‘Tis the season for family travel. Before you book that vacation rental, however, there are some things you should probably know first so you don’t get screwed. Below, we’ve shared a list of tips to avoid getting ripped off, courtesy of Maryalene LaPonsie for MoneyTalksNews.com. Happy travels!
Use a service that verifies properties and owners
LaPonsie says websites such as Airbnb, VRBO, and Homeaway “make it easy for travelers to connect with property owners in prime vacation spots.” These sites also often have built-in fraud protection, such as secure method of payment and money back guarantees. Be sure to read the fine print for benefits and always check reviews and talk with the owner. You can also go through a local real estate agent, says LaPonsie, to rent a home.
Talk to or Skype with the owner
If you’re not using a service that verifies properties and owners, LaPonsie says, get the owner on the phone or request that they chat with you on Skype or a similar service. Then, ask them to take you on a real-time, virtual tour of the space so you can ask questions and verify the legitimacy of the listing. Do not negotiate solely be email in this situation, LaPonsie says, and be leery of owners who provide vague answers about the property and area.
Check public records
If you can’t Skype with the owner, LaPonsie recommends doing some investigative work on Google. Look up the address and use Google Street View to confirm the listed property matches the one on the screen. You can also verify distances to beaches, attractions and airports using Google Maps. You can also often search tax records for many municipalities online. If you can’t find the information online, contact the clerk’s office to confirm ownership, LaPonsie says.
For the rest of LaPonsie’s tips to avoid getting scammed, click here to read her article in its entirety.
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