PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Jersey shore is the place to be this summer. With coronavirus restrictions slowly being lifted, more and more people are making plans to put their toes in the sand in a few months.
And that’s driving up demand for rental homes with Memorial Day weekend only one month away.
Tourism officials say the number of people looking for vacation rentals this summer is surging due to pent-up demand from the pandemic.
For some, it hasn’t been easy to rent a piece of summer here.
The Cohan family says they looked for several months for a rental property down the shore before settling on one in Margate.
“We really did want something that was going to be in reasonable walking distance to the beach,” Mindy Cohan said.
Tourism officials are now seeing a growing wave of those wanting summer vacation rentals.
“From all indications, people are ready to get outside and vacation,” said Ben Rose with the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Authority.
But with the housing market still hot in areas like Margate, Ventnor and Longport, some homeowners have sold their rental properties.
“So now, we’re dealing with less rentals than we had in the past,” said Sean Tannehill with Mark Arbeit and Co. “It’s a total double whammy. And we’re actually getting a lot of calls from the West Coast, from California, from people where the restrictions are still tight and they’re just trying to find a way to escape and have some normalcy this summer.”
That might explain why booking websites like Airbnb are seeing a boom in traffic for the Jersey Shore.
“Cape May is actually a top trending destination across the entire site,” said Sam Randall with Airbnb.
Vrbo says 90% of vacation homes on its site in parts of the Jersey Shore have already been booked for July. All that demand is adding pressure to management companies like Ocean Beach Rental.
“This is my 20th year doing it and it’s out of control. You would think this would be the last summer there would be beach rentals,” said Jeffrey Serio.
Do people still have time to book summer rentals?
“All sold out. So now, it’s based on somebody canceling. So there will be more that will come up, but it will be very few,” Serio said.
Hotels like the Sea Crest Inn in Cape May are also preparing for a busy summer.
“Book sooner than later if they want a good location,” Sea Crest Inn General Manager John Cooke said.
Cooke says last weekend was nearly booked solid for the area’s jazz festival. Rooms for the summer are booking fast too.