Desert is in High Demand


Some call the desert “a fun place to come to” others say, “it’s something about the energy,” but for thousands escaping harsh winter climates, they call the greater Palm Springs area their “home away from home.” As the number of vacation rentals grow, so do the number of visitors and in turn, many of these visitors will purchase properties of their own. Vacation Rentals of the Desert has experienced this over and over. In the past five years we have lost at least a dozen renter-clients who after being long time seasonal renters have purchased a property and are now owner-clients, listing their property on our vacation rental program.  This “vacation rental effect” has helped our local economy, increased home sales and helped to bring back much of the desert tourism that was literally dying. Once known as “God’s waiting room,” the desert is now being recognized as a younger, more hip community. Drawing world-wide attention with mega music festivals, world-class tennis and golf championships and more recently, the rebirth of modernism, Palm Springs is successfully rebranding itself to draw a younger population. It just might be the shot in the arm that this desert needs.

Slim Aarons Poolside Gossip Palm Springs ChicThis week I found a Facebook post that I want to share with all my followers. Whether local residents or not, I think you will enjoy this short segment from one of our local evening newscasts. This story aired on KESQ, Channel 3, April 23, 2015.  “With the music festivals finishing up this weekend, the Palm Springs area is a hot spot that’s gone global. As Bianca Rae shows us, the desert is once again back in demand.”  Click on the link below …


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Midcentury haven Palm Springs comes back to life


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


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:


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Is Palm Springs on the Right Track?

palm_springs_03On December 10th the Desert Sun ran an editorial on vacation rentals in Palm Springs.  I am glad to see the media presenting a broader picture on the heated debate between vacation rental operators and local residents.  There are two definite sides to vacation rentals and I firmly believe that finding a middle ground will benefit everyone in the long run.  Palm Springs might be on to something here!  For quite some time I have been saying that some entity needs to step in and handle the complaints received by the police and compliance offices.  We need a neutral party to identify problem homes as well as nuisance residents. 
Bad owners and party houses are giving us a bad rap … or should I say rep.  Every party house reflects on the entire industry.  Every conscientious vacation rental owner and manager would like to see the bad players shut down.  These few bad apples are harming the entire industry.  I am hopeful that the Palm Springs pilot program will be successful.  By cracking down and enforcing the existing regulations, perhaps we can stop the increasingly strict city rules and regulations. 
Again and again I have been put in the very uncomfortable position of defending a Rancho Mirage regulation that I view unfair.  This past week, meeting and doing a property walk-through, I had to explain to a lovely sixty-something year old couple that they were not permitted to turn on the TV on the back patio … period.  The couple was disappointed that the city felt that they could be a possible nuisance if they took their coffee out to the private back yard and watched the morning news.   They mentioned that it was not a very welcoming feeling.  For the vacation rental owners and managers who strive to enforce good neighbor policies and follow all the rules, it is bitter to swallow the pill prescribed for the few problem properties. 
The boost that vacation rentals bring to the local economy and the city coffers, make it worth the effort to find a workable solution.  I also believe that there are some people who have gotten their backs up, and this is true on both sides of the issue.   This should also be looked at very carefully.  This is a good time for everyone to stand down, take a deep-breath and give the Palm Springs’ pilot program a chance to succeed. 
Following is the Desert Sun Editorial dated December 10, 2014 …

Our Voice: Palm Springs on top of vacation rentals

Vacation rental management agencies and homeowners in Palm Springs can expect a more vigorous response and follow-up to disturbance complaints.

The city will launch a three-month pilot program with Desert Security Services to quickly respond to disturbances received by the police department on weekends.

“The security officer or a code person will be dispatched immediately by police dispatch,” David Ready, Palm Springs city manager, told the Palm Springs City Council on Wednesday. The pilot program will cost $45,000 to $50,000.

“They will respond immediately to that home, and make an assessment of what’s occurring. If a citation needs to be issued, they will do it. And if nothing is occurring, they will record that as well,” Ready added.

The council was reviewing the modifications it made to the city’s vacation rental ordinance six months ago, in part, to see if the changes are working to reduce disturbances, and improve compliance with the ordinance.

Roughly 1,500 homes in Palm Springs are registered as vacation rentals, a 10.3 percent increase since February. Of those, 2 to 3 percent of the rentals have garnered complaints, according to city statistics taken in the last six months.

However, the issue remains a sensitive one — particularly for those residents who happen to live next door to “party houses.”

Tricia Porter said she has what seems to amount to a fraternity house behind her home.

“We can stand in the front of our house and hear them playing ping pong,” Porter told the council.   Read full article …..


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Vacation rentals boost Coachella Valley economy by $7M



Photo: Jay Calderon/Desert Sun

This week I’m sharing an “enlightening” article that appeared in our local newspaper, The Desert Sun, on November 2, 2014.  I think it will be of interest to most of my readers … but primarily all Coachella Valley vacation rental owners.  If you were to do a web search of almost any resort city in the U.S., you’d most likely find similar articles.  As vacation rentals grow in popularity, so grows the challenges faced by vacation rental owners and their management companies.  As the owner of Vacation Rentals of the Desert, with properties throughout the Coachella Valley cities, I actively work with the city officials to ensure that the properties we manage are in complete compliance with the various city ordinances.  We promote “good neighbor” policies and keep our owners and rental guests informed of all rules and regulations.  Vacation rentals are a very Hot Topic these days and all vacation rental owners should keep informed of the ever-changing conversation and become involved with their “business asset.” 

Xochitl Peña, The Desert Sun11:13 p.m. PST November 2, 2014

Why stay in a hotel room when you can have an entire house?

That line of thinking has helped grow the vacation rental scene in the Coachella Valley into a money maker, generating close to $7 million in bed tax revenue for valley cities and about $216 million in “direct spending” in 2013.

Premiere events — Modernism Week in Palm Springs, the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, and the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals in Indio – all continue to attract an increasing number of people each year who choose to stay in homes.

Records requested by the Desert Sun showed valley cities last fiscal year brought in $6.8 million in vacation rental transient occupancy tax, up from $5.1 million the year before, which helps boost budgets and provide for city services. Coachella and Desert Hot Springs are the only cities that do not collect the bed tax on rentals.        Read full article ….


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It Is Very Expensive to Be Cheap!


Recently we added a new condominium to our rental program.  It’s a gorgeous, high-end vacation home which was completely remodeled, updated and decorated about this time last year.  My new clients purchased this condo a few months ago.  The previous owners who had remodeled the property, rented it through VRBO last season.  The condo is located at Rancho Las Palmas Country Club in Rancho Mirage.  Vacation Rentals of the Desert represents approximately 82 properties in this particular country club, and my personal experience with Rancho Las Palmas goes back to the 1980s and has spanned over thousands of rental guests.  So it was not a surprise when one of our past guests called to say she had rented this particular property directly from the owner for a three month stay.  She could not get assistance from the owner with her struggles to hook up to the internet.  She was hoping we could help her as we had in the past when she had rented through our company.   Of course we went to her rescue … she was, and would again in the future be, an excellent tenant.

We sent an employee who is internet savvy and the guest’s laptop was up and running in no time.  After our employee returned to the office, he told us that it was a fantastic property but the guest had shared a few complaints.  She had pointed out that there were no blinds in the living room and kitchen which made her feel like she was living in a fish bowl.  I found this odd since the living room faced a busy fairway and was clearly visible to street traffic as well.  The owners had hung beautiful curtain “accents” on the sides of the windows, but they could not be pulled closed for privacy.  Her second issue was the lack of kitchen supplies … cooking and serving utensils and cookware, which was very frustrating since she liked to cook and entertain.   Even though she liked the property, she said that she would not rent it again.

Season ended and our business slowed.  Over the summer this gorgeous property was listed and quickly sold.  The buyers where friends of an owner on our vacation rental program.  We were recommended, introduced and fortunate to add this fantastic property to our rental program.  In conversations with the new owners, I mentioned the issues of the previous guests.  The new owners were quick to address these issues.  They thoroughly went through our “minimum requirements” worksheet and purchased all the missing kitchen and linen items, and even added more amenities.  They asked me to contact our window treatment company for recommendations and quotes and settled on motorized blinds operated by remote control, and even changed the inexpensive faux blinds in the bedrooms to beautiful wood blinds.  In addition, they replaced the tattered awning over the back patio and are currently gathering quotes on replacing the aged HVAC unit.  I love this owner!


The point I am trying to make in this article is that functionality is key to a successful rental property.  Just because the vacation home looks like it’s right out of the pages of House Beautiful, does not necessarily mean it is comfortable, functional or livable.  I have mentioned this point in previous posts.  Decorator lamps look beautiful, but do they give off adequate light for reading?  A big screen TV mounted over the fireplace looks perfect in the great room, but is it mounted so high that you have a stiff neck after watching the latest episode of NCIS?

I have been fortunate this summer.  I have added several properties to our vacation rental program with owners who are heeding my advice and being mindful of the comforts of their future guests.  I met with Tom and Carolyn yesterday to go over repairs and updates to their property.   A first time vacation rental home, their condominium has been in the family for many, many years.  It is a much loved second home filled with memories of family holidays and celebrations spanning three generations.  As happens to so many families who own second homes; children and grandchildren grow up and busy lives and commitments drastically limited their ability to visit.   Tom and Carolyn do not wish to sell the family home, but instead, hope to generate a little income by sharing it with vacationing guests.  The condo is … or should I say “was” dated.   Over the past couple of months they have updated furnishings, art and décor, linens, bedding, kitchen supplies, window coverings, TVs, patio furnishings and the BBQ.  The property I walked into yesterday was entirely a different home than the one I viewed when meeting Tom and Carolyn two months ago.  Not only did they follow our “minimum requirement” worksheet but they kept in mind that it would be their family’s vacation home for many years to come, so they selected décor and supplies based on quality and not on cost or trying to cut corners.  They clearly understood that spending a few dollars more on quality would not only be recognized and appreciated by guests, but would probably mean less repairs or replacement costs in the future.  These “well put together” properties will almost always generate more repeat tenants … and good repeat tenants are every owner’s goal.  I love working with these kind of owners!

Our handyman Alex, made a statement several years ago that I have repeated often … “It is very expensive to be cheap.”  This is oh so true.  An example would be the faux wood blinds mentioned above in our new Rancho Las Palmas condo.  The previous owners had bought and hung inexpensive “out of the box” blinds in the bedrooms about a year ago.  They lasted one rental season.  When raised they bowed badly and on one, the wand to open the blinds had snapped off.  This was probably frustrating for rental guests.  For a slightly higher cost, the new substantial, wood blinds were hung and will probably last for the next ten years.  This same scenario applies to almost everything in life … “Do it right the first time or you’ll end up doing it over and over again.”  Inexpensive/cheap does not work in a vacation home that most likely will go through a lot of wear and tear.  Quality is key … which does not always mean “expensive.”  I never recommend cutting corners … it almost always costs you more in the long run.

Because of blinds and a few kitchen supplies, the previous owners of the “House Beautiful” Rancho Las Palmas condo, lost a three month repeat guest and probably received a bad review on VRBO.  If the guest told us about how unhappy she was, you can bet she told her friends as well, who also rent at Rancho Las Palmas.  It’s a small community and word travels fast.  They say “word of mouth is the best advertising” … adversely, it can destroy you.  Was this a case of “expensive to be cheap” or was it a costly oversight?  To a paying guest … it always appears to be lack of care.  Now that the “livability” has been improved, and with the level of attention and care from the new owner, I’m certain this condominium will be one of our most popular vacation homes and having had a guest already … the first review was outstanding!

A very cool side story to this post.  When visiting Tom and Carolyn yesterday, I learned that they had recently purchased a historic 500 year old estate in the beautiful countryside village of Flavigny-Sur-Ozerain, France.  The purchase and renovations are feature in an upcoming episode of “House Hunters International, Renovations” on my favorite cable network HGTV.  The airing will be November 22nd at 10 p.m. pacific.  This property looks like it’s right out of the movie “Chocolat.”  It is amazing!  Unfortunately I do not handle properties outside the Palm Springs desert … but the photos I have seen of this property make me wish I did.  If Tom and Carolyn end up listing it as a vacation property, I will share details with you in a future post.

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Is Your Vacation Home Emergency Ready?


BvzDRp7CEAEP3D0This morning Napa, California was “a rockin’ and a rollin’!”   Many northern Californians were abruptly awakened by a 6.0 earthquake at 3:20 a.m. Sunday morning.  California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency.

This is the height of rental season in the Napa Valley and surrounding areas.  Just think of all the vacationing guests who may have experienced their first earthquake in the wee, dark hours this morning.  I found the kitchen photo in a “Tweet” about today’s earthquake.  I wonder how the rest of this home fared and how the occupants are holding up?  Whether this is their first earthquake experience or not, I am certain they are pretty shaken.  What a mess to have to deal with … and what if this was a vacation rental property?  How would a guest deal with the power outage, in the dark, as they are stumbling through a “broken” home?  Who would deal with the clean-up and security of the vacation property?  The guests?  I doubt it.  Most likely … they’d hit the road before the sun came up!

There are no real ways to fully prepare for unforeseen emergencies.  Earthquakes, severe storms, tornados and power outages often arrive unexpectedly.  However, Vacation Rentals of the Desert recommends a few supplies that will be helpful and appreciated by your guests in the event of an emergency:  A flashlight in each nightstand, a flashlight in a kitchen “junk” drawer along with replacement batteries, a fire extinguisher, emergency candles, matches and perhaps a couple of gallon jugs of water in the pantry or garage.

Keep Safe my friends.

“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” ― Gen. George S. Patton


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HGTV … Thank You for Spreading the Word!


hertz_Garell_Outside_lgBoy do I have the PERFECT Sunday afternoon planned out for you!  I have mentioned many times over the past several months that vacation rentals have grown in exposure and popularity in recent years.  Much of the national exposure has been due to HGTV.  I am a huge fan of “House and Garden TV” and enjoy most of their programs.  House Hunters, House Hunters International, House Hunters on Vacation, Love It or List It, Property Brothers … all have provided great decorating tips which I have used in sprucing up and staging many of the properties I manage at Vacation Rentals of the Desert.

I not only recommend HGTV programs to vacation rental owners, but I believe any home owner will benefit from their decorating, renovation and maintenance tips … besides they are just down-right fun to watch!  If you are “toying” with the idea of purchasing a vacation rental home or listing your second home as a vacation rental property, then the below videos are a MUST SEE!  These short videos give great insight into the value of a vacation rental and its potential income, what guests are looking for in a rental home and some really great advice on amenities.  They allow us to step into the shoes of vacation rental owners as well as vacationing guests.

Once you’re on the HGTV website take a look around … there is so much of interest.  I know … I just spent most of the morning jumping from video to video! 

Now … grab your iced tea, a bowl of popcorn and get ready for some fun!


This year-round rental house in LA was converted to a successful vacation rental property.


In this short clip the host compares three vacation rental homes in Key West, Florida and tells viewers which will be more successful and why.


This is a cool new show … Vacation House for Free.  Watch short clips on purchasing a vacation rental home that will carry itself.  Note:  There are several clips back to back with short commercials between.  Keep the video player running.


One of my favorite shows … House Hunters On Vacation!  Watch short clips or full episodes.  The HGTV host shows lucky guests three vacation homes and treats them  to a one week vacation at the home of their choice.  Step into the shoes of three separate families as they choose a vacation home in Maui, St. Thomas and the California Wine Country;  join two couples as they choose a perfect vacation home in Sante Fe and a very lucky couple from California that decide on a dream honeymoon location in London.  Note:  The video that comes up will feature Maui.  You will need to click on the individual episodes listed below the video screen to view all of the short clips.  You also have the option to choose the entire episode.


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New Rancho Mirage Vacation Rental Ordinance

RM ConflictThis week the city of Rancho Mirage approved and passed a new, stricter vacation rental ordinance.  I am still trying to digest the changes and work on the implementation and enforcement of the new restrictions within my business.  Today I am not ready to step up on my soapbox … publically.  I am still collecting information and trying to look at the bigger picture and potential ramifications we could suffer if I were to overreact.  Since I have over one hundred Rancho Mirage vacation rental owners that I work with, and many of these owners have contacted me to ask what our input to the city was, I have decided to posted the argument I made this past Thursday, July 31st at the city council meeting.  I was joined by several property owners and residents who manage their own vacation rental properties in the city of Rancho Mirage.  Our voices were listened to but unfortunately not heard.  If you are interested in viewing the entire city council meeting, below I have attached the link to the city website and July 31st city council meeting.  The entire meeting is almost four hours in length.  To skip to the reading of the proposed vacation rental ordinance and the arguments made by residents and owners you can fast forward one hour and 05 minutes … 1.05 on the viewer bar at the bottom of the video.  The new ordinance goes into effect August 30, 2014.

Rancho Mirage City Council Meeting, July 31, 2014

Click on the following link and scroll down to the video.


Desert Sun article “Rancho Mirage vacation rental age restriction set at 30” published August 1, 2014


Following is the argument I presented at the city council meeting.

My name is Vickie Murguia and I’m the owner of Vacation Rentals of the Desert.  I manage approximately 100 vacation rental properties in the City of Rancho Mirage.  I am here to represent those property owners who cannot attend city council meetings to make their arguments in favor of vacation rentals.  There seems to be just a handful of residents that have made repeated complaints against vacation rentals.  I am here to represent the silent majority.  This includes the 100 home owners that I work with and all their renters that visit the desert and are excellent neighbors.  The silent majority also includes all the businesses that benefit from these owners and renters such as contractors and remodeling companies that new buyers hire to update and turn around vacant and neglected properties, the cleaners, the repair services and various vendors that support vacation rentals.  This also includes real estate agents that are seeking out investors and using the idea of vacation rental potential in their sales pitch.  These agents cannot voice their opinions because they work with people that are on both sides of the issue.  There are also the restaurants, theaters, stores, golf courses and all the activities where travelers spend their money in Rancho Mirage.  Just imagine the silent majority were here today … they would overflow this room.  Our desert is in the resort business.  Most of us were not born and raised in the desert.  We visited, fell in love with the desert and eventually moved here.

I do not agree with the proposed changes to the ordinance regarding minimum age and outdoor sounds.  I believe they have the potential to chase away visitors, property buyers and ultimately much needed revenue to the city of Rancho Mirage.  After all, revenues from TOT were the reason for the ordinance in the first place.  Chasing away short term rentals will lose Rancho Mirage hundreds of thousands in TOT as well as sales tax.

In the 3 years since activating the Hot Line … I have only received 3 calls from all cities combined.  My company receives a weekly report from the city of Palm Springs on Hot Line calls.  I propose that the city of Rancho Mirage also share this information with managers and owners.  This way we can better monitor any violations and identify residents that repeatedly call the Hot Line.  I believe the current ordinance is sufficient but could be better enforced by owners and vacation rental managers and that stricter laws are over-reaching and are just going to be more difficult to enforce and will chase away the visitors that are the life blood of our community and does not address the underlying issues which could probably be address by managers or owners screening their renters and educating their tenants on the current rules and regulations and informing them of the ramifications of non-compliance.

Whatever is decided, Vacation Rentals of the Desert will always keep in full compliance with the law and will continue to strive to be good neighbors.

NOTE:  This is a hot topic.  Anyone care to discuss?

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Plan a Destination Event for Family or Friends!

mothers-daySo it’s Mother’s Day and your entire family wants to celebrate mom!

Time to plan the annual Mother’s Day Brunch?  …  Yawn!

You’ve exhausted the list of possible gifts … she has everything. But actually what mom really wants is your time! Time with the family … memories!

Next year …. why not plan a weekend Mother’s Day Celebration?

A great new trend in family and friend gatherings is planning a “Destination Event” and with the availability of vacation homes … it is oh so easy and affordable. I have noticed an enormous increase in multiple property rentals for family and friend gatherings. At Vacation Rentals of the Desert we assist in finding accommodations for many celebrations and events throughout the year. If you want to plan your “destination event” in the Palm Springs area, call me … otherwise here are a few tips …

1) Choose a Location. It may be easiest for everyone you hope will attend if the location is within close proximity to most members of your group. You may find a location in your own city or choose a resort area within driving distance.

2) Finding Vacation Homes: It is best to contact a vacation rental company that lists multiple properties in a particular area. Searching “by owner” listings such as VRBO or FlipKey could take hours, even days in talking to various owners and searching multiple addresses to find properties in close proximity. Save yourself the time and aggravation by calling a vacation rental company who can focus on your desired location or recommend the perfect area for your destination event, find the ideal bed configurations and provide information on surrounding amenities. For instance, Vacation Rentals of the Desert manages over 80 condominiums in Rancho Las Palmas Country Club in Rancho Mirage California. These two and three bedroom condos are ideal for family stays and can be very economical. In additional we often can find vacation properties next door to each other or within close walking distance. You can easily do an internet search for vacation management companies in your desired area or contact the Chamber of Commerce for a listing of companies.
3) Affordable: A two or three night stay at a vacation rental home can be less expensive than hotel rooms and has the added convenience of accommodating multiple families. You will also have indoor and outdoor living areas for large gatherings and space for your celebrations, parties and BBQs.

4) Creating Memories! How many birthdays have you celebrated at a restaurant? Can you remember how you celebrated Thanksgiving five years ago? What a great family event … pack up the kids and meet your entire family; brothers, sisters, mom, dad and grandparents at a beach or ski community … maybe at a National Park, the vineyards of Napa Valley or my personal favorite … Palm Springs! No matter what the event, you are sure to make memories to last a life time … and perhaps start a family tradition.
Think of the possibilities … birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, golf groups, ski groups … any holiday, any event … what a fun, affordable and memorable way to celebrate an event with family and friends.
And to all Moms out there … I wish you a Blessed & Memorable Mother’s Day!


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“Billy the Kid” Scam! Owners Beware!

billy_film_landingThe following story takes place quite a few years ago … before I opened Vacation Rentals of the Desert. At that time I was managing the vacation rental division of a local real estate company. This was my first and only direct experience with a “rental scam” and is only one of a multitude of scams going on every day.  Owners and managers must constantly keep themselves informed and involved in their vacation rental properties.


“Billy the Kid”

Some years ago I ran into this wily scoundrel … I’ll call him “Billy the Kid.”  “Billy the Kid” had rented a property from us for a three month stay … and of course he received a nice discounted rate due to the length of his reservation.  The story unfolded after one of our maids reported that she had been approached by a lady while cleaning a neighboring property.   The lady asked if she was available to do a cleaning job for her.  Since the lady was staying at a property that we managed, the maid called our office to see if she could be scheduled to do the cleaning.  Our maid told us the name of the lady who spoke to her and the address of the property … but that name did not match the one on our reservation for that property.   This is not unusual.  There are many occasions when two couples will rent a property together … or in some cases a wife will keep her maiden name.  We were not alarmed but we did call the guest to confirm that someone from their party had indeed ordered the clean.  When we asked whether “Billy the Kid” had requested maid service, the guest explained that they had rented the property from the owner, “Billy the Kid,” and that they, the guests, had actually requested the clean.  Now I had lots and lots of questions for the guest.  It turned out that the guests had found the property advertised in their local newspaper months earlier, reserved the property for two weeks and paid “Billy the Kid” directly.  Ah Ha!

“Billy the Entrepreneur”

Apparently “the Kid” had a relative in the desert that he would visit during the winter season. He would rent vacation properties for multiple months to get the lowest rental rate then advertise the property in his home town newspapers and internet sources several months prior to his arrival, then sublease them out for shorter periods of time at a significantly higher rental rate.  After arriving at his relative’s home in the desert, he would check into the property and collect the keys, garage door remotes, etc.

A little more digging and we found that we were not the only rental company “Billy the Kid” had targeted and in fact it looked like he was running his very own vacation rental company right under everyone’s nose!  After repeated attempts we were unable to reach him for comment.  Of course by then he knew that we were on to his wily ways.  Since the truth about “Billy the Kid” came out at the end of the three month reservation, we welcomed “the Kid’s” guests to stay.   They were, after all, innocent victims and as surprised as we were.  We reported “Billy the Kid” to the police but it did not go anywhere as far as I know.  “The Kid” was not a U.S. citizen, and by then, I’m sure he’d have high-tailed it out of the U.S.

A year later it happened again … “Billy the Kid” was back … he had used another name on his reservation but when we spoke to a guest who called our office after not receiving their refund deposit, they explained that they had rented directly from the owner, “Billy the Kid.”  Apparently they had found our company information in the property during their visit and had taken it home … just in case.  They thought there was something “strange” about “the Kid.”

Needless to say, we have learned to be extremely cautious.  We routinely visit our guests no matter their length of stay.  These visits have created some very long-lasting relationships and the number of our repeat guests has soared.  A recommendation to owners who live a distance from their vacation rental property … know your neighbors.  Make sure your neighbors have your contact information.  I’m sure they will call if they feel something is not quite right.  Also … call your guests periodically.  This serves two purposes … one, your guest will feel welcome and view you as a caring owner, and two, you’ll know that the guests at your property are the ones you rented to.

Last I heard there was a warrant out for “Billy the Kid.”  I would expect that he does not come to our area any longer … but I’m sure he’s out there … somewhere!


Billy the Kid Photo:
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