Red Flags To Look Out For In Vacation Rentals

Every once in a while, you might get lucky when booking a vacation rental property and end up with a place that’s even nicer in real life than it looks in the listing photos. But it’s more likely that when you arrive, you find the host took a few liberties when describing the place in the listing. To help avoid that, be on the lookout for certain words in listings that could be red flags about the property.

Just like in regular real estate listings, some words used in Airbnb and VRBO descriptions can reveal a lot about the property without actually spelling it out. A report from consumer advocacy nonprofit, Elliot Advocacy, warns you to beware of terms which could be a nice way of saying something negative about the property.

  • Eclectic” - It could mean that the decor mixes several design styles … but it might mean that you can only get into one bedroom by crawling through a window or that the kitchen is in a literal closet.
  • Secluded” - This may refer to the property being far enough from other people that you can turn your music up loud without bothering anyone. Or it could mean that you’ll be pretty far from the nearest store, hospital and all those attractions in the area you want to check out.
  • Secure” - We all want our vacation rentals to be secure, so why would the host mention it in the description? Maybe because they just got a new video doorbell or maybe it’s that the home isn’t in the safest area.
  • Rustic” - Does this describe the quirks of a 150-year-old house or the fact that it has a limited supply of hot water and no air conditioning? Rustic is in the eye of the beholder and what’s perfectly acceptable to some may be a dealbreaker for you.
  • These are just clues - Keep in mind that just because you see these words in a listing doesn’t mean the owner is trying to hide something or there’s something wrong with the property. Just consider these like screening tools and if you see one, you may want to take a closer look at what that term means to this specific property before booking.


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