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Looking to escape to Palm Springs right now? Good luck. It may be scorching in the Coachella Valley, but that hasn’t stopped the rental market from having the hottest summer it’s ever seen. “People are just so eager to escape,” says Brad Greiner of rental agency Open Air Homes.
Adds Greg Tormo, a real estate agent with the Paul Kaplan Group, “It’s unbelievable. My client has a three-bedroom for rent. We just put it on the market for long-term rental. I’ve shown it 10 times already!”
According to John-Patrick Flynn, brand manager at Acme House Company, which manages more than 150 rental properties in the area, bookings are up more than 42 percent from summer 2019. “Since the state and county lifted the moratorium on short-term vacation rentals in mid-June, we have been completely sold out of all our single-family pool homes every week,” he says. Most guests drive from within a 500-mile radius and stay more nights than typical.
The frenzy is a big change for Palm Springs, which is used to a quiet summer — punctuated mainly by bachelorette party rentals — because of the extreme heat. (One recent day hit 119 degrees.) But instead of hosting parties, homes like the magnificently restored Wave House in Palm Desert are now being rented by sedate families and groups of close friends. “Even with the heat,” says Mark Dubas of Palm Springs Cool Rentals, “I think they just want a place to feel safe and secure and cook their meals and just be in a self-contained place with a pool.”
Long-term rentals are also hot properties, as tech companies like Microsoft and Google have extended work-from-home orders into 2021. “Lots of people are asking about a Wi-Fi connection,” says Shannon Metcalf, concierge at Host With the Most. “The people who are coming out seem to be working.”
They include Jason Felts, founder of Virgin Fests, who left L.A. and has been living in a rental home in Palm Springs and working remotely since May 1. “It’s so low density. I can go weeks without even seeing anybody out here. I have no plans to return until early next year,” says Felts, who says he’s heard rental prices are going for “four times the normal rate. It’s bonkers.”
To take advantage of demand and to cover increased cleaning and safety ordinances, some rental companies have raised prices, which some in the industry find to be predatory in a market created by a worldwide pandemic. “I hope that people come together here and don’t try to just increase the price and keep it at the fair market rate that it’s always been,” says Greiner.
But despite rising prices, the lure of an escape (complete with pool) is a siren song to the lockdown-weary. One can only imagine what fall/winter — the usual busy season — will hold.
This story first appeared in the Aug. 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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