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Island rentals for coming season are moving fast


Anyone looking for a seasonal rental on the barrier island – especially for the months of February and March – is facing a challenge this year.

The ongoing “discovery” of 32963 by affluent retirees, travelers and investors in the U.S. and abroad promises to make this winter the busiest in Vero’s history, and rental agents from one end of the island to the other say they are already fully booked for the heart of the season, or nearly so.

“Our office has been much busier this year than last year at this time,” says Dale Sorensen Real Estate rental manager Angela Waldrop, who oversees a portfolio of 42 seasonal rental properties that command fees ranging from $3,000 to $30,000 per month.

“The 2016 season promises to have Vero abuzz with people that share our love of this irresistible town. Rentals that were available in 2015 for 2016 were booked before the close of last season. Properties available at the present time are listings that have just materialized as investors closed on properties, or landlords who may have been hesitant previously have joined the rental market.”

“It is going to be a great season,” says Allie McGraw, who manages approximately 100 rental properties at The Moorings Yacht and Country Club and already has a waiting list of people hoping to find a condo or house in which to enjoy Vero’s island lifestyle this winter. “Between the economy getting stronger and weather getting worse up north, it is a mass exodus and Vero has become a real hot spot.

“We are way beyond our rate of rentals from last year. We were actually 75 percent booked by the end of last season, and as summer went on we got more and more booked,” McGraw says. “At this point we are close to 100 percent full [for February and March]. The few [properties] I still have are those new to our inventory in the past few weeks.”

John’s Island Real Estate owner/broker Bob Gibb reports a similar flurry of activity in John’s Island, where there are approximately 110 single family homes, condos and cottages for rent.

“There is tremendous demand,” says Gibb, who has added personnel in his rental department and installed new software to deal with the upsurge in interest.  “Rental activity is at an all-time high for us. It has taken on a whole other dynamic.”

People looking for a place in John’s Island need a club sponsor in order to rent and can only rent twice. Gibb says rentals at the island’s signature country club community are mainly a way for friends and relatives of members to check out the lifestyle to see if they want to purchase a home.

Sotheby’s Treasure Coast Broker Michael Thorpe says he is seeing the same level of rental activity island-wide as prevails in the club communities.

“We have more inquires than we can handle,” Thorpe says. “Anything we get is leased immediately and prices are high.”

“We have been extremely busy working with clients for the 2016 season,” says Talle Genoni, who manages Sotheby’s portfolio of more than 50 homes, which she says rent for $3,500 to $45,000 per month. “I am receiving at least five phone calls a day from clients who are looking to secure properties for the upcoming season.”

Another measure of how booked up the island is for season: As of last weekend, Airbnb listed a grand total of one February/March family rental on the barrier island, a 3-bedroom south beach home offered for $8,000 per month.

Renters in John’s Island, The Moorings and other clubs often end up buying homes in those communities, and Genoni believes the level of rental activity she is seeing will mean a similar boost to home sales island-wide during the season.

“Many of my past seasonal clients have purchased properties in Vero Beach, so I would say we should expect a lot of activity in the sales market during the 2016 season.  I also feel that since buyers realize how lucrative the rental market is on the barrier island, many clients seem to be purchasing properties strictly as investment properties.”

Investment properties are a large part of the rental pool at The Moorings, according to McGraw, with the balance made up of homes purchased by people who are not quite ready to retire and who offer their properties for rent to offset costs until they are ready to make the move to Vero.

In John’s Island, investment properties are rare. Gibb says most of the houses and condos offered for rent belong to members “who are not using the home and want to belay some of their costs.”

Island agents say people who want to rent in Vero in the coming season should not despair. New properties come on the market each week and those on waiting lists or who act quickly end up with a set of keys. Also, agents say there is still good availability in January and April in most communities.

“I have people calling me asking if there are any rentals left for February and March in Vero Beach,” says Moorings broker Marsha Sherry. “I have been trying to get people to move their times to April, which is a beautiful month on the island.”