Housing Reports & Studies

UMass Donahue Short-Term Rental Impacts Study

Approved by the Select Board in January 2023, the University of Massachusetts Amherst Donahue Institute (“UMDI”) conducted a study on the short-term rental market in Provincetown. The study examined current practices nationwide around short-term rental regulation and identifies what lessons these regulations may offer to Provincetown, especially regarding increasing the availability and attainability of year-round housing.

The final report was delivered in September 2023 and presented to the Select Board at their September 25, 2023 meeting.

Some key findings and takeaways from the report:

  • The primary use of housing in Provincetown is for vacation homes.
  • Provincetown's population grew by a quarter in 2020.
  • Home price growth in Provincetown is outpacing income growth.
  • Active STR listings in Provincetown are down by 20% from 2019.
  • Provincetown's housing market is influenced by wealthier cities in the Northeast.
  • Homeowners can earn more money renting short-term compared to long-term, while retaining use of the home for their own personal use.
  • Findings suggest homebuyers are not buying homes in Provincetown solely to use as short-term rentals.
  • Incentives are an alternate pathway to increasing supply.
  • The predicted impact of any STR regulation on the affordability of housing in Provincetown is likely small.
  • Provincetown may still wish to restrict STRs in various ways with a goal of encouraging homeowners to continue to have a connection to the community.
  • Findings suggest that targeting workforce housing through continued building and providing incentives where useful is likely the most direct path to increasing accessibility of such housing.

More Information:

Harvard Kennedy School Report on Year-Round Rental Housing in Provincetown

The Town of Provincetown worked with graduate students from the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) in Fall 2023 to look at housing policy/housing incentives to support year-round housing in Provincetown. 

As part of their research, HKS students developed a survey for short-term rental (STR) certificate holders to gauge their interest and support for several policy ideas as well as try to understand the likelihood that STR operators might consider converting to a long-term rental. 

While initial findings from their STR survey were presented at the Joint Housing Workshop in December 2023, the full survey STR methods and findings can be found beginning on page 8 of the report. Some highlights:

  • 323 STR operators responded to the survey
  • Annual STR earnings approximately $10,000-$20,000 per year
  • Approximately 12% of those surveyed either Somewhat, Very, or Extremely willing to convert to 12 month rental
  • 53% would at least Moderately Support and $8,000 conversion incentive

Their overall findings are presented through an interesting “Convert, Conserve, and Create” framework, and staff are reviewing their work as we think about future tax, zoning, and other policy options.

From the report:

  • Provincetown grapples with a dire need for year-round affordable housing, facing a scarcity of rental properties amid soaring real estate prices. There is no silver bullet that will solve the scarcity of year-round rental housing, but there is an ensemble of policy options that could help. The team has divided these policies into a three-part framework: Convert, Conserve, and Create. Convert refers to turning existing properties into year-round units. Conserve refers to keeping year-round units on the market, Create refers to building new year-round units.
  • Convert: Within the 'convert' framework, several programs aim to convert various properties into year-round units. Cash Incentives and Tenant Matching target short-term rentals, while the Lease to Locals program focuses on first-time landlords. The Year Round Trust policy emphasizes converting properties directly. Each program employs distinct strategies to address the challenge of converting properties into sustainable long-term housing options.
  • Conserve: To retain existing year-round rental units, two policies stand out: restricting deeds to ensure continued rental status and increasing subsidies for property owners maintaining units as year-round rentals. Expanding the scope of deed restrictions beyond homeownership is vital, including individuals benefiting from the year-round tax incentive.
  • Create: To address the housing shortage, enabling zoning policies and consistent funding for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) emerge as viable options. Relaxing setback and lot size minimums, and increasing per-lot unit maximums in zoning regulations can facilitate more year-round rental housing. Additionally, the town could provide subsidies or tax exemptions for ADU construction, similar to successful programs seen in Barnstable, Boston, and Salem.

More Information: