Why experts say fewer people are renting homes on Cape Cod

Why experts say fewer people are renting homes on Cape Cod

Another day, another group of shark sightings. Combine the increase in shark sightings with three tornadoes that hit parts of the Cape in June, you may think that would be enough to harm tourism.

But property owners and booking companies say the new short-term rental tax on AirBnB's and other services is hurting their business. Late last year, state lawmakers voted to tax short-term rentals which had a huge impact on pricing for Cape rentals for the summer.

According to WeNeedAVacation.com, which has tracked booking data for 20 years on the Cape and Islands, bookings for the nine weeks of summer so far have dropped 3.5%. That is down over 800 bookings from last year, according to the website's managers. The site tracks bookings on all platforms.

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Normally, the number of bookings holds steady or increases but the tax led to significantly higher prices for short-term rentals.

"The consumer isn’t stupid, they, you know, they are being asked to pay anywhere between 11 and 15% more and I think the consumer's balk at that, many do," said Jeff Talmadge, WeNeedAVacation.com. "It's sticker shock, and there’s been a tremendous amount of concern among our homeowners about how to handle it.”

Talmadge said this may be the new normal but he's hoping the state ends up amending the short-term rental tax, which did happen in New Jersey, narrowing the scope of what could be taxed.

We know short-term rentals have lost business this season, but what about hotels?

The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce says hotel occupancy has also dropped a bit but pointed out hotel companies are investing there. A new Hampton Inn is open in Bourne and a Best Western Luxury brand called Aiden will open in Yarmouth this September.