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Connecting Vacation Property Owners With Renters
A sometimes overlooked option for finding nice vacation accommodations is using Vrbo, which connects property owners directly with people seeking rental properties. Vrbo is an acronym for Vacation Rentals By Owner, and the website allows homeowners to advertise their properties to potential vacation renters.
Finding places to stay using the website is done without the use of real estate brokers. Those seeking vacation spots contact property owners for both details about the listed property and to rent the property. This arrangement can potentially save vacationers a considerable amount of money since property owners do not have to factor in the cost of the realtor commission in their prices.
How to Use Vrbo
Vrbo operates throughout the world. Not in every single country, but in just about all of the developed countries of the world and a number of developing countries.
To find a vacation property using the website, type in the location you are seeking and the dates you would like to rent. You are provided a number of property listings for your desired destination, which are priced either nightly, weekly, or monthly.
Select “View Details” to obtain detailed information about the rental property you are interested in getting, such as how many bedrooms are in the unit and what amenities come with it. The details should contain the rental rate information, including additional taxes and fees. You can contact the property owner with questions that can help you decide if it's the right place and meets your needs.
Once you find a property on Vrbo.com that you are interested in getting and make the payment through the site, a rental agreement is sent that you must agree to. If you have additional questions about the logistics of using the rental, the property owner can be contacted for additional information.
Great Rental Deals Are Available
While Vrbo provides some vacation listings that are not much cheaper than what one will find on mainstream travel sites, it does have some very good rates, especially if one is planning on visiting an area during an off-peak time period.
What makes Vrbo different from mainstream travel sites is that, as its name implies, it includes vacation property listings directly from homeowners. These homeowners, at times, really need to rent out their properties or are interested in undercutting the competition and gaining attention for their property rental. This can provide those seeking vacation spots bargains and ample opportunities to secure great deals.
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For example, many three and four-star hotels in Manhattan, New York City, charge $300 to $500 per night for a modest but comfortable hotel room. A one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, New York City, can be rented for $200 or less per night through Vrbo, which includes a kitchen that makes it easy to avoid spending a lot of money on expensive meals while on vacation.
Things to Watch Out For
Though Vrbo can be a great resource for finding good deals on rentals, there are some drawbacks that users should be aware of when making arrangements. The following are some of the things to watch out for:
- While Vrbo makes efforts to police itself and keep scammers off of its site, there have been situations in which scammers have used accounts to swindle money from unsuspecting vacationers. To avoid being taken by a scammer, deal only with established home renters on Vrbo that have good reputations. Contact them directly. If the situation doesn’t seem right, then don’t proceed; there are usually plenty of other options available both on Vrbo and other vacation rental sites.
- Making arrangements through Vrbo means you will be dealing with a property owner rather than a hotel company, which can limit your options if you have problems with your chosen spot. While many property owners take their reputation on the site seriously and will do all they can to accommodate you, there is very little you can do to rectify a problem beyond contacting the owner.
- There have been many complaints by people who used Vrbo to rent a property and were unable to keep the reservation. Or, despite canceling in time, their deposit money was never returned by the vacation property owner.
- There are also numerous complaints by people who used Vrbo and found it to have been misrepresented in some way or extremely dirty and unsuitable for habitation.
- Keep in mind that customer reviews shown for properties are likely skewed in favor of the property and owner. This is because Vrbo allows property owners to approve reviews. Some of the bad actors using Vrbo will routinely deny negative reviews by stating that the person never actually stayed at the property or some other underhanded means, thus covering up bad property conditions or legitimate customer complaints regarding matters such as failure to return a deposit.
- Keep in mind that there are usually additional taxes and fees beyond the nightly, weekly, or monthly property cost. If additional taxes and fees are left out of a listing, you may want to contact the property owner directly to find out why or just move on to another listing.
To mitigate the risks associated with using Vrbo, HomeAway, the parent company of the site, offers a type of trip insurance called “The Carefree Rental Guarantee,” which protects vacation home renters for up to $10,000 if any of the following occurs in regards to a Vrbo rental:
- The rental property has been foreclosed on and is unavailable;
- The owner double-books the property and cannot honor your reservation;
- The owner withholds a security deposit without just cause;
- The property is misrepresented and is not what was expected;
- A renter is the victim of fraud while trying to make vacation property arrangements through Vrbo.
Even though Vrbo’s parent company offers the “The Carefree Rental Guarantee” as a way of making the process less risky, there are complaints online by those who signed up for the rental guarantee and were unable to receive reimbursement due to technicalities.
Be Aware When Renting a Property
While it can be a great way to save money on vacation lodging, renters need to keep things in perspective. Since Vrbo operates over the internet and those offering properties are not necessarily easy to locate or contact, caution should be used when booking a property rental.
Many people have had positive experiences and saved a lot of money renting properties directly from owners through Vrbo. However, one never knows what one will actually find when renting until they show up at the property. This is a risk some property seekers are willing to take to save money but is not for everyone. If you do not want to take your chances, it is probably best to avoid Vrbo and instead use one of the well-known hotel chains to book your vacation accommodations.
Why is Vrbo a Good Way to Obtain a Vacation Spot
I've used Vrbo to rent a number of vacation properties from beach communities to ski areas. I found the site to be very user-friendly and appreciated how I could interact directly with the property owner when I had questions about the properties. The fees tend to be less than their main competitor Airbnb, which is another positive aspect and reason I would recommend using Vrbo to obtain your vacationing spot.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 John Coviello