Another great reason to visit the Jersey Shore: Niagara Falls!

My family and I decided to take another vacation this summer.  It’s our 10 year wedding anniversary this summer and the summer also marks my dad’s 70th birthday.  So we planned a vacation and wanted to go somewhere special with the entire family.  We decided to go to Niagara Falls and stayed on the Canadian side.  It was perfect since it was within driving distance and seemed like a fun place.  So now that we’re back in the states, I have to say it was an awesome vacation.  I would not be reporting the truth if I said otherwise.  The big problem with this place was the cost!  It’s level of awesomeness was way less than the cost.  The cost was just unbearable.  Both places are beautiful, but you could have the same amount of fun at the Jersey Shore for a fraction of the cost.

These people will gouge you and nickel and dime you to death for every cent they can get out of you.  The average burger and fries at a non-fast food type of place was about $18.  Add on a 13% tax on top and your close to $20 for a burger and fries.   Now here’s where it gets interesting.  They actually have a voluntary 3% tourism tax that gets tacked onto every bill.  Yes you read that right, a voluntary 3% tax on top of the already ridiculous 13%.  Although this tax is voluntary, they sneak it onto your bill and don’t tell you about it.  How shady are these people?  I’ve successfully had it removed from my bill every time I asked.

How does $25 per night to park at the hotel sound?  $10 per night for a small refrigerator in my room, $7.50 for an iced coffee at Starbucks and much more price gouging.  Oh, and a 13% tax on top of all of that.

My advice is to stick to the Jersey Shore for a great vacation.  Although Niagara is a great place, the enjoyment you will get does not justify the cost.  If you want to see the falls, there are about a million pictures and videos floating around the web.  You could google image search it or youtube it and save a fortune.

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Jersey Shore Water Temperature is amazing!!!

I’ve been going to the Jersey Shore for the same week for about 10-12 years now and the water temperature has never been this warm (at least as far as my memory can tell).  Normally the lifeguards know the water temperature.  I noticed this morning it was a little warmer than normal so I asked the life guard if he knew.  He said it was in the 70’s.  I was quite shocked.  Its almost never that warm in the first or second week of June.

So, if you’re on your way to the shore, expect some ideal water temperatures!!  It doesn’t get any better than this!

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Jersey Shore traffic up this year?

Our website is doing fantastic!  Advertisers of property rentals on our site should be doing well.  I just finished reviewing some of the analytical data for the site and the number of visitors to this site is up by about 22% compared to this exact same time period last year.  This is great news.  Unfortunately, I cannot share any more specific information for strategic reasons (If I shared more information, others would try to copy the strategy, especially non legitimate sites).

I assume the nice increase is due to one of the following reasons:

  1. There are more people seeking Jersey Shore Rentals this season.
  2. The site itself is actually doing better.  For example, more people are using this site as their source for properties.

Whatever the reason, this is great news for property advertisers using our site.  I personally think both of the above reasons contribute to the increase.  I think as the economy comes out of recession, more people will be seeking vacations.  I also have put some more time into the promotion of the site which also factors into the equation.

We’ve had a really impressive spring on the East Coast this year.  Hopefully the summer of 2012 is just as enjoyable as the spring has been.  Good luck to all of the owners and managers on your properties this renal season!

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Can you afford a Jersey Shore Vacation Home?

With prices of real estate being very attractive lately, many people are considering the purchase of a Jersey Shore Vacation home.  A lot of people plan to rent the property out to help pay for some of the ownership costs.  But, the big question is, even with renting it out is: Can you afford it?  Hopefully this article will help you figure out some of the costs involved with vacation property ownership.

We need to accurately estimate any new costs that you will incur as a result of this purchase and we need to estimate any income that you will receive.  The difference between these two is how much you will need to spend out of your pocket on a monthly basis to afford the shore property.

Let’s analyze the costs first:

  • Mortgage payment which includes taxes, interest, property insurance, and mortgage insurance if applicable.
  • Any condo or association fees tied to the property.  You can also expect these to rise on almost a yearly basis.
  • Utilities that are not included in the association fees.
  • Repairs and maintenance, if you’re handy this will be a lot less than if you pay someone else to do the work.  Some people will use about %10-%15 of rents collected as an estimate
  • Management fees, this is necessary if you plan to use an agent and not take the rent by owner approach.  You can call an agent to get the details on pricing for this option.
  • Travel expenses, if you are managing the property yourself, this can add up with today’s cost of gas.  Don’t forget to include tolls in your estimates since Jersey is the toll booth capital of the world.
  • Cleaning crews, this is needed if you plan to have the place cleaned between rentals.  You can also do this yourself.

The only incoming funds are really the rents coming in.  This can be very hard to predict as rental trends vary from year to year.  Look at this website and other vacation rental websites and check the availability calendars of properties that are similar to what you are purchasing.  If you find calendars that are updated regularly, this could give you a good idea.  You can also talk to an agent about vacancy rates for the type of property that you are looking into.

I always like to lean to the conservative side financially.  There are many accounting deductions such as depreciation, repairs, and mortgage interest that you will be able to deduct from your rents before you pay taxes, but I don’t include these in my analysis.  Why you ask?  Just to be on the safe side.  Also expect to pay income tax on the rental income.

Once you know the costs and the possible funds coming in via rentals, then you can calculate your estimate of monthly costs.  If you think you can afford the difference, go for it!  You only live life once and there is a great feeling about owning your own vacation house.

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Jersey Shore Rentals Peak Season is almost here!

The summer is almost here.  The weather has been great lately in the Philadelphia and Jersey Shore areas.  Do you have your summer rentals booked yet?  We have ours.  I’ve been going to the Stone Harbor/Avalon area every summer for about 10 years now.  My wife has been going every year for almost her entire life.  I very highly recommend this area!

Many of the desirable rentals are already booked for the summer.  If you procrastinated, there still may be hope.  Your first step should be to check our Jersey Shore Rentals website for a place you might like.  If everything you like is booked, there are still some options.  Some of the local real estate agents are your best bets.  You may also want to try looking at a location that has a larger amount of properties for rent.  For example, rentals are more plentiful in Ocean City and Wildwood than they are in Stone Harbor or Avalon.  If you can’t find a place in Stone Harbor, try Ocean City.  It still has the “Shore Atmosphere”, but there are many more available properties.  Check into some of the following websites:

Berger Realty – They have a lot of Ocean City Rentals.

Cabrera Realty – A great selection of rentals in Wildwood area.

OceanSide Realty –  They seem to have a nice selection in the LBI area.

If you have no luck on the websites, try calling some of these agents. Many times they get cancellations and the websites just aren’t up to date.  Adjusting your selection criteria may also be helpful.  For example, if you have 10 people (5 couples for example) in your group you would look for a 5 bedroom place.  You could get creative and maybe find a 3 bedroom and a 2 bedroom place within a block of each other. If you don’t mind driving to the beach everyday, you could think about a place that is a little further away, which can also save you some serious money.  Reducing your amenity requirements is also another possibility.  For example, do you really need WI-FI while on vacation?  Stop logging into work while at the shore, its vacation.

If you didn’t book your rental yet, all hope is not lost.  You still have some options.  Some of our suggestions may be the answer you are looking for.  Hopefully you and your family find the perfect place and have a great Summer Getaway!

 

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Atlantic City St. Patrick’s Day Parade

I was in Atlantic City over the weekend, and I didn’t realize it at first, but it was the day of the St. Patrick’s Day parade.  This was an opportunity that I’m glad we were given.  Normally I wouldn’t think much about stopping to watch a parade, but this was an exception.  This was a really cool event.  I would recommend anyone visiting Atlantic City or a nearby Jersey Shore town in subsequent years to attend this event if possible.  I believe this year was the 27th consecutive occurrence.

All the spectators were  dressed in green with all kinds of cool looking green shirts and hats.  One of the local businesses was actually selling beer right on the boardwalk and people were walking around with bottles.  I always thought it was illegal to drink on the boardwalk, but I guess during this time, they turn their backs (which I have no problem with).  Many people had coolers filled with beer.  I actually think they should always allow people to drink on the boardwalk (and only on the boardwalk) kind of like the strip in Vegas.

Since I was there I took some video footage to share with you.  These videos are also posted to the site’s YouTube channel.

I suggest checking the parade’s website for information about subsequent years.  If you are in town while it is happening, it is worth a visit.

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How to create the perfect ad for your Jersey Shore Rental Property!

You finally decided to start renting out your Jersey Shore vacation property.  Seems to be an easy task, but some of the best homes will not rent out if the advertisement does not convince renters to inquire about your property.  As the owner of several vacation rental websites I get the opportunity to see which properties get good traffic and inquiries and which ones don’t.  Follows are what I feel are the most important parts of your vacation rental listing.

The title – This has to be one of the most important things to consider.  When a renter clicks on a city to view the properties in that city, the title is the headline that is seen.  Remember that old saying about first impressions?  Well this is one of your first impressions to the renter.  A poorly written title could mean a not so great property.  Try to key on some of the best features of the property in the title.  If space allows, it may even be a great idea to include the name of the town.

Example of title in search results

 

Pictures – In today’s world, it is so easy to place a picture of your property on the web.  The more the better, but if you are not tech savvy, get at least one picture up there (let me know, I will personally help you).  I would have to think that most renters just breeze by all the listings without photos.

Description – This is another one where I see a lot of rental managers and owners making big mistakes.  They copy and paste the description from one rental website to the next.  If you are doing this, it is advised that you stop.  First of all, you could be breaking copyright laws.  In your agreements with some rental websites (in the fine print) you agreed not to do this and gave them the copyright to your description.  Secondly, there are two prime ways to get traffic to your rental listing page.  The first is someone clicking on the city and selecting your property from the results and the second way is search engines.  Someone could possibly find your rental page via a search engine.  If you use the same title and description on every site you use, then some of this content may not get indexed.  Therefore, it is best to write a unique description for each site where you list your rental.

Amenities – Most websites allow you to select available amenities.  Make sure you select as many as are applicable to your property.  Some websites allow the vacationers to search based upon the amenities.  It wouldn’t be nice if a renter searched for properties with a hot tub, your place has a hot tub, and your property was not in the results because you missed a check box.

Contact Information – If possible leave a cell number and not your home phone.  By the time you get the message (if they even leave a message) and return the call, that renter has already spoken to ten other owners.

Any other information you think could make it/break it for a renter – The more information the renter has about your property, the better.  Imagine if you didn’t allow pets.  Now think of all the inquiries you receive from people requesting pets.  If this was included in your advertisement, you could have avoided all of these “Waste of time” calls.  Worse yet, imagine the person who forgets to ask and shows up on vacation day with his/her pet at your property.  This could have been prevented.

This is not a complete list, but I think this covers some of the most important components of the vacation rental advertisement.  Follow these ideas and you’ll be on your way to writing the best ads.

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Time to start planning for Summer 2012

It’s that time of the year.  Time to start planning your Jersey Shore vacation for the summer of 2012.  Every year when my family gets together for the holiday, we plan our summer shore trip.  We’ve been doing this for many years now.

We have four different families that go and we usually rent a larger home in the Avalon or Stone Harbor area.  One family does all of the paperwork including searching for the rental and making the booking.  We alternate every year.  So every four years, we do the searching, booking, etc.

The family who is responsible this year needs to pick about 5-10 candidate properties.  At Christmas dinner we will talk about them and by New Years we will pick one.  This needs to be done early this year and every year.  Many of the best rentals get filled very quickly.  Some of them are already booked.

My advise is: If you want to get a great Jersey Shore rental house this year, then start your search now!

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Next set of videos from my bike tour!

Better late then never.  I’m finally getting around to posting some more of the videos from the bike tour of Cape May County that I took back in June.  Sorry for the delay, but I have a pretty tight schedule (I run this website plus others, have a day job, am  a graduate student, own rental properties, and have a wife and daughter.)  Since I stayed in Avalon, my video set starts there.  This post picks up from there.

After leaving Avalon, I arrived in Stone Harbor which is still on the same island as Avalon Mile Island).  The atmosphere in Stone Harbor is very similar to that of Avalon.  It’s a really nice quiet town with a huge, clean beach!  Just to give you an idea of how beautiful Stone Harbor is, I shot a quick video from the southern end of the town near the bridge that leads to North Wildwood.

Before I left 7 Mile Island, I realized there is a small public fishing area on the bay in Stone Harbor, I shot a quick video from there just to give you an idea of what it looks like.  If my memory serves me correctly, I believe this to be near 114th street and 3rd Ave.

Riding over the bridges was very windy.  You need to cross over two bridges to get from Stone Harbor into North Wildwood.  One of the bridges is a toll bridge, but they allowed me to pass via bike for free.  Once in North Wildwood, I decided to ride down towards the seawall to catch a great view of the beach and ocean.  What a pleasure it was!  You can actually see Stone Harbor by looking over the inlet.

Hopefully, you will enjoy these videos as much as I have enjoyed making them.  I am planning one more follow up post to talk about the remaining videos.  I will do my best to post as soon as possible, but sometimes work and family takes up more time than one would expect.

 

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First set of videos from my Avalon trip!

I’ve uploaded the first set of videos from my Avalon trip to the NewJerseyShoreVacationRentals.com YouTube channel.  They are a must view for anyone who is planning a possible trip to Avalon.  They will give you a general idea of what the Avalon beach and boardwalk looks like before you go.  You will not be disappointed.  It is very peaceful and clean.  Avalon does have a boardwalk, but it is not very commercial like some of the others (Wildwood, Ocean City, Atlantic City), although there is a shop or two, an arcade, and a restaurant or two.

Watching these videos will show you what a beautiful place the Avalon beach is.

The following videos will give you a great feel for the boardwalk in Avalon.  Although this was filmed early in the morning, the relaxation level is the same all day long.  There’s no partying or loudness here at all, only peacefulness!  It is quiet compared to the other Jersey Shore boardwalks.

These videos were actually recorded the day before my bike ride.  Since I stayed in Avalon, I didn’t need to go far to record.  Hopefully they will provide you with a good representation of how a vacation in Avalon will feel.

 

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