From the WNAV Office Vacation Rental News

The Vacation Rental Climate

Written by Joan Talmadge
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I did so well the past two years – Why do I still have vacancies? Has the market slowed down? How can I fill my remaining weeks? Questions like these have been flowing in from homeowners who are wondering what’s happening this season. 

The short answer is supply and demand. With inventory rebounding from pandemic declines and less demand compared to 2022, vacationers still have a lot of options for their summer vacation.  

 In terms of bookings, 2021 was the peak, with vaccines starting to rollout during the winter and spring, and many families still limiting travel to local and familiar destinations.  2022 started to show some pullback, and 2023 is likely our “new normal,” stronger than the pre-pandemic years, but still slower than 2020-2022. 

Vacationer Demand 

Vacationer demand currently shows a 30% increase so far in 2023 over 2019, but a -18% decrease over 2022. This is not surprising, given the historic two-fold increase in demand during the heart of the pandemic.  

We have seen a growing trend of vacationers booking their home for next summer as early as the previous fall.  Prior to 2017, we saw a strong surge in inquiries and bookings beginning in January.  In recent years, the bookings are more evenly spread out beginning in September of the prior year.  

This trend toward early bookings underscores the importance of having your listing up all year round so that you can take advantage of the early bird vacationers.   

Current Availability Status

In looking at the inventory of homes currently available for 10 weeks of the summer season, we see that, on average, there is 6-11% more availability compared to the same time last year. Now that the pandemic is over, families are traveling abroad again and taking more vacations during the year.    

Generally, the most popular weeks of the summer are the last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August.  As is often the case, the last week of August shows 49% availability, as demand is always lower for that week due to schools resuming.

Pricing Changes from 2020-2023 

Prices over the past few years have risen at record rates. Instead of the typical 1-3% average increase, 5-10% or more have been observed on average.  Initially, much of the increase could be attributed to the record demand in vacation rentals during the pandemic. 

At the same time, fewer homes were on the rental market, and those that were had very little availability, due in part to owners using their homes more often themselves. Here’s a look at how rental rates for all three Cape and Islands regions have changed over the past three years: 

Tips for Filling Last-Minute Availability 

  • Know your competition and how your home compares. If you are not getting many inquiries, that usually means vacationers are finding comparable homes at a lower rate. 
  • Tier your prices to reflect the relative popularity/demand of some weeks vs. others. 
  • Don’t wait too long to lower your rates if you aren’t getting the bookings you expected. Waiting until the very last minute to do so only lowers your odds of finding renters and increases the need to offer a more drastic discount.  
  • Promote a special offer in an Owner Special. 
  • Purchase a Last-Minute Availability Alert. This feature can only be used to highlight availability within the next 4 weeks. Learn more about both the Owner Special and Alerts. 

About the author

Joan Talmadge

Joan Talmadge - My husband Jeff and I created in 1997, shortly after buying our Cape home. My background includes teaching fifth grade for 8 years and writing and editing educational publications for 15. I get great joy from helping fellow homeowners successfully rent their homes. Jeff and I are proud to have two of our three grown children working for, truly a family-run business. For me, the Cape and Islands are magical all times of the year -- whether it's walking on Nauset Beach, playing golf, or enjoying family and friends. Email Joan