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Are all the best Cape & Islands rental homes booked? No.

Elizabeth Weedon | 5/24/2022

How is the season looking as we approach Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial beginning of the 2022 vacation rental season? Has the white-hot demand for rentals, inspired by the pandemic, continued like the past two seasons? Are there any good vacation homes still available?

The answer is, yes.


This time last year vacationers were panicking and saying that “There’s nothing left!” Although that was never actually true, many of the most popular summer weeks were indeed booked.

This year, however, thanks in part to an increase in the number of new listings (nearly 100 in the past 4 weeks alone), vacationers have more to choose from than they have for the past 2 years.

Looking at the most popular summer weeks (June 25 – August 27), the current average Availability % per Week is 15% compared to 10% at this time in 2021.

These percentages translate into an average of 472 homes available for each of the prime summer weeks.

Also, homeowners will continue to add more new listings right through the summer as sales close, renovations of newly-bought homes are finally completed, and cancellations occur.

Tips for those who haven’t booked your Cape or Islands vacation home yet

#1. Don’t panic. Especially with some patience and flexibility, you will still be able to find a terrific home that meets your needs as well as your budget.

#2. If you searched months or weeks ago in vain, take a look at our directory of newly listed rentals from this past week. It’s updated every day as new listings are brought online.

#3. Read our Finding the Ideal Vacation Rental for helpful tips on how to find a great rental that fits your budget.

Booking trends

By now, most people are aware of the record-breaking demand from vacationers throughout last fall and well into January. Due to the lower inventory and higher demand of the past two rental seasons, vacationers anxiously booked early.

For the past 3 months, however, our inventory of available homes has increased, and demand has slowed somewhat, although still significantly outpacing pre-pandemic levels.

Who are the new vacation rental home listers?

Contrary to what many think, homes on the Cape and Islands are not getting gobbled up by absentee investors looking to make a buck. Although this is sometimes the case, of course, the pandemic has accelerated the pace of couples and families purchasing second homes to provide a safe, relatively affordable and convenient place to spend time with their friends and family in the near term as well as a future home for their retirement down the road.

Here's a look at 3 different examples of today’s vacation rental homeowner:

1. Just listed on May 13, Jorge R. and his family (kids aged 11-18) purchased their beautiful property ID #35958 in the middle of the pandemic and have worked tirelessly and patiently to complete renovations in time for the 2022 season, despite constant supply and labor delays. “We have tried to keep it clean, creative, and comfortable - with fun, impactful splashes of color. The renovation has been done in a state of joy, and we hope you feel that the moment you pull up onto the shell and stone driveway.”

2. This lovely home, property ID #36085, near Pleasant Bay in E. Harwich is owned by Tom and Wendy M. and listed with us on May 17. Wendy has vacationed on the Cape with her family since she was 5, and she and Tom have rented out the home they bought in 1998 for over 20 years. Now retired, they’ve made the Cape their permanent residence and summer in Maine to make it available to guests for a few months.

3. Like Tom and Wendy, many year-round residents are looking for a way to diminish the impact of inflation and the cost of living on the Cape and Islands. Jeff and Meredith P. have chosen to rent out their beautiful, year-round home in Orleans, property ID #33497, for the first time this summer. Just listed on May 7, they still have some availability during the popular summer weeks.


So far this season, there has been no widespread evidence of the rate decreases we normally see around this time of year as homeowners get panicky about filling any remaining vacancies they have.

We are, however, hearing anecdotally of some homeowners who either may have missed the earlier huge wave of demand for different reasons, or had raised their rates too aggressively, and they are now considering offering discounts. But the availability is often for some of the less popular weeks of the early or late summer.

The lasting impact of the pandemic on short term rentals

Despite improvements in the severity of the pandemic, its impact on short-term rentals on the Cape and Islands continues to be felt this season. The cost of flying has skyrocketed, and there are still lingering concerns about the recent spike in Covid cases nationwide.

Plus, the pandemic converted many vacationers from guests in hotels and inns to the advantages of staying in a rental home, where they can cook their own meals, enjoy time with extended family and friends in safety, and enjoy the privacy of their own deck or yard.

Further enhancing their vacation experience, many of the events that were cancelled over the past two years are returning this season. (View our Events Calendar for regularly updated information about local events.)

Thus, we believe that, this summer, vacationers will continue to enjoy the practical ease of booking a last-minute vacation in a safe, relatively affordable, rural paradise, where they can jump into their car and be here within a few hours.