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


Finding a house to rent at the Jersey Shore the past two years was a lot like finding a parking spot at the mall during the holidays.

Demand exceeded supply and all the good ones were gone quickly.

But as mask and vaccination mandates are being lifted, workers return to their offices and kids are doing in-person learning, the market has normalized, agents say.

“The COVID bump 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 still a factor.

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

But the shoulder months of June and September aren’t seeing the demand they were the past two years.

“Last year I was full mid-March through summer,” Watlington said. “Now there’s still a lot of availability for Memorial Day and June. Owners are getting nervous.”

Kids are learning in-person and many adults are back in the office. “The season has shortened up,” said Andrea Schlosser, broker at Schlosser Real Estate in Lavallette.

Those shoulder months will likely get booked with long weekend renters or by people who are attracted with incentives from savvy homeowners, 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 for the summer season, it’s not too late. You just might have to be flexible with your dates.

“Keep checking because there are cancellations,” Schlosser said. “If you’re willing to come in early July or late August there’s better availability. But the last two weeks in July and first two weeks in August are rented solid, everywhere.”

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

“Our owners who are not booked are the ones that probably raised prices too much,” Watlinger said. “I think there was quite a bit of overpricing that’s going to get corrected now.”

Schlosser said she has a house for rent where she suggested a considerably lower price than the owner set it at.

“The public is not just buying into anything anymore,” Schlosser said. “Everything got rented last year. It didn’t matter how far it was from the beach … We’re not quite seeing that anymore.”

Some of the homeowners who are increasing rents are bringing them into better alignment with market value because they just bought the home and have a big mortgage to cover, said Kirk.

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

The good thing about the ownership turnovers is that they often bring a home to the market that has the entire summer open. “I have probably five listings this week that have most of the whole summer open,” Kirk said.

The houses that rent the quickest are the 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom homes with modern amenities, central air, washers and dryers, Schlosser said.

Regardless of what you’re looking for, book now, agents say.

“You can’t wait until the week before and expect to get a home on the beach with a private pool,” Kirk said. “You have to book now or you’re going to lose out.”

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Allison Pries may be reached at