VACATION RENTAL HANDBOOK

The Best Sites to Search

Websites often feature owner-posted rentals alongside lodgings listed by management companies, hotels, and B&Bs. The sheer number of properties can be daunting. While the industry has little regulation—and fraud, though extremely rare, can occur—here are six trustworthy sites for listings from serious owners.

Homeaway.com
Both an individual website and the name for a family of rental sites, HomeAway owns cyberrentals.com, vacationrentals.com, and vrbo.com, among others. The different websites don't necessarily offer the same listings, so each one is worth checking out. HomeAway has about 118,000 listings of its own, with decent representation even in obscure, non-touristy spots, like Scranton, Pa. Unlike most other owner-direct websites, all of HomeAway's English-language sites reimburse registered customers up to $5,000 if a rental listing turns out to be a scam.

Ownerdirect.com
This site has 8,000 vacation-home listings posted directly by owners. Most properties are in the U.S. and Canada, with an ample selection at ski resorts—and more than 300 in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Rentalo.com
While the volume of listings (200,000-plus) in this directory is impressive, the results will mix regular hotel and inn rooms with vacation rentals—so make sure to uncheck the "Hotels" and "B&Bs" boxes in the search function.

Resortquest.com
This is technically an international management company with exclusive access to 20,000 individually owned properties. The majority of listings are in 55 major resort areas in North America, which means the site is heavy on ski and beach vacation spots. For 30,000 more rentals throughout Europe, click over to ResortQuest's partner site interhomeusa.com.

Vrbo.com
Vacation Rentals by Owner, a sister site to HomeAway, boasts more than 100,000 properties all over the world—including over 100 options in Buenos Aires alone. Search results can be scrolled through quickly thanks to short descriptions detailing the price range, number of bedrooms, and number of people they sleep, followed by symbols telling you whether the property is pet-friendly (look for a paw print) and how many pictures there are of the place (indicated by the number next to the camera icon).

Zonder.com
This year-old rental operation deals mainly in individually owned but professionally managed town houses and condos in the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean. Zonder recently began listing its rentals on travel-booking site orbitz.com. While there is less personality in the properties (and the listings) than at other rental sites, Zonder guarantees that its posts are legitimate and its availability calendars are up-to-date. The site is not just a rental directory; it also accepts bookings by credit card.

LOWDOWN ON LISTINGS
You should peruse listings closely for facts and details, but also know how to read between the lines. Watch how we do it on this fake website.
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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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