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8069 Views 17 Replies Latest reply: Mar 25, 2013 4:48 PM by bubala RSS
New Member 1 posts since
Oct 14, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Oct 14, 2011 10:17 AM

Should I be worried if a property has no reviews posted?

I am new to VRBO and wondered if I should be concerned if a property has no reviews at all posted?

  • petersolberg Contributor 35 posts since
    Sep 13, 2011

    I would; but of course you could be the first one to give it 5 stars.
    Does the calendar look like it has been updated? If it's all blank and there are no reviews I would never rent from that owner - I would say property managers keep their calendars all blank rather (sorry to generalize).
    Good luck finding something good and fun!

  • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
    Aug 9, 2011

    There are Owners that have their own websites...and been sucessful "hosts for years. Many Owners have physical guest books, and/or they have online guestbooks for their guests to either write their feedback, and/or upload their feedback to the Owner's websites. So, don't think just because you do  not see a review  on HA/VRBO that the property is bad.  Contact the Owner if the ad is enticing you. Ask them if they have another way of collecting and sharing their guests' feedback. It's always good to contact the Owner, in any or not. Ask all the questions you want to know about....ask, ask, ask.  And do not book the place if you are not comfortable with the Owners' responses.

  • thaxterlane Active Contributor 786 posts since
    Jul 27, 2011

    I will echo Anja.


    Not having reviews is not a good way to judge a property.  I have rented my home for over 15 years and until very recently did not ask my guests to post reviews.  I considered it an imposition.  It just seemed tacky to be asking for a review after they had stayed at my home for a week or two (for a substantial amount of money) - it  felt wrong, a sort of invasion of their privacy - many are highly placed professionals with multiple committments to family, work, community, etc. in their day-to-day lives.


    This year I began to ask for reviews because websites are demnding it.  I don't want to be relegated to the bottom of the list when potential renters are searching for a property.  All of my guests were agreeable to leaving reviews and 3 actually did (out of 18 - my home is a seasonal rental). But, I won't be sending reminders . . . .


    Many of my guests return year after year.  They are happy.  They don't post it for the world to see, but that's ok.  I have rented all of my weeks every year - without reviews.


    I will likely remain skittish about asking for reviews - that's just me - it doesn't reflect on my home or my hosting skills and I'm sure that's true for many other owners.


    I would advise you to make sure the calendar is up to date, the description is detailed, the photos are of quality (showing kitchen, living, dining, bedrooms, and bathrooms at a minimum - and not just the furnishings - photos should reveal entire rooms or sections of the home). 


    And ask questions - as many questions as you need to be comfortable about renting the property.  If the owner or property manager doesn't provide detailed, informative answers, move on to another property. 


    Good luck! 

    • sophie Senior Contributor 970 posts since
      Mar 4, 2011

      thaxterlane, Perfectly said.  I do not ask for reviews either as think it is very tacky and could actually backfire on you.  I prefer to have organic reviews from people who are thrilled with the property and choose on their own to leave the review. I have renters that return every year but have never left a review!

      • petersolberg Contributor 35 posts since
        Sep 13, 2011

        I don't think asking for review says something wrong about you as an owner - if you know your guests loved the experience they will love to say about it; and that also will give you one of the reasons to "stay in touch" with them if they ever decide to return to the area;


        anja, I don't think if I called you and asked 'what guests don't like about your house' you will tell me much about it. same private guest books won't say anything negative about the place. But again, if there is one negative opinion among 10 positives I would first think that guest himself was rather negative.


        cheers to you owners for great lodging you offer!

        • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
          Aug 9, 2011

          Forgive me "petersolberg"....I just revisited this thread... and only now realized that you commented to me, back in October. {I didn't mean to ignore you.} Okay....let me think....honestly, if you did ask me "....what guests don't like about my house"...if I knew what they did not like about my house...well...within reason....I honestly do not think that I would have trouble answering that. I would not "account" for peoples' tastes...but I have had one couple rate me "lower" because of my location {read on}!  Perhaps...if some people did not like my house...or something about my house's upkeep, or if they thought the location was awful, etc...there would be complaints and they would have been online with a "negative review"  in a nano "warn everyone" you would have seen that, maybe.  I haven't  had what you may consider "complaints" from people who  did not like my house, though. I can only think of one "negative" remark that affected my "ratings".  Here:  one couple gave me a rating of 4 out of 5 on TripAdvisor because, although they said the house was "excellent"...yadda, yadda, yadda....they with held the 5th "star" on "location" because they said my house would have gotten a 5 rating IF it was ON A GOLF COURSEReally?!   Ridiculous, in my view, to "rate me lower" for where I am NOT!   They knew that they were booking in a semi-rural location....not on a golf course! My house is in a great location...and they had a dozen world class golf courses within minutes..etc...I advertise this!   Why didn't they rent a golf condo, instead?  Why was my house negated for not being in a different location?  Honestly...people misuse the "review" freedom they have. But, did that dopey negative hurt my  What else did they not like that I could tell you?  One woman said she did not  like a set of towels that I put out...because she thought that they were not "aborbant" enough. {They were new ...they were gorgeous...and not cheap...I thought I had made a great purchase...I expected compliments....but  I got a complaint instead....the guest said "not absorbant enough" I changed them out for her.  Was I angry? No....I really was not at her...I was more annoyed about the towels not being so great a purchase.  She and husband were booked for 26 nights, so you bet I was going to make sure that they were happy with the towels}. I'd much prefer to be told than get it written in a "review".   Another woman said the kitchen was missing "muffin tins and a cake tins" {to bake for her husband's birthday} bet I purchased a new 'baking set' --- and threw in a new set of cookie sheets, that day.  Instant minor upgrade for my place...that's how I view it.   That same woman also told  me that the spatulars in the kitchen drawer needed changing. Done, same day. {She is one of my best guests...comes every January for if she finds the same wooden spoon from a year ago, she might remark to me.....but she won't do it on the Internet.  I appreciate the constructive feedback }. Another woman wasn't thrilled with the "platform" I have in one of my bathrooms {there is one step up to the bath}....because of her 4 year old. And, she did write that in my "book and online" was supposed to be a "negative" for my place!  But, no one else ever had a problem with it  {I clearly point out the platform in all my offers and on my website image.}  I have no "secrets" that I "hide" from inquirers.  I ask all my guests to tell me ...don't write trivial negatives on the Internet.  That's the only level of "critique" I have gotten....minor stuff.  But, I don't think that's what you mean.  Maybe my guests do  not like the fact that my place lacks a swimming pool {?}...then, there are hundreds of others with pools  they can rent instead...I can offer them our gorgeous aqua bays and white-sand beaches instead! Maybe they don't like my choice of if they don't say, ohhh ahhh when they check in, should I wonder if they like it {?}...after they chose it from the 900+ rentals I compete with here.   Frankly, I don't think there is a "best answer to your question"....what would you want to know that guests did not like ...they they've complained about to me? I would not know what would satisify your question to put your mind at ease before renting from me. My guests haven't complained to me. I have no dogs barking leaking plumbing children running dumps pesty or noisy highway in front or behind my peeling paint,  no terrible views...only lovely ones.  That is the kind of stuff I have read in "bad reviews of other places" I guess if my guests were so unhappy I would have that type of "bad review"....but I do not. My online reviews are very good ones.  My point:   I could only hope that, if you wanted to rent my place, I would satisify all your questions and concerns BEFORE you book...and I would be "afraid" not to be honest because I don't need "you venting on the Internet".  I do tell everyone when they arrive to "talk to me" if anything is not as I promised it would be.. my guests'  in-person comments, online reviews, guest book entries do weigh on me...I listen to any feedback.  I have made improvements when guests told me what they would like. One woman thought the vanity mirror was too small when I asked here, upon checking out, for feedback on anything I could improve upon. I ask my guests!  I want to know.  And, if it is reasonble, I make the improvement. I did buy a larger mirror...she was rightAnd, I threw in a "make up mirror with magnification and lights". I do a lot to make sure that  my guests know *exactly* what they will get before arriving - the rooms and amenities, the views from all windows and decks, what the surroundings look like, how far the nearest neighbor house is, if the location is peaceful, where the beaches are nearby, where the road is from the house, what my decor is...etc...because I cover everything that I have ever been asked about over the years in my "info package" and everything is photographed on my website. I also inform on "what's new"...when we redecorate, get new furniture, upgrade electronics... or completely renovate a room...I include on my website.....I want to make the impression that the "upkeep" is "up"....and try to fit it into my ads on VRBO {16 inages) and HA-Holiday Rentals (24 images).  I meet every guest on arrival {to hand over keys and answer questions, so I have a chance to "glean reactions" and "solicit direct feedback"....and yes...some  people have told  me what they missed...what they LOVED...and what they thought about this and that.   Some write these things in guests books, some tell me personally. I listen. That is how I learn....I always learn new things from them....and from reading these threads in this Community.  The point I was making in October was that Travelers who have second thoughts about a rental that has no "reviews" on the HA / VRBO ad should not automatically assume the worst about a place. They should ask...ask...ask...and they should not book the place if they are uncomfortable with the Owner's response. {The Owner just may have years of experience...hundreds of wonderful guest experiences recorded elsewhere, i.e. not on HA/VRBO sites...they do not own every vacation rental portal on the Internet!.  I list in other places, too!  And, I have websites.  My opinion is:  Ask...the Owners...about what you need to know...and then evaluate their answers.  If the ad, or website, or reviews do NOT cover something that concerns you, the Traveler, than ask us, the Owners.   I have a feeling that you are a very "savvy traveler"'ve been around....and you are  probably a "good guest candidate" for any good Owner property...I think that from your posts.  But, I would want a Traveler to ask me...what they are STILL concerned about, after seeing all my "evidence" presented online. If you want to rent it...and are *still* concerned...then it is your obligation, if you are still ask give me a chance as Owner to ease your mind.....and then you can decide to book or not.  {The Owner just might surprise you with dozens of "online reviews" posted on different ad websites other than HA/VRBO.}  {Well...I guess I "buried the lead" here in my "rambling".}

  • vincentvent Contributor 32 posts since
    Jun 19, 2011

    I like to do a google search on the phone number on the listing. Get the owner's adverts on all websites, facebook page, places page, tripadvisor page etc.

    If that comes empty as well it either a very new property on HA or someone who isn't very serious about renting.


    Wouldn't it be great if HA allowed us links to external websites?



  • Contributor 86 posts since
    Oct 31, 2011

    Worry, no.  Concerned, yes!  The best way to get an insight to the property and the person that is managing it is to listen to what others that have stayed there have to say.  If there are no guest reviews all you have to rely on is the listing that is created by the owner/manager.


    It is important to review several of the most recent reviews.  Some listings have reviews but they may be months or even years old.  Remember that it is impossible for everything to be perfect all the time.  However, what is important is how did the owner/manager react and remedy the situation when something out of the ordinary occurs.  We had our washing machine break down.  We not only had it replaced the next day, we compensated our guest one additional night to make up for their inconvenience.


    Not all guests will take the time after their trip to take the time to enter a guest review.  I have had guests that have emailed me and let me know that they had a wonderful time and would gladly enter a review only to not take the time to do so.


    A new problem is that HomeAway (owner of VRBO) is now making it harder for guests to enter a guest review.  They want you to now set up an account with them before they will allow you to enter a guest review.  Since they started this process several months ago I have not received a single guest review on my listing.  Before they changed this process I would get at least one out of three guests to leave a review.  This could become a huge problem in the future as less guest reviews will be entered!


    We believe that HomeAway has changed this process so that they can capture additional information about the people using their site and send them unrequested emails!  Would you set up an account with HomeAway/VRBO just to enter a guest review?  Obviously most guests will not as I have experienced since they changed this process.


    In order to get guest reviews the process needs to be simple, quick, and not involve setting up an account so they can be spammed!  The paying customers (owners/managers) have been trying to get HomeAway to listen but no response from them so far!  Since they currently have a monopoly they don't feel obligated to do anything for their paying customers!


    So while it is good to look for guest reviews, don't be surprised if you start seeing less and less as HomeAway continues their guest input process!




    • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
      Aug 9, 2011

      I agree with you. The ever-valued, self-entered guest review online is more and more precious as fewer and fewer guests are giving up less of the personal time to write a review after getting home, but also because they may be "clicking away" from the "sign-up subscriber process" that is now mandated by HA.  If this continues, otherwise honest Owners might have to resort to "bribing" their guests to write reviews {which seems unethical}. There are already Owners of various businesses "buying" their good reviews according to the investigation of the validity of the Trip Advisor reviews.  I believe customer reviews, for all products and services, are valuable {I am a Consumer Reports subscriber, I read reviews on  Amazon and eBay and other online feedback sources where I shop.} And, I value the "review" for vacation rentals, as well...and I take everything with a grain of salt...and a measure of common sense. The reader really needs to use a "high level" of common sense these days when dealing with strangers {that's both for the Owner and the Traveler} before we send them money...and before we give them the keys to our homes.  In the same way that I steer away from an eBay Seller, whose location is in some village in China, with a seller history rating of  *zero* and a buyer review history of *negative*, I would also steer away from a rental Owner whose "reviews are often troubled", responds to the bad review wrongly,  has below average communication skill, and who requries payment ONLY by cash bank wire transfer.  My view: if travelers are worried or concerned about *anything* they either  read ...or don't read minus reviews...feel uncomfortable with payment demands....don't like an Owner's response, etc.. there are probably dozens of other properties in the area to choose, so Travelers should use their gut and keep searching.  Ditto for Owners not feeling "comfortable" with the Traveler....I do not accept an "uncomfortable" inquiry.  But, the "review policy  is flawed". There is no vetting for validity.... there are threats and extortions happening....there is no time-limitation for "older negative" reviews {a problem may have been resolved...but the bad experience still "exits" in cyberspace -- forever} etc..  An online presense of "rental history" is valuable......but c'mon.. lingering older bad comments -forever?  We know that Reviews are not "going away". The 'customer' most highly valued by HA is "their traveler client"...that seems to be made clear by HA.  But, the "reviews" need to be read and considered carefully.  Travelers need to question everything regardless of "all the good reviews" .....Owners need to question everything regardless of trying to fill their calendars. We both tend to put "faith" in what we read...but photos can be "old"....and "reviews" can be phoney. Honest Travelers are getting scammed....Honest Owners are getting scammed...and torched in public by bad guests.  I think "pcb-randy" is right....we could very well get fewer, organic, online reviews as HA continues the "mandate" to create an account. I already sense this in my Owner experience.  That's why I will continue with my cottages' guest books, and continue with asking my guests for comments that I may "upload" to my website.  I think the 'guest books' are a valuable source of not only personal feedback to the Owners, but as reviews as well.  My guest books have a note in the front asking guests to write not only "thank yous to me", but their tips and suggestions,  and their most favored things they did on the island for future guests to know about. Not everyone writes something...but many do...and I do upload these on my website, spelling/grammar errors and all. And, if they suggest something, I enter my response underneath. Ex: I forgot to replace a cracked ceramic teapot. And, instead of asking me for a teapot {!}...a guest wrote that the cottage had lovely tea cups, but was missing a tea pot {why didn't she just ask me?}. I included my written comment, thanking her for pointing it out...and wrote the cottage now has a new tea pot...included a nice photos with the entire tea set on the table. That's what you can do with a personal website .. I have one section on my website devoted to "guest reviews and trip reports".  Are they genuine?  I say, yes. Do they read as genuine? I say, yes.  Does everyone believe they are?  I don't know!  Everything is and should be both Traveler and Owner. As "mandates" make it harder to catch a "review"... I will continue to use all forms and formats for "guest feedback" I think they all have value. And, I always use common sense and a handful of salt when I review anything, online and offline.

  • I would not judge a book by its cover only.


    Certainly reviews are additional information that helps you get a better feeling about a property, but the reality is that most guests do not leave a review, also there are new owners with no reviews and empty calendars, or homes that are open for rent part of the year.


    I rather see no reviews than owner disguised reviews.


    Pick your vacation home by some key attributes:

    • Location (The destination you want)
    • Home Availability (Open in the calendar)
    • Price (within your price range)
    • Pictures (Don't expect perfect pictures, most homeowners put up their own pictures and do not hire a professional photographer)
    • Comfort (Are the rooms, living room, pool, etc what you are looking for? Do you see yourself relaxing there?)
    • Ammenities
    • Reviews (If any)
    • Owner's response and proactiveness in supplying you with all you need to make a decision.


    Best wishes on your vacation!!

  • New Member 21 posts since
    Mar 15, 2012

    We have two properties on these sites.  One is very unique and has many reviews.  The other is more ordinary and has been a rental a shorter length of time.  It has no reviews.


    I see many property owners and managers post reviews themselves.  Guests who are not so discerning may not be able to tell the difference between an owner post and a guest post.


    Recently I had an inquiry wherein I was asked why we have no reviews.  I felt a little bit as if I was asked why my eyes are brown. 


    Reviews are a mixed blessing.  I have read countless reviews to educate myself as to what people appreciate, look for, and what truly bothers them.  From this, I have noticed that reviewers trend.  Even in our guest books, people echo one another.  So in many ways, the first review sets the tone for those to follow.  Eventually someone becomes annoyed and posts something unfavorable.  If it is potent, it can ruin a business.  There is one rental in my community that suffered hugely from a single bad review.  The barbecue has not been cleaned.  The rest of the review poked away at various little disappointments, but it was the barbecue that had not been attended to that made for a somewhat stomach churning description.  It was almost enough to make me take ours and get rid of it. 


    As both a traveler and vacation rental owner, I would say that reviews are only a piece of the picture.  The best thing to do if you want to know more about the destination than what is evident is to engage the homeowner and see how it goes.  In my experience, this tends to lead to happy trips, and happy people all around.  The homeowner and vacationer feel connected and trust comes.  If the vacationer has a special wish, the homeowner can see about fulfilling it, or having a sense of the person who will be the guest, can provide an extra welcoming touch. 

  • New Member 5 posts since
    Jun 16, 2012

    I think you should take all the reviews on this site with a grain of salt.  After a horrible booking experience, I just found out that HomeAway will not allow renters to post reviews of confirmed bookings if a stay never occurred, due to no fault of the renter.


    Months ago, I paid a large deposit to confirm a booking.  After repeatedly trying to get in touch with the owner when our final payment was due, he finally e-mailed me about six weeks before our reserved stay date to say the property was double booked and not available to us.  Now he's stalling on the refund of our booking deposit, and I've spent hours trying to figure out what our recourse is.


    It's now one month before our vacation.  There are 15 of us with confirmed coast-to-coast flights, but we don't have a place to stay at our destination.  We need our refund to secure alternative accommodations, but the owner is not answering e-mails in a timely manner in order to stall on our booking refund.


    So I ask:  How can anyone trust the reviews on this website if a renter with a confirmed booking--but no stay through no fault of his/her own--isn't allowed to a post a review of a bad booking experience?  The property I refer to above has almost 20 stellar reviews, so how is a possible future renter supposed to know that someone else had a terrible experience with this property owner?


    I am extremely disappointed with HomeAway.  It's readily apparent that this site is set up for the benefit of property owners and not renters.

    • bubala New Member 8 posts since
      Mar 24, 2013

      What a horrible predicament for you. I agree with you, Homeaway is set up for owners and they are the site's customers, not the renters.  After a number of great experiences with renting on Homeaway (and telling others about the website), I recently had an experience that has caused me to swear never to believe another ad or review.  As far as I can tell, good reviews can be manipulated, and bad reviews eliminated by owners threatening renters with legal action. Homeaway seems to have a "hands off" policy when it comes to trying to settle problems like you are having with getting a refund, and will not even post a negative review if the owner complains enough.

      • mlbmaine Senior Contributor 948 posts since
        Mar 2, 2012

        Bubula, I know that you are very upset at the way that you have been treated by the owner of the property that you rented.  You have every right to be furious.  You have to remember that HomeAway is merely an advertising website and has no power to force an owner to issue a refund.  Provided the reviewer has actually stayed at the property, HA will not remove a negative review unless the owner can demonstrate that the reviewer is posting the negative review in an attempt to extort money from the owner.  As I stated to you in another thread, do not allow this owner to intimidate you.  Stay the course.  Contact HomeAway customer support and do not voluntarily remove the review that you submitted.  Give HomeAway a chance to sort things through.

        • bubala New Member 8 posts since
          Mar 24, 2013

          mlbmaine-Thank you for your supportive comments.  But please understand, I do not WANT a refund.  I did not ask the owner for a refund, before or after I posted my review.  In fact, when she called my home (uninvited) I refused to answer because I sensed she would later lie about what I said and claim I tried to extort a refund from her. I just want the honest review posted and Homeaway not to cave in to her harassment and threats.  If I'm willing to be sued for defamation so  that other renters can be forewarned, then at least Homeaway should post the review.

      • New Member 5 posts since
        Jun 16, 2012

        bubala, Our issue was finally resolved last summer without any help from HomeAway.  It involved much time and effort on our parts.  After we made repeated unsuccessful attempts to contact the homeowner about our refund, I contacted HomeAway requesting help in resolving our issue.  HomeAway did NOTHING.  I finally requested a chargeback from my credit card company.  As soon as I made the request, however, the homeowner sent me a nasty e-mail asking why I requested a chargeback? Why, indeed. The best part was the homeowner refunding us after the chargeback was made so the chargeback wouldn't negatively affect his standing with the credit card company.  That meant we were refunded twice from the homeowner, and it took about a month for the homeowner himself to get his refund.  He was VERY upset.  Ha.  What goes around comes around.


        HomeAway would not allow us to post a negative review about this unscrupulous homeowner.  In fact, this homeowner has many stellar reviews, which is why we initially decided to rent from him.  Needless to say, we have a very unfavorable opinion of HA.  In the future, we will use HA only when we have no other alternative, and we no longer recommend this website to others.  In fact, we've told numerous people about our unfortunate experience, and we are spreading the word about HA's failure to protect renters.


        Sorry to hear about your bad experience with HomeAway, but I'm not surprised at all.  HomeAway reviews are not to be trusted.

        • bubala New Member 8 posts since
          Mar 24, 2013

          Live and learn, I say.  Its very sad, because I have had so many lovely rentals that I found on Homeaway, I especially remember the 2 bedroom apartment in Rome with a terrace near the Forum, and we had breakfast overlooking the rooftops every morning, feeling like we were really having a different and better experience of the country than most tourists. 

          But I won't take a chance on ending up in a bad place like the one I got stuck with in Aruba, again. If I'd had my young grandson along with us in Aruba for this trip, we would have had to leave the rental and go to a hotel, as I simply would not expose him to the mosquitos and Dengue Fever from unscreened windows and doors. And I'm sure this owner's head would have spun around and she would have vomited pea soup before she would have given us a penny of refund for leaving the place early. Next year I've already reserved a house for our Feb. vacation in Aruba, booking early to be sure I got it, it is a house I have rented twice before and know is lovely and know the owner is very responsive. But I'm now discounting any reviews on Homeaway, good or bad, and probably would not rent a new place unless I got a recommendation from someone I know personally who had stayed there.

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