At least 2 feet of water made it into Annamarie Scarselletti’s condo unit in Margate during Hurricane Sandy. Scarselletti, however, is still counting on a tenant enjoying a classic summer at the shore in a totally refurbished unit.
“It will look beautiful,” Scarselletti said. “It just took a long time.”
The early summer rental market appears to be mixed along the South Jersey shore, with some agents describing it as generally robust while others haven’t seen the influx of North Jersey renters they were expecting. But the season does not appear to be the potential downturn it could have been after Sandy.
“We’re very busy,” said broker Joan Yowell of Weichert Realty in Brigantine. “People are renting up a storm, actually.”
Yowell said she believes Sandy made people even more aware of the shore — and happy that they can still visit.
“I really think people just want to vacation and are still coming down,” she said. “Now, it’s only April, and we’re already running out of buildings.”
Yowell said that in Brigantine, many rentals are for two weeks or a month, though there haven’t been too many full-season rentals.
“I just showed a place on the bay, four bedrooms, that’s $3,000 for the week,” she said. “There’s a townhouse up on the beach that rents for $3,500 a week. Another townhouse on the beach, most of the weeks are booked at $3,750 to $4,750 a week.”
At Keller Williams Oceanside Realty, based in Ocean City and the Wildwoods, broker Paul Chiolo said that it was actually the higher-end rentals that were moving faster than moderately priced rentals. He has also seen a number of North Jerseyans looking to rent as well.
“Our area hasn’t been as damaged as much of the north beach towns, so that’s driving down some clientele,” Chiolo said. “People are starting to think of the Jersey Shore again as a potential purchase, and this is their way of trying things out, to see how the area holds up.”
Chiolo’s colleague Meghan Gallagher said this was the best time of year to get “quick” rentals.
“If you hesitate to book right away, it may not be there the next week ... or day,” Gallagher said.
Meanwhile, broker Dot Smith at Blue Ocean Realty in Wildwood — while characterizing the summer rental scene as “pretty good,” especially for rentals in North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest — said the influx from the north was less than expected.
“I hate to say it, but I think it’s the same as last year,” Smith said. “I thought we’d get more people from the north coming down. ... In my opinion, a lot of people are die-hards for the north and are sticking it out.”
Broker D.J. Gluck, at Soleil Sotheby's International Realty in Margate, said he also has seen fewer northerners than expected.
“My guess is that North Jersey folks always gravitate towards that area,” Gluck said. “And although some of the hard-hit towns aren’t going to have rentals this year, around hard-hit towns you still have areas that will have the majority of their summer rental inventory up and going.”
In Gluck’s opinion, “It’s a little slow,” he said. “Margate and Ventnor and Longport really don’t have a ton of summer rentals. Very few of the houses end up being in the summer rental market.”
Traditionally, he said, summer rentals in Downbeach are usually for the entire summer, for which they range from about $25,000 a season to more than $85,000 for higher-end locations, or monthly “at the very least.”
Scarselletti, of Souderton, Pa., prefers monthly tenants for her first-floor, 1000-square-foot unit on Monroe Avenue, in part because there’s less wear and tear of different people moving in and out.
“I’ve already rented June, to tenants coming back from last year, and I’m looking now for July and August — hopefully, one family for two months,” she said.
Her normal summer tenant already has rented somewhere else, she said, so she posted a listing on several websites, such as Vacation Rentals and Jersey Shore Rentals, which has already drawn an inquiry for September.
“I interview them over the phone, and if we both feel comfortable with each other, we meet,” she said.
Self-listing on websites has become more popular in the past few years, though Scarselletti did contact a Realtor this year.
“I’m kind of scared of not being able to rent the unit in the summer,” she said. “But it’s completely rebuilt, the floor, furniture and all appliances, a new bath, new closets.”
If all goes as planned, her summer tenant — like all summer tenants about to converge on the shore — would never know that the surrounding waters once paid an unwelcome visit.
“Hopefully, it will be ready by mid-May,” Scarselletti said, adding with a laugh, “because that’s when we’re having the furniture delivered.”
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