By STEVEN LEMONGELLO Press of A.C.Staff Writer | Sun, November 21, 2010
As the weather gets colder and the summer visitors pack up and leave, they leave behind hundreds of empty apartments and houses in shore towns — but while the number of “winter renters” has stayed steady, the number of available units has only grown.
“It has changed,” D.J. Gluck, the broker/owner of Soleil Sotheby’s International Realty in Margate, said of the market for winter rentals, “and it’s changed for economic reasons.”
A large number of summer rentals went unrented during the summer season, Gluck said, and now Absecon Island is seeing a “huge” number of winter rentals on the market.
“That’s because there’s more landlords and more new construction of houses that didn’t sell,” Gluck said. “There’s (just) more people willing to do winter rentals.”
“They’re under the gun,” said Ken Marshall, of Grace Realty in Ocean City, about why more owners are willing to rent their properties. “Everybody is.”
Typically, Gluck said, only 20 percent of units on the market as winter rentals actually get rented — “And maybe it’s actually close to 10 percent,” he added.
In all four communities on Absecon Island, Gluck said, there were 502 active rentals as of early November, including year-round, winter rentals and seasonal rentals. He estimates that only about 300 are currently being rented.
There’s also a disparity among the towns. Gluck said that there are 161 rentals in Margate alone, while Jerome DiPentino, of Premier Properties, said that there were fewer than 10 in Longport.
“Winter rentals are also a little tricky,” Gluck said, “because there’s a lot of landlords with very nice, expensive houses, who are very particular about who would move into (their house).”
The ideal, low-occupancy tenant, he said, is a person “who is really going to take care of a place — and they’re challenging to find. … If you run into a good winter rental tenant, you can get a good deal.”
Gluck recently rented out a second home, assessed at about $650,000, to a tenant paying about $900 a month over a seven-month period.
“That’s going to generate more than $6,000, and the landlord was thrilled to offset taxes and homeowner’s insurance. They were very, very concerned about the quality of the tenant.”
Claire Cotney, a broker at Marketplace Realty in Margate, said that there’s always been more inventory than people interested in renting — but the lack of new construction also leads to fewer renters.
“There are not that many people coming in to work this year (on construction projects),” Cotney said. “When there’s new construction, you certainly have a lot more winter renters.”
Other winter renters, said Re/Max broker/owner Linda Novelli, do so because they’re renovating a house and need a place to stay in the meantime.
“Taking a winter rental also gives them the gift of time,” Novelli said. “They can keep it a few years while they look for an apartment or buy a home.”
Marshall, whose company handles many properties in the south end of Ocean City, said availability is down overall.
“I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and when I started there were a lot of winter rentals,” Marshall said. “I even started out living in a winter rental myself. But today, they’re few and far between. It’s a hassle getting renters for the summer when you have a winter tenant sitting there.”
Of course, they’re still a good deal for everyone if it works out. In fact, the offices of Grace Realty have apartments above them, he said, “and one of them has a winter renter.”