Cape And Islands Renters Are Anxious They'll 'Lose A Season' Due To Pandemic

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Better times: Passengers prepare to board a ferry departing the island of Martha's Vineyard, in Oak Bluffs, Mass., August 2011. (AP)
Better times: Passengers prepare to board a ferry departing the island of Martha's Vineyard, in Oak Bluffs, Mass., August 2011. (AP)

All eyes are on Gov. Charlie Baker and when he will decide to reopen the state for business, but especially so on Cape Cod and the islands, where tourism drives the summer economy.

Among those keeping a close watch are vacation renters and property owners who, as of now, have more questions than answers.

Stephanie Burke is the owner of MV Seacoast Properties, a real estate firm on Martha's Vineyard. She joined WBUR to discuss what's at stake for summer rentals this year on the island.

Listen to the interview or read some highlights below.

Interview Highlights

On summer rental payments coming due

Burke: "This is the time of year where a lot of vacation renters, their second payments are due for their rentals. So they're calling in to find out whether or not there will be a summer here; and of course, we don't have the answer to that. ... And what we are trying to do is reassure renters that if they do, let's say, make their second payments, and they are still planning to come until we know differently, that their money will be refunded if they can't come. And most of our renters — they're holding out."

On the new, heightened need to clean homes between renters

Burke: "So that is something that homeowners are looking at right now. Normally, homes are turned over on the same day. So in July and August, you have rentals that go Saturday to Saturday or Sunday to Sunday, and they are turned over on the same day for someone coming in later. I think that this is going to change; as much as possible. I think homeowners are very conscientious about the fact that if they do keep their house available for rentals, that they must make sure that it's as safe as possible for people who are coming in. So all the protocols that are just being put out now by the CDC in terms of proper cleaning of homes will have to be followed."

On concern for the future

Burke: "There is a concern across the board for real estate companies. You know, we just don't know what this is going to bring. I think our business will rebound once we get through this pandemic and things settle down, and once there's a vaccine and people can start traveling more normally. So if we ... lose a season, but we are able to continue. If we can make it through this time, you know, that's what we're looking toward, really. And we also do sales, not just vacation rentals. So, I mean, there's a lot going on here. And is there concern? Yeah, there's concern. But I think we're a very close-knit community. We do work together, and we will do the best we can."

This segment aired on May 8, 2020.

Jack Lepiarz Reporter and Anchor
Jack Lepiarz was a reporter and anchor at WBUR.



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