If you have been looking for a vacation rental in Sonoma County, you have probably taken your foot off the gas over the past year as Sonoma County put a moratorium on issuing vacation rental permits. But where are the best places to purchase a vacation rental in Sonoma County? (See this blog post for the full details of the Moratorium put in place in August 2022) However, with the moratorium due to expire in just a few months in early May, lots of people are starting to pick up their search so that they can be first in line once the county starts issuing permits again. That being said, if you are looking for a vacation rental, there are other opportunities for finding one that you can operate as a vacation rental straight away. The key is knowing where to look. So where are some of the best vacation rentals available to purchase? (also see this blog post)
For anyone that has looked into buying a vacation rental and has a basic understanding of the rules you will likely not think to look in the city of Sonoma and the city of Healdsburg. For the large part, you cannot get a new permit to operate a vacation rental in either Sonoma or Healdsburg City. However, every now and again a property comes up for sale in both downtown Healdsburg and Sonoma that it is possible to get a vacation rental permit for.
There are currently approximately 40 properties in the city of Sonoma that are currently operating as vacation rentals. The interesting thing about many of these vacation rentals in the city of Sonoma is that when the property is sold, the permit is transferable to the new owner. This is a closely guarded secret but if you are looking for a vacation rental within Sonoma City limits, get in touch as I have all the eligible addresses.
When it comes to finding a vacation rental in Sonoma County, unincorporated, there are lots of different options based on price point. (this blog post goes into details about the best places to look based on various price points). The low hanging fruit is on the coast because as things currently stand, that are is not under the jurisdiction of the Sonoma County PRMD. However outside of the coastal area you have to look in very specific pockets. (here is a link to my 8 step guide to finding a vacation rental). I have also put together a map showing where all the current vacation rentals are in Sonoma County. I also have maps for the Cities of Healdsburg, Sonoma and Sebastopol.
If you want to get access to this map and work with me to find a vacation rental, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Below are some of the interesting locations for properties that are vacation rentable and are either on the market or recently went into contract.
134 North St, Healdsburg City - $1,475,000
This is an example of a property for which it is possible to get a vacation rental permit in downtown Healdsburg which is why it has gone into contract after a couple of days on the market, The reason is because it is in the Commercial District so can be issued a use permit to operate as a vacation rental. There are a number of properties on Healdsburg Ave, East St, North St and other roads immediately next to the Plaza where it is possible to get a use permit to operate a vacation rental.
3625 Edison St, Graton - $1,299,000
One of the keys to being a great vacation rental is the location and proximity to amenities. Like the one on Harris Hill Drive, this is also in a great location, close to the very cute downtown of Graton that has a couple of restaurants, bar, bakery and store. It's location also means that both Sebastopol and Healdsburg are a short drive making it a great location for Bay Area weekend visitors to wine country. Because this is on a larger lot, this also has room for a pool if that is on your list.
1840 Austin Creek, Cazadero - $799,000
One of the big changes with the new vacation rental ordinance that is coming into place in unincorporated Sonoma County is the removal of R1 zoning from being eligible for a vacation rental permit as well as the implementation of caps in areas where there is currently a high density of vacation rentals. The combination of these two changes mean that it is going to be very difficult to get a vacation rental permit for any property in the Guerneville, Rio Nido and Monte Rio areas of the Russian River. Because of this, this property, which feels like a tree house in the Redwoods, is one of the few properties for which it will be possible to get a vacation rental permit moving forward.
Mirabel Road, Forestville - $750,000
In the same way that Cazadero is a good location for someone wanting a vacation rental with the Russian River vibe but not in the areas where they are no longer permitted, then Forestville on the East side of Russian River is another good location. In a few months time, we will be listing a property on Mirabel road that is currently undergoing a major remodel (the picture is the before picture!). It will be a rare chance to purchase a turnkey vacation rental just as the permit window opens up.
There is a another property that we will be listing soon that is also in Forestville which will also make a great vacation rental so get in touch if you want to know about that one.
150 Bailhache Avenue, Healdsburg: $3.995m
A lot of people are looking for a vacation rental that will be cash flow positive. As a 2 bed property costing nearly $4m this is not it! Clearly its proximity to Healdsburg along with its extraordinary finishes and contemporary design make it a stunning place to stay for the weekend that will attract pricing in the top 1% of properties around Healdsburg. If you are looking for something that you will mainly enjoy yourself but want some income to offset the property tax or the running costs, this could be an interesting option. Finding places so close to Healdsburg is incredibly difficult making this a real gem
I have written many blog posts about how to navigate the vacation rental rules (which I outline as part of an 8-Step Guide To Finding A Vacation Rental) but there are so many nuances it is hard to capture it all in a single graphic or blog post. As we see interest rates easing off and the Sonoma County vacation rental moratorium close to being lifted, now is a good time to start looking for those hidden gems. Equally, if you own a property that will qualify for a vacation rental permit under the new rules, now could be a good time to attract some eager buyers.