The Hamptons rental season got a later-than-usual start this year, with many properties hidden under a thick blanket of snow in January, February and March, traditionally the prime time for summer bookings.
But with temperatures rising, it's now in full gear.
"It's starting to get busy, the sun came out and the people are flocking," said Susan Breitenbach, an associate broker with the Corcoran Group in Bridgehampton, whose full-summer rentals range from a three-bedroom contemporary home in the Springs section of East Hampton, listed for $24,000, to an eight-bedroom oceanfront East Hampton estate with a pool, tennis court and "party house," asking $1.6 million.
Those looking for a summer rental want to be "anywhere and everywhere . . . as long as it's clean and in their budget," said Harald Grant, an associate broker with Sotheby's International Realty in Southampton.
To be sure, the Hamptons rental market faces some challenges. With property values rising, some owners of luxury homes are opting to sell rather than rent out their properties. And some investment-minded vacationers, believing that sale prices will keep climbing, would rather buy than rent.
Plus, in the wake of the recession, a growing number of cost-conscious renters are booking homes for a month or less, instead of the full summer, brokers said. And some are gravitating to websites that allow homeowners to rent out their own properties, eliminating the fee that Hamptons landlords pay to brokers.
Even so, high-end rental agents said they are not concerned about competition from the Internet.
"It is the Hamptons, and owners still generally prefer to have an agent out in front of them," said Lisa Gillooly, a real estate agent with Rosehip Partners in East Hampton.
"When you take someone directly from the Internet, you have no idea who you're getting."