Private vacation homes come with plenty of benefits when you’re planning for a trip away, but there are still some risks to look for. In April 2019 alone, the Better Business Bureau had received 264 reports of fraud related to short-term vacation homes. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re booking the real deal.
Vacation wisely and watch for any red flags that come up during your booking process. If your getaway is looking too good to be true, pump the breaks and check our six tips on how to protect yourself from vacation rental scams.
Vacation rental companies should want to show off their homes, with photos of all the rooms and amenities. Watch for listings that only show photos of the region, surrounding areas, or only have one or two interior shots. If you’re still unsure, a good host will accommodate any request for additional photos, and if not, do a Google reverse image search on the photos they’ve listed. If you see the same photo on unrelated listings or stock image sites, run.
If you can get the address of the home, do a Google Maps search to make sure the property exists. If the property’s exterior photos and its address don’t match, contact the property owner to ask questions. Before booking any vacation home, use Google Street View to explore the area.
Hosts want you to book their short-term rentals and should be happy to answer any detailed questions before you book. Ask about the city to validate the property management team is actually based in the area. What are their favorite places to shop and eat, or where do they buy their groceries? Then check to see if these places actually exist nearby.
Don’t just scan the reviews or only read the 5-star ones. Take your time to dig into any complaints or red flags raised by prior guests. Try to find reviews for the lodgings, conditions, area, and property owner, so you have a full understanding of the overall experience.
Booking a rental via a credit card offers you more protection than paying by cash or wire transfer. If there is a problem with your rental, you can dispute the charges with your credit card company and reduce your liability. Pay attention to what documents are requested, and safeguard personal information like your bank account and social security number.
Before you reserve your stay, double-check you’re using the vacation home or travel company’s official website. Popular home-sharing sites, like Airbnb and Vrbo, will verify details of the home’s listing, including the photos, amenities, and the host’s identity. Be wary of listings on sites like Craigslist, which don’t offer this kind of protection.
Keep your eyes peeled for any red flags within the vacation home’s listing or booking process. Our simple tips include paying attention to photos, checking the property in Google Maps, asking questions, reading reviews, staying away from wiring money, and using official booking sites. Trust your gut—if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Our six tips above are great ways to ensure the vacation home you’re looking to book is the real deal. Check to make sure the owner and property information are verified whenever possible. Official booking sites like Vacasa, Airbnb, and Vrbo have verified listing systems, whereas sites like Craigslist do not.
Yes, it sure is—with tens of thousands of vacation homes currently under management.
Of course, you don't have to just take our word for it. Check out case studies and testimonials from some of our successful homeowners. Plus, you can find over 299,000 5-star reviews from guests on Vacasa.com.