1. Take a good look at the rental
If it looks far too good to be true, it probably is! Many owners who find that they can't use their weeks will price them enticingly enough to draw in interest, but even most of these rentals are priced so the owner can at least recoup their maintenance fees. A low price isn't a surefire indicator that a particular rental is a scam, but if a week at your favorite resort generally is priced at $1,000 and you see that same week at $400, you'll want to tread carefully!
2. Verify ownership with the resort
In many cases, resorts are more than happy to verify whether a particular individual is an owner at the resort and if they own the advertised unit. While most resorts will confirm ownership, some will not in order to protect the privacy of their owners. If you're looking at renting from a private broker or real estate agent instead of an owner, you can ask for references from prior renters or verify their business with the Better Business Bureau or through a resource like ARELLO. Any legitimate business will have no problem with you taking the steps you need to feel safe.
3. Use a licensed escrow service to facilitate the transfer for you
A reliable, third-party escrow service ensures that both parties end up with what was promised and eliminates any fear of fraud. An escrow service coordinates the payment and confirmation process and allows both owner and renter peace of mind. We recommend the services of the First American Title Company, but any service that you trust is worth the extra investment!
4. Use a rental agreement
If you choose to conduct a private transaction without the aid of an escrow service, we highly recommend instating a rental agreement. A rental agreement outlines the terms of a rental, and it is considered a legal document. Should any disputes arise, a rental agreement in place clearly states the expectations for both parties and thus enables legal action if the need arises. RedWeek offers a sample rental agreement that members are free to edit and use.
5. Choose payment method carefully
The payment method you choose is partially reliant on the owner. However, there are some methods you should steer clear of. Wiring money, in particular, is dangerous and is the method of choice for most scammers. Before agreeing to payment, be sure to check out our list of payment methods that includes the pros and cons of each method so you know what to expect and how to protect yourself.
6. Check with us first
If a posting on RedWeek catches your eye but you feel a little uneasy, let us know! Just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with either the member's email address or the posting number and we'll be happy to take a look at their account for you. While we can never vouch for the legitimacy of any member, we'll let you know if they have any complaints or suspicious history.