The vacation rental industry has been in a state of tremendous growth over the past few years and shows signs of continuing that growth. With that comes individuals looking to make a quick dollar at the expense of would-be guests. These scams take many forms and are present on all major marketplaces offering vacation rentals. Here are a few things to look out for to ensure you show up to the home you were promised in the ad.
- Don’t be fooled by photography: Be wary of the overly manipulated or photoshopped homes with overly saturated colors and fake images cast onto the TV screens. Never be afraid to ask the owner for additional photos as they should have more to share. Also, use google earth to get a good unedited look at the front and exterior of the house to ensure what’s being sold matches up. Its also a good idea to right click on an image and google search the image. It will typically result in that same image being found on several vacation rental listings sites which will help you validate the property
- Pay attention to pricing: If the pricing seems too good to be true it often is. A quality property is going to be priced as such. If you see what seems like a great home at an unbelievable rate don’t get too excited it’s a scam or simply a mistake.
- Be mindful of how you pay: The scammer preferred way to receive payment is through methods like cash wires, MoneyGram and Western Union. Instead, insist on paying through more secure methods where you have protection as a consumer such as major credit cards.
- Read the reviews: Reviews can tell you a lot on what other guests have to say about the property. Not every guest looks at a property the same way so no property has all perfect reviews and if it does you should question the legitimacy of those reviews. Pick a home that has a range of honest reviews. Ask the owner to show you reviews on several platforms as some ads have been running longer than others and will have more reviews to share.
- Build rapport and become a regular: If you visit the same area often and find a home you like to rent the same one each year and establish a relationship with the owner or property manager. Also look for property managers that you like that offer homes in multiple areas and rent from them as you travel to other areas, as you will likely have a similarly good experience.