Cheap Summer: Rentals Collapse in Hamptons & Jersey Shore

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Summer 2009 is shaping up as one of the best renter markets the East Coast has seen in a long time (from renters’ perspective). Rents are down as much as 15 percent in some areas of Manhattan, brokers are brokering deals sans fee, and now, word on the street is that the rental markets in both the Hamptons and the Jersey Shore are ripe for deals this summer. Though the prices in the Hamptons are still mostly outrageous ($900,000 for the summer, anyone?), clients who used to lease a house from Memorial Day to Labor Day are now settling for just a month, or—in a phenomenon rarely seen before in the Hamptons—even a mere week or two.

“In the 20 years I’ve been doing this, this is the weakest rental market I’ve seen,” said Jan Robinson, the owner of Hampton Homes, a local brokerage. Ms. Robinson said her rental business was down by 70 percent from last year. Renters are finding that they’re getting double the house for the same prices as 2008, as well as bonuses like extended leases. Over on the shore, prices are down about 15 percent, and the market seems ripe for lowball offers. Joe Mancini, owner of Mancini Realty on Long Beach Island, said that 2009 did not get off to a good start. “We always have a January-February upsurge, but this year it’s been very small,” he said. “Our sales are usually driven by bonuses on Wall Street, and this year they haven’t amounted to much.” The moral of this story? Much like the rest of the travel industry, if you’ve got the money this summer, there are big deals to be had.

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