Oil spill has given local rental market a boost

According to reports from some local real estate management companies, Historic City News reporters have learned that demand for oceanfront vacation rentals is thriving — some up as much as twenty percent over the same period last summer.

Many vacation properties available for rent in St. Augustine and the beaches are condominiums.

Historic City News editor Michael Gold, who is also a state-licensed Community Association Manager said, “While many condominium owners in St. Augustine have been struggling to pay their mortgage and condominium maintenance fees, this upswing in vacation rentals is good news.”

“It’s sad to read some reports that say our boom is being driven by families who had plans to visit the Florida panhandle,” Gold said; referring to the ongoing BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf Coast. “This is a chance for a new market of vacationers to discover St. Augustine as a destination and I’m all for that.”

Short-term rentals are subject to St. Johns County’s “bed tax” — along with other overnight stays such as hotels and bed-and-breakfasts. In May, tax collections were up over 2 percent.

One local rental manager said that she estimated vacation rentals here could have exceeded twenty percent — if she only had more rental units to offer.

Families traveling together on summer vacation may have booked their vacation rental as much as a year in advance. More than a few have been faced with negotiating deposit refunds since the oil spill was announced in late April.

Many in St. Augustine are hoping that visitors who changed plans to come here this year will make it their new tradition. One Realtor pointed out that average condominium rental prices are less expensive here than in other coastal cities.

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