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Beach On The Brain

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It’s true:  I’ve got Beach-on-the-Brain.  Memorial Day snuck up on me this year and I do love going to the beach… so I put vacation planning into fast forward and it’s gotten a lot of my attention this week.  Over the years, I have become rather skilled at a few things… one of them is finding a place at the beach for rent, and negotiating a good price.  So, I thought maybe I’d share a few things I have learned… and maybe you know more, and you can share your tips with me – all of us – by commenting right here.  I’d sure like that.

1.  Condos or houses are better when traveling with families.  It’s just my opinion I guess, but when traveling with 4 or more in a family group, especially for more than a day or so, I like the separate bedrooms, and extra baths.  No matter where you’re going, do a little research… If it’s a vacation spot, you’re likely to be able to find condos for rent by the week or for a mini-week, maybe even houses.  Check it out.  Google “Vacation Condos for Rent” and the city.  You can also try “Time Shares For Rent” and the city.  You’d be surprised how many options there are.  Yes, you give up room service, but you usually get a full kitchen (a big money saver when you don’t have to eat out constantly) a washer and dryer (especially nice if you’re packing light).  You might not have a restaurant in the building, but I bet you find it’s much cheaper and there’s probably a good place to eat not far away anyway.

2.  YES YOU CAN NEGOTIATE.  Don’t be afraid.  Find a location you like and make an offer.  What I have found is that properties listed by brokers usually rent faster and for more.  So try to find places listed directly by the owner.  HomeAway.com and VRBO.com are good sites to find listings by owner.  Also, don’t forget to check with your personal sphere – people you know – they may own vacation rentals and or know someone that does.  I think (please correct me if I am wrong) that most vacation brokers/management companies get about 10%.  So if you can negotiate directly with an owner you can probably save 10% without too much hassle, at least that is my experience.

Some tips on negotiating…

Rule #1: Keep in mind you have a common goal.  They want to rent it to someone… you want to rent it.

Rule #2: Emotions can hurt or help.  Use them to your advantage.  Hardball rarely works.  Firm with emotional appeal is usually better…

“I LOVE your place.  It’s perfect!  Love the decor!” Compliment the property and the owners – important, because remember they love it.

Then I tell them about who is coming…”I am so excited my adult son and his girl friend are going to be able to join us,”  They now have a picture of who is going to be there, and what it means to you…. they are empathizing.

Next, make your offer:  “My husband really wants me to settle for the place down the street that isn’t as great.  I guess it would be OK, but before committing to that, I just have to ask if you would consider charging us less?  Say $X?”  (If you want 10% off – which you can probably get – offer 20% off – and they’ll often split the difference with you.)

Give them something for accepting your offer… “I promise, we will take excellent care of your home!  And, I hope we’ll be back again next year if this place is as nice as it sounds.”

I will be honest, it’s an effective script… but I ONLY say things that are true, so it’s not purely manipulative.

When they come back with their counter offer, compliment them on being great negotiators….and hopefully you will have found a common ground that will allow you to move forward with the transaction.  I have never heard no when dealing directly with the owners.  I have rarely heard yes when dealing with the brokers.  People with brokers don’t have to negotiate – the chances of their place getting rented are way higher.  (Take note of this fact if you own a vacation rental.)

3.  DON’T GET SCAMMED!

I am steering you in the direction of leasing directly through the owner, but watch out for scams.  There are cases of non-owners advertising property for rent, collecting money and disappearing.  If you’re renting through a brokerage, the chances of this are far less, but if you found the ad on a VRBO or Craigslist (ESPECIALLY Craigslist) do some checking.

– Is it too good to be true:  Listen we all want the deal of a lifetime, but in an arms length transaction you’re not likely going to find someone to hand you a deal that is too good to be true.  So if they are offering you a rate WAY below anything else you can get, be skeptical.

– Check Tax Records:  Most counties have tax records online now – look for them and see if the owner name matches with the name of the people you’re talking to.  Also check the mailing address if you’re mailing a check to them, if it doesn’t match what the county has on record, be skeptical.

– Reviews:  Many ad sites now give opportunities for patrons to do reviews online – look for them.  If there are a lot, they are more likely to be legitimate than not.  Don’t rely SOLELY on this, but it one more thing to look at.

– Pay With Credit Card:  If you can, pay with a credit card or other form of payment that allows protection in case you do get ripped off.

– Google Is Your Friend: Google the address of the vacation property and add “scam”, then google the person’s name and “scam”, then the google the address where you’re sending your check and add the word “scam”.  You’d be surprised what you find.

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Hopefully, you find these tips helpful.  I just wanted to share with you!  I know I have Beach-On-The-Brain.  Maybe you do, too?   If you have other tips, PLEASE SHARE.  Best of luck with your vacation plans.  Maybe I will see you at the beach?

Psst…. No I do not work in vacation sales – maybe that will be my retirement plan.  Who knows?

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