Summer rentals on the rise

FILE PHOTO | If you’re looking for a summer vacation home, there are more available this year than in recen  years, according to brokers and agents.

When Hurricane Sandy spared Shelter Island from the worst of its wrath while walloping the New Jersey coastline and significant parts of Long Island, it forced some who have summered elsewhere to take a look at the Island.

Some have told local realtors that’s what directed them here, while a general increase in business for the summer of 2013 has led other realtors to conclude that Sandy, combined with a slowing recovering economy, are factors in a more vibrant market this year. At the same time, that down economy sparked by the 2008 crash that beat up on many homeowners has motivated more Island owners to try to cash in this summer by renting their second homes.

Angelo Piccozzi at Dering Harbor Real Estate is hearing from people who have summered at the Jersey Shore telling him they’re not even considering it because of the devastation the area suffered.

There are definitely more people with a various range of budgets looking at renting on Shelter Island, agreed Susan Cincotta at Daniel Gale/Sotheby’s.

“People are ready to spend money here,” she said. The lack of availability of former vacation haunts “is helping here,” she said.

Similarly, Penelope Moore at Corcoran has heard a couple of her clients say they were displaced by Sandy and were looking here. She had one family displaced by Sandy living in a motel but have now secured an Island rental.

Broker Melina Wein isn’t sure whether the renters she has placed for this summer were displaced from other venues because of Sandy. But she does think the market on Shelter Island has improved this summer. There does seem to be a trend toward longer rentals when one- to two-week stays were the norm in the past couple of years.

“Rentals have been good — not phenomenal, but good,” Ms. Wein said.

Janalyn Travis-Messer of Griffing & Collins speculates she’s had more people seeking Shelter Island rentals than has been the case in recent years. And this summer, she’s getting more calls for a full summer rental. That wasn’t the case last year when people were hurting more and having to cut back their vacation plans, she said.

Of course, landlords prefer renting for an entire summer season rather than by the week or month, Ms. Moore said. Some who took short term renters last year, fearing they wouldn’t get to rent their houses at all, regretted it, she said.

Weekly or even monthly rentals require more maintenance to turn the property over to a new renter more often, Ms. Moore said.

The good news for potential renters is the greater demand isn’t driving up the price from last year’s standard costs. Perhaps that’s because a lot more people are putting houses up for rent this summer, said Christine Beckwith of Prudential-Douglas Elliman. “The market has definitely picked up this year,” she said.

Depending on who you ask, homeowners are asking anywhere from $2,500 to as much as $15,000 for a week’s rental. But some would put starting prices at more like $3,000 to $5,000 for a week’s rental and others see the top number averaging more like $8,000 to $10,000. Of course, the higher rentals are properties with all the amenities — water view, swimming pool, several bedrooms, lots of living space and considerable property.

But don’t write off Shelter Island if your pocketbook isn’t so deep, Mr. Piccozzi said. You can find a “nice, comfortable house with two bedrooms” in the $2,500 range for a week’s stay, he said. True, it won’t have a water view or a pool, but there are plenty of recreational spots around the Island to keep family members busy, he said.

There’s not a lot of bargaining going on between landlords and tenants, said Paul Mobius of Georgiana B. Ketcham. He’s seeing a three-bedroom inland house go for $11,000 for the entire month of August and even a waterfront house rent for $12,000 for the month of July.

“There’s a huge inventory and prices are all over the place,” he said.

“Landlords are realistic,” Ms. Cincotta said about prices remaining stable this year. She’s seeing an overall improvement in business in both sales and rentals. adding if home sales remain at what they have been in the last quarter, the Shelter Island market will be labeled as stable.

“Everybody’s walking away happy,” Mr. Piccozzi said.