Jersey Media Network, a company based in Atlantic Highlands, NJ that owns ShoreVacations.com (Jersey Shore’s largest vacation rentals website), conducted a survey about the 2010 summer rental season in New Jersey. It used web traffic stats as well as discussions with individual property owners. Here are some of the conclusions reached by the company.
With the summer season behind us, we were able to get the pulse of the shore homeowners and, indeed, it seems like it was a much better year. Most of the landlords we polled were actually content with this year.
Coming off a dismal 2009 rental season, everybody involved in the Jersey Shore travel business (and I’m not talking just vacation home owners, but also restaurants, shops, realtors) were hoping for a better 2010. Maybe “hoping” is not the best word: they were counting on a recovery for survival. After a flat-to-lower 2008 (caused mainly by the skyrocketing gas prices earlier that year; the recession didn’t start until after the summer season), 2009 was really bad. Web traffic related to Jersey Shore vacation rentals was down 16%. Most owners were hurting, unable to cover their mortgages and other expenses. Many even had to sell their homes, at the decreased prices caused by falling real estate values.
2010 was supposed to be the year of recovery but, although we technically got out of the recession, the economy was still struggling. Not only did unemployment and reduced incomes cause people not to go for a vacation at the shore, but the uncertainty about the future forced them to delay their plans and don’t commit to a rental until late in the spring. However, there was a clear improvement from the previous year. Web traffic was up 40% compared to 2009, and even 19% from 2008. However, we estimate these increases were partly caused by a constant move from traditional realty services to the Internet as a way of booking a vacation rental. Vacationers are discovering the convenience of using a website to browse hundreds of rental listings, with all the details at their fingertips. Home owners are doing the same, but in addition to that they like the savings from not having to pay realtor fees, in exchange for a little more work from themselves.
An owner from Chadwick Beach said she was fully booked this summer, with many renters returning every year, so the expectations are high for 2011 as well. She also reminded us that the Jersey Shore is beautiful after Labor Day also, so people shouldn’t be tied just to the 10 weeks before Memorial and Labor Day.
As homes got fully booked, or very close to that, owners were able to better hold on to their prices. In 2009, with an unusual number of vacancies, renters felt like they had the upper hand, and were trying to negotiate almost every time. This doesn’t usually happen with beach houses, but to minimize their losses, owners had to offer very good deals. With 2010 being much busier, those great deals were very rare and renters usually paid the asking price, without room for negotiation.
One of our customers from Surf City was ecstatic about the summer of 2010: “It was one of the hottest in the recent past. We were booked solid from June to the end of September. People loved the location across from the bay beach and the comfort of a relaxing beach house. I am amazed at the response for next summer! Renters will be returning – our house is already booked from July 3-August 28, 2011.” This seems to be a common situation. As you browse the availability calendars for next season on ShoreVacations.com, you can notice that in many cases there are 4-6 weeks already reserved.
But of course, not everything went perfectly. There were many houses with open weeks. Bill from Barnegat Light tells us that his oceanfront home lost seven weeks this year, the most in 42 years since he’s been renting out.
For many others though, the results were somewhere in the middle. Nick Mastrolia, owner of The Beach Plum in Seaside Heights told us: “The season this year was down in June and July. However, I think due to Jersey Shore filming in Seaside, we had an outstanding August. I expect next year to be just as busy in August. My target for next year is to build up July. 3 and 4 years ago, July was better than August, I don’t know what happened to cause the shift.”