Our Background & Origin Story

Hey everyone, this is Maria Kirk. I want to share the story about Shore Summer Rentals and why I’m so excited about it. It's also why it's the best possible option to rent your property online.

In short, our frustrations with renting our vacation rental each summer led to the creation of ShoreSummerRentals.com.com. It also opened the door to huge savings for property owners frustrated with VRBO and Airbnb's high fees and limitations.

Friends that know me will say, “Maria, you’ve been talking about Shore Summer Rentals every day for the last 15 years.” And I’ll say, “I know, I still have that same passion for it that I had back then. In fact, my passion only continues to grow.”

I got started in the rental business in 2004. Some of you have been with me on this amazing journey from day one and for that I am eternally grateful.

I had been working full-time for about 15 years in corporate real estate, helping the rich get richer, commuting an hour each way.

With two kids in school, we would all get home after 6:30pm each night, after leaving the house at 6:30am every morning. I would cook, clean, bathe the kids, do homework and would finally crash around midnight every night. Then do it all over again day after day. For what, to scrape by paying bills and to have very little left over for a night out or vacations with the family?

That was not the life that I wanted for my family and myself. I was missing out on their activities and simply spending time with them. I wanted a career, but I also wanted to make a living on my terms. I could no longer deal with the anxiety that came with answering to executives when your child was sick and you could not make it into work.

I was frustrated with the 2% raises the company gave every year (if they made enough profit). But I continued to do it while my husband and I searched for better ways to create our own living.

That better way appeared in 2003. I was working for a struggling mortgage company that offered layoffs with a 6-week severance package. My first thought was “oh no, what will I do?” A second later, I thought “this is it, this is the time to start our own business!” Six week’s severance was not a lot but it helped. My husband kept his full-time job so we could still pay our bills, put food on the table, and keep our health insurance.

We had an idea for a new business. We had purchased a condominium in Wildwood at the New Jersey Shore. My husband and I both spent many summers at the Jersey Shore and wanted to make new wonderful memories with our family. We planned to rent it out for several weeks in the summer. That would help pay the mortgage and we could enjoy it when it was not rented. It was perfect in theory, but what happened next launched ShoreSummerRentals.com.com.

How would we get renters to rent our new investment home? Simple, list it with all the real estate agents down the shore and the renters will come running. Well, that didn’t happen.

Most real estate companies focus only on sales because that is where they make the most money. They secured a few renters here and there, but nowhere near enough to help pay our expenses on the home. Filling our rental season wasn’t their priority or skill set.

That is when my husband suggested we start an online platform where owners can list their homes for a small annual fee. We would drive traffic to their rental listing, and everyone would win. Owners would pay one small fee, instead of large commissions to realtors. Renters would book directly with the owner, not a confusing computerized system. We would cut booking and service fees that the big names charge. And, owners would keep control of their rental business and know who was staying in their home.

So, I accepted the layoff and started working day and night at HOME building my idea of the site and how it would look. I then hired programmers and designers. That is where things started to get real and very challenging and scary. Programmers and designers are expensive, and we were not prepared for all the costs of starting an online business. But there was no turning back after all the blood, sweat and tears we invested. We made the decision to risk it all and go for it.

To create a successful business, you need to invest significant money. We used the 6 week’s severance as a deposit for the programmers and then put the rest on credit cards. My husband’s salary and my unemployment kept us afloat. We launched the site on President’s Day—the official rental booking season kickoff—February 12, 2004.

We were so excited for this launch and told everyone we knew about it. Most were happy for us, but unsure about how it would work. We had no prior business experience and no rental homes to advertise other than our condo in Wildwood. But we had no doubt in our minds that Shore Summer Rentals would be successful. We had a passion. We knew it could help thousands of people to pay their mortgages and expenses without paying high fees to realtors or online booking sites.

We launched and waited for traffic to miraculously come to our site. Well, as you may know, it does not work that way. You need to invest money to get traffic to your website and have a clear strategy. Crap… Now what?

We were too far in to give up, so we took out a $20k loan and invested that in getting traffic to our site. My husband came home every night after a long day at work to learn Google ads and how to get traffic to our site. We also had to get creative in getting the word out so people would give us a try.

Property owners were hesitant to hand us $99 with no proven results. So, we started offering free listings to vacation rental owners. If they secured a rental, they would pay the $99 annual membership fee. That was risky because we had to rely on owners to be honest. They were!

I still remember our first paying customer; his name was Alan. Chris and I were having dinner at Don Pablo’s in Moorestown, NJ and my cell phone rang. When I answered the phone, it was Alan giving me some great news. He secured a rental and wanted to give me his credit card info!

We were ecstatic, you would have thought we hit the mega millions lottery. That was the turning point for us, and we have never looked back. More people started to pay. Word got out that ShoreSummerRentals.com.com worked and worked well. We soon paid off our debt with money left over to continue to drive traffic to our site. We now secure millions of dollars in rental income for our customers year after year.

We may be a small business, but the return on investment that our customers receive is huge. That value to hard working property owners makes it all worth it.

Our business continued to grow very fast, that was challenging and costly but was worth it. We've run into many obstacles—Hurricane Sandy, the foreclosure crisis, skyrocketing advertising and programming costs, Google algorithm changes, and the sudden death of my mother in 2004. But we never gave up and for that I am very proud of our accomplishments and determination.

Shore Summer Rentals now lists over 1,200 vacation rentals. We generate over $25 million dollars per year for customers with very little annual advertising cost to our owners.

Our success allowed me to work from home and be there for my kids. I was able to drop out of the rat race and for that I am forever grateful. We are not rich in finances. My husband still works his day job, but we are able to pay our bills. We help put our children through college and help our owners pay their mortgages. And for that, we are very rich in graces. My only regret is that my mother never saw the results of our efforts and hers. She stuffed many envelopes and worked with me in the beginning. We are still working on getting my husband to join me working from home on SSR, so that is our next goal. Stay tuned and keep spreading the word!

That is our Shore Summer Rentals story. I wanted to share it with you so that you can understand why I’m so passionate about our business. For us, it’s not a matter of IF you are going to become part of the Shore Summer Rentals family, but WHEN. It’s the only way to get the most rental income without paying huge fees to the big guys and connect with your renters the way you want. Inflate your profit margin, not the VRBO executive’s profit margins.

The only alternatives are to use a realtor or one of those greedy online booking sites. Realtors take commission and booking fees. Big rental sites charge outrageous fees to owners and renters alike. Both options control your transaction and limit contact with renters. Using either of those platforms will not allow you to know who will be staying in your home.

It does not have to be that way. Shore Summer Rentals gives the power back to owners and renters. You have control of your own home and rental business, for one annual fee.

I hope you now see why I’m so passionate about Shore Summer Rentals. If you have any friends, family or neighbors, who are not using Shore Summer Rentals to advertise and book their rental at the NJ Shore, please share us with them

Thank you for reading our story. if you are a current ShoreSummerRentals.com.com customer, I thank you. If you are not, I would love to share the benefits of ShoreSummerRentals.com.com over all other options. Give us a call at 877-SHORE-4U today. We will answer all your questions and get your account set up so you can make the most of this season and enjoy the process.

“We Bring Owners and Renters Together”