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Updated: February 9, 2024

Ellsworth, already seeing a building boom, is being noticed by investors in short-term rentals

aerial of brick buildings church roads COURTESY / KYLE LAMONT, GOOD TO GO STUDIO Ellsworth is looking to maintain a balance as a year-round community and an important service center through future business growth prospects.

Ellsworth is already seeing a building boom, with numerous commercial and residential construction projects underway.

Now, the Hancock County city seems to be attracting investors in short-term rentals as well.

AirDNA, which analyzes data on short-term rentals nationally, ranked Ellsworth No. 2 on the company's "2024 Best Places to Invest" report, which came out earlier this week. 

The list "pinpoints the most promising markets for investment this year, identifying U.S. hotspots where investors can maximize returns," AirDNA said in a news release.

"The list offers a blend of well-known and emerging markets with distinct draws, ranging from coastal getaways and historical gems to lively cultural scenes, catering to various traveler interests."

AirDNA’s Top 10 "Places to Invest" in 2024:

  1. Columbus, Ga.
  2. Ellsworth 
  3. Logan, Ohio
  4. Spring Hill, Fla.
  5. Sneads Ferry, N.C.
  6. Winter Haven, Fla.
  7. Stanton, Ky.
  8. Port Angeles, Wash.
  9. Akron, Ohio
  10. Fairbanks, Alaska

Ellsworth in the spotlight

Ellsworth, which was also on the list last year, has a year-round population of 8,531. In addition to being the county seat for Hancock County, it is a hub for retail, serving Downeast communities and Mount Desert Island. 

The news of the city being a hot-spot for short-term rental investment may be a good sign for the economy, but also creates a challenge for the already-tight housing market. 

Earlier this year, Ellsworth ranked No. 8 on the list of "Maine's Hottest Towns," based on growth in median home prices. It saw growth of 15.2% last year, according to eXp Realty, a national real estate firm based in Bellingham, Wash.

According to Maine Listings, the median sales price in Hancock County was $404,000, a gain of 13.8% from 2022. The median sales price for all of Maine was $360,000 last year, up 7.46% from 2022.

AirDNA, which is headquartered in Denver, said Ellsworth properties can garner an average daily rate of $335, with average occupancy of 73%.

A landlord can average $41,000 a year in revenue. AirDNA's average home price for the city of Ellsworth — $325,670 — is significantly lower than the overall Hancock County rate, which may add to the appeal for investors. 

"What truly sets Ellsworth apart is its proximity to Acadia National Park," AirDNA noted. 

Short-term rental trends

Nationwide, AirDNA said that occupancy rates and revenue-per-available-room rates declined last year.

Occupancy rates are expected to stabilize this year, while a "slight rise" in RevPAR is expected. 

"As the [short-term rental] industry gets more and more competitive, choosing the right market and the right property is crucial," said Jamie Lane, senior vice president of analytics at AirDNA.

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