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Before you decide to embark on a renting journey, remember these very important things:
1. Renting from a DVC owner is NOT easy. You need patience and you need to be willing to make and lose many offers before a deal is made. Don't expect to read this and rent tomorrow. Renting is however, a great way to stay in a top notch resort for a fraction of what Disney charges.
2. You can NOT take advantage of offers such as free dining when renting from a DVC member. You can do the dining plan, just don't expect to take advantage of any running offers from Disney. Disney requires you to book a package through them for special offers and savings.
3. Renting is not for everyone. If you are looking for an "out and about, eat in the parks trip," you may prefer a standard resort stay. Renting villas from DVC owners means a little more privacy (more space, no housekeeping knocks every day) and the opportunity to cook and spend more time in your room. For larger families looking to save by not dining in parks, or families who need more room, renting may be the right choice.
The tricky part about renting points from anyone is developing trust before making the transaction. I've rented to the same people several times because the experience went well, and we developed trust in our "renting relationship." Much of the pre-deal work is done via email, which makes solidifying a good deal the hardest part of the process. If you are serious about renting, stay the course and you will find what you are looking for eventually.
Here are a few tips to get your started on a vacation in a deluxe resort for a fraction of what Disney charges:
1. Where to Start
Before you begin looking to rent, explore Disney's Deluxe Villa Resorts and get a feel for what each resort offers and what you like best. Some resorts may appeal to you more than others. Write down your favorites and proceed with looking for a great deal on a rental.
Go to mouseowners. Set up a profile in order to participate in threads and posts.
Mouseowners is overloaded with DVC owners looking to rent their timeshares or people looking to rent from DVC owners.
There are many many postings.
It's confusing and annoying for anyone who doesn't not understand the "lingo."
Don't run. A good deal can be found with much patience.
2. Understand the "Lingo"
Before you go and try to rent anything, you'll need to have a basic understanding of DVC owner lingo. It's easy once you get the hang of it.
A few examples:
MK - Magic Kingdom
HS - Hollywood Studios
AK - Animal Kingdom
AKL - Animal Kingdom Lodge
BCV - Beach Club Villas
SSR - Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa
You will come across many posts that read something like this: "Confirmed 2 Bdrm BCV 6/1-6/7"
This just translates to the owner has a confirmed reservation at the Beach Club Villas, in a 2 bedroom villa, from June 1 to June 7.
For renters renting points (points will be explained below) you will see: "75 SSR points $10/point"
This translates to: "75 Saratoga Spring Resort points for rent, $10/point."
3. Renting a Confirmed Reservation
First of all, it is much easier for anyone new to renting to rent a confirmed reservation. While this cuts back on flexibility for the renter, if you don't have to worry about school or work issues this is usually the best (least confusing) route. You can go onto Disney's site and price out what the villa would cost for the same time of year and length of stay. You can easily compare apples to apples and see how good the deal is.
4. Renting DVC Points
If you can't rent a confirmed reservation, you'll need to work with an owner renting out their points. Owners renting their points will make the reservation for you, and set up any dining plans or Magical Express (Disney transportation from airport). As a renter this gives you complete flexibility over resort and size of villa.
When someone buys a Disney Vacation Club membership, they buy into a specific resort. They decide how many points to buy depending on what they will need to vacation (a studio, 1 bedroom, etc). Obviously larger villas require more points, as well as vacations during peak periods.
The resort a family buys into (their "home resort") dictates where they will have the best chances of renting when booking a vacation. Once someone owns a DVC, he/she can book a stay at any of the Disney resorts. The difference with a home resort is being able to book farther in advance.
Basically, it doesn't matter where you own unless you plan very far in advance. Don't be discouraged if a thread states they own at a certain resort, members can book anywhere in Disney.
(For DVC owners, you can rent points from another member via point transfers.)
When renting points, you will need to understand how many points each resort is, as well as know Disney prices to know if the deal is good. I attached a chart below to check how many points each resort is for each time of year. Use the chart below to figure how many points your trip will require, and keep in mind this is an estimate since you may not get exactly what you want as far as resort or vacation dates.
I tell my friends to rent for $10/point or less. $10/point is a good deal for both the owner and the renter. Less than $10/point is a great deal, $8/point or less is a steal.
Remember that you will most likely answer many posts before you find the deal that is right for you and the DVC owner. Stay the course.
Here is the Disney Vacation Club point chart: DVC Points 2013
5. Still too confused?
If you can't deal with making offers on vacations for rent or points for rent, post your own thread in the "vacations wanted."
When you post a thread, owners looking to rent will respond to you. You will need to sort through many responses and offers to book your vacation. My advice is to go with your gut. When people get back you in a timely manner, email politely and genuinely seem eager to make a deal, they are the better candidates.
Post the resort you desire, with two 2nd choices (there are no availability guarantees), as well as size of accommodation (studio, 1bdrm, 2brm) and dates you need. A few different dates will work best and give the owner a better chance of finding availability.
Remember there are no guarantees, and you may hear that the first three days are available but not the whole trip. Keep adjusting your trip as needed, and you will secure a great vacation.
6. Make the Deal
Once you've sorted through offers or you have a deal via email for a vacation, SPEAK ON THE PHONE. You may want to speak to a few people before you make a deal. Never give information over the phone without getting a feel for who the person is. Do they have references? Have they rented before? You may want to ask for a number of a previous renter, or an email copy of a driver's license. You will need to give the DVC owner your name and address, as well as the names and ages of everyone in your party.
When you decide to make the deal, ask for a three way call. Another option is to make a small deposit, and then pay another portion after you receive a confirmed reservation number and email from Disney. I usually take 50% down and 50% three to four weeks before trip. A DVC owner can only cancel so far in advance before they limit the option to reuse their points.
I have found that most people are honest renters/owners who are looking to make a deal. But as with anything, a few bad apples can ruin the bunch. Be wary, and trust your gut. I knew within minutes of speaking to people how comfortable I was making the deal, and every time I rented it was a wonderful experience. Even better? I have a few great renters anytime I am willing to rent out some points.
Remember that as great as it is to get a super deal on a rental, DVC owners pay a lot of money for their timeshares. There are annual dues and the cost of the membership. Look at renting as a win-win, not highway robbery. You can secure very good deals from owners who have points expiring in a matter of weeks, but this is not to easy route. You need to be able to travel last minute, and make a deal last minute with someone you don't know. The best route is to find a reputable DVC owner, develop a solid renting relationship, and make the deal you both need.
A few more tips:
Points vary according to season, which resort and size of accommodations. The most cost effective vacations will be a Sunday-Friday during an off season. Try September, October, early November, or January into early February. Avoid weekend stays if possible, as well as any vacations during school breaks.
Saratoga Springs, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Old Key West offer villas for less points than the other resorts.
There is housekeeping mid-stay, but not daily. Expect fresh towels and tidying up but not a full room overhaul.