Pulse: Style: Leisure: CBS 3: On Your Side: Beach or Bust!

Am I too late to rent a house at the Shore this summer? When you show up late to the beach, you may not get the best spot—but there’s always plenty of sand. The same goes for beach rentals. CBS 3 On Your Side consumer reporter Jim Donovan offers inside advice for finding a Shore house late in the season.

1. When
The prime rental period at the Shore is July 4th through the middle of August, with the majority of larger homes pre-rented before January. Realtors agree, however, that there are always homes available throughout the season—although you may have to be flexible with your dates and destination.

2. What
For many families, bigger is better, so homes that accommodate large groups book up fast. So do oceanfront properties, and places with parking, close beach access, pools and central air. Remember: Your lease should state what items will be included in the home, from pots and pans to beach tags, so nothing is left to chance. If your group is large, you may want to consider splitting up into two or more homes, since you might not be able to find a single house to accommodate you; realtors agree that smaller units often book late in the season. Most realtors specialize in specific regions of the Shore, so target your search geographically, and visit realty websites before picking up the phone.

3. How Much
Realtors say most rental rates are based on past bookings, so your ability to negotiate is limited. You may be able to strike a deal by booking outside of peak season, but don’t expect much of a break; most homeowners would rather use the property themselves than rent it at a rock-bottom price. A 50 percent deposit and 10 percent security deposit are the norm.

Have a question for Jim Donovan?
E-mail him at donovan@kyw.com.