POSTED: Sunday, January 13, 2013 - 4:00pm
UPDATED: Sunday, January 13, 2013 - 4:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — It's not even mid-January and most of us are far from making vacation plans for this summer, but maybe we should.
This rings especially true if it involves a vacation rental because bookings have already begun.
"Just in the past week, over 40% of properties on FlipKey have received inquiries for June, July and August," said Jeremy Gall, co-founder of FlipKey.com.
FlipKey.com is an online marketplace for 170-thousand vacation rentals at eight thousand destinations around the world.
Renting a vacation home for a week or two, sight unseen, can be risky, though.
So, there are steps beyond making the initial inquiry.
Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, says to do the research and always read reviews of those who've vacationed there before.
"You want to know that the person you're renting from is reliable and has a good reputation, that they're going to be there in case something goes wrong in the house," said Hicks.
Also, read the contract carefully which will spell out more than how much you pay.
"The contract will include things like whether or not you need to bring linens or linens are going to be provided at the house," said Gall.
"Are they going to have dishes in the kitchen stock so that you can use their dishes or do you bring your own," said Hicks.
Both say don't pay in full up front and make the minimum deposit, preferably with a credit card.
Estimates suggest that properties in beach cities will likely fill up faster as more and more vacationers choose homes over hotels.