The aim of this article is to show you how to find that perfect home for the perfect price. With our tips, you can find a quality home for much less than what the vacation home management companies charge. You can get the same home, with the same management support, but at a much lower price.
Find the Owner
The best way to save money on a vacation home is to find the owner. Why is it important to do business with the owner of the home? By going directly to the owner you can cut out the middleman, the management companies. Almost all of the rental homes around Disney are operated by a management company. A management company is responsible for cleaning the house, booking the house, and keeping up with all of the maintenance. Owners pay a management company to take care of everything and in turn the management company will pay the owners a percentage of the rental of the home. The only problem with this setup is that the management company will inflate the price considerably to cover their expenses and then some. If you go through the owner of the home, you can avoid paying too much.
What most people donÂ´t understand is the fact that almost all of the contracts that owners make with management companies allow them the opportunity to rent the house out themselves. When the owner rents out the home, the services remain the same, but instead of the owner getting part of the rent, they keep all of the rent and pay the management company a cleaning maintenance fee for the week (typically under $100). The service, cleanliness, and maintenance are the exact same if you rent the house through the management company or if you rent the house through the owner.
How much can you save by renting through the owner? It depends, but typically 30-40% or more. The savings come in when you help the owner make a little more by paying a lot less. A typical house rented through a management agency can cost around $1,200 a week. Out of that $1,200 the management company might pay the owner around $600. If the owner rented the house out themselves they could charge around $800, pay the $100 management fee, and still have $700 left over ($100 more than if they let the management company rent it out). The end result is that you pay less, the owner gets more, and the management company still gets paid for their services. ItÂ´s a win-win-win.
Where Can You Find the Owner?
Thanks to technology, visitors to the Orlando area have many more options from which to choose than those ten years ago. Over the Internet travelers can find websites for management companies or individual owners that rent their houses out themselves. Most of the tips that we will discuss will deal with the Internet and how you can get around paying too much.
One of the most underutilized resources on the Internet today is eBay. A lot of people look to eBay to buy collectibles, electronics, or even clothes. I have personally used eBay to buy automobile seats, vending machines, cars, and to even rent a house. It is a little known fact that you can rent a vacation home on eBay. By putting in the search words “Disney House”, “Disney Home”, or “Disney Villa”, you can see immediately all of the options that exist. Some listings use an auction format, but most seem to have the “Buy it Now” option. The Buy it Now option allows you to secure the house for the asking price instead of having to bid and wait up to a week to see if you can get the house.
There are a couple of different ways that you can approach a seller on eBay about renting their home.
o Use the “Buy it Now” option and get it over with.
o Contact the seller to be sure that the house is exactly what you want and is available for the time that you want.
o If it is apparent that there are plenty of available homes and you are going during the value season, offer the seller less than what they have posted.
o Most sellers have more than one home. Contact a seller who is showing reasonable prices and ask if they have other options available. A bigger house, a smaller house, or one that is closer to the parks.
o Most sellers have a website. Check out their website and see when houses are available and what the prices are. Many times you can find a special deal on their site that is lower than what it placed on eBay.
o If you plan to stay for longer than a week, ask if there are any discounts. Most sellers will waive fees, offer free extras (pool heat), or give you a discount for staying more than a week. Always ask for long-term discounts.
o As always check the sellerÂ´s feedback and rating before renting and try not to make an agreement by email or phone unless you are confident that you are dealing with someone reputable. If you reach an agreement with the seller on a different piece of property, ask them to post a new auction on eBay under the agreed terms. This way your purchase will be secure, and there will be a documented sale. eBay will not honor or investigate sales that are made over the phone or via email outside of an auction.
Many vacation home owners have a website that showcases their homes. On these sites you can view the different homes that are available, view the layout of the home, pictures of the rooms and pool, check the times that they are available, and even see the rates that are offered. As mentioned before, look for the special rates that might be offered during the off season or in the next couple of weeks. Good deals abound throughout the Internet it just takes a little bit of research to find whatÂ´s right for you.
We know that these sites are out there, but how can we find them? You can use a number of steps to ensure that you find exactly what you need.
o Look on eBay for any and all links to the ownerÂ´s site.
o Do a Google search for the site. Use key words like- Disney World Vacation Home Villa Rental.
o Look for ads in the back of magazines and travel newsletters.
Timing is Everything
As with most things dealing with Disney World, the time of year that you go has a lot to do with how much you pay. If you plan on going during the Peak or Holiday Seasons, expect to pay a higher price than if you go during the Value Season or other times of the year.
When is the best time to go? The “Cheap Months” would be January, February, September, October, early November, and early December. The “Good Deal” months could be late April, May, and August. Other times of the year can be hit or miss. There is always a chance of finding a good deal anytime of the year, but itÂ´s never a guarantee.
If you are planning on going during the busier times of the year, you might want to consider booking far in advance. Most owners will have their prices posted for the whole year and will allow you to book 18 months in advance. Some owners will even offer a discount if you book far in advance.
If you are going during the slower months and like to live on the wild side, try to book your house at the last minute. Last-minute deals during the Value Season could add up to a sizable savings, but be sure factor in the risk of not having a place to stay.
If All Else Fails, Try a Management Company
If you are the type of person that doesnÂ´t feel safe using the side door and want to have the mental security of working through a management company, feel free to do so. Sometimes a management company might have a better selection, better locations, and more amenities to offer. Even at an inflated rate, it can still be much cheaper than getting multiple rooms at a hotel.
Use the same techniques that we suggested in finding the owner of a home to find a management company (eBay, Google, or magazines). We donÂ´t endorse any specific management company, but you can be confident that there are numerous reputable companies in the Orlando area that will serve you well.
Things To Watch Out For
– Pool Heat- Pool Heat will cost extra. If you are going during the late fall, winter, or early spring months, consider the extra cost of pool heat.
– Sales Tax- Most listings for vacation homes do not include sales tax, but some do. Be sure to compare apples to apples when looking at different homes.
– Hidden Fees- Look for homes that are listed with “No Hidden Fees.” Some homes might have a great weekly rate, but have many extras added in the fine print. Extras like cleaning fees, minimum stay penalties, or early check-in fees.
– High Deposits- All rental homes will ask for a deposit when you book your stay. Some might simply want a check to hold, others will require $200, and others will want $500+. Be sure to ask what the deposit policy is, if it is negotiable, what the return policy is, and then calculate it into your total outlay needed.
– Cancellation Policy- Be clear about what the cancellation policy is. Some owners do not have one. If you are not 100% sure you will be going, don’t sign with an owner that doesn’t give you an out.
Shop around, shop around, and then shop around some more. DonÂ´t pull the trigger on the first deal you see. Look around, take notes, and then make a decision. There is rarely a silver bullet that will save you tons of money in one shot. There needs to be an investment in time to make it work to your full advantage.
Now get out there and save some money!!!
Want more tips on saving money on hotels, condos, and timeshares? Find many more tips and examples in our book, Disney on a Dime . Also, check out our site, www.disneyonadime.com for the latest deals and to purchase our book!