Saturday, September 20, 2008
Top Ten Things Vacation Rental Owners Won't Tell You
1. It's a renter's market, so let's really make a deal. The number of vacation rentals in some areas like Florida have doubled in the six months. Owners can't sell or rent, so they're looking for quick cash from a vacation rental. When supply exceeds demand you can not only get better rates off-season, you can negotiate perks in-season. Ask the owner to pick up the bed tax or cleaning fee. Or see if they'll have a bottle of wine or supplies for you at check in. Ask questions to be sure you'll be booking with experienced owners. No point in taking a break from work just to break in a new owner.
2. You Can Get a Guarantee, Free. HomeAway offers a gaurantee for properties listed on their website. Amateur owners won't stay in business for long if they can't meet tough standards that guarantees like HomeAway demands. This is one reason I list my properties with HomeAway. And I don't make any money for saying so.
3. A Picture Isn't Always Worth A Thousand Words. For an example, see the picture in my July post showing a vacation rental promoting their view and outdoor dining. The table is actually in a driveway. Another picture shows the view, it is actually a photo from the Chamber of Commerce, not the view from the property.
4. "Sleeps Four, Must Eat Out." You can't save money eating-in if the vacation home is furnished with a cafe table that seats two. New owners often focus on getting beds and sofas and skimp on the dining. I visited one rental that used the outdoor furniture for the dining table.
5. Good Rate, Lot's of Extra Fees. Owners sometimes lower the rent and add a key fee, a parking permit fee, bed tax, security deposit, or a processing fee. Stick with owners who disclose fees upfront or better yet, book with owners who include fees in the rent.
6. Extra Paperwork. Do you really need a complicated lease, more forms for key pick up, and an extra stop at the management office when you want to relax? Make sure the hours for key pickup aren't limited, you may not want to rush your drive just to make the office hours. Look for rentals where you don't have to deal with a third party and the owners keep things simple by handling paperwork online. New laws mean you don't have to use fax or mail for signatures and credit card payments mean you have added security from your financial institution if something should go wrong.
7. Great Views, And Road Construction. Highway 89A in Sedona, AZ will be under construction for nearly a year. The heavy equipment, trucks, and traffic jams echo in the canyon walls, amplifying already ear crushing noise. Add a house on the hill with a view and you've got round the clock headaches and dust. Always ask owners about nearby construction.
8. What's an Air Filter? Indoor air is usually more polluted than outdoor air, especially in homes where the heating and air conditioning filter isn't changed regularly. Manufacturers recommend changing standard air filters every 30 days, but many owners cut costs by stretching the life of cheap filters. I've stayed in 12 vacation rentals in the past two years and had to buy or request a new filter at each one. Ask that the filter be changed for your arrival and support owners who spend the extra for permanent or HEPA filters changed on a regular basis. Who needs to go on vacation and get sick?
9. We Spray. You get respiratory problems. Bug spray, pest control may get rid of roaches, but it also aggravates allergies, asthma, and can weaken your immune system.
10. Lots of tennis courts, pools, and golf--NO ACCESS. Make sure you don't have to wait for play time. Find out how crowded the pool gets and what availability is like for recreation sites.