Summer vacation rentals still hard to get despite inflation worries

·3 min read

For the past 15 years, Craig Stevens has booked his extended family’s summer vacation home on the Jersey Shore by Christmastime. This year, he was about a month behind, but just as he was starting to worry about finding the perfect retreat, he found one that would work well for his party of 12: a 5-bedroom home in Ortley Beach, New Jersey.

Stevens, who recently launched shoretermrentals.com, a property management and rental listing company exclusively serving the Jersey Shore, knows the market well and therefore considers himself lucky.

“It’s still really competitive out there," Stevens said, "particularly given the reduction in inventory because more people have bought homes in the area and aren’t renting them out.”

Ocean City is an Atlantic resort town in Worcester County, Maryland. Ocean City is a major beach resort area along the East Coast of the United States.
Ocean City is an Atlantic resort town in Worcester County, Maryland. Ocean City is a major beach resort area along the East Coast of the United States.

“Vacationers are also taking longer trips, and that’s reducing the supply of inventory,” said Jeremy Gall, a vacation-rentals industry veteran and the chief executive and founder of Breezeway, a property operation software platform. “Driven in part from flexible work-from-home policies, the average length of stay for June, July, and August is up 24% compared to this same period last year.”

On the flip side, demand for summer vacation rentals remains strong, says Alison Kwong, spokesperson for Vrbo.

After all, many summer vacations for 2022 were built around weddings or other special events that had previously been postponed, added Kwong. “People are making up for lost time.”

And they booked earlier than ever, said Kwong.

“By March, 2022, we were already seeing limited availability in top destinations,” said Kwong. “For example, prime East Coast beach destinations including Outer Banks, Cape May and Ocean City (N.J.) already had fewer than 15% of vacation homes available to book in March for July this year. In March 2019, those places still had over 30% of homes available for July.”

Buildings on a hill near Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Buildings on a hill near Scranton, Pennsylvania.

What might be available for procrastinators?

“The good stuff - choice properties at top destinations - is long gone,” said Gall. “There’s availability in places like Asheville, Savannah, and Scottsdale, where home rentals are 40% cheaper than popular locations like Hilton Head, Charleston, and Palm Springs.”

“Travelers looking to snag a last-minute vacation home for a reasonable price this summer should consider the places where it may be 'low season' and may have more availability, selection and price points to choose from,” said Kwong.

Try mountain destinations and ski towns like the Poconos in Pennsylvania or Breckenridge, Colorado, said Kwong.

“These are great places for families who like to enjoy hiking, biking, and other outdoor recreation.”

What about the continued economic uncertainty, worries about layoffs, market volatility and growing talk of a recession? “

We saw in 2008 that vacation rentals were recession-proof and that’s the case even more. so today given the pandemic hangover,” said Gall. “The home is so central to the vacation experience and people still really want that experience, even if it’s expensive."

And expensive, it is. In fact, it’s projected to be one of the most expensive summers on record, according to Hopper’s Summer 2022 Travel Guide.

While surging airfares, gas prices, and lodging has some Americans postponing vacations, most are going forward with their plans, said Gall - especially if non-refundable.

“Families might be thinking about how they might adapt down the line," Kwong said, "but they don’t want to lose out on the experience of being together."

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Personal Finance Journalist Vera Gibbons is a former staff writer for SmartMoney magazine and a former correspondent for Kiplinger's Personal Finance. Vera, who spent over a decade as an on air Financial Analyst for MSNBC, currently serves as co-host of the weekly nonpolitical news podcast she founded, NoPo. She lives in Palm Beach, Florida.

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