Oct 28, 2011

With any of the advice I give to others who ask me about renting by owner, I often qualify it with an admonition that there are occasions when it is best to be flexible with your requirements.  For example, I do almost always insist on having a phone conversation with the people who inquire, before I am willing to extend a formal offer to book.  You can learn a lot by speaking with someone, and I do think that making that human contact from the get-go has helped us to avoid several potentially problematic groups.  (I'm sure this requirement may also have also caused us to miss out on a few perfectly good, and lucrative, bookings as well - but each must determine his own tolerance for risk.)

There was one occasion when I made a booking that took a little leap of faith on my part.  When the inquiry came in via email, I almost discarded it as a scam: Missionaries contacting us from the Solomon Islands.  (Yes, I know!)  But I continued to communicate with them via email, we worked together to overcome the difficulties of time zones and the expense of international calls by having a conversation by using Skype.  There were some technical difficulties, which resulted in my having to type while my potential guest spoke - we joked about how I felt a little like Harpo Marx.  Anyway, the extra effort in working with these folks turned into a very good bit of business, plus the chance to make the acquaintance of a very nice - and very interesting - world-traveling couple.

[Also see Screening Prospective Vacation Rental Guests]

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