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Surfing for a deal

Apr 20, 2009

Sagging economy creates Internet bargains for vacation homes

By Laura Bly / USA Today
Posted: April 19, 2009

From a lakeside cabin in the Wisconsin Northwoods to a Carolina beachfront home, vacation rentals are a more appealing travel option this year — thanks to a tanking economy, a proliferation of second-home owners trying to cover their mortgages through rental income and a growing number of Internet-based listings and resources.The industry is touting greater flexibility, last-minute deals and more hotel-like services and amenities, coupled with the old standbys of extra space and privacy and a kitchen to save money on bar tabs and restaurant bills. And with more consumer reviews and Web site guarantees, the risks of checking into a musty dump furnished with Grandma’s cast-offs are diminishing.

“It’s a whole new ballgame,” says Douglas Quinby of PhoCusWright, a research firm that issued a report on the $25 billion-plus market earlier this year.According to PhoCusWright, only about 10 percent of U.S. adults have booked a vacation rental, which can be anything from a one-bedroom, $50- a-night Myrtle Beach condo arranged directly through an absentee landlord to a $15,000-a-week Caribbean villa with private pool and butler.

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