Learn How To Start Investing In Real Estate
Learn How To Start Investing In Real Estate

What is an STR in Real Estate?

Written by Than Merrill

If you’re exploring the expansive world of real estate investment, you’ve likely encountered the term “STR” or Short-Term Rental. STRs represent a unique intersection of hospitality and real estate investment, providing a short-term lodging solution for travelers while offering property owners the potential for attractive returns. This article is designed to explain what is an STR in real estate, how they differ from traditional long-term rentals, and the advantages and challenges they present. By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to determine if investing in STRs aligns with your investment goals and how to navigate this exciting segment of the real estate market.

What Are STRs in Real Estate?

An STR in real estate, otherwise known as short-term rental or vacation rental, is essentially a furnished living space available for short-term lease. Unlike traditional rental agreements that span months or years, STRs cater to individuals looking for a temporary stay, ranging from a few nights to several weeks. These can include vacation homes, apartments, and other properties rented out through platforms like Airbnb and VRBO.

Characteristics of STRs

The defining characteristic of an STR in real estate is the duration of the stay. Typically, these rentals are designed for brief periods, offering a home away from home for travelers. Properties can vary widely, from luxury condos to cozy cottages, reflecting the diverse needs of renters. Importantly, operating a vacation rental often requires adherence to local laws and regulations, including zoning rules and business licenses, ensuring everything is above board.

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STRs vs. LTRs (Long-Term Rentals)

The primary difference between STRs and LTRs lies in the lease duration. STRs, offering flexibility and higher income potential, attract a different market segment than LTRs. Managing an STR in real estate requires a more hands-on approach, dealing with frequent turnovers, cleaning, and maintenance, compared to the relatively stable management of long-term rentals.

Investors must weigh the higher potential income and flexibility of vacation rentals against the steady, but often lower, income from traditional long-term rental property investing. Your decision should align with your investment goals, capital availability, and willingness to engage in the active management of the property.

Pros and Cons of Investing in STRs


  • Higher Income Potential: STRs can command higher nightly rates than the monthly rent of LTRs, boosting income potential.

  • Flexibility: Owners have the flexibility to adjust pricing based on demand and make their property available for personal use.

  • Market Demand: The growing trend of experiential travel has led to increased demand for unique and localized accommodation options.


  • Regulatory Challenges: Navigating the legal landscape can be daunting, with some areas imposing strict regulations on vacation rentals.

  • Higher Operating Costs: Frequent turnovers mean higher costs for cleaning, maintenance, and guest amenities.

  • Market Volatility: Income from STRs can be unpredictable, influenced by seasonal trends and shifts in travel demand.

Should You Invest in STRs?

Consider your financial objectives, market understanding, and readiness to manage a vacation rental’s day-to-day operations. Investing in an STR in real estate requires not just financial capital but also time and effort to ensure a high-quality guest experience.

Successful STR investment hinges on selecting the right property, understanding your target market, and optimizing your pricing strategy. It’s essential to conduct thorough research and possibly engage with experienced investors or consultants.


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