Many tourists opt to rent vacant homes instead of hotel rooms

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KISSIMMEE, Fla.,None —

It's a new trend that could help struggling homeowners who can't sell their properties. More and more tourists are renting vacant homes instead of hotel rooms.

A beautiful home with a game room, a pool and a gorgeous kitchen can be yours tonight. All-Star Vacation Homes in Kissimmee has more than 260 homes around Walt Disney World that tourists can rent.

"More American travelers are aware of the vacation rental industry and appreciate the space," said Sara Moore with All-Star Vacation Homes.

It's become a booming business with some 20,000 vacation homes available in Central Florida: a number that's doubled in the last three years.

A five-bedroom house can sleep up to 12 people for a $1,000 per night, which sounds pricey, but compared to how much it would cost to sleep 12 people in a hotel, it's a savings.

"Comparatively speaking, you can actually save quite a bit, not only on the accommodation itself, but you have a full kitchen so you're able to cook some meals," Moore said.

For the homeowner, renting to tourists allows them to make some money to cover the mortgage, but also allows them to still use the home for themselves.

How much the homeowner gets depends on how often the home is used, and the rental price.

All-Star has an A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau, but BBB said renters need to know not all companies are created equal.

"If a company is good and solid the property is maintained, the registration is there with the county, all the taxes are taken care of, but the biggest thing for consumers is, 'Does it have that swimming pool I saw in the photograph?'" said Judy Pepper with the BBB.

You can check with the BBB on the rating of hundreds of vacation rental companies.

There are also websites where tourists rate their stay, such as tripadvisor.com.

Typically, the more features in a home, like a movie or game room, the more often it is rented.