Summer 2023 rentals still available after years of sold-out Cape vacations. What changed?

As the time approaches for locking in a vacation home rental on Cape Cod in 2023, the outlook appears sunny, with rentals still widely available, according to several Cape rental agents, with that prospect echoed at the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce.

According to Joan Talmadge, co-owner of the Cape & Islands vacation rental agency, there’s been an expected dip in the frenetic, sold-out atmosphere that ruled the 2020-21 pandemic season. Vacation seekers this year can shop around for one of the nearly 4,000 homes the agency lists, with a good selection still available.

In other years, according to industry statistics, bookings were as much as 80 or 85% filled by now, she said. This year, she said, booking levels across the Cape were at about 60% in February, due in part to a nearly 9% increase in inventory.

Joan Talmadge is the co-owner of WeNeedaVacation. She was photographed at her office where photos of various home rentals hang on the walls.
Joan Talmadge is the co-owner of WeNeedaVacation. She was photographed at her office where photos of various home rentals hang on the walls.

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Many people who bought property here during the pandemic home-buying boom are now listing their homes for seasonal rentals. People “continue to register their houses right up until May,” she said, so the inventory keeps changing.

Talmadge, who has co-owned the WeNeedAVacation rental site with husband Jeff for 25 years, explains that vacation rentals saw an unusual surge during the pandemic years of 2020-21. At that time, getting away to “stay for a good, long time ... became an attractive notion” for people who had felt “cooped up” and needed a change of scene, she said. This year, she says, the rental market is beginning to adjust back to more normal levels.

One change that seems to have stuck is that prospective renters are starting to look for properties a little sooner, beginning in the fall instead of waiting until after the Christmas holidays.

Paul Niedzwiecki
Paul Niedzwiecki

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Paul Niedzwiecki, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber pays close attention to fluctuations in the rental market and thinks the area may be returning to a “new normal” in summer vacations, where a more “short-term seasonal economy” is making a post-pandemic return to the Cape and Islands. With more people back on a regular working schedule, they’re starting to “shorten the length of their stays somewhat,” he said.

Although vacation bookings show a more than 45% increase over pre-pandemic levels, he said, they’re down about 10% from the pandemic period.

The local summer rental market, he added, profits from the fact that second homes account for 37% of the Cape’s housing stock, echoing the industry’s assessment that many pandemic home purchases are now showing up as seasonal rentals. The Cape is “not a resort community” with hotels lining the beaches, he added, but a more family-oriented destination, and is one reason the market for renting vacation homes is developing so rapidly.

At Kinlin Grover Real Estate’s many offices on Cape Cod, new summer rental properties are being added regularly to the company’s more than 600 active listings.

Joan Talmadge is the co-owner of WeNeedaVacation. She was photographed at her office in Orleans.
Joan Talmadge is the co-owner of WeNeedaVacation. She was photographed at her office in Orleans.

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“I just had three calls this week from people who are wanting to rent out their homes,” said Amanda Kundel, a sales associate in the company’s Barnstable Village office.

In the Wellfleet/Truro area, company associate Jane Booth says they’re “onboarding several new properties, adding to inventory” in that locale.

On the mid-Cape in Harwich, Dennis and Yarmouth, associate Betsy Studley confirms there are “new owners deciding to rent for the first time. ... I expect a strong 2023.”

The website for Leighton Rentals, with offices in South Dennis and Brewster, suggests that demand for home vacation rentals will increase more than 6% in the next few years – twice as fast as the demand for year-round housing – and that all three seasons of spring, summer and fall are good times to hunt for vacation properties on the Cape, with each season offering distinct activities and advantages.

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A few places to call for a Cape Cod summer vacation rental

Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, 508-362-3225,

Kinlin Grover Real Estate, 508-833-3333

Leighton Rentals, 508-619-7658

We Need A Vacation, 774-323-3911,

This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Cape summer vacation rentals still available, real estate agents say