Tips for Last-Minute Shore Rentals

There’s always a solution—if you’re flexible.

A duplex located just steps from the bay in the North Beach section of Long Beach Island.
A duplex located just steps from the bay in the North Beach section of Long Beach Island.
Photo courtesy of the Van Dyk Group.

Suddenly, Memorial Day is just around the corner. And just as suddenly you are faced with a sad reality: You still haven’t lined up this summer’s Shore rental.

Don’t give up hope. Real estate agents say there are still plenty of choices available, though you may have to loosen up your vacation expectations.

“I wouldn’t discourage anyone from calling, even at a late date,” says Paul Ward, broker at Ward Realty in Point Pleasant Beach, which has been doing business at the Shore since 1926. “There’s always a solution available.”

In fact, Ward says, if you’re searching at the last minute, you are not alone. In recent years, about 20 percent of his office’s renters didn’t start their search until after summer was already underway. With both parents in a family often working, and kids doing sports, “it’s not so easy to forecast your vacation anymore,” Ward says.

Other real estate agents agree that rentals are always possible, even at the last minute.

“If you’re a little flexible on price and location, I can almost always find you something,” says Stephen Krug of Birchler Realtors’ Ortley Beach office.

Even so, agents say it’s best to act as soon as possible, because other beachgoers are snapping up what’s left on the market.

Here are three strategies for snagging a rental when summer’s almost here:

1. Look outside the prime weeks.
The most popular weeks at the Shore are the July 4 week, plus the last two weeks in July and the first two weeks in August. Rentals tend to book up fast during those periods, but if you can shift your vacation schedule, you will find more choices.

For example, Dave Wyrsch Jr., of the Van Dyk Group on Long Beach Island, says that as of late April, he had about 35 rental units available for the popular July 28 week—but about 85 open for the week beginning August 11.

You might even find some last-minute bargains if you’re willing to take the less popular weeks. “If you’re really flexible [on dates], you can shop for deals in May,” Krug says. During this month, owners might be more anxious to fill the open spaces in their rental calendars.

2. Consider locations beyond your original geographic target.
Sure, you’d love to be a short stroll from the ocean in your all-time favorite town. But you might have to widen your horizons.

“If you call me and say, I want to be in Lavallette on July 4, I may not have anything,” says Krug. On the other hand, he adds, “I may have something in Ortley Beach or Seaside Heights.”

You also might have to be willing to vacation a few blocks further from the beach. Accepting a longer walk to the sand might give you more rental choices.

“If you’re looking for the ocean block, that will be harder to find than the bay side,” says Wyrsch.

For example, at the end of April, Linda Stefanik, of Gertrude M. Stefanik Inc. Realtors in Seaside Park, still had a rental listing for a 10-year-old, four-bedroom, three-bath condo in Seaside Park, available from July 14-August 4 for $4,000 a week. It’s got three decks and views of the bay, she says. The only catch: the condo is four blocks from the ocean.

3. Grab a cancellation—or a new listing.
Plans change, and people who booked their rentals earlier may have to cancel. And homeowners sometimes decide to put their properties up for rent late in the game.

“They think their families are coming to use the place, but now they’re not, so they’re opening it up to rentals,” says Allan Dechert of Ferguson Dechert Real Estate in Avalon and Stone Harbor.

Both of these situations open up opportunities for last-minute renters.

So, don’t give up. Even if you didn’t plan ahead, you can probably still find your place in the sun this summer.

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