First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

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Kookaburra
Posts: 636
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2020 11:14 pm

First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by Kookaburra »

Hi Bogleheads

I am planning a trip to Kauai once the quarantine is lifted. I would like to stay for a few weeks and was thinking that renting a small condo would be a good option.

I’m aware of VRBO and AirBNB, although I’ve never used either.

Here are my questions:

1. Are there other options that folks would recommend?

2. When renting through either VRBO or AirBnB, is there any advice you would offer me based on past experiences, lessons learned the hard way, etc. Do’s and don’ts, things to watch out for, etc.

3. Is there risk of being scammed? (Like I hear about on craigslist). How do I avoid this?

Thank you
Last edited by Kookaburra on Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
SethJane42
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VBRO

Post by SethJane42 »

My two experience with Air BnB wasn't great--both places didn't live up to expectations. There is really no quality control (like cleanliness) or service like a good hotel. It's hotels and the professionalism that comes with for me from here on in.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by TomatoTomahto »

My kids have had great results with AirBnb. They typically have extended (week or month) stays, and they do a lot of research (on Zillow and google maps, for example) before they contact the owner. They have not been scammed in a dozen or so rentals.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
h82goslw
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by h82goslw »

I’ve used Vrbo and Airbnb over the years about half a dozen times and never had a problem.
runner3081
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by runner3081 »

Never an issue with AirBNB, just take time to read the reviews.

1 good and 1 bad experience with VRBO. Guy cancelled 2-weeks out on us (but, that could happen anywhere).
Crawdad
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Joined: Sat Apr 11, 2020 4:46 pm

Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by Crawdad »

We've used AirBnB many, many times. Our experience has ranged from scary to wonderful.
My advice:
Don't bottom fish. You get what you pay for.
Avoid professional hosts. They tend to be new paint and Ikea. Not that great.
Actually, we like the pickiest hosts the best. If they prohibit pets, smoking, parties, and require their guests to remove their shoes, we know we found a nice place.
If you are staying for more than a week you can usually get a discount. At least ask.
Then, you pay your money and take your chances.
Everything is a gift. Be thankful.
adam1712
Posts: 526
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:21 pm

Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by adam1712 »

I’ve used AirBnb and VRBO probably 15 times.

When selecting a place, just realize it’s like a real estate listing or hotel website, they’re going to put the most flattering pictures up. It very well may be smaller than you expect and don’t count on it sleeping as many people “comfortably” at the max they state.
Basements and upper floor places have a larger risk of poor climate control and air quality.
If the price is too good to be true, especially not last minute, it probably is.

If you want excellent service and are a demanding customer, then you might be happier in a hotel. I’ve stayed at several wonderful places and almost all have met my needs very well. And significant savings over a hotel. I most of the time prefer it to a hotel as I’m a private person and also like the adventure of each place being unique.
mageedge
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by mageedge »

Also worth checking out Booking.com - I have had good luck with them in the past. A quick check suggests they have more than 350 "apartments/houses" on Kauai in addition to hotel options.

I've used both AirBnB and VRBO a lot over the past decade or so. Generally "whole house" versus 'shared with host' accommodation. No really bad experiences but, as others suggested, do your homework ahead of time. Read reviews and check out the hosts reputation and make sure the facilities meet all your needs.

Never had any 'scam' issues. A couple of cancellations after booking but money refunded quickly.
DoTheMath
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by DoTheMath »

I read **all** the reviews with a fine-tooth comb. Many people are less picky or more impressed with what I consider to be superficial features, and some others are overly picky [1]. By reading them all I can get a better sense of the property and the of the particular details that are important to me. As others have mentioned, pictures and owner provided descriptions can be misleading. They have to sound good for me to take a second look, but without a significant number of good reviews which mention in some detail the pros and cons of the property, I won't rent.




[1] I, on the other hand, am perfectly reasonable :-).
“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains...” -- John Muir
backpacker61
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by backpacker61 »

I rented a room through AirBnB for a short visit to see my mother (who lives in an assisted living facility).

It worked out great, and after the COVID 19 thing is over, I hope to be able to stay there again.
“Now shall I walk or shall I ride? | 'Ride,' Pleasure said; | 'Walk,' Joy replied.” | | ― W.H. Davies
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GerryL
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by GerryL »

I used VRBO/HomeAway once 5 years ago. It was a little scary since it my my first such rental. A few glitches, but I learned how to do it going forward.

Since then I have used AirBnB several times in US and France without any problems. Sometimes a place to myself and sometimes with the host. I stick with listings that have a Super Host flag and carefully read the reviews. Also, look carefully at the details that may make a difference to you, e.g., stairs, check-in/out times. Email the host a question if you are not seeing something you want to know. Also, look at the photos. A listing with a lot of photos of the neighborhood but lacking a variety of interior photos may be telling you something.
harrychan
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by harrychan »

Family of 4 here and used Airbnb a few times (give or take 20 times). Haven't tried VRBO. I would say our success rate is 50-50 where we enjoyed our stay. 30% we stayed with minor annoyances and 20% where it was so bad we called airbnb to complain and left. The experience varies widely and there is no assurance. You are subject to their marketing through photographs and the way they write the descriptions. Best is to read as many recent reviews as possible and read between the lines. A tip I can offer is you can cancel the booking within 24 hours (if the policy is the same). Book the place and you can get the exact address through email or the portal. Look up the location and use google maps, street view to scope out the place.

The issues we had were cleanliness, missing or misleading amenities (e.g. listing said a/c with washer and dryer but turns out it didn't have, and next to a very busy road). If you do book a place and enter, do not settle in. Do a scan and see if there are any issues. If your kids run in and go through the bedding, use the restroom and soil the towels, you will have a harder case to get any refund. If something is really off, take pictures and call airbnb. They will give you credit to book somewhere else. The few times we really had to back out we ended up at a hotel and used the airbnb credits at a later time.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.
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Watty
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by Watty »

Kookaburra wrote: Sat Aug 29, 2020 10:53 am 1. Are there other options that folks would recommend?
With condo you may be able to rent directly through the company that manages the condo.
Mr. Rumples
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by Mr. Rumples »

I'd be sure the HOA permits it. Ours did not and one time we changed the security codes to the building locking out the AirBnb folks since they were not on a lease with the HOA.
Nicolas
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by Nicolas »

We rented VRBO on the Big Island twice several years ago, same owner but different houses. We had a good time and didn’t spend too much.
Last edited by Nicolas on Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
Theseus
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by Theseus »

Kookaburra wrote: Sat Aug 29, 2020 10:53 am Hi Bogleheads

I am planning a trip to Kauai once the quarantine is lifted. I would like to stay for a few weeks and was thinking that renting a small condo would be a good option.

I’m aware of VRBO and AirBNB, although I’ve never used either.

Here are my questions:

1. Are there other options that folks would recommend?

2. When renting through either VRBO or AirBnB, is there any advice you would offer me based on past experiences, lessons learned the hard way, etc. Do’s and don’ts, things to watch out for, etc.

3. Is there risk of being scammed? (Like I hear about on craigslist). How do I avoid this?

Thank you
I have stayed at Airbnb more than 25 time sin USA and internationally. I love it. Also have used Vrbo and equally happy with them. I love access to much more space than a hotel.

The absolute key for me is to never rent a place that has rating of 4.8 by at least 8-10 reviewers. But also read the comments as many times now hosts ask youth give them 5 stars in exchange for them giving you 5 stars. If you follow this you will have generally no issues.
jminv
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by jminv »

I have used Airbnb for around 400 nights now worldwide, only 'entire places' though never rooms. It usually works out well but you have to read the reviews, look at the pictures, and make sure it has the amenities you want. To re-iterate, read all of the reviews. Plus look at the area it is in and figure out if that's exactly where you want to be. Beware of cleaning fees. You'll see the actual total on the list if you compare that way but if you're looking at the map only you might exclude a property with a higher nightly rate that is actually cheaper all in since cleaning fees can really vary.

I always check booking.com to see if 1.) the property on airbnb is cross listed since it is sometimes cheaper on booking.com if it is on there (I saved half more than a few times) and 2.) if there's something else they have that airbnb doesn't. In some places, booking.com has better apartments which is odd but good since you don't have to worry about a host rating you. Once you stay enough nights with booking.com, you'll get a 'genius' discount which is them rebating a pretty good amount of their commission.

I used to use VRBO but haven't in awhile. I've used Tripadvisor vacation rentals a few times, last time around 6 months ago. Sometimes they have good stuff that isn't available elsewhere.
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Callisto
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by Callisto »

I think airbnb is great for the customer, and I'm saying that from the perspective of a host.

Familiarize yourself with the costs of comparable hotels in the area. Airbnb is no longer what is used to be, where you can get 5 star hotel quality at a tiny fraction of the price. You'll get a discount, but temper your expectations. This is especially true for vacation destinations, or anywhere with a high COL.

Review all the listing details, and only book from experienced hosts. The fact of the matter is we get destroyed for getting anything other than 5 star reviews. Its not worth it for us to "trick" you. Furthermore, airbnb will rip the payment from us if you do complain. Airbnb needs you, the customer, more than they need hosts.

Oh, and while I think very unethical to do, you can also charge back payments. Airbnb will just take the money back from us, and there's absolutely nothing we can do about it. So even if you do something like book and have to cancel, you can get around cancellation policies. Hell, you can even charge back after the stay.
Barcelonasteve
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by Barcelonasteve »

I had a good VRBO experience years ago and a very bad Airbnb experience last year. While they can be much more economical than hotels when you’ve got several people to house, the setup invites too many yahoos to try to get away providing housing that is shabby to uninhabitable. I filed a housing code complaint against the “superhost” who thought it was ok to rent a place without heat in 40 degree weather because heat wasn’t on the list of amenities. I am sticking with hotels from now on.
treadingwater
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Location: Midwest

Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by treadingwater »

For condo listings in Kauai we have liked Parrish Kauai. Extensive listings, good accurate pictures. They run a Black Friday sale that offer a significant savings. 10+ stays and we have not been disappointed.
Never panic. Stop looking so much.
Bama12
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by Bama12 »

I use VRBO at least once or twice a year. I have never had an issue.
rjbraun
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by rjbraun »

We have, so far, preferred to book stays through hotels rather than AirBnB or VRBO. We can see the appeal of not staying in a hotel and have booked multiple stays at an apartment (in Rome, Italy) that was owned by a hotel. We found this offered us the best of both worlds: access to many of the amenities of a hotel (24/7 staffed front desk, hotel breakfast, lounge access, accommodating cancellation policy) but privacy and autonomy of apartment living, including "feeling more like a local".

In addition to some of the concerns others have already expressed, my understanding is that AirBnB / VRBO typically have considerable fees associated with cancellations (beyond the first 24 hours of booking that prior poster cited). I can totally appreciate why hosts feel this may be necessary, but I cite this in case OP would consider this an issue. I did notice that a poster said that refunds are still possible, even if the cancellation policy clearly states otherwise. Not sure how feasible this may be, but I would anyway prefer to just rely on the stated policy myself.
sean.mcgrath
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by sean.mcgrath »

Kookaburra wrote: Sat Aug 29, 2020 10:53 am Hi Bogleheads

I am planning a trip to Kauai once the quarantine is lifted. I would like to stay for a few weeks and was thinking that renting a small condo would be a good option.

I’m aware of VRBO and AirBNB, although I’ve never used either.

Here are my questions:

1. Are there other options that folks would recommend?

2. When renting through either VRBO or AirBnB, is there any advice you would offer me based on past experiences, lessons learned the hard way, etc. Do’s and don’ts, things to watch out for, etc.

3. Is there risk of being scammed? (Like I hear about on craigslist). How do I avoid this?

Thank you
1. I have used both, and have only had positive experiences. We have stayed in wonderful apartments in Paris, London, Dublin and Rome (AirBnB) and had really nice week-long rentals in Montana (VRBO).

2. Be careful looking at the pictures. If you don't see it, it's not there. Like property listings, the pictures are there to sell.
2. I strongly prefer the entire place, rather than any kind of share (I am 56, so that factors in). I did do a share for my College reunion, and the woman also rented her own bedroom that weekend. It was a bit weird sharing with a strange couple and no host around, but it worked out perfectly fine.

3. I have never come close to being scammed, and the rating system is useful in that sense. All have been positive.

Take a look at a few of the places we rented. Really very nice!

Dublin

Paris
hookemhorns
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Re: First time considering AirBnB or VRBO

Post by hookemhorns »

We've used AirBnb about 20 times in multiple cities + international and only had one bad experience. So yes, I recommend it. To your questions:

When renting through either VRBO or AirBnB, is there any advice you would offer me based on past experiences, lessons learned the hard way, etc. Do’s and don’ts, things to watch out for, etc.

- only book rentals that have several reviews. No need for you to be the first mover / guinea pig.
- I wouldn't book anything rated less than 4.5 stars. Even less than 4.7 can be a red flag.
- read the reviews carefully, particularly recent reviews. They can provide context that a 4-star rating does not. For example, maybe the A/C doesn't work well, or the house is dirty or in a noisy location. Most people won't give a <= 3-star rating unless it's a horrible experience, so a 4-star review can leave a lot of gray area.
- any listing with >100 reviews will have a last 1-2 crazy renters that leave a bad review for spurious reasons, so try to sort out legit complaints vs. whining.
- I always look at photos of the general area of the listing on google maps / streets. AirBnb/VRBO won't give you the exact address, but you can get close enough to check out the area.
- reviews will also show if the host has canceled at the last minute in the past. If you see a lot of cancellations, find another listing. See next point.

3. Is there risk of being scammed? (Like I hear about on craigslist). How do I avoid this?

In terms of outright fraud, there is almost no risk as AirBnb and VRBO would reimburse you. The biggest risk is the host cancels last minute. I've had this happen a few times and it is annoying, especially if you rent during peak season. AirBnb will book a comparable listing for you, but the menu of options may not be great if you're in a high demand area. My conspiracy theory is that some hosts cancel last minute and relist on another site if they think they can get a higher price due to demand. Again, this can be avoided by looking at past reviews.
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