Joshua Tree Short Term

17 Replies

I own 2 STR in Big Bear and manage / Co-host 10 others. Now looking into Joshua Tree. I know many buy in Yucca and still do well on AirBnB / Short Term - but is it better to be in JT proper? Does walking distance to town/ JT Saloon matter or better to be a bit north and have 2 or 3 acres?

Broad question, so here's an overview of the area:

Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP) is the tourist attraction. The entrances you need to know about are the West entrance (in the city of Joshua Tree) and the North entrance (in the city of 29 Palms). The best views, attractions, hiking, picnic areas, and campgrounds are near the West entrance. It is about a 45 minute drive from one entrance to the other (if I remember right).

Yucca Valley is adjacent to Joshua Tree (the city). Lots of stores (Starbucks, grocery stores, fast food). New sewer ordinance may add future cost to a purchase. There was some debate over the new STR ordinance, but overall not too restrictive. About 15-20 minute drive from Yucca Valley to the West entrance of the park, depending on where you are in Yucca Valley. City mostly populated by locals, which is why there was some neighbor complaints and debate about short-term rentals in the city.

Joshua Tree is a community and not technically a city (it is a census-designated place and considered part of the unincorporated zone of San Bernardino County, therefore subject to county laws regarding STRs). They are very community-oriented and do not want big businesses in their "city". They even successfully fought to not have a Dollar General Store open up in the community. Therefore, Airbnb's (and STRs) are a large part of the community economy since there are no large hotels or motels. Airbnb is not likely to ever go away or be prohibited in Joshua Tree. Highway 62 runs through Joshua Tree. Generally, north of the highway, you can find cheaper real estate (esp if you are looking for wide open land and lots of multiple acres). You can also find the same as you head east on Hwy 62 toward 29 Palms (city where the marine base is located). As you head down Park Blvd (which turns into Quail Springs Rd) toward the West entrance of  JTNP, you will find plenty of neighborhoods. Locals generally want to live south of the highway. A lot of great communities, but they get more and more expensive as you move closer to the entrance of the park (Friendly Hills, Upper Friendly Hills, Joshua Tree Highlands, Monument Manor). To get a big lot of land in these areas is likely going to be very pricey, especially as you move closer to the park entrance.

29 Palms is further east (marine base is located there, so you have the military-type community and strong traditional rental market). Wonder Valley is even further east (may be up and coming, but a lot of wasteland-looking properties out there still). 29 Palms is very STR-friendly and they recently passed an ordinance that favors STRs. However, the average daily rate as you head further east is lower than in Joshua Tree proper, even though you have the convenience of the North park entrance.

I own and operate 2 rentals out in Joshua Tree, one in Friendly Hills (less than 5 minutes from the saloon in a neighborhood) and one in Monument Manor (a mile from the West entrance and in open land, 7.5 acres). Most that come out to Joshua Tree want the open land and the feeling of isolation. However, our rental in the neighborhood still does well, as we did modern decor and market it toward all the millenials and city-folk who are heading out for short vacations.

I would recommend you look first in Joshua Tree proper, preferably south of the highway (although there are good rentals that do well north of the highway). Just know that although the tourism has increased, so has the # of Airbnb properties, so you have to be able to compete somehow if you want to keep your occupancy high. Find a way to stand out from the competition in a trendy way and you can do well.

Love the area and would invest in the area 1000 times over if I could do it again. Another thread here on BP said that if they were to invest in the area again, the one thing they would do differently is start 2 years earlier! Prices have increased dramatically, but there are always deals to be had.

Thanks so much for all the info! I am looking at one north of the highway but just by a few streets. Putting an offer in tomorrow I think.  What is the high season? I know with Big Bear I can double my prices in winter and quadruple them between Xmas and NYE.

@Mike R. I bought three properties in the last year that are a 2-3 block walk to downtown JT. The answer to your question is a little long. I’d be happy to nerwork and chat!

I went to yucca Valley high school and knew the owner of the JT saloon, and the current bar tender there.  I can tell you a lot of the good and bad locations of the high desert.  I have looked there also recently, and yes JT a VERY small and spread out place.  

Originally posted by @Marland McKinney :

I went to yucca Valley high school and knew the owner of the JT saloon, and the current bar tender there.  I can tell you a lot of the good and bad locations of the high desert.  I have looked there also recently, and yes JT a VERY small and spread out place.  

Oh cool! I'm looking just north of the highway. Maybe 3 min drive north of JT saloon. 2.5 acre property. Seems like it would rent out but maybe just not for more than the $150 a night on weekends or so. 

"JT is so hot right now."  That is what everyone in the surrounding area is talking about, referring to short term rentals.  A BMX racing friend from Yucca, bought and opened an AirBB in JT in February.  "The monument" is really the only economic driver boosting the town. That and Shroomfest.  I think it's great for the area.  Personally I would not invest long term in Joshua Tree.  Meth production is a major player in this town, so get those walls inspected before paint.  Call the local sherif about exact streets you're looking into.  

In general does anyone see JT starting to get too saturated and resulting in low occupancy?  I'm trying to decide between JT/PDesert or a snow based vacation rental ie Big Bear, CA.  Any thoughts are appreciated as I'm just getting started and am new to this.

I'm looking at investing in a 2-Bed sized place but of course want due diligence as to the best odds of monthly returns.

Big Bear is for sure oversaturated- still great- it still makes money- but compared to 5 years ago.... it's a lot more competition. When I started with my one cabin it was all VRBO- no one was on AirBnB- by 2015 about 1500 homes on AirBnB in that area- now well over 6,000. 

The big problem is- individuals who buy and to compete massively lower their prices which brings the entire market down. 

I think late fall/early winter is the busiest time in Joshua Tree. We were there 2 years ago a few days before Thanksgiving and it was a sh*t show. A ranger told us that Thanksgiving week was the parks busiest. That made sense when every single establishment we went to was stuffed to the gills with people. Good for real estate business! 

Yeah, I'm still planning to buy in Joshua Tree. I wouldn't consider it up coming at this point. I think four years ago was the time to buy, but I certainly think they're still opportunities. But the competition is definitely way more Fierce over the last three or four years, very similar to Big Bear may be a year behind or to what big bear has become.

Are you all up to speed on the new county ordinance impacting Joshua Tree?  Come the end of March there will be an estimated 1,000 illegal vacation rentals in J-Tree.  San Bernardino County is reporting only 90 homes have applied for a license, and only 1 home has been approved.  The vast majority are failing for code violations, non-permitted structures or modifications, etc.  BIG changes the last couple of months.

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