Craigslist Scam

 

Craigslist$1000 / 5br – 4200ft – 5bd House Vacation Rental (Indio)

© craigslist – Map data © OpenStreetMap

Madison at 49

5BR / 4Ba 4200ft2 house available now
laundry on site attached garage
wheelchair accessible
cats are OK – purrr dogs are OK – wooof

My house has been rented by a scam artist as a vacation rental for BNP Paribus, Stagecoach, and Coachella. People who were duped out of more than $1,000 have been showing up at my door to move in for the week. They are sad to find out they were ripped off and now the group of 10 don’t have anywhere else to stay for the week. PLEASE WATCH OUT FOR THIS SCAM!

The police can’t do anything (so they say) and neither can Craigslist (so they say). The only thing we can do is daily go on Craigslist and flag for deletion all of the ads for our house. We can’t keep up. It is often listed 3 or 4 times per day.

Don’t ever WIRE someone money whom you haven’t talked to personally. Authorities told us it is most likely a cyber-crime committed outside of the U.S. and therefore unavoidable! Please don’t rent a house on Carefree Drive in Indio unless you check to see if it is also listed on VRBO.com. Then call the owner and talk.

  • do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers

post id: 4943054642

posted: 7 days ago

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♥ best of [?]

Please flag discriminatory housing ads Avoid scams, deal locally! DO NOT wire funds (e.g. Western Union), or buy/rent sight unseen

 

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The above was posted on Facebook this past week and I thought it would be a good topic for today’s blog post.  Unfortunately we see this, and similar scams, all the time.  Vacation Rentals of the Desert is a member of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association who keep us informed of the various methods used to scam both renters AND property owners.  These scams do a lot to hurt the professional vacation rental industry too.  It is sad.  One bad apple … as the saying goes.

I received an email from a business associate, Kelly, a few days after reading the above post on Facebook.  Apparently she personally knew the homeowner and was reaching out to me for advice.  Since the homeowner had already contacted both Craigslist and the police, my only concern was for her safety and peace of mind.  Looking at a bigger picture, as I am always apt to do, I recommended that she look into a security system and post a big note on the front door stating that the house has been involved in a scam and it is not a vacation rental; to contact the person who collected your money and do not disturb the owners occupying the property.

Picture this scenario … the vacation renters arrive at the front door only to find that there is no key under the mat or lock box on the front door … or wherever the “so-called owner” said the keys would be.  They ring the doorbell but there is no answer.  The guests, thinking they had paid for the property, take it upon themselves to call a locksmith or break a window to gain access … “after all, we paid for it.”   If the property owner cannot be at the house 24/7 … this is a very real possibility.  OR … a party of ten shows up at the house about 1:00 a.m. after the first day of Coachella Fest … ten people who have been partying hard all day long, wake you from a dead-sleep in the middle of the night!  Ugly.

This is not a happy situation for either the property owner or the renter, and it puts a black mark on vacation rentals as a whole.

If you are a vacation “renter” reading this post …. Please, please, please do not search for vacation rentals on Craigslist.  It is a very easy site for scammers to use … there is no accountability for either those who post or those who inquire.  This is why you will typically not find professional vacation rental companies on this site.  Red flags you should look for … wiring funds, lack of pictures, no live person to speak to, no reviews, and no protections offered by the posting site.  Craigslist is a free listing service.  Property owners pay to list their vacation home on VRBO, FlipKey and many other “by owner” sites.  Some of these sites will offer protection in the form of insurance.  This does not mean there are not scammers on these sites as well.  Always steer clear of wiring funds, always speak directly to the owner and always get the exact property address.  That being said … I really must encourage you to go through a professional company.  I am not being biased here!  Many scammers have charisma, they are very convincing salesmen and sound like someone you can trust … that’s what makes them successful scammers.  Some property listings do not have reviews because they are too new, or the property owner does not choose the site’s option to collect reviews.  And reviews are not always reliable.  I can go on VRBO and most “by owner” sites and give a great review to a property that I have not even seen, much less rented.  So reviews can be completely made up.  If you look up city records for the name of the property owner, the property may “legally” be in another name.  Many vacation homes have multiple owners, or property managers, or are in trusts or LLCs.  Since it’s “public record,” a good scammer will have looked up this information as well and have a prepared story.  References … scammer have friends who are scammers … they’d gladly put you in touch with a “renter” who would vouch for “their” property.  If you want peace of mind … go with a professional vacation management company.

On June 8, 2014 in my blog post titled “Girlfriend Retreat,” I shared the story of how I was appointed the official “property procurer” for a girl’s weekend.  Being in the vacation rental business, my friends figured that for me, it’d a no-brainer.  I started poking around the internet and quickly realized that there was no way in the world that I was going to rent through a “by owner” site.  Too risky.  Because I am in the profession I would have never even thought about going directly to a stranger … but I now found myself on the other side of that computer screen and the other side of that phone call.  How would I feel if we were scammed and not only I, but my friends lost their vacation money and found ourselves without a place to stay!   Before I got too far in my search I got lucky.  I work with a property owner who also had a home in Lake Arrowhead, exactly where we wanted to stay.  But just the thought of picking up the phone and trusting someone I did not know and knowing the number of scams out there … well I’m just not as trusting as I once was.

So finally I want to say … there are a lot of bad people out there.  I hope your property is never involved in a scam like the owner above.  Odds are in your favor that it won’t be.  If you are a renter I have only one thing to say … just go to a professional please.  Contact me!  I’d love to rent you a home in the desert … or go to discovervacationhomes.com (operated by the Vacation Rental Managers Association).  They have a list of reputable vacation rental companies on their website. You may pay just a little more for a professionally managed property… or maybe not, but I guarantee you’ll sleep better knowing that you and your vacation, are in trusted hands!

 

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Midcentury haven Palm Springs comes back to life

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Poking around on Facebook today I found a wonderful article shared on a favorite blog that I follow, “Sit and Stay A While.” Sarah shared a great article on Palm Springs posted by the Boston Globe on March 7, 2015.

“For people who love midcentury design and the mystical midcentury lifestyle, Palm Springs is the number one place in the world to experience it.” This line from the article is oh so true and touches on a subject I have wanted to talk about in this blog for some time now.

It is amazing to watch the old midcentury homes in the desert come back to life! What this article does not go into is the vast number of these local home transformations being the result of vacation rental investments. These are not your typical investors. These home buyers are just like you and me, not big corporations, not multi-investors … they are visitors who fall in love with our desert and decide it would be wonderful to own their own vacation home.  In years following 2008, a number of older homes that had fallen into disrepair and the decrease in real estate values, those who had money to invest saw a wide selection of affordable homes to select from … thanks to the recession.  Many of those minor investors jumped on the opportunity to purchase a vacation home with the thought that it would be fun to bring a neglected beauty back to life and then to off-set their costs by generating vacation rental income.  The real estate market has come back but this trend seems to have caught on in spite of escalating home prices, and it has had a great impact on neighborhoods throughout the desert.  A successful vacation rental home must be well maintained, beautifully landscaped and kept in top condition at all times.

I have witnessed this throughout the desert and Vacation Rentals of the Desert has a few of these properties on our vacation rental program. The property pictured above is located about a block from our office. Three years ago it looked like a tear-down. It had year-round tenants, a large family, and was one of the scariest properties in our area … fence falling down, graffiti on the walls, dead yard, a mix of foil and sheets on the windows. And then the family moved out and a for sale sign went up in the yard. After a few months we noticed that the sign was gone and there were contractors all over the place. The transformation happened quickly, the house was gutted down to the studs and completely renovated! We watched and even walked through the house as the work progressed. Soon the work was finished and … surprise … the owners contacted us, listed the property and now not only are the owners enjoying their very own midcentury home in the desert, but they are successfully offsetting some of the overhead by running a brisk vacation rental business. But also don’t forget that they took a scary, run-down eye-sore and turned it into one of the most beautiful properties in the neighborhood … which also helps to increase the value of all the properties in their area.

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Above is another example of this exact same scenario and how vacation rentals are helping to revitalize the desert, improve neighborhoods and bring some of our neglected architectural beauties back to life.

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Above … yet another renovated midcentury beauty that we manage.

Following is the article mentioned above from the Boston Globe. Even if you are not a fan of midcentury modern, I believe you will enjoy the article, photos and short video. Thank you Christopher Muther of the Boston Globe for such a wonderful article about our desert. And I wish all my readers a happy Sunday!

Midcentury haven Palm Springs comes back to life

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By Christopher MutherGlobe Staff  March 07, 2015

PALM SPRINGS — It was as if I were walking through an issue of Architectural Digest. I gingerly stepped on travertine floors with a pair of disposable medical shoe covers clinging to my beat-up sneakers. I wandered through minimalist rooms abutting sunny courtyards and then gazed longingly into shimmering swimming pools until I was temporarily blinded by reflected sunlight.

As I progressed through these midcentury architectural masterpieces in Palm Springs, the term “real estate envy” crystallized before my eyes. Touring the desert homes was like a dream, a dream that made me seriously rethink my Ikea furniture purchases and nudged me toward cleaning the red wine stains off my living room rug.

Full story:   http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/travel/2015/03/07/midcentury-haven-comes-back-life/3Fm9493GTCK6z3DaWoGnLK/story.html

 

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Cheers!

1959257_134827990021136_2146120384_nBeing a small business owner, I have come to appreciate the hard work and heart that it takes to make that first scary step towards starting a business.  At the beginning, with twelve years of vacation rental management behind me, some people would think that starting Vacation Rentals of the Desert would be pretty easy.  It is true that I knew the vacation rental business well, but the difference between managing and owning are miles apart.  Being an owner/manager can even be more stressful … and all my clients, whether property owners or renters, know that the buck stops at my desk … and they all know where to find my desk.    I’m happy I took the leap of faith and I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish with the help of my exceptional hand-picked staff.   It’s fun and rewarding but takes hard work … everyday!

16503_214627095374558_8594128579485478441_nIt goes without saying that I greatly admire those with an idea, a dream and a bit of gumption, who take those first scary steps and turn their dreams into a business.  So today’s post is not about the vacation rental industry, but about one of my property owners … another successful small business owner surrounded by exceptional people.   

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Sandy popped into the office yesterday to say hello.  I have managed David and Sandy’s property at Rancho Las Palmas Country Club for several years.  After chatting for a few minutes she mentioned that she had gifted a couple of bottles of wine to her vacationing guests.  Then Sandy told us it was from her winery, her label … BlendZ!!  Wow!!  Turns out Sandy and her husband David, along with close friends recently started their own winery in Ventura, California!  She showed us the website and explained that their inspiration came from Rock n’ Roll and their blends are inspired by … music!  With labels like “Dazed and Confused” and “Imagine” it is easy to see that their clientele centers around baby boomers … however I’m sure any age can appreciate a good bottle of wine.  What a clever, fun and delicious concept.  They have a small storefront in Ventura, with lots of “happening” events.  If you are in the area, drop by BlendZ Winery and become a groupie.  Say hi to David and Sandy and tell them Vickie from Vacation Rentals of the Desert sent you … have a glass of Scarlet Begonias for me.

Happy Sunday everyone!

 

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Spot Cleaning Carpets

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This week I want to talk about carpets again.

One of our rental guests called to report that she had tracked mud into the master bedroom.  Having found a bottle of carpet spot remover hidden in the back of a utility closet, she attempted to clean the carpet herself. The carpet turned blue. Yikes!

If you are a guest in a vacation rental home … please don’t use spot cleaners. If you own a vacation rental home … please don’t leave spot cleaners for your guests. There are so many variables when it comes to spot cleaning a carpet. The kind of stain, how long the spot remover has been sitting in the cabinet, the type of carpet, manufacturers recommendations and most important of all … making sure you do not leave any residue. Removing the residue is very difficult and if not fully removed, the residue will act like sticky glue, grabbing everything on the bottom of shoes and will most likely become a permanent stain. In many cases the carpet will look beautiful after professional carpet cleaning, but the spots will quickly return once people start walking on it again.  So the bottom line … saving a little money by spot cleaning may cost you the price of a carpet replacement!

Below are a few visual examples.  The carpet photos with the blue spots is the results of the spot remover our guest (mentioned above), used to remove the muddy footprints. We had our carpet cleaners immediately go out and do a thorough cleaning. Hopefully these spots will not come back.

The second set of photos is of a vacation rental property where the owners spot cleaned the carpet themselves. The carpet is pristine after professional carpet cleaning, however within days the spots return and they are appalling. This carpet will be replaced after this rental season. In the meantime we have laid down area rugs to hide the unsightly carpet.  Pretty nasty … huh?

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Today!

Dr-Seuss-TODAY-iS-YOUR-day-Your-font-b-MOUNTAIN-b-font-is-waWell today is here!  Our single busiest day of the year … so I’ll keep this short and sweet since I need to head out the door.  Today … all hands are on deck!

Today we have about forty-five properties with people coming and going and thirty-four of these have a five hour turn around between guests!   Not an easy task, but all properties need to be checked after guests depart and again before guests arrive.  All have to be cleaned, fluffed and fussed over because every one of our guests deserve to arrive to a thoroughly clean vacation home after their travels.

This past week has been all about timing!  We have talked to each of our guests and know their precise time of departure, whether early or at the appointed 10 a.m. hour.  We have contacted our arriving guests as well and know the times of their flights (barring airline delays) and have their ETAs.  Cleaners have been tightly scheduled to fit the timing just so.  The first day of January, February, March and April have always been challenging.  These are the most popular arrival and departure days of the year and organizing these days takes a great deal of work.  Keys, garage door openers, gate transponders and gate passes to be returned, logged in and then logged back out again.  Gas and electric meters to be read on homes with private pools.  Pool heat to be turned on, or turned off.  Properties to be inspected, damage reported and addressed.

So … today I ask that my readers say a little prayer for my staff, cleaners, handymen, departing and arriving guests.  I’ve got a glass of red wine with my name on it … but first I’ve got to make it through … today!

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