Landing Locals, the local-housing marketplace for vacation towns, announced it has officially rebranded to “Placemate.” This new brand speaks to their mission of helping local residents of vacation towns secure housing in communities where a sizable portion of the housing stock is used as second homes or short-term rentals.
“People choose to live full-time in vacation towns because of how much they love these places,” said Colin Frolich, co-founder and CEO of Placemate. “But since the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen an already difficult housing situation become untenable for residents of these types of communities. The evolution of our brand name represents our continued focus on our mission: we are the go-to resource that helps vacation town residents secure housing in the place they work and love.”
Placemate was born out of an idea that while there is a vast amount of housing in vacation towns, over time the housing stock has tipped too far in the direction of tourism, to the detriment of the community. Tourism is the lifeblood of vacation towns, but a dearth of housing for local employees means the local communities suffer. And ultimately the tourist experience is also affected by the shortage of workers who cannot find housing.
The ecosystem of housing in vacation towns is complex, but Placemate has identified an opportunity to quickly and efficiently create new rental housing with existing housing stock. This is exemplified through their Lease to Locals programs, which provide cash incentives to homeowners who convert their properties into new long-term rentals for local employees.
These programs are overseen and funded by local governments and are an example of a successful and innovative public-private partnership. First piloted in Truckee, Calif., in the fall of 2020, the program has since rolled out in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Eastern Placer County, Calif., Breckenridge, Colo., Summit County, Colo., and Ketchum, Idaho. Since their inception, the Lease to Locals programs have converted over 250 units and housed over 500 local employees. The cost of converting these units averages around $5,000/bedroom, which is drastically cheaper than building a new home, where the cost of building averages over $250,000/bedroom.
To keep up with the growth of their services, Placemate has hired four new employees in the past year and will expand their operations to more regions throughout the country.
“2023 is poised to be a breakout year for Placemate,” Frolich said, “as we expand to additional vacation towns across the country. With the rapid rise of second-home ownership during the pandemic, more than a third of all US counties have seen their share of housing stock used as second homes rise to or remain above 10%. In vacation towns, often 50% or more of the housing is second homes, which are vacant the majority of the year. We think there is a real need to continue converting the existing housing stock back to long-term rentals for local workers who are the lifeblood of the community.”