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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.