Save Hundreds of Dollars With a Summer Rental

When planning your summer family vacation, keep in mind it may be cheaper and easier to rent a home than to book a hotel.

"Good Morning America" real estate contributor Barbara Corcoran explained how and where to find great rentals at affordable prices.

You can find her tips below.

Save 20 Percent to 50 Percent

Based on a one-week stay, you can save between 20 percent to 50 percent by renting a place rather than staying at a hotel. Renting also means more room, is kid- and pet-friendly, and usually has amenities like a kitchen, backyard or barbecue. You can fool yourself into thinking you're not a visitor, but a local who lives there.

Come and Go as You Please

Renting can be easier to schedule, as you don't have to worry about check-in and check-out times. Some hotels have very strict timing policies, but with rentals, you can avoid Saturday to Sunday restrictions.

It Pays to Wait

Not only is it not too late to get a great summer rental deal, it could pay to wait longer. You can save 10 percent or more by waiting to book your rental until two weeks before you get on the plane. Sometimes the discount is official and advertised, but always ask, "How inexpensively can we get a cottage for our family?" when negotiating. Even if you get a discount, always try twice. No one gives you the best discount the first time.

Midseason markdowns generally start after Aug. 15. Because many schools are starting earlier than ever, you can book these as early as the first two weeks in August.

Size Matters

Small groups between four people and six people are ideal for anyone who is leasing a home or cottage. The bigger the group, the less likely it is to get a last-minute deal. Big properties for 10 people to 15 people tend to fill up early, but small group rentals are available throughout the summer. The only exception is July 4 weekend.

Barbara's Top 3 Vacation Destinations

Tybee Island, Ga.: Just 20 miles from Savannah, Ga., Tybee Island is a small southern town stuck in time where people still leave their doors unlocked. Its claim to fame is the world's largest water-gun fight. A six-night rental on Tybee Island is about $1,500, compared to a six-night hotel stay that costs about $1,775.

Jakes' Resort on Treasure Beach, Jamaica: This sleepy fishing village provides an authentic Jamaican holiday that celebrities like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Jude Law have indulged in. A six-night rental in Treasure Beach costs about $570, compared to a six-night hotel stay at $1,100.

Lake Ouachita, Ark.: It's 50 miles from Little Rock and is home to the largest and cleanest lake in Arkansas that ranks in the Top 10 places to fish for largemouth bass. It's great for large families, family reunions and young couples with a six-night rental going for about $1,500, compared to a six-night hotel stay at $2,274.

A Great Deal Is Just a Click Away

Most people don't know where to go to find great rental deals. Corcoran recommends the following sites:

Triphomes.com for rentals listed by theme -- beach, ski and golf -- across the country.

Cyberrentals.com allows you to search by date of vacation. There are ITO pictures and full description, and you can e-mail the owners directly.

On homeexchange.com you can trade homes with someone else internationally or within the country. That way you have mutual trust because you're in their home and they are in yours. You also often have the use of each other's cars.

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