It’s Time To Book Your Summer Vacation Rental

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Focused on shoveling your walk and chipping ice off your steps? You might want to think about your summer vacation instead.

CapeCodReports from Cape Cod, Connecticut beaches and Jersey shore realtors are that summer vacation rentals are booking up faster than ever.

Joan Talmadge of WeNeedAVacation.com, an online travel company that specializes in Cape Cod vacation properties, says that all indications suggest a strong rental year.

“Bookings for the entire season on the Cape and Islands are up 12.8 percent over the same time last year,” Talmadge says. “The past few years have shown very strong starts to the season, which traditionally begins in earnest right now.”

Theresa Smith of Leighton Rentals in Cape Cod says that, deposit-wise, her company is up as well — 10 percent compared to where it was last year.

Those higher numbers might be due to an increased interest in the savings vacation home rentals can offer.

On average, the price per square foot for a U.S. hotel room can be more than twice the price per square foot of a vacation rental, according to HomeAway, an online vacation rental company. Add in the savings from eating some meals at home and not paying for such extras as laundry facilities and Wi-Fi and summer vacation rentals get even more attractive, especially if you’re splitting the cost with friends or family.

According to the 2014 Vacation Rentals survey by TripAdvisor.com, 52 percent of U.S. travelers are planning a rental-home stay this year — up eight percent from last year.

All of which adds up to strong competition for available properties.

“With the increased demand for vacation rentals, the best rental properties book quickly during the peak summer months; therefore travelers should plan as soon as possible to secure the best property for their travel needs,” said Brooke Ferencsik, director of communications for TripAdvisor, in a press release. “Travelers love vacation rentals for the at-home experience and amenities that make them ideal for family and group trips, not to mention the potential savings when compared to hotels.”

Summer is the most popular season for vacation rentals. More than 60 percent of those polled are planning stays between June and August — and the majority of them are looking for beach accommodations.

“People started booking last October for summer 2014 and it hasn’t stopped. Some summer weeks are already almost completely filled,” says Mary Ann Gardner of the Landis Co., (www.landisco.com), a New Jersey real estate firm specializing in summer rentals on the Jersey shore. “Our bookings are up 25 percent over last year.”

That pattern is being repeated at Connecticut beaches. The following message is posted at www.NewEngland-Cottages.com, a website featuring beach cottage rentals in Clinton.

“Most of our repeat clients rent the same time slot each year to continue their family tradition. We suggest reserving your time slot as soon as your plans are made. Many of our properties rent up a year in advance.”

If you’re starting your search now, ask friends about places they’ve rented. If you’ve rented somewhere in the past, give the owner a call as soon as possible.

Online sites — including TripAdvisor.com, CyberRentals.com, VRBO.com, WeNeedAVacation.com, AirBnb.com and HomeAway.com — feature vacation listings. You can also find summer rentals in newspaper classified sections and local “shopper” publications like The Yankee Flyer, www.y-flyer.com.

If you are considering renting, experts offer the following tips:

Beware of online vacation rental scams. Most rental websites provide tips on protecting yourself from fraudulent ads and postings. Read them and follow the suggestions. Use a secure form of payment. Never pay via money wire, such as Western Union. When possible, use a credit card, which can provide some consumer protection.

Ask specific questions about the property and get as much information as you can before signing a contract.

Once you’ve chosen a property, the Connecticut BBB advises potential renters to get everything in writing. A contract should contain specifics about the deposit, refunds and rules concerning pets. It should also spell out what is included in the cost of the rental, such as utilities and Internet access. All verbal agreements should be included in the contract.