Summer rentals pick up at the Jersey Shore, signaling sunny days ahead

It’s only March, but things are looking sunny at the Jersey Shore – at least when it comes summer rentals.

Maybe it’s the weather, or the rebounding economy, but if you don’t book your summer spot now, you could miss out.

Chris Bezaire of Coldwell Banker Sol Needles rents houses in Cape May, Cape May Point, and West Cape May. Bezaire says the number of leases are up 11 percent from the same time last year. But the figure that really shows a rebound for the area is this one: leases are up 31 percent from this same time in 2009, which Bezaire says was “probably the worst year we’ve had in a long time.”

“I have been handling summer rentals for 30 years,” says Ann Delaney, a borker with Tim Kerr’s Power Play Realty, which does rentals in Avalon and Stone Harbor. “The years 2009 and 2010 were the most challenging. There were open weeks in properties that previously booked solid.”

Not this year. For Tim Kerr Power Play Realty, bookings are up 9 percent from this time last year. They’re also not getting calls from people looking to haggle as they did in the past.

“With more activity, tenants understand that owners do not feel pressure to negotiate,” she says.

Tom Labetti manages rentals for his Beach Haven West home. He’s already sold out for all but one week of July and August, which had never before happened since he started renting out the home in 2007.

“This time last year, I was still doing e-mails and rental agreements through May and into beginning of June,” he says.

What’s going fast? Larger homes in the end of July and the beginning of August, say Bezaire and Delaney. Also: beachfront spots.

If you’re looking for a deal, look to the “shoulder” seasons: September, if you don’t need to worry about kids’ school schedules; June if you don’t necessarily need hot and sunny days. (Labetti says he rarely fills his house for all of June because the weather can be more unpredictable.)

You can also find deals at the very end of August.

“The last two weeks of August have become more difficult to rent as the school year often starts before Labor Day,” says Delaney. “Owners now discount those weeks accordingly.”

If you have a date and town in mind, hurry up, says Delaney: “They should book now. They will not save money by waiting, and in fact will be limited with their options.”

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