As tourism season ramps up across Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, the local real estate association is warning tourists again about scams related to online vacation rentals.
Every year, police departments across the region and the Cape Cod & Islands Association of Realtors® receive reports of vacationers booking vacations through online websites where the postings are not of vacation rentals and instead a scam just taking the money and leaving the vacationer without a place to stay.
“There is plenty of inventory this year for those who want to book last minute vacations to Cape Cod. Make sure you choose a reputable website and local firm to book through. We advise you to talk directly to the representative of the property on the phone before booking to ensure you are working with a real person and that the listing is legitimate at the end of the day, if the deal is ‘too good to be true’ it usually is,” said Ryan Castle, CEO of CCIAOR.
“The surest way to not be scammed is to work with a Realtor® who is accountable to a code of ethics, has committed to treating consumers fairly, and has a local presence to rectify situations that may arise in your vacation, added Castle.
Despite published reports of low inventory early in the year, there are ample unbooked nights available as demand has slowed over the last several months, he noted.
“Many agencies are reporting vacancies they had not seen in the past two years. As a premier ‘drive to’ market in the Northeast, the rise in gas prices combined with Europe and other foreign destinations opening back up to American travelers have created more vacation options for the target market than we have had in the last two years,” said Castle.
Here are some tips to ensure that a vacation rental is not a scam:
- Request a phone number and email address in your email to the host. This ensures they are customer-focused and ready to answer questions about your potential stay and will be responsive when you are staying. If the rental appears to be from a local brokerage, cross-check any contact information with what the brokerage has listed on their site.
- Use extra caution when considering booking a listing that appears brand new on the site, or has very few reviews.
- Be wary of vague responses and generic phrases. Ask the host to be more specific if needed.
- If the deal seems too good to be true (in terms of price for the house itself) it probably is.