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Vacation Rentals Can Save Money, But It's Buyer Beware

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Here's a no-lose proposition: You get better accommodations, you get them for less and you get other discounts.

We're talking vacation rentals. Families or groups can save on the per-night cost versus a hotel, generally speaking, and by preparing and eating meals in. Rentals may offer more privacy than a hotel room and may even allow Fido, which means you'll save on the kennel bill.

And now there are other reasons to rent.

With the current bad economy, we are seeing two types of deals: a percentage off -- anywhere from 10% to 30% -- or the rental [that] sometimes comes wrapped with a fifth night free when you book four nights," said T.J. Mahony, chief executive of, a vacation rental site (owned by

"If an area is dependent on tourism . . . attractions begin offering discounts. Frequently, property managers have group discounts available."

Eileen Buesing, a spokesperson for HomeAway Inc., owner of several vacation rental websites including and, says a recent HomeAway vacation rental marketplace survey revealed about two-thirds of their vacation rental property owners are trying to stir interest with deals and incentives. These include discounted rental rates and leniency on booking dates (no minimum stay).

Add to that rounds of golf, ferry fare and discounted admission to amusement parks, said Anne Banas, executive editor of, a website that features travel news, deals and advice.

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