Rental vacancies soar in Cape Cod

Occupancy rate down 20% from previous tourist season

Rental Vacancies Soar in Cape Cod
Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors' Ryan Castle (Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors, Getty)

Cape Cod is often touted as one of the premier summer destinations in the Northeast. Rental landlords don’t want to hear that these days.

Rental vacancies have surged at the popular Massachusetts tourist destination this season, the Boston Globe reported. There’s no clear cause of the downturn in the short-term rental market, but theories abound the cape.

Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors reported that occupancy was down 20 percent from last year to this year. Its chief executive officer, Ryan Castle, pointed to falling demand as a reason, from the decline in “revenge” travel to the opening up of more international destinations in a post-pandemic world.

Listings may also be pricing out renters. It’s already rather expensive to camp out on Cape Cod for an extended period of time and daily average rates hit $525 last summer. This summer, however, the average exploded even further, up to $619 for an average daily rate.

Some are pointing to a supply-and-demand issue. Paul Niedzwiecki, head of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, said advance hotel bookings haven’t waned the way rental occupancy has this summer. The number of registered short-term rentals has jumped by nearly 4,000 from two years ago, however, though part of that may have to do with increased property registration compliance.

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Other theories range from awful traffic to unreasonable demands made by Airbnb hosts. The community is taking a reputational hit in the eyes of some as being over-expensive and failing to cater to those of a lower income.

Landlords’ losses are renters’ gains, though. With too much supply flooding the market, demand has slowed, meaning visitors to the wealthy enclave may be able to score deals, which could make up for the pricey lobster rolls. Some rental owners have even dropped prices by as much as 25 percent or made the duration of stay requirements less onerous.

Holden Walter-Warner

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