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10 signs you’re about to fall for a bad Airbnb listing

10 signs you’re about to fall for a bad Airbnb listing
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When looking for accommodation for a next holiday, many people turn to the rentals listed on Airbnb. Although many are amazing, some are not so great. We talk to experts who shed light on some of the key indicators that a rental may not be all it’s cracked up to be, or worse, that you’re about to fall for an Airbnb scam.

Photos that leave you with more questions than answers

Photos that leave you with more questions than answers
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The best listings will provide a virtual photo tour of the space you will temporarily call home. On the other end of the spectrum, a questionable listing will have photos of the outside area, the neighbourhood, and the street … but not what you care about the most: the bedroom, the bathroom and the kitchen, says chief digital officer Nerissa Marbury, who has booked everything from entire homes to private rooms in 12 cities across five countries. “If the listing has limited photos, it doesn’t hurt to ask the host for more photos. And if the host offers a lame excuse as to why this isn’t possible, be wary,” she says.

You can’t find any reviews …

You can’t find any reviews …
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When you’re shopping for anything from a mattress to a blender, what information is most valuable to you? Reviews from internet strangers, your friends, your neighbour – anyone who will provide insight about their experience. The same goes for an Airbnb listing. If there are little to no reviews, you should proceed with caution, says Sara Mosadegh, an Airbnb host and property manager. While, sure, every new listing will start from square one, if you are considering booking a listing with no feedback and a host who isn’t responding, run away!

… or you are only finding negative reviews

… or you are only finding negative reviews
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You might find a property with tons of reviews – but are any of them peachy? The only thing worse than no feedback is negative criticisms of a listing, says Mosadegh. “Reviews that say negative things about wifi, neighbours, or neighbourhood safety are important to sort through. That’s why you should take the time to read all reviews and dig deep,” she explains. She also recommends following up on reviews that mention construction, since that could change or improve over time. “Review comments may not be a deal breaker but are always something you should weigh up,” she adds.

You aren’t finding photos that match the description

You aren’t finding photos that match the description
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Use your investigative skills to see if the description matches the pictures provided, urges Jessica Norak, a travel writer and Airbnb frequent traveller. “If the text says ‘luxury apartment’ and you see chipped paint, uneven concrete floors, and little furniture pictured, it probably is not a luxury apartment,” she explains. “Be sure to check the photos that have been verified or taken by Airbnb, and use those to inform what you think the apartment will be like, rather than the description, if the two do not match.”

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You can’t believe the price

You can’t believe the price
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Finding a good deal is often a double-edged sword: saving money is always a bonus, but it’s important to understand why a place is far below market value compared with other listings, says digital nomad and frequent Airbnb guest Veronica Silva. As she puts it, there’s often a reason, so don’t just believe you scored a budget-friendly option right off the bat. “Maybe the neighbourhood is not great, or the place itself is lacking something and the host is just trying to make up for it,” she explains. When in doubt, you should ask your potential host to provide further insight on how he or she arrived at the rate.

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You’re finding errors

You’re finding errors
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Sure, not everyone is a writer or an expert on grammar, but if you keep finding contradictions in the listing, you have reason to raise an eyebrow. As Marbury says, sometimes there are honest-to-goodness typos because the host has more than one listing or isn’t a native English speaker, but if you are reading about a “backyard” but there isn’t one pictured, you should feel empowered to ask for clarity. If you can’t correspond effectively with the host, Marbury says to run.

You aren’t sure whether it’s legal

You aren’t sure whether it’s legal
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Here’s the deal: as Airbnb grew in popularity, various city, state and country officials started heavily regulating what’s permitted – and what’s not. Norah says that to protect yourself – and to lower the risk of hiccups once you’ve landed – it’s important to ensure that your listing has a business license or a registration number. “In many cities, Airbnb properties need to be legally registered to be operated as an Airbnb,” she explains. Barcelona in Spain, and San Francisco in California, are two such destinations, but you should research the rules of any place you trek to. You may even be asked at customs for this information, and having it on hand will ward off any confusion or difficulties. “Airport officials in the Seychelles checked to make sure our Airbnb was registered when we arrived at the airport,” Norah says. Where do you find it? She says for most of these cities, you will find a business or city license-registration number listed somewhere on the property description.

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You booked the first place you found

You booked the first place you found
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Many unpleasant travel experiences can be avoided if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and do your due diligence to ensure that you’re booking what you want, Marbury says. After all, you can’t expect a place to be 100 per cent up to your standards if you didn’t take the time to research the details you were booking. “If strong and consistent wifi is important to you, don’t assume all wifi speeds are equal across all listings. Or, if you’re a light sleeper and the bedroom window faces a main road, you should ask about the traffic noise,” she explains. When you read through descriptions, keep an eye out for what a host is trying to tell you, instead of rushing to find something so you can check it off your to-do list. “Good hosts prefer to manage your expectations before you click ‘book’ because it equates to less headaches for them, too,” she adds.

Your host is taking forever to respond

Your host is taking forever to respond
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When you browse through profiles, don’t disregard the response rate. Especially if you are traveling to an unfamiliar destination where you won’t be fluent in the native language, having a speedy, available host is essential. Marbury says that it’s a major red flag when your host takes forever to respond to you – or doesn’t reply at all. “A host who isn’t able to respond to an inquiry within a reasonable amount of time is typically a host who will not respond to you any faster when you have an issue you want resolved within the home after checking in,” she explains.

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