VRBO – Vacation Rental By Owner

Facts you need to know…
Have you been thinking about marketing your own property on VRBO®, HomeAway® or Craigslist®?  Have you thought about booking your own summer vacation through either of these sites? 
Over the course of last year, I have received dozens of questions regarding these two topics: the risks and rewards of managing one’s own property and/or renting from an individual.  Being that HomeAway® is the parent company of our reservation software provider, I have been able to get the inside scoop on the questions I have received.
  •              VRBO®, HomeAway® and Craigslist® have openly admitted their inability to “police” the transactions that take place between the owner and the renter.  As a result, there are thousands of frustrated renters and owners who have pledged not to return to the websites.
  •              In an effort to restore the public’s faith on the websites, local rental companies were encouraged to market their properties on VRBO® and HomeAway®.  This followed HomeAway’s purchase of VRBO in 2006.  This action was seemingly in direct conflict with the purpose of the business as set forth in the name “Vacation Rental by Owner.”
  •              As a result of this action, the vacation rental by owner market has been significantly diluted. Currently, there are 8,115 properties listed for rent on the “Grand Strand” between the three aforementioned websites.  Over 1,316 of these properties are located in Murrells Inlet, Garden City or Surfside Beach. 
  •              Sifting through this number of properties has become more taxing than ever.  As a result, owners are getting less and less out of their $1,000+ listing fee online.

But what about renting through VRBO, HomeAway and Craigslist?
       As the company continues to grow, it has been unable to control the number of fraudulent listings being marketed: Here is just one example of what is occurring.
  • Within the last few years, multiple people have stolen photos of our properties from our website (with GCR logos in them).  They have then created beautiful listings with these photos on Craigslist, claiming that the house is their own.  After requiring the “guest” to pay a deposit via certified funds check or direct money transfer, they then proceed and tell the “guests” that they can pay the remaining amount on their arrival date when they pick up the keys at Garden City Realty’s office.  When the guests arrive at our office thinking that they have a confirmed reservation with us, they quickly find out that they have been scammed.  Not only is their deposit gone, but their vacation is ruined.
  •       In cases like these, the online customer support and fraud divisions have proven to be of no help.  They do not guarantee the validity of any of their listings and they require that the homeowner and renter settle any dispute between themselves.  One can imagine that is not an easy task when dealing with the owner of a fraudulent listing.
  •       This is just one example of how difficult it can be to spot a scam.  It is also the reason that many guests have lost faith in HomeAway®, VRBO® and Craigslist® and decided to rent through established rental companies.
  •       As this trend continues, HomeAway has looked to change directions by seeking new executive leadership.  As a result, the stock price in the company dropped 13.7% overnight on April 23, 2015.

When faced with the question, “What do you think about HomeAway, VRBO and Craigslist?” my answer is clear cut and straight forward:  “What value do you put on your time?”  Is your time worth dealing with…
•Parents who rent your home for their underage children so that they may celebrate high school graduation at the beach unsupervised. 
•Renters who stay the entire week happily and then refute the credit card (or PayPal) charge stating that the accommodations were “inadequate.”
•Responding to email inquiries within 20 minutes (as likelihood of booking decreases drastically outside of this time period).
•Phone calls after midnight in reference to an issue that could have easily waited until the next day.
If you answered “Yes” to these things then, perhaps, you should give it a try. If not, however, then I believe you should continue to trust Garden City Realty to provide the excellent service that guests return for year after year.  I look forward to continuing to serve you as the summer progresses.  If you have any thoughts or questions for me in response to this topic, please feel free to give me a call!
Drew McElveen
– Manager (Surf Master by the Sea)
1-800-395-5930 ext 293

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