Title: Ten Questions To Ask Your
Villa Rental Agent
Author: Mara Solomon
How do you select an effective Villa Rental Agent? As you would
selecting any skilled, specialized consultant and using your own
instincts for identifying a talented, committed and professional
firm. Another important yardstick is the depth and breadth of
the relevant knowledge they have and are willing to share, as
well as the transparency of their presentation.
An effective Villa Rental Agent will endeavor to eliminate as
many potential surprises and sources of anxiety by providing as
much information as possible. A professional agency will have a
consistent, established way of working that is intelligible to
Here are some suggestions for questions to ask Villa Rental
Agents when evaluating who you want to work with:
1. Do you source the properties you are representing? If not,
Many agents are sub-agents of other companies, perhaps not
American-owned. Some agents source their own properties and work
directly with the homeowner. Why is this relevant? You want to
have reliable information, and an appropriate fee structure
built into the price of your villa rental. Agents are an
essential protective layer for guests, providing value-added
services. Owners are often unable to really understand your
needs and communicate in an effective way. Too many agents may
affect the quality and quantity of the information you are
getting, and the price.
2. How well do you know the area I am travelling to?
Some agents have never been to your chosen destination. Again,
this is fine, but it is in your interests to know this. Why?
Because no matter how stunning and well-staffed a villa, you are
visiting another country and will sooner or later want to get
out and explore. You ought to be able to get information about
where you will be and what is nearby, easily. If a specific
agent is not knowledgeable enough for you, ask to speak with
someone else in the firm who has visited the area and who can
answer your questions.
3. When was the last time you personally visited this property?
Conditions on the ground change all the time, no matter the
country, and will affect the quality of the information your
Agent is providing. Details related to the property, local
services and nearby attractions may change. Roadways,
transportation and signage will almost assuredly change. A good
standard a comprehensive Property Re-Check at least once a year.
With such a policy, the Agent demonstrates their intent to
maintain an accurate and up-to-date file of all the details,
from linens and mattresses, to pool conditions, electronics and
4. What exactly will I find at the house? Dish Soap? Clothes
dryer? Air conditioning? Window screens?
Do not assume anything. A home in a different country is certain
to be different than your home. And it could be different in
ways that you could not anticipate. Most Italian home-owners do
not install window screens because they ruin the view while many
Americans may have only ever seen their view through a window
screen. The property owner is likely unaware of the way you
live, so your Agent must be able to evaluate the relevance and
importance of life-style differences for you. Can they?
5. When I am at the house, what extra costs will I incur?
Can your agent give you a realistic idea of what extra charges
you will incur? Utilities are generally charged extra because
often American guests will consume a substantial quantity of
electricity, heat and the like. What can your Agent tell you
about these charges? What can they tell you about the staff who
will be working in the Villa? Can they explain precisely when
they come, what services they provide and whether or not this is
an Extra? Does the staff speak English? Your Agent is adding
value if they can inform you in advance, with confidence, on the
myriad details related to your maximizing your enjoyment of the
6. What can you tell me about travelling with children? An older
parent? Someone with physical limitations?
The more experienced a traveler your Agent is, the more valuable
a resource they will be. Within an agency, there are likely to
be people who have traveled in different capacities, so ask
around to get information from those who have had experience
relevant to yours. It is understandable you may not even know
what questions to ask. A good Agent will know what to ask to
ensure your Villa Rental is a success all around. Some of the
most important questions have to do with your traveling party
and your experiences traveling together. It is a good sign if
your Agent wants to really understand the interests and
personality of your group.
7. Are there any local holidays that might influence my ability
to enjoy my chosen destination in terms of traffic, attractions
being closed or special celebrations that are unique to the
Part of an Agent's value is their being able to give you local
information about your destination - from an American's
perspective. A common cultural frame of reference adds a great
deal to the quality of the services the Agent is providing.
Italians take their holidays seriously - often travelling to
different regions, and closing up shop so they can celebrate.
This may influence when you can pick up or drop off a rental
car, or stock your Villa at a market. Be sure you know if such
holidays will affect your plans and how.
8. What is there to do in the area? Can you provide local dining
There may be a famous and highly rated restaurant, but if it
requires a three-hour drive from your Villa, it may not be a
useful recommendation. Does your Agent know where and when the
local markets are? Opening and closing times of shops,
supermarkets, gas stations and tourist offices may be very
different from what we experience here in the U.S. A useful
Agent will be able to help you anticipate how to make the most
of your precious vacation days.
9. What are the roads like? Are there alternative forms of
transportation? What if we want to go off in smaller groups or
all together in a large group?
If you are organizing a large group for a family reunion,
wedding anniversary celebration or birthday milestone can your
Agent help you understand how your various guests will come and
go? Will they be able to function independently or will your
holiday end up being devoted to a starring role as Tour Guide?
The roadways in Italy are often dirt and often winding. This is
relevant for children who might have upset tummies, and for
driving home late at night after enjoying the local wine. The
ubiquitous 'white roads' may also limit the size of vehicle that
can pass and make a scooter rental impractical. Can your Agent
advise you in such matters?
10. What other services are you providing?
Understand what value you are getting. Do they have their own
English-speaking personnel on the ground to assist you? Can they
arrange special excursions to off-the-beaten-path destinations?
Can they get you an interesting guide? Help you if your luggage
is lost by the airline? Also - what information are you getting
before you leave and how reliable is it? A good agent will
include a comprehensive resource packet with detailed and
updated directions, full-scale map, phone card, and other
helpful advice and assistance relevant to your destination.
Bonus Suggestion: Trust your instincts.
If the Agent is generous with their time, and is willing to
share their experience, insight and information, that is a very
good sign. If they listen to you and you feel a rapport, chances
are the experience will be a success all around.
Final Reminder: No place on earth is like America.
The most memorable and enriching holidays come from being
open-minded and interested in the place you are choosing to
visit. We encourage you to delve deep into the local culture in
a way meaningful to you. Renting a home is an essential first
step towards enjoying another way of life in another community.
Be open to the experience in all its variations, it may change
About the author:
Mara Soloman is the owner of Home Base Abroad, a full service
Italian villa and farmhouse rental agency. Their diverse
property portfolio, Italy travel expertise and client commitment
are the heart of their business. Learn more about Italy villa