Demand for Jersey Shore summer rentals normalizes, but prices haven’t come down

Finding a house to rent on the Jersey Shore for the past two years has been a lot like finding a parking spot at the mall while on vacation.

Demand exceeded supply and all the good ones disappeared quickly.

But as mask and vaccination mandates are lifted, workers return to their offices and children learn in person, the rental market has normalized, officers say.

“The COVID hump is coming to an end,” said Duane Watlington, founder of Vacation Rentals Jersey Shore, LLC, which helps connect renters and homeowners in Wildwood, Ocean City and Long Beach Island.

Early bookings were always a factor.

Watlington said his personal properties were all fully booked for the summer on Halloween. The omicron COVID wave during the holidays also continued the trend of early bookings.

But the middle months of June and September are not seeing the demand they have been for the past two years.

“Last year I was full from mid-March through the summer,” Watlington said. “Now there is still plenty of availability for Memorial Day and June. Owners get nervous.

Kids are learning in person and many adults are back in the office. “The season has gotten shorter,” said Andrea Schlosser, broker at Schlosser Immobilier in Lavallette.

Those in-between months will likely be booked by long-weekend renters or people lured by savvy landlord incentives, including free tickets for boardwalk rides, said Maria Kirk, owner of Summer Shore Rentals, which has listings in Cape May, the Wildwoods, Ocean City, Long Beach Island, Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, Delaware beaches and more.

But if you really want a rental for the summer season, it’s not too late. You may need to be flexible with your dates.

“Keep checking back because there are cancellations,” Schlosser said. “If you are ready to come in early July or late August, there is better availability. But the last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August are rented solidly, everywhere.

Renters are also facing rate hikes this summer as landlords take advantage of the huge demand of the past two years.

“Our landlords who aren’t booked are the ones who probably raised prices too much,” Watlinger said. “I think there was quite a bit of overpricing which is going to be fixed now.”

Schlosser said she had a house to rent where she suggested a price considerably lower than the landlord set.

“The public doesn’t buy anything anymore,” Schlosser said. “Everything was rented last year. It didn’t matter how far it was from the beach… We don’t really see that anymore.

Some of the landlords who raise rents better align them with market value because they just bought the house and have a big mortgage to cover, Kirk said.

“They’re just going by what the market is telling them,” she said.

The good thing about property turnovers is that they often bring a home to the rental market that’s open all summer. “I’ve probably got five announcements this week that opened up most of the whole summer,” Kirk said.

The fastest-renting homes are 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom homes with modern amenities, central air conditioning, washers and dryers, Schlosser said.

Whatever you’re looking for, book now, agents say.

“You can’t wait the week before and expect to have a beach house with a private pool,” Kirk said. “You must book now or you will lose.”

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Allison Pries can be reached at [email protected].

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