Dispelling Myths About Vacation Rentals: The Top Ten Things You May Not Have Known

Travelers are used to booking hotels, but for many the world of vacation rentals represents a great unknown, which may be why they’re the subject of so many myths, particularly in North America. Here are the top ten things you may not have known about vacation rentals:

10. Vacation rentals offer daily maid service

Most rental owners ensure that the rental is cleaned out prior to each new guest, and many offer daily maid services as well to ensure that the rental is as clean, if not cleaner, than a hotel room. Dirty rentals end up getting nasty reviews and don’t last long in the business, so homeowners always make sure that the cleanliness is top-notch. Of course, many travelers mistakenly assume that vacation rentals don’t have housekeepers, and that they’ll be forced to clear old ketchup out of the fridge leftover from the last guest, but this is not the case. In fact, owner’s will ensure that you find the rental in the exact same condition they expect you to leave the rental – that is, spotless and neat.

9. Homeowners will welcome you and respect your privacy

Most owners treat their rental as a business, meaning they want as many travelers passing through as possible, and also expect some normal wear-and-tear to result from each rental. Some travelers mistakenly assume that the owner will check in everyday to make sure no crumbs are left on the couch, but most will also only stop by to welcome you initially, after which they’ll only show up if you request it. After all, they know one of the reasons people love rentals is because of the privacy they offer, and they’re not about to jeopardize the chances of gaining your repeat business.

8. Rental scams are rare and avoidable

This is probably one of the greatest sources of apprehension, since nothing spells nightmare like landing in an unknown area and finding out that not only does your vacation rental not exist, but that your security deposit is also gone. However, rental scams like that are far less common than you would think, and the average traveler can avoid them with some basic tips: only work with people that have a documented online rental history (e.g. reviews, listings that have been up for a few years, etc.), avoid free listing sites that don’t verify the identity of owners, and only browse sites that have personal relationships with owners.

7. Owners avoid keeping your security deposit

Security deposits are usually $500 or more, so it’s normal for a traveler to worry about them. However, that $500 is nothing compared to the lifetime value of a happy houseguest, so there’s no way an owner is going to jeopardize your repeat business by keeping it without good reason. Of course owners need to protect themselves against abusive guests, but in the interest of building goodwill, many owners will turn a blind eye to the occasional spill on the couch just to keep you as a client.

6. Vacation rentals offer great service

Most owners have property managers that they employ to handle day-to-day issues with the rental, including any problems that may arise during your stay, which is why it’s always good to make sure that any owner you rent with has an on-site manager. Travelers mistakenly assume that, should something go wrong with the rental, it won’t get fixed until the next guest arrives, especially if the homeowner is faraway, but in fact many rental property owners pride themselves on the quick and friendly customer service they offer each guest.

5. Vacation rentals come in all shapes and sizes

Many people assume a vacation rental will be a house or villa. However, condominiums, townhouses in resort complexes, cabins, and other types of accommodation are also vacation rentals. Some, for example, feature pools, waterslides, theaters, and many of the other features you’d find in a hotel. Others are apartments that are located right in the heart of the city. A good vacation rental listing site will let you search for properties based on type to help you find the accommodations best suited for your needs.

4. Vacation rentals are safe

Vacation rentals are a safe and reliable alternative to hotels, regardless of the region. This may be a more common concern in tropical areas, but many travelers think that because there’s no security guard, rentals are more dangerous than hotels. Many vacation rentals are enclosed in gated communities and include alarm systems. Of course, renters are always advised to use the same common sense as they would at home when it comes to locking the doors and minding their safety.

3. Travel agents book vacation rentals

This is more of a myth among homeowners, but in fact travel agents do book accommodations other than hotels. It’s just hard for them to find homeowners willing to work with them, since they usually negotiate a commission on each booking. That’s why travel agents usually stick with property management companies they have a relationship with, or they use agent-friendly websites. Once they find properties they can work with, they’ll often refer years of repeat business for the homeowner. That means if you’re a traveler, you can always request a rental from your agent, allowing you to browse options that differ from the usual hotel selection.

2. Vacation rentals have plenty of amenities

Some travelers think that if you want to have fun at the pool, enjoy the beach, have video games for the kids, or enjoy a nice day at the spa, then they need to stay at a hotel. In fact, nothing can be further from the truth. Vacation rentals are designed with the enjoyment and comfort of the traveler in mind, which is why they often feature pools, private beaches, game rooms, spa services, and more. And the best part is you don’t have to share! Where else can you take a late night dip in the pool, or entertain guests with a dinner party? Homeowners are also happy to provide you with whatever you need to make your stay even more enjoyable, so if there’s something specific you need, don’t hesitate to ask.

1. Vacation rentals come in all price ranges

It seems like the only time vacation rentals get press in mainstream publications is when they’re listing the top 10 most luxurious villas around the world. Unfortunately, this creates the impression that rentals only cater to the super-rich, but nothing can be further from the truth. Travelers can find vacation rentals in all price ranges, from $60 a night to $3,000 a night. Don’t be intimidated by the sticker price. Many properties have several bedrooms and can accommodate a dozen or more people. Divided by the number of guests, the prices for vacation rentals are often much more affordable than hotels.

There you have it, the top ten things you did not know about the vacation rental world. Keep these facts in mind next time you plan a vacation and be sure to check out the assortment of vacation rentals at TravelRentalNetwork.com.

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How to Turn Your House Into a Vacation Rental

Turning your house into a vacation rental can seem overwhelming at first… but it really doesn’t have to be. This is a process that you can really enjoy and have fun with! I have set up houses as vacation rentals dozens and dozens of times, for my client’s properties, as well as my own houses. I understand what is involved and required from every aspect, from assuring the property is in compliance with governmental agency rules and regulations, to making sure it has all the essentials that most guests require. In my commitment to assuring that my clients are continually successful with their vacation rental houses, I often find myself in the role of ‘vacation rental counselor,’ mostly pertaining to governmental agency and code compliance, quality assurance, and ongoing property maintenance required to meet the current industry standard.

So, with that in mind, it’s important to begin with the basics when you decide to offer your house as a vacation accommodation to travelers. In this article I will provide you with the 5 most important steps to follow to assure your vacation rental success. As you read through this, I advise you to consider the fact that your house is in a unique town or city, that this article is a general guide, and that it is critical for you to become aware of your local community sentiment, and rules and regulations about short-term rentals. Always remember, your house is a private property, it is are not a hotel, and preparing your house and managing it as a vacation rental accommodation for tourists must be carefully and thoughtfully done.

1 – LAWS, ORDINANCES, RULES, AND REGULATIONS

The very first thing you need to do is to educate yourself about your local city, county, and state laws, ordinances, and rules and regulations pertaining to offering your house as a vacation rental in your unique community neighborhood. Please don’t just assume that because it’s your property, you can do whatever you want with it. And, please don’t put a lot of effort and expense in setting up your house as a rental for tourists until you rule out the possibility that there are laws preventing you from doing so. Many local and state government agencies have clear regulations stating that setting up your house to rent as a vacation rental turns it into a business, and it will probably be subject to some level of city, county, and / or state licensing. Many governing agencies also require that to legally rent your house as a short-term rental, you must collect local and state tax from tourists who rent your property.

A quick search in the vacation rental news reveals, that as short-term rentals become more and more popular, many communities have licensing restrictions and very specific rules and regulations regarding renting houses short term to tourists. Call your local town or city governmental offices and get to the appropriate licensing department that can answer your specific questions. Find out what specific licenses and / tax numbers you need to legally rent your house, and get them. I highly recommend that you seek the assistance of an established licensed local rental agency that can properly assist you understanding and complying with licensing and tax requirements required in your community.

2 – YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD AND YOUR NEIGHBORS

Now that you’ve determined that it is legal for you to rent your house as a vacation rental, and you’ve obtained the proper licenses and tax numbers, it’s time to think about the neighborhood where your rental house is located. This might seem silly, and many people gloss over this important step, but believe me you can save massive headaches and fights with neighbors by dealing with this issue pro-actively. Nearly every news article you read on communities that are resisting or trying to restrict vacation rentals point to the same neighbor issues: noisy tourists staging loud parties, tourists taking parking spaces from local residents, and tourists being careless with their garbage.

In all the years I’ve been in the vacation rental business I’ve seen several neighbor-to- neighbor squabbles that have involved code enforcement, the police, and even expensive law suits. Most of these issues could have been avoided with plain common sense and consideration. Find out who your neighbors are, and do your best to communicate with them and determine if they will resist you renting your house to tourists.

Once you begin renting your house to vacationers, you need to commit to being selective about who you rent your house to. It is important to talk with them and determine if they will be a ‘good fit’ for your neighborhood. Ask them directly what they plan to do while they are renting your house for their vacation. For example, if you discover a potential guest is planning to rent your house to accommodate a wedding party or a birthday party, think about the impact on your neighbors and if they will be okay with this. Some properties I manage are in neighborhoods that will only tolerate very quiet couples, others are set up to accept larger groups and the neighbors are clear on this and understand the rules. Know your neighborhood, and set up your own ‘House Rules’ that your tourist tenants must agree to comply with.

The biggest complaint that most neighbors have who live next to vacation houses is noise. Some neighbors are more ‘noise sensitive’ than others, and you need to know if your neighbor is going to call the police every time a group of vacationers sit around the swimming pool and listen to music. Give neighbors who live next to your rental your phone number, and ask them to call you directly if there is a noise problem. And when there is a problem, call the guests and ask them to quiet down. Since you are renting your house to tourists, it is your responsibility to make sure the guests you bring into your rental house are respectful of the local neighborhood.

3 – FURNISHING YOUR HOUSE AS A VACATION RENTAL

Furnishing your house can be daunting if you’ve never done it before. Below is a very detailed list of basic home furnishing items you will need to provide. This includes suggestions for bed configurations, kitchen essentials, soft goods, and household items. Your guests will be looking for the basic comforts most of us look for in our daily living.

Enjoy setting up your house for tourists – and strive to strike a balance between nice and economy. If you are striving to attract a ‘higher end’ clientele add some nice touches and things that you would appreciate if you were ‘a guest in your own house.’ You don’t need to purchase all new items, but please doesn’t use junk or your house will start to look like an unappealing garage sale. Add some interesting art work, wall mirrors, artificial plants, and some nice nick-nacks – just take care not to overdo it or it can start to look cluttered. Some personal pictures (a shot with your friends or family members) are nice to place on shelves… it reminds guests that they are in some one’s house, and not a hotel.

Suggested Bed Size Lay Out

Your vacation rental property needs to be practical and ‘user friendly’ as well as beautiful to look at. I have found the following general layout to meet the demands of most guests. As a general rule, avoid putting too many extra beds in a bedroom, you do not want to give the message of ‘the more the merrier.’ If your property has an office or den, it is a nice feature to add a desk or set up an office.

Try to make the ‘nicest’ bedroom the master bedroom. The nicest bedroom is usually determined by the view and features – such as en-suite bathroom, private deck, French doors that lead to the swimming pool or porch, or it can just be the largest bedroom if the property offers no other unique features. If your property has more than one bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and/or view than you are lucky to have a property that can be marketed with more than one master bedroom or suite… and that is a fantastic feature. That way, couples traveling together don’t have to ‘flip for’ the best bedroom!

About bed sizes: The layout below is suggested after nearly 2 decades of being in this business and listening to what guests require. Today, it seems like most people sleep in king size beds at home, and many couples who stay in vacation rentals insist on a king bed. For some couples, not having a king bed option can be a ‘deal breaker’ since they are convinced they won’t be able to sleep in a smaller bed with their partner. So that being said, here are the basic suggested guidelines…

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What You Need to Know about Vacation Rentals before You Go

That time of the year is finally here. You know what I’m talking about, the one or two weeks you get every year to escape from “real life” and just be you. Relax, eat and drink well, enjoy your family, catch up on some much needed sleep. But, before you pack up and head out, rethink the all-too-normal hotel stay. Believe it or not, you have options, one of which is the vacation rental.

Wouldn’t it be nice to leave your own home, arrive in your destination city and settle into a “home away from home” for your next vacation? That’s what vacation rentals are all about. These are homes waiting to be rented out by people on vacation. Each vacation rental owner will have different criteria in what type of renter they are looking for, each vacation rental house will vary in amenities, and each price will be dependent on the time of year and the length of stay. So, it sounds like a great idea, but how do you figure out how to make it all happen? Not a problem. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding vacation rentals. Read on, my friend, your next “home away from home” vacation rental is right around the corner.

Frequently Asked Questions on Vacation Rentals

What are the advantages of a vacation rental?

Do you ever wish your hotel room had just a little more personality? Yeah, I thought so. Well, renting someone else’s home for your vacation might just be the thing you’re looking for. Usually offering larger living spaces than hotel rooms, these vacation rentals are all about living like you were in your own home. They offer greater privacy than hotel rooms and most rentals have a kitchen area for cooking, which in the end will save you money if you prepare some of your own meals.

You’ll enjoy several rooms, and maybe even different levels, instead of one big room where the whole family sleeps. Many owners will leave information on things to do and see in the local area. Vacation rental homes are clean, friendly, comfortable and inviting. This is because many of them aren’t just rental homes, but also function as the owner’s own residence for part of the year.

A majority of vacation rentals tend to be cheaper on a per night basis than their hotel counterpart. By renting directly from the owner you will avoid taxes, tips and other extraneous charges. However, there is a wide variation among costs based on a number of factors (see How Much Should I Expect to Pay below)

What are the drawbacks of a vacation rental?

Of course, there’s always the other side of the coin. As vacation rentals are not usually monitored by a central managing company, you’ll only know what you’re getting yourself into when you actually arrive to your rental. Many owners require pre-payment, or at least a large deposit fee, before arriving. Therefore, if things aren’t the way you anticipated after arriving, or if you find your dwelling unacceptable and decide to head to a local hotel, you may lose any money you prepaid. This is also true for last minute cancellations. There isn’t usually a refund. You always run the risk of getting less than you expected, but, it’s rare.

Most times, vacation rentals tend to be cheaper than an average hotel room per night. But, not always, so make sure you are comfortable with the price you will be asked to pay.

Another disadvantage to vacation rentals is the lack of a managing member on site to deal with any problems that you may encounter with the home or during your stay in general. Most owners get around this by having a list of emergency numbers, utility companies and other such items available to the renter should they need anything.

What amenities are included in a vacation rental?

Since every rental is owned by a different owner, each will include different amenities. Some come with swimming pools, hot tubs, others with golf packages, and horse stable privileges. In cities with tourist attractions, some owners include tickets to local attractions.

Most vacation rentals come with the essentials: TV, equipped kitchen, towels, linen, and everyday appliances, but it never hurts to ask these questions when searching for the perfect place. Be sure to understand exactly what you are paying for before sending in the payment.

What types of rentals are available?

Pretty much any type of dwelling that you would want to live in during your vacation is available somewhere. From studios in downtown Manhattan to a villa in the south of Spain, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for. The range of available options is mind boggling. Additionally, each week, month and year there are new possibilities as owners put their homes up for only certain weeks or months of the year, the choices are constantly changing.

Are vacation rentals only available in the US?

Vacation rentals are available worldwide. They can be found in every state of the US and almost every country in the world. Don’t be fooled by their different names, though. Vacation rentals are also known as holiday cottages, tourist rentals and holiday rentals. If you are looking for one in Europe, the Italians call them agriturismi, while the French say gites. If you are in Germany you will be looking for ferienwohnungen (yep, try to say that three times fast with a bratwurst in your mouth!)

Regardless of what you call it, though, a vacation rental is a great option for those getting ready to take a few weeks off from reality and enjoy the good life a bit.

How do I find a property?

There are several ways to go about finding the perfect vacation rental for your next trip. Check with your local travel agent to find someone in your area that specializes in finding owners and renters and getting them together. Another option is the yellow pages. Finally, there is a wealth of information on the Internet. Type in a search for “vacation rentals” and over 13,300,000 websites can be found just on http://www.google.com alone. Some websites only list vacation rentals in the United States while others specialize in vacation rentals worldwide. There are some sites that will allow the potential renter to look for a residence by specific search criteria such as a particular destination, certain number of bedrooms and types of amenities that are included in the property.

Most of the vacation rental services on the internet are only the “go-between” or the “classified” section of the newspaper. They take no responsibility for the truth or correctness of the ads that are listed on their sites. So, do your homework by making phone calls, speaking with the owner and asking specific questions. Make sure you feel comfortable with the answers, if not, move on to the next rental, there are plenty.

If you’re not comfortable with the whole renter/owner thing, there is another way to rent a vacation home. Some companies exist that strictly buy and rent out homes to vacationers. They offer a bit more security so that you feel you are truly getting what you bargained for (although nothing is ever 100% fool proof). Additionally, sometimes these agencies will give you cancellation insurance. In other words, if you cancel before arriving, they may be able to refund a portion of your deposit or payment instead of keeping it as most owners do if a cancellation occurs. With some agencies you’ll find that you pay a higher price than going directly to an owner. This is how the agencies make their profits. There are always pros and cons to each scenario. Ensure you know which one works best for you.

How much should I expect to pay?

This is a tough question to answer. The amount you pay will depend on what country or state you are visiting, number of days you are staying, and type of house you are renting. Some owners offer package deals including tickets or sightseeing events along with the rental, others include bonus days if you stay for a certain length of time. There are other owners who may offer free or add-on house cleaning service with your stay while some go to great efforts to ensure you have everything you need, even additional items such as a crib, highchair or wheelchair. Each vacation rental will be entirely different than the next. Your best bet after deciding on your destination is to review multiple rentals to determine which is better suited to your needs and overall budget.

Are there any hidden fees?

Hidden fees usually only emerge after you have arrived. These may include extra for phone calls, house cleaning service, extra person fees, excess heat and air-conditioning bills, pet deposit, computer access… etc. Again, be extremely thorough when interviewing the owner of your prospective vacation rental. Ask about any “extra” fees, or if the house is “all-inclusive”. Do you have free access to all the pantry and food items? How about the laundry supplies? All utilities? It never hurts to ask!

Vacation Rentals

In summary, cover all bases by asking lots of questions. Getting your agreement in writing is also a very smart idea. After these basics are out of the way you will be ready to take off for your home-away-from-home vacation rental. Try one this year and see for yourself that vacation rentals can be a fantastic means to really getting the full enjoyment out of your next vacation.

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Vacation Rental Content

The vacation rental option is today proving to become more and more popular as it provides in most cases more space (multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, separate living areas), more amenities (fully equipped kitchens, fireplaces, private hot tubs), convenient locations (on the beach, ski-in/ski-out) and greater privacy than a hotel.

Vacation rental by definition is a term used in the travel industry which means to rent out a furnished apartment or house on a temporary basis to tourists. This gives those going on a vacation and general tourists an alternative to leasing a hotel or motel room.

Vacation rental content is mainly composed of websites that cater to owners of vacation rental properties who would like a place on the internet a listing these properties. Those who become interested in a vacation rental can then utilize these sites by browsing through the available listings of vacation rental properties and specials if any.

To find vacation rental content one simply needs to go to a popular search engine such as Google or MSN search and type into the search box vacation rentals. At the time of this writing there were over 37 million pages with vacation rental content. You can narrow this down a bit by putting your
search term in quotes like “vacation rentals”. This will bring back just over 14 million pages with vacation rental content. That’s quite a lot of information to sift through!

You will also notice when you begin clicking on any links for vacation rental content that most of the first few hundred if not thousand pages are all focused on vacation rental directories or vacation rental content directed at guides and listings of vacation rental property owners. You have
to dig pretty deep and spend a lot of time before you find much information that is focused on helping the consumer to learn the ups and downs of vacation rentals.

In some popular vacation and tourist locations the tremendous growth of vacation rentals has become such a threat to the local hotel and motel industry that the local authorities have begun passing regulations in an attempt to limit the growth of the vacation rental industry.

Since it is our intention to cover information on both sides of the fence when it comes to vacation rental content we will be scheduling some articles specifically aimed at helping consumers learn more about the vacation rental industry so that you can make more informed choices and know exactly what you may be getting into when it comes to vacation rentals.

For now we want to direct our attention to the vast amount of vacation rental content that one finds when beginning a search. As we stated above the vast amount of information related to vacation rental content one will find are vacation rental directories aimed mainly at those who may have a vacation rental property they would like to advertise or list so they can get them rented.

Whether you’re seeking a vacation rental or need to list a vacation rental your options are tremendous. You do have a couple of ways to begin narrowing down these choices however. Most of the vacation rental content is divided between those sites that list global vacation rental properties and those that list regional or location specific vacation rental properties.

One great place that we have found to begin if you’re seeking to find or need to list in a global vacation rental directory is Vacation Home Rentals. At the time of this writing you can find over 14,000 Vacation Rentals by Owner.

At Vacation Home Rentals, it’s easy to find or list beach house rentals, home rentals and cabin
rentals for all over the United States and beyond. If you’re looking for something more exotic and need to list something out into the Pacific Ocean, they have a large selection of Hawaii vacation rentals listings where you can place or find great vacation rental content. They are not just limited to the United States, however. They also have vacation rental homes listings and holiday villas all over the globe. You can list or find Caribbean villa rentals across the region. If you’re looking for or need to list a European getaway, they have France vacation rentals, or maybe you would like to locate or list a Tuscany villa. Whatever your requirements Vacation Home Rentals is a great starting place to locate or list vacation rental content.

If your needs are more regional or location specific it’s not hard to find vacation rental content pertaining to the specific region or location of your choice. As an example Southeastern Homes contains vacation rental content that is specific to the beautiful mountains of Western North
Carolina. Here you can locate or list vacation rental cabins and real estate homes that range from rustic homes to the most elegant homes and cabins in the mountains.

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