The Internet revolutionized how to rent vacation homes directly from the owners, and the recession provided incentive for tens of thousands of owners to put their second homes on the rental market, via websites like HomeAway.com, Craigslist.org and VRBO.com, or Vacation Rentals by Owner. The result is that renters have a huge selection, along with the power to negotiate, especially at the last minute. (Unlike hotels, where not everyone on staff has the authority to lower a rate, the owner of a vacation rental certainly can go as low as he or she likes.) Be sure to do your research: ask for lots of pictures and references, ask about any construction happening on or near the property and use the satellite view at Google Maps or Google Earth to scout out the property's surroundings because for all you know, a four-lane highway is just beyond the backyard.
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