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Looking for tips using VRBO et al
Old 06-15-2013, 06:03 PM   #1
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Looking for tips using VRBO et al

Spent some time today looking at extended stay offerings on the like of VRBO for snowbird trip next January. Probably looking at 7-10 day stay at a location in Southern AZ or NM.
Being a newbee at this, I would really appreciate any tips/learnings from other members on how to vet the various offerings. For example, if you have never been to a town like Tucson before, what is the best way to identify a good neighborhood for a stay. Also any insights on how to validate the quality of the offerings--been hearing some scary stories of folks showing up and finding something far less than promised.
Probably lots of other elements, I have not even thought of, so anything that should go into a Vacation Home Renting for Dummys would be great
Thanks in advance
NWsteve
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Old 06-15-2013, 06:57 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by nwsteve View Post
Spent some time today looking at extended stay offerings on the like of VRBO for snowbird trip next January. Probably looking at 7-10 day stay at a location in Southern AZ or NM.
Being a newbee at this, I would really appreciate any tips/learnings from other members on how to vet the various offerings. For example, if you have never been to a town like Tucson before, what is the best way to identify a good neighborhood for a stay. Also any insights on how to validate the quality of the offerings--been hearing some scary stories of folks showing up and finding something far less than promised.
Probably lots of other elements, I have not even thought of, so anything that should go into a Vacation Home Renting for Dummys would be great
Thanks in advance
NWsteve
I usually rely upon the reviews. If there are enough of them, they'll give you a pretty accurate picture. In addition to the website's own reviews, sometimes Tripadvisor has reviews too.
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Old 06-15-2013, 07:19 PM   #3
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Maybe we've been lucky, but we've had 100% satisfaction with several VRBO picks in France, Italy, and Australia.

Of course, you need to read the description carefully, and also take notice of the reviews.
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Old 06-15-2013, 07:42 PM   #4
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Try Airbnb as well. VRBO fees make their offerings the most expensive in many cases.
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Old 06-15-2013, 08:54 PM   #5
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When we went to Paris, the apartments were more than I wanted to spend, so I picked out the ones that I wanted to rent and sent an email to all the listings. I was very honest about what I wanted to spend - $800 for the week. I accidentally included a 3 bedroom in the group I emailed and was kind of embarrassed about the mistake.

Two owners emailed me back that I was out of my mind - July was high season, etc. A few emailed me back that they would rent me their apartment for low season rates. I even got a reply from the 3 bedroom and almost deleted it before I read it because I thought I would get the most flack from them. Anyway, as luck would have it, she was the only apartment owner to agree to the $800! She was so nonchalant about it, too. "Why not, nobody else has wanted to rent it yet that week" was her reply.
Paris: charming apartment between Bastille and Republique......... | HomeAway

So my advice would be - it never hurts to negotiate.
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Old 06-15-2013, 09:13 PM   #6
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Tinlizzy, that is a great story and a tip i hope to remember. To stay in that apartment, in Paris, would be divine. : )

The friend who first told me about vrbo said she always speaks with the owner with prepared questions and often asks for additional photos.

We have rented through vrbo twice and relied on reviews....Biloxi and Chicago. both places were wonderful.
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Old 06-15-2013, 09:25 PM   #7
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When we went to Paris, the apartments were more than I wanted to spend, so I picked out the ones that I wanted to rent and sent an email to all the listings. I was very honest about what I wanted to spend - $800 for the week.
Very interesting. How far in advance did you email the VRBO listers? I remember looking months in advance for just regular hotels and having a hard time finding openings.
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Old 06-16-2013, 12:00 AM   #8
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photoguy - I don't remember exactly but it was still winter here in Iowa, so 5 or 6 months. All the Paris apartments had vacancy calendars so it was easy for me to see what was still available.

In Venice I had my heart set on staying at Palazzetto da Schio - another pricey apt. Palazzetto da Schio, Venice » Apartment n.3 – Top Floor Over The Canal I emailed the owner also. In all the emails I explained who we were and our itinerary (Europe for 3 weeks), that I really liked their apartment and wondered if they were negotiable in the price. In the emails, like I mentioned before, I told them what I wanted to spend.

In my email to the Venice apartment (not on VRBO - I read about the apt. on SlowTrav) I asked if her rates were negotiable and told her I would only like to spend $800. She replied that her apartment was very popular and that her husband was disabled and the apartments were their income - so no, the price was not negotiable.

She went on to tell me that if I would change my dates, she had 4 nights open in my 3 week itinerary (she also rented out the apartments by the night) that would be hard to fill, so she would pro-rate the weekly price instead of charging the nightly rate. She also said that if I really needed a week long rental that cost less, she had a friend with a palazzetto who was thinking about renting out her place after seeing her generate so much income and her friend would rent me her house and we could work out a price.

She couldn't have been more helpful. In the end I changed my dates and stayed in her apartment and did get a small discount because of the pro rated weekly rate.

What I took away from the whole by owner rental experience was, that in the end they are small business owners and if you give them enough upfront information, they can make a decision and will possibly lower the rental price.
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:42 AM   #9
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Tinlizzy -- Thanks for the response. I'm pleasantly surprised to find you did this well in advance (I don't like leaving things to the last minute). Before your post, I would have thought that only last minute rentals would have any hope of succeeding.
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Old 06-16-2013, 01:11 PM   #10
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While we have used vrbo a few times, I've never thought of negotiating the price. Nice tip - honest and up front. Thank you.

To the OP: We have used the reviews as a guide. Look for consistent remarks - positive & negative. We also email the owners with questions & try to gauge them from their responses - timely, polite, helpful, warm etc. Google maps lets you see the street view & distances to the places you want to visit. I trust that VRBO has done the due diligence on identity & ownership.
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Old 06-16-2013, 03:39 PM   #11
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As an owner of two vacation rentals, I'm much more likely to negotiate with a couple than with a group or large family. I usually cut out most of the negotiation by quoting a price that is less than the "list price" on VRBO etc. I use price to weed out the rift raft the best that I can. We used to think that renting by the week was the way to go, now I prefer the shorter rentals. I can be more flexible in pricing to fill the calendar once I have three weekends in a month rented. I've been burned by doing last minute rentals, so I tend to stick to our list price and charge property damage insurance as well as a refundable cleaning fee. People who plan ahead get the best deal. Read the reviews...within walking distance of shopping and dining could mean very different things ....also do homework on the city/location you wish to visit. Don't be afraid to call or email the owner to ask questions. One thing we don't want is our place not to meet the expectations of our guests so we try to manage the expectations the best we can.
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:44 PM   #12
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I am toying with listing my house on VRBO (I figure good central location in Honolulu there should decent demand.)

Part of the reasons for doing this is a cat sitter and house sitter while I take an extended trip a month or so. Obviously this would eliminate a lot of people who think that taking care of someone elses pets is no vacation. Put do people ever do this?
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Old 06-17-2013, 07:33 AM   #13
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I am toying with listing my house on VRBO (I figure good central location in Honolulu there should decent demand.)

Part of the reasons for doing this is a cat sitter and house sitter while I take an extended trip a month or so. Obviously this would eliminate a lot of people who think that taking care of someone elses pets is no vacation. Put do people ever do this?
Heck you will probably get offers from board members to come pet sit...
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:17 AM   #14
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Unfortunately I am allergic to cats. Otherwise you'd have the first volunteer to pet sit.
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Old 06-17-2013, 01:57 PM   #15
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clif, I would not use VRBO to find someone to care for your cats. Either get a pet sitter/house sitter or board them while you rent out the house. Yikes is my first thought!
I have used Trusted Housesitters and Housecarers to find folks to stay with our pets, and perhaps you could use word of mouth to find someone to pay nominal rent while caretaking, but what's the goal?
Do you need the cash? Or do you want someone to take care of the cats? One is going to be foremost, and I'd focus on that one.
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Old 06-17-2013, 03:17 PM   #16
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clif, I would not use VRBO to find someone to care for your cats. Either get a pet sitter/house sitter or board them while you rent out the house. Yikes is my first thought!
I have used Trusted Housesitters and Housecarers to find folks to stay with our pets, and perhaps you could use word of mouth to find someone to pay nominal rent while caretaking, but what's the goal?
Do you need the cash? Or do you want someone to take care of the cats? One is going to be foremost, and I'd focus on that one.
I think you are right. In looking at the VRBO listing and forums, it appears really nobody does this. The main goal is to find somebody to take care of the cats. In the past I've found, a mainland friends to house sit for a week, and had the neighbors take care of the cats for a second week.
It just the logistical challenges get to be difficult for more than a couple weeks.

Trustedhousesitters.com com looks like exactly what I am looking for and I may throw it out to board members also. But I haven't even figured out where I am going much less when LOL.
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Old 06-17-2013, 03:29 PM   #17
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I've had 100% success with VRBO in three countries. As others have mentioned reviews are key. I always speak to the owners and make sure (best I can anyway) they're who they present themselves to be.
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Old 06-17-2013, 03:36 PM   #18
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When you get ready to try it, Clif, let me know--I can get you a free trial on there, I think. Also key is to explain exactly what you are looking for. Simple Girl and I have both used services like these and it helps to weed out the folks that are looking for *only* a vacation.

Although not quite as desirable a location as yours, I looked through 15 or so applicants for our place before selecting the folks to stay 6 weeks while we are out on the bus this summer. I think we made a good selection. I hope so!
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Old 06-17-2013, 05:17 PM   #19
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vrbo is my first choice in planning vacations and I've used maybe 10 times. I usually either talk to the owner or do a google check on them to see if its a good phone number, address etc. We have stayed at some amazing rentals Hawaii, Panama City, Couer d'alene. Never had a problem. I also tell them we are just a couple oldies so they know we will pick up our wine bottles... Clifp. I love cats and Hawaii
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Old 06-18-2013, 01:53 PM   #20
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I was looking at other rentals in the subdivision we are renting in and was surprised to see one for sale of Trulia or Zillow. Just something else to check out or ask about.
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