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Market Still Showing Strength

Contact: Elizabeth Weedon
Phone: (888) 281-8660

Wellesley, March 16, 2004 -- Spring is in the air, and vacationers know that summer isn’t far behind. The website company, an innovative search site that advertises vacation rental homes on Cape Cod and the Islands and allows vacationers to book directly with the owners, has conducted their next 2004 season study. (For the initial 2004 study, please visit or contact Jeff Talmadge.) Jeff and Joan Talmadge, the owners of the website, compared searches conducted during February of 2004 with those conducted in January of 2004 and with those conducted in February of 2002 and 2003. Additional details are available upon request.


Searches for the LowerCape and Mid-Cape remain on top, capturing 24% and 23% of the searches respectively for the second month in a row. This is an 11% increase in same-month searches over last year for the Lower Cape and a 3% increase in same-month searches for Mid-Cape. The LowerCape and Mid-Cape are poised to dominate the vacationers’ interest for the 2004 season.

The Outer Cape continues to hold its increased number of searches, coming in third place with 17% of the searches again this month, compared to 8% in 2002 and 12% in 2003. On the other hand, searches for the Islands continue to be much lower than in previous years. Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket captured only 11% and 9% of the searches respectively in February (compared to 10% and 8% in January). Compare this to same-month searches in 2002 and 2003, which were 19% and 16% for Martha’s Vineyard and 15% and 14% for Nantucket.

The most popular destinations for this season are currently Orleans, Chatham, and Brewster. Orleans and Chatham captured 11% and 9% of the searches for the second month in a row, while Brewster searches climbed slightly from 8% in January 2004 to 9% in February.

How Much?

We split the market into four price bands: Modest (less than $1000), below-average ($1000 to $2000), average ($2000 to $3000), and expensive (above $3000). Two short years ago, as Table 1 shows, 50% of vacationers were searching for rentals on the Islands priced above $2000. Now, 67% of vacationers are searching for homes in that range, which is a 17% increase in two years. The trend is nearly as large for vacationers searching for rentals on Cape Cod. In February of 2002, 45% were searching for rentals priced above $2000, compared to 58% in 2004, which is a 13% increase in two years. Demand for modest and below-average rentals has consistently dropped over the past few seasons, while demand for average and expensive rentals has consistently risen, indicating a certain confidence in the economy.

Cape Cod
The Islands

Table 1

The average rental price on the Cape and Islands as of the end of February was $2,307. As more than half of vacationers are searching for homes priced over $2000, it appears that vacationers have a realistic expectation of price.

Homeowners who changed their rental rates in February raised rates by an average of 5% over last year. This is slightly lower than the 7% rate hikes seen in January, but still quite an optimistic adjustment.

Looking at properties that advertised on the website both in 2003 and 2004, the study found that the rental rates on Cape Cod increased by an average of 7% over last year in both January and February. Many homeowners on Cape Cod may have noticed an increased demand for their properties and are feeling comfortable with relatively large rate increases.

On the Islands, property rates increased by an average of only 3% over last year, however, which is down from 5% in January. Perhaps many homeowners on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket have noticed a decreased demand for their properties this season and have decided to keep increases modest.

The average cost of a Nantucket rental this season is $3,760, while a Martha’s Vineyard rental averages $2,751. The cost of a rental on Cape Cod averages only $2,129. A vacationer will pay an average of 77% more to rent on Nantucket or 30% more to rent on Martha’s Vineyard versus the Cape.

How Long?

The overwhelming majority of vacationers, 83% or 5 out of 6, are looking to rent for one week this season. This number continues to increase slightly, capturing 80% in 2002 and 82% in 2003. The next largest group, 12%, is looking to rent for two weeks. This number continues to decrease slightly, capturing 15% in 2002 and 14% in 2003. Only 2% of vacationers are searching for more than two weeks, down from 4% in 2002 and 3.5% in 2003. This indicates a shift toward shorter vacations over the past few seasons.

How Large?

Searches for two and three bedroom rentals continue to lead this season, capturing 32% and 28% of the searches. One and four bedroom searches each capture 16%, while searches for rentals with more than four bedrooms capture the remaining 9%.


As in seasons past, the overwhelming majority of searches conducted in February of this year (99.8%) are for the weeks between the end of June and the beginning of September, corresponding with summer breaks for most schools. The searches rise steadily for the first seven weeks in the season to a peak in early- to mid-August then fall off quickly for the last three weeks. The peak is slightly later this season than the last two seasons, perhaps indicating that vacationers are planning their vacations earlier than in recent years.


About WeNeedaVacation: Since 1997, WeNeedaVacation has been providing an efficient and inexpensive way of matching vacationers and vacation rental homeowners. The website lists nearly 4,000 properties on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket. The WeNeedaVacation Vacation Planner also offers extensive information to the 175,000+ vacationers who use our site yearly, including information about beaches, events, dining, activities, and shopping. Our amazing staff provides unparalleled guidance to our Cape & Islands vacation rental homeowners. Many of our staff are vacation rental owners themselves, and all work hard to promote this special place. We proudly belong to 17 local Chambers of Commerce.

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Phone: (888) 281-8660