By Lauren Wanko
“This year our numbers are up tremendously,” said Michael Van Sciver, broker at Van Sciver Realtors.
Summer rental sales are up about 50 percent at Van Sciver Realtors, which covers Ocean County communities like Mantoloking and Bay Head. Van Sciver says rentals shot up because more inventory has become available in storm-damaged towns as homeowners continue to repair and rebuild.
“I think a lot of people failed to remember last year we had a number of people looking for rentals, but the units that had been available for decades, decades were all gone,” Van Sciver said.
Since the storm, Van Sciver’s seeing more homeowners become landlords.
“We’re seeing houses that may have not been on the market before, maybe the owners are saying, ‘Look, we’ve incurred a great deal of expense getting a house back up and we need to see a return on the profit, so let’s see if we can rent it out,'” Van Sciver explained.
Still Van Sciver insists it will take years until Ocean County has the rental inventory it once had before Sandy hit. In Cape May County, vacationers are booking their rentals even earlier this year. Many made their reservations during last summer’s vacation.
“Through our contacts with the realtors, they are 20 to 25 percent ahead of last year and they’re saying the inventory is shrinking, and if you want a good spot close to the beach, now’s the time. At least 20 to 25 percent ahead of this time last year,” said Cape May County Director of Tourism Diane Wieland.
Wieland says this winter’s wicked weather is driving folks to the shore.
In Monmouth County, Broker Alice Farr-Leonard agrees all the snow is making the sandy shores that much more appealing.
“We don’t see a whole lot of weekly rentals but I see that market starting to spike because people have had it. As near as Marlboro and Freehold area, we’re getting people coming to the beach just to get away,” Farr-Leonard said.
A strong summer rental season isn’t just good news for realtors, it’s good news for businesses, like Andi’s Boutique in Bay Head, which depends on tourists throughout the summer.
“I think it’s a great sign to think all the houses will be rented that maybe, weren’t last year, there’s more availability and that means for the businesses more people are around,” said Andi’s Boutique owner Andi Dalton.
Business owners and realtors hope today’s sunny skies and warm temperatures continue to boost summer rentals from folks ready to trade in the snow and shovels for a lounge chair on the beach.