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Vacation Rental by Owner

September 27th, 2010 · No Brilliant Opinions · Vacation rentals

Sag Harbor, NY

After a full day at the office – saw 23 patients today – I actually made it to  the Homeaway.com seminar on “How to Rent Your Vacation Home” which was held in Manhattan tonite at the Lighthouse International.  I am sure it was supposed to start at 5:30 pm but things did not get off the ground until 6:00 pm.  The first thing I did was  scout out the snack table. There was mostly cookies and crackers.  I was early so I got a clump of six grapes. That was literally all the grapes on the table.  For my $49 registration fee, they could have bought a million grapes easy from the guy on the corner of 59th and Lexington.  I used to gripe about the snacks at medical conferences but if this is what a multi-million dollar corporation is serving up … well my apologies to the NMA and AMA.

A few years ago this would have been a really great conference for me.  The web has really made the vacation rental by owner  a huge business. We rent our vacation home in the Hamptons – mostly during the peak summer months.  We get most of our inquires from the web. I send the leases by email.  I even do credit card payments via a virtual terminal on my computer.  I’ve been on vacation myself and taken a booking deposit via Paypal.  Once you have a great property and a great housekeeper…the rest is gravy.

I was a little bothered by a few of the questions from the audience.  All homeowners do a little internet sleuthing on prospective renters.  We check phone numbers, emails, job websites and even Facebook.  I don’t want a bunch of drunk college kids tearing up my home … but when does the sleuthing become discriminatory.  There are clearly vacation homes that are unsuitable for children – but is it okay to not rent to families.  What about gays, Hispanics or my personal “favorite”- Tea Party members.

As a vacation home owner, one of the saddest calls I ever got was from a young woman (I believe she was from the Carolinas) who was looking for a family friendly rental in the Hamptons.  She asked a lot of the standard questions – “How big is the pool and is it heated?” “How far from the beach are you?” “Is there a crib on site?”  Her last question took me by surprise – “I am part of an interracial family – will that be a problem in your community?”   I reassured her that the Hamptons was very liberal and that our home was located midway between Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton –  towns with sizeable  black and Hispanic populations, and that I had never felt discriminated against or unwelcome.  She was relieved and told me that she would communicate this with her husband who was away in the armed services in Iraq.  I was sure she would rent from me but I never heard from her again. I found it ironic that as her husband was serving in Iraq (“protecting American interests”)  she was the mother of biracial children, simply looking for a beautiful and safe vacation home – and uncertain of finding that in her own country.


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