After being a vacation homeowner and a traveler for decades, I can say that it's never been easier to find a great vacation home. At the same time, it's never been harder. How could that be?
Well, search engines and the big vacation rental listing sites (you know them), local realtors, etc. continue to evolve and present you with more options than you'd ever dreamed of before. It's a new world of endless possibilities. And decisions. And, if you get the dubious honor of being the one to research and book the property, you may be in for a surprise just how time consuming and frustrating it can be, such as:
You find the perfect place that someone else books while you are getting a final decision from your group. Or worse, you book a place that looked great in the pictures but was a disaster in reality for some reason or another.
Well, here is a top 5 checklist of things to do, research and ask when looking for a vacation home:
1) Start early. Great homes in to great areas still book early. Larger homes for family reunions book even earlier since they have limited supply, increasing demand and lots of travelers' schedules that need to get aligned far in advance. The ever increasing supply of vacation home sources may lull you into thinking you have plenty of time, but even 3 or 4 months in advance can be too late. You may find the right house but the week you need is taken. Or, you have to compromise on a key requirement in order to make the dates work.
2) Gather a list of must-have requirements. Browse online for awhile to get ideas if need be, bookmarking sites that look interesting. Bounce your ideas off of each other and narrow it down. Assuming Cape Cod is your destination, these are key decisions:
Max budget (per person can be a good way to do this for family reunions)
Beach access: do we want to drive every day? (these properties will be cheaper)
What part of the Cape and which town? Again, this can impact budget. Areas like New Seabury, Chatham and Orleans will be more expensive. Getting farther out on the Cape in prime season can take a lot of time with Rte 6 traffic.
How many people do we need to sleep?
What other amenities are essential? Do you really need a pool if the ocean is at our doorstep? Do we need a big yard? AC? What else? List them out.
3) Search online for exactly what you are looking for, such as "Cape Cod Beach Rental Homes", or "New Seabury Vacation Homes" (sorry I couldn't resist!). Realize that the first couple of pages of results may be largely owned by the paid ads and the big guys like HomeAway, Airbnb, or TripAdvisor, so be willing to go past the first few pages - you will often find individual property owners - like us. Working with owners directly can be a real advantage in terms of cost as well as truly understanding what you are getting. The big sites charge extra to book with them, force you to book online, plus won't let you speak with anyone until you book. While that may be ok in booking a small apartment for a few nights, true family vacations are a big decision - you need information and confidence before committing your extended family's once a year vacation. Really read the website description, and really look at the pictures.
4) Once you have found suitable properties, call the owner and tell them what you need before they give you their pitch. Once you know your "must haves" are met, then ask them "What else should I know about the property and the area?" Take good notes!
5) Compare options and make a decision. Big things to take into consideration:
How did the owner answer your questions? Was he/she responsive? How might he/she respond if there were a problem that arose?
Just exactly where is the home? What is it near? Pictures may show a nice water view but the beach may require a car drive or not really be nice enough to spend the whole week. Map it out online and do your homework.
How are the pictures and descriptions on the website? Clutter, poor lighting or well staged and bright?
How are the scores of the past traveler reviews?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it's a good start. I talk to many folks who are first time vacation home renters and I always try to help them make a good decision - whether it's one of our homes or not. I very often refer them elsewhere if the fit is not optimal. I am not after bookings, but happy vacationers that will spread the word.
As always - feel free to reach out. I am always happy to help.
Do You Dream of Renting a Cape Cod Luxury Vacation Rental?
At New Seabury Vacation Home Rentals, we offer accommodations at our luxury vacation rentals on Cape Cod within steps to the fabulous beaches.
Perfect for large groups, corporate getaways, weddings, and family reunions.
Contact us for information on our fantastic vacation homes!