Significant up-tick in seasonal rentals in January

Cape vacation bookings see an upswing, signed leases up 18% to 21%
A positive sign that the recession on Cape Cod may be ending

By Walter Brooks

T he long summer of our discontent may be ending if the figures for signed leases at American Heritage Realty of South Orleans is any indication.

"Year-to-date our signed lease are up 18% over 2009."
                    
-Tom Cronin.
"The increased January bookings rate certainly indicates a stronger rental season than last year's."

                    - Jeff Talmadge.

From January 1, 2010 to February 12, 2010 AHR President Tom Cronin reports a solid 18 percent increase over the same period in 2009.

While not quite up to  the 2008 numbers, which were the highest on record, it is a good sign that the Cape is in for a good summer.

While motels, hotels and B & Bs are what is usually thought of when predicting future seasonal business, it's useful to remember that families which rent or lease homes for the summer are a steadier revenue stream.

Resorts and online newspapers

As we collected the reports from these businesses, it occurred to us that our own web portals might confirm or deny the good news.

Happily it's the former with the web traffic for this news site up 26 percent in January 2010 vs. January 2009.

It's a similar story with Best Read Guide, Weddings on Cape Cod and Gay Wedding on Cape Cod.

Tony Guthrie of the Wequessett reports that both their group and catering sales "are up significantly over 2009", but that it's still to early to judge the leisure portion (summer vacationers) of the resort's business.

A Web-based booking site also reported early signs of a recovery in the summer rental market on Cape Cod.

WeNeedaVacation.com founder Jeff Talmadge said that January bookings for the 2010 season were up 17 percent on Cape Cod over the same month last year. However, the January 2009 booking rate was down 35 percent from January 2008, so the most recent web bookings have not recovered to their pre-recession levels.

So say the chambers of commerce

A check with Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce C.E.O. Wendy Norcross brought a similar response, and Dennis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Spyro Mitrikostas, echoed her remarks but cautioned that a better barometer will be a three-month trend.

MS Norcross said, "Web traffic was up 9.8% in January 2010 vs January 2009... The phone has been ringing steadily here and we have had 1,262 searches on our online booking tool in January and nearly 600 already in February."

Jeff Talmadge added, "Despite continued high unemployment and economic uncertainty, folks are already booking more vacations than they did at this time last year. Although this is encouraging to rental homeowners, they remain cautious as is indicated by a virtual lack of price increases across the board."

He went on, "Nantucket owners, whose bookings last year fell a dismal 14%, are even lowering their prices in hopes of reducing vacancies this year. While it is possible that the more competitive pricing throughout the region could be luring vacationers, it is our belief that there are other, more effective factors at work."

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