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Spring and summer are the busiest times of year for travel and home rentals—it's the prime time to get a change of scenery, relocate while the kids are on summer break, spend a month at the beach, or flee the city for time in the mountains. Whatever your reason, demand for homes increases in the summer, which means that prices for home rentals increase in most places, just like the prices for hotels or flights fluctuate with the seasons. (If you’ve ever tried to travel to Hawaii for Thanksgiving, you know what we’re talking about.)
But there’s hope. After years of helping residents find the right home and traveling ourselves, we’ve learned all the hacks to make sure you get the best rates for your summer stays. Here’s what we know:
A longer stay will often mean a discount on your nightly rate. For the rental company, this makes sense: it’s better for them if they have one resident for a few months, rather than multiple residents during that time. And most places will give you a discount for it. If it’s not listed on their site or offered to you, it never hurts to ask. At many of our Zeus homes, if you book more than 3 months, you’ll earn our long term stay discount and automatically save at least 3% (and often more, depending on the location). That long term discount increases automatically if you hit 6 months (to at least 5%) and again at 12 months (to at least 7%).
Shifting your stay by a month or staying into the fall can lower your rates. Since summer rates are usually highest, rates in the fall will often go down. Because of this, at Zeus you’ll almost always get a lower nightly rate if you book from May to November than if you book from May to July.
Different check-in dates will often come with different rates. Just like an airline will offer different ticket prices on different days of the week, the nightly rates for short term rentals fluctuate depending on the start date. Try a check-in date that’s in the middle of the month—since most people are making a move at the beginning or end of a month, the middle of the month can get you a better rate.
At Zeus, if you book your stay as close as possible to the home’s first available date, you’ll get the best rate. We’re able to offer our most competitive rates when a home is fully booked, and so we incentivize bookings shortly after the previous check-out by offering the lowest rates then. If your desired start date is a week or more after the home is available, you’ll see the price start to increase. Along the same lines, if you find a home that's available immediately, booking a 30 day stay that starts today (or this week) can get you a really good rate too since that home is already vacant.
If you don’t see anything about this when you’re booking, ask—many places will offer a discount if you pay in full up front. At Zeus, if you’re staying longer than 60 nights, we offer a 3% discount when you pay for your entire lease up front (you'll see this option when you enter your payment information). If you qualify for the long term stay discount (90 nights or more), this 3% will stack on top of the discount you’re already earning.
1 block to the beach or 5 blocks to the beach? Sometimes you can find a much lower rate for a home that’s just a few miles away. Try broadening your search radius or looking at different home sizes to score rates closer to your budget.
Many cities apply taxes to stays shorter than 90 or 180 nights. When you’re booking with Zeus, check the pricing breakdown on the listing to see if your city of choice applies taxes. If it does, play around with the dates—you can save up to 15% in some locations. If your stay is sufficiently long to exceed the limit for that city, the tax line item on your Zeus pricing breakdown will not appear. Staying an extra week (or two!) can pay for itself if you exceed the minimum number of nights that triggers the tax.
When comparing prices, look not just at the initial prices you see, but look at anything extra that will be added to your monthly rent. Think utilities, service charges, amenity fees. Some rental prices might look low at the start, but the fees add up. When you’re booking with Zeus, you’ll see all your charges at the start so that you can make an informed decision.
Any rental company will have an email list, and it’s the surefire way to be in the loop on any promotions. We occasionally share exclusive promotions, but you won’t see them unless you’re signed up! (Don’t worry—we won’t bombard you).
A final thought: when booking your home with Zeus, consider how much flexibility you may want (or need). If you book a home on our website, you’ll choose a fixed end date. Plans can change, and we offer extensions if you want to stay longer, but banking on an extension comes with some risk. There’s always a chance your home will get booked and you won’t be able to extend, and the new rates for your extension could be higher (or lower), depending on the season. If you want to eliminate any of that risk, and lock in a set rate, consider a flexible lease. While these leases do come with a slight premium added to the rent, some residents find the flexibility worth it.
When in doubt, get in touch. Our team is here to help you find the right fit for you, and our pros can help you navigate all these details to find the best home for you at the right price. We’re just an email or a phone call away.
This post comes to you courtesy of our bookings team, the friendly faces behind our phones and email, and absolute experts on how to find the perfect home at the best price for you. Reach them at email@example.com or at 415.849.4662.