Rental Season Heating Up Fast

With a long winter drawing to a close, renters are eager to stake out a Shore property.

A 5 bedroom, 5.5 bath home with pool, elevator and ocean views in Avalon. Available in high season at $14,500 a week.
A 5 bedroom, 5.5 bath home with pool, elevator and ocean views in Avalon.
Photo courtesy of Ferguson Dechert Real Estate

Perhaps it was a brutal winter that included back-to-back Nor’easters. Perhaps it’s the improved economy. Whatever the reason, demand for Shore rentals is heating up fast.

“People are ready; our phones are ringing,” says Robert Pitera, co-owner of Re/Max at the Shore, with five offices in Avalon, Ocean City, Cape May and the Wildwoods.

“It’s going to be a good summer,” says Dave Wyrsch Jr., broker-owner of the Van Dyk Group, a real estate agency on Long Beach Island. He and other real estate brokers say that shore rental demand is running ahead of last year’s pace—in some areas, by as much as 5 percent.

“I think there’s a really good vibe,” says Lee Childers of Childers Sotheby’s International Realty, with six offices in Ocean County. “The economy is good. People are willing to spend.”

Though there are still plenty of properties available, rental agents warn that the choicest shore rentals in the prime weeks—the last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August—are disappearing fast.

Because the Shore real estate market is so large and varied, it’s impossible to estimate the average cost of a weekly rental. But to get an idea of what’s available during the peak season: In the Ocean Beach bungalow colonies near Normandy Beach, a small house can go for $900 a week, according to Childers. In Point Pleasant Beach, a three-bedroom place a block and a half from the beach was recently available for $2,600 a week. In nearby Belmar, a Craftsman-style three-bedroom a block from the beach was on offer for $3,650.

Prime-time weekly rates in Avalon and Stone Harbor start around $2,000 to $2,500 for a condo or small ranch. In Cape May, a two-bedroom place 10 to 12 blocks from the water can go for $1,000 to $1,200 week.

At the other end of the price scale, you can easily pay $10,000 to $20,000 or more per week for an updated place on the water, where you can fall asleep to the music of the waves. Childers has listed a Normandy Beach oceanfront villa going for a cool $110,000 for the summer.

There was a time when summer renters were content with the most basic of accommodations, as long as they could spend the days riding the waves and cruising the boardwalk. Many baby boomers have fond memories of bunking down with siblings and cousins in Grandma’s little bungalow, cooled only by sea breezes.

But those days are gone. “Nobody wants to rough it at the Shore anymore,” says Allan Dechert, co-owner of Ferguson Dechert Real Estate in Avalon and Stone Harbor.

“The old beach bungalow with the screen door slapping in the breeze? People don’t want that,” Childers says.

“You just need everything you have at home—a washer-dryer, wi-fi, air-conditioning and nice furnishings,” says Bill Bezaire of Coldwell Banker Sol Needles Real Estate in Cape May.

And lately, real estate agents say, more renters are even asking for pools, despite being on top of a pretty nice body of water (you may have heard of the Atlantic Ocean).

“What do you need a pool for? You’ve got this huge pond at the end of the street,” Dechert jokes. “But for people with younger families, it’s nice to have a pool in the backyard.”

For many people, visiting the Shore is a nostalgic journey back to carefree childhood summers or their teenage and young-adult years chasing rays, waves and summer romance.

“They’re coming back to roost where they had so much fun,” says Perry Beneduce, marketing director for Diane Turton Realtors, which has 18 offices at the Shore.

Dechert says that he sees extended families, or groups of friends from the same towns, scheduling their trips at the same time so they can hang out together.

Then there’s the power of tradition, Dechert says: “Their parents brought them down, and they’re bringing their kids down.”

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