Is your host a ghost?
file404/Shutterstock Whether you’re renting a suite in a house or an entire home, you may want to know if your host is on the property or nearby. It’s a good idea to establish a relationship before booking and then meet the host at check-in to go over the details. “Consider highly reviewed places with hosts who are very responsive to inquiries if you’re newer to the process,”says Emily Long, a safety expert and seasoned business traveler. If something goes wrong, you want to be assured that your host can be easily reached and will respond in a timely matter. Practice your amateur sleuth skills and try to find out more about your host, suggests Long. “Do little extra Googling or social media searching to see if the host has received any additional complaints or red flags elsewhere. You can also reach out to past guests directly for feedback about their experiences.”
Quaint or quirky?
Nella/Shutterstock Some home-sharing options are appealing to because of their quirks, like renting an old row house on a cobblestone street. But other vacationers are drawn to a more modern home with all the upgraded amenities. If you prefer the quaint and quirky, be sure it’s still manageable for you. For example, if you rent an old row house, are you able to walk three flights of stairs to the bedroom? Do you mind tiny bathrooms and rubbing elbows while brushing your teeth over the pedestal sink or a noisy fan instead of central air conditioning?
What’s this charge for?
fizkes/Shutterstock When you’re comparing rentals and prices, factor in additional fees for cleaning, security deposits for pets, booking fees, taxes, etc. “Fees vary widely between properties so it’s important to factor all the fees when comparing prices,” says Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert and a VRBO/Homeaway homeowner. “Compare the total price per listing and look at the per night or per week price. You may get a discount for multiple nights or be able to negotiate a discount on the rental rate if you stay for a longer period of time or if you’re booking a last minute rental since the homeowner may want to fill the space so not to lose any rental income.” Some owners may waive the booking fee if you ask, but know that you will forgo the various types of “assurance guarantees” that home-sharing websites offers.