Here are the top 10 things you must know to book your vacation home with confidence:
1) Determine your needs for a vacation home based on the party size, dates and amenities you are looking for. In most cases a vacation home makes a perfect sense as it is quite economical to rent a vacation home rather than stay in a hotel. The only exception to this is if you are staying alone for one or two nights.
2) Contact the owners by email and/or phone to verify the authenticity of the listing and that of the owner.
3) If an owner is unwilling to speak with you on the phone, walk-away.
4) Work with extreme caution if the owners are listed on free listing sites only as it is hard to confirm the ownership or even the existence of the house.
5) Confirm that the address you are renting is actually a residence.
6) Look for reviews of the property, owner or both.
7) Know what amenities are standard with the home and that are additional. Most if not all vacation homes include all utilities as part of the rent. Some owners include phone calls as well. Understand what is covered with the rent.
8) Ask for a written rental agreement to protect your interests. Ensure any changes to the reservation are agreed-to in writing. This includes changes to dates, rental amount or any special accommodations that are not advertised by the owner.
9) Understand the contract and ask any questions before signing the rental agreement.
10) Most owners do not hold the dates until a reservation is made (with an online or mail-in form) and a down payment is sent. Reserve your vacation home by submitting these and request a confirmation for your reservation in writing.