What: HomeAway allows you to rent your vacation home — or a part of your own home.

Commissions & Fees: 5%, plus 3% credit card transaction fees ( or annual fee of $499)

Husl$core: $$$

Where: Worldwide

Review:

Before there was AirBnb, HomeAway and it’s affiliated companies, VRBO and VacationRentals.com, were the only games in town if you wanted to earn a little extra money renting out a vacation home — or a room in your own home.

Both AirBnb and HomeAway allow you to list your rental and just pay a service fee when someone books. HomeAway, which lists you on all its affiliated sites, charges more than AirBnb, however. The service fee is 5% (vs. AirBnb’s 3%), plus you pay the 3% transaction fee when your guests use a credit card. However, if you rent your home a lot, you have the option of paying an annual subscription of $399-$499 instead, which could save money with popular listings.

HomeAway also charges your customers a 4% to 9% “service fee” for the use of the platform. 

Despite the higher cost, HomeAway offers fewer benefits to homeowners than Airbnb.

For instance, AirBnb covers your home with their insurance policy when it’s rented; HomeAway does not. (From the company’s terms and conditions: “Users are solely responsible for obtaining insurance coverage sufficient to protect their properties and guests…”) Users also maintain that the site has some serious communication issues that cause problems with renters and the site.

The higher fees, lack of insurance and some highly critical recent reviews account for this site’s also-ran Husl $core.

Other sites to consider

If you’re renting to travelers,  Airbnb (HuslScore: $$$$) is an obvious choice.

However, you should also consider the myriad sites that will rent your home by the hour to photographers, movie-makers and event-planners. These sites include PeerSpace (Husl$core: $$$$$), Giggster (Husl$core: $$$$$) and Splacer (Husl$core: $$$$). What makes them particularly attractive is that they can command rates that are three-to-ten-times higher than what you’ll earn with Airbnb — and you generally don’t even need to change the sheets. The rentals are done by the hour, usually in 4-hour blocks. Though you’ll get less frequent requests, each rental is likely to be more lucrative.

What their homeowners say: 

“I am a home owner and am upset with HomeAway. A guest put in a question and a request, I conversed with the guest on his issues but did not accept his request immediately. And HomeAway just hid me from the website. I was not able to communicate with the guest and visa versa and lost my rent. By good fortune my guest contacted me to ask me what happened the next week. After consulting HomeAway they explained that if we do not accept within 24 hours we are hidden from the website… but also for current HomeAway guest. How confusing is that! I find it unacceptable they change the policy without informing us.”

“I have rented my home through this company for 7 years. A year ago the problems started (read the reviews). It got worse and worse. As an attempt to maintain a venue for attracting renters, I succumbed to their demands, but it keeps getting WORSE!!! I have finally dropped them, but I have been monitoring, and for my small rental area, the number of homes available has dropped from 245 to 203 in just three months. So apparently other homeowners are as frustrated as I am. For Cape Cod and the islands, visit WENEEDAVACATION!!!! They are awesome. NO BS!!!”

“Simply said, VRBO, or Homeaway, and Vacation Rentals.com, me to pay for the subscription. There are certain parameters that penalize those, like me, who do not. Basically, if you do not pay for a subscription, they put you in the bottom of the search results. I used to get half my business from Homeaway/VRBO until they changed a while ago to a harsh unequal format, that makes Property Management companies their most important customer. Meanwhile, owners operating rental are scraping for attention.

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