.

The circles in the matrix below represent each of the areas in the Outer Banks, and are sized relative to supply. Nags Head has more vacation rentals than any other town in Dare County, but Kitty Hawk earned the highest median Average Daily Rate (ADR), $307.

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