“I want to get an AirBnB in Savannah”
“How do I get a short-term-vacation-rental in Savannah?”
“I want a vacation rental in Savannah”

If you’ve ever considered investing in Savannah real estate, some variation of this question has probably come to mind. I mean, why wouldn’t it? Savannah is a great city to visit with a diverse economic foundation that presents no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, quite the opposite. Savannah and its surrounding cities and counties seem ripe for growth. That’s a recipe for success when it comes to Short-Term-Vacation-Rentals, which are wildly popular due to their high profitability and flexibility for owners. However, obtaining an STVR in Savannah may not be quite as simple as you think.

Savannah STVR Zoning Laws

When it comes to investing, it’s always a smart idea to know what the zoning laws are like in the areas you’re interested in. This is especially true in Savannah when it pertains to Short-Term-Vacation-Rentals. Currently there are only a few approved zones including an short-term vacation rental overlay district which includes the historic neighborhoods of Downtown, Victorian, and Streetcar.

In addition to the city of Savannah reducing where you can legally operate STVR’s, they also regulate how much of the approved areas can be used. Currently, that “cap” is at “20% of residential parcels within each ward.”

Click here to keep reading about the basic definitions surrounding STVR’s in Savannah.

How to Get an STVR License in Savannah

There are a few different ways you can obtain an STVR in Savannah. First, you need to familiarize yourself with all the approved areas and zones. After you’ve done that, you’ll need to identify a property within your budget that would be a popular destination. Something with close proximity to public parks, restaurants, or local nightlife generally does well, but to maximize occupancy and customer experience (therefore your profit), you’ll also want the property to have character, and perhaps something that makes it stand out. This will be an opportunity for you to get creative and see what a property could be, instead of just what it is.

After you’ve identified the property, you’ll need to check and see whether or not it has an active STVR license. If it does, you can apply to continue using the property in the same manner. However, if it does not have an active STVR license, and most won’t, you will need to start the application process. This process does not take long to complete, but since all wards in approved areas are currently capped, you may find yourself waiting months, or sometimes years for your application to be approved.

Click here to check out the STVR Application Process.

Opportunities for STVR Around Savannah

Okay, enough about the barriers, let’s talk about the opportunity zones for Short-Term-Vacation-Rentals in and around Savannah. While the City of Savannah currently regulates the STVR licenses and practice closely, the same isn’t necessarily true of all of Chatham County, or the surrounding municipalities and counties. For example, one of the first things visitors think about when coming to Savannah is the beach! Nestled right in the middle of the beach and downtown Savannah is beautiful Wilmington Island, and area that can still prove very lucrative for an investor hunting for a property to list on AirBnB, VRBO, or others.

Additionally, there are sections of Chatham County that would seemingly fall well within the Savannah City limits that are actually unincorporated, meaning that most of the STVR rules and zoning laws you see above aren’t applicable! Check this map out. The unincorporated areas are beige.

For example, I recently had a client who was searching for an STVR in Savannah and didn’t want to wait months on end for a license. So, for a while, we hunted for properties that had existing licenses. Each time we found one, the desirability was high and the competition was even higher! Finally, we started paying attention to a few areas that were unincorporated, but still in close proximity to all that Savannah has to offer. We ended up identifying a property listed for $300K. It was 20 min to Downtown Savannah, 45 min to Tybee Island, and 35 min from the SHH International Airport, all great things to advertise in your listing. Oh yea, and it had a pool! My buyers researched the average occupancy and rates that could be expected in this area and found out that they could reasonably expect to gross over $3800 monthly. What’s even more outstanding is that despite the lower price and seemingly great profit margin, we only had to compete with one other offer and won the house at list price. (For context, the average home during this time period was selling between 4-8% over list price)

Final Thoughts on STVR in Savannah

Clarity might be the single most important thing you can have when you’re interested in purchasing investment property. Identifying the real objective is often times the hardest part. I’ve seen prospective investors become discouraged and quit searching altogether because of some of the challenges I’ve laid out for you above.

My final piece of advice for you is to find someone in your corner who helps add perspective and works hard to help you find solutions, not just hurdles. Perhaps your classic Victorian home is waiting downtown. Perhaps it’s hiding at the end of an island cul-de-sac. Remain open minded and curious and find someone you can trust that will help you navigate this process, and if you don’t know anyone, give us a call!

For more reading on Short-Term-Vacation-Rentals in and around Savannah, GA please check out the links below.

Bed and Breakfast Homestay (regulated separately)
STVR Regulations
STVR Ordinance
Tybee Island Short Term Vacation Rentals
Short Term Rental Data Analytics

Looking for Help Navigating the Process? We Can Help!