Don’t despair if you’ve left late to rent a vacation home, even in popular summer resort areas that typically require people to make arrangements months in advance and have been especially crowded during the pandemic.
In the Northeast, bookings at destinations like Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in Massachusetts have fallen sharply this summer compared to 2022, giving vacationers more properties to choose from. In May, demand was down 19% from last year, according to WeNeedaVacation, a vacation rental site that focuses on the region. Vacation rental bookings for Martha’s Vineyard for the summer season were down 13.6% compared to the same period in 2022.
For landlords looking to rent out their places, the market is more complicated.
“We advise homeowners to monitor their own demand and price accordingly, and not base their prices solely on the pandemic years, which were unprecedented in our industry,” Samantha Williams, director of client services, told CBS MoneyWatch. by WeNeedaVacation. “As the world has opened up, vacationers are likely to have more choice and can afford to be more cost conscious.”
The decline in demand for vacation homes in the US is due in part to Americans feeling more comfortable going abroad than when pandemic restrictions made international travel burdensome and potentially risky.
“Many markets experienced abnormal increases in occupancy or average daily rates during the pandemic, when people couldn’t fly or weren’t as comfortable getting on a plane, or wanted a vacation home instead of a hotel. Now we’re getting back to normal,” said Josh Viner, regional director for Vacasa, a platform that manages 42,000 vacation rentals across North America and in places like Belize and Costa Rica. “This year it’s not doom and gloom, it’s really getting back to the way it was in 2019.”
As a result, some homeowners who want to rent out their homes are.
“People are also recognizing that their prices from a few years ago might have been a little high, so they’re adjusting prices downward to find returning guests,” Viner said.
“Let’s travel again”
This dynamic is evident in The Hamptons on Long Island, an ever-popular summer destination for New York City’s wealthiest residents.
“We started the season very slow,” Mala Sanders, a Corcoran real estate agent, told CBS MoneyWatch. “What happened was that the people who had houses here decided, ‘Let’s travel again,'” she said.
That resulted in more vacation homes on the market. Misty Belles of luxury travel consultancy Virtuoso said domestic travel among the company’s clients is down 12% this year compared to last summer as more Americans travel abroad.
“During the pandemic, domestic travel was very, very high, and then as things have opened up, we’ve seen people who would normally have left for their summer travel go back into those patterns,” he said.
How to find a deal
If you’re looking for a place, don’t wait for deals on the best properties on the beach. But for renters willing to be flexible, here are some tips for finding a last-minute vacation rental. The relatively soft rental market makes reserving a home for a week or two without spending too much a reality for more families.
Be flexible. Renters with flexible criteria can probably negotiate up to 15% off a vacation rental this season.
“I think there’s a little bit of leeway. If a renter is open to the location and configuration of a home, they can probably get a good home for a decent price,” Sanders said.
Holidays during the week. Like hotels, rental companies rely on dynamic pricing models to adjust nightly rates based on demand. To save money and avoid paying high prices for weekend stays, consider booking a rental Monday through Friday or Sunday through Thursday.
“That’s something that people often overlook when they think about going somewhere a week,” Viner said of Vacasa.
Also keep in mind high-interest events, like a Taylor Swift concert, taking place in a certain destination that could increase prices and book a different time.
Go somewhere warm. Higher temperatures can mean lower prices in places like Virginia Beach, Virginia; Orlando, Florida; the Big Island or Kauai in Hawaii; parts of southern California; and parts of Florida, according to Viner.
“For people who are comfortable with some of those high temperatures, there are some very good deals out there,” he said.
Bring your walking shoes. If you crave a beach vacation but are willing to stay a bit inland, you’ll have more options, too.
“You can save money if you’re willing to stay across the road or within walking distance. A five-minute walk can save you a lot of money,” Viner said.