Things to avoid when looking for vacation homes

The guards are guarded. Scam lists for holiday homes are becoming increasingly popular. Fraudsters have grown highly skilled in hacking legal real estate databases and even drafting real leases. Unfortunately, websites like Craigslist just aren’t aggressive enough in challenging the tricks and techniques that modern fraudsters use today. Here are some typical traps and tricks that scammers use to deceive holiday home victims:

Too good to be trueIf renting a vacation home seems too good to be true, you may be the next victim. If the price is far lower than the other ads or the amenities seem too palatable for the price, you can expect a scam. Legal vacation homes are usually marketable at competitive prices with other similar properties.

Lure and switchScammers love to post glamorous photos of holiday homes and their surroundings. The photos show large spacious rooms, ultra-modern kitchens, gorgeous pools and spa and manicured landscaping with beautiful tree-lined streets. These properties will somehow always be inaccessible and then the holidaymaker will be redirected to another, less desirable property. So always ask for the specific address and house number, then use tools like Google Maps to find real photos of the property and neighborhood. Better yet, ask the agent to use web tools like FaceTime or Skype to show you the property live.

Double book scamScammers will book a double property, then send the relaxer, who arrives last, to a second-class backup reservation, along with a sincere apology.

Transfer money now and save fraudFraudsters often ask for money in advance, often in the form of a “security deposit”. And they will want to use money transfer systems like MoneyGram or ask you to transfer money to a specific bank account. If you need to send money to “save the property”, use a credit card or PayPal – both allow you to challenge any fake fees.

No references or false referencesFraudsters will not have legal references to give you. They will either offer you a “privacy excuse” by saying that their previous tenants want to keep their privacy, or they will simply give you the phone numbers of their friends who are involved in the scam. Therefore, before you decide to make a reservation, call the owner or property manager and ask for information. You can also view reviews related to Facebook.

False positive reviewsFalse or dishonest reviews are a problem in some holiday home lists. Non-dismemberment clauses are starting to appear in holiday rental agreements, which means that tenants are not allowed to publish negative property reviews. So read these reviews with a grain of salt. Use Google Maps and Street View to remove false claims of “stunning property” or great location just steps away from the beach, resort or convention center. Call the owner or property manager and use tools like FaceTIme to reveal the actual interior of the home.

Inaccurate online calendarOnline calendars for many holiday homes can be poorly maintained. Most are designed for some property owners. Even if the list shows that the calendar has been updated recently, call or email the owner / manager and make sure the property is available on the date you need it.

There is no professional property managerAccording to Trip Advisor, 37% of users are concerned that they will not have emergency contact if something goes wrong in a holiday home. Property managers ensure that the holiday home is kept up to date and in good condition. They have relationships with reputable subcontractors who can deal with any property problem that arises. The property manager can guarantee that the property will be advertised and that a property deposit will be securely processed.

Hidden taxis, Most vacation rentals require a non-negotiable “cleaning fee” and some even require tenants to pay for utilities, cable and / or internet. So make sure you know all the actual and potential fees before finalizing your booking.

Non-professional adBeware of lists or emails that are poorly written with poor grammar. These can be red flags. The same goes for foreign phone numbers or if the owner / property manager fails to respond quickly to emails.

Avoid CraigslistDon’t use sites like Craigslist. View and book properties directly from reputable vacation rental sites.