I’m about to stay at Kidani through a private owner. And I’ve also done plenty of “Vacation Rentals” through private owners in the past. For me, it’s really all just about having conversations with an owner and feeling comfortable with them. There’s plenty of con-artists out there and plenty of good people. My experience has always been good by just having conversations with the people I’m renting from. I find that when you find a person who enjoys talking to you on the phone about their rental property, and more importantly, your vacation (restaurants, things to do, stores etc…), they are always good people to deal with. The owner I’m dealing with right now LOVES to talk Disney… pretty good indicator. On the other hand, I have a co-worker who got scammed on a vacation rental because he had paid his money to an unknown online “person” without ever so much as having a phone conversation.
As for the price, personally, I have no problem with an owner charging whatever they can get. If I don’t want to pay it, I won’t. I find that around $15 is probably a good gauge to use for planning. Also, if you want a highly sought after property, you need to book and pay 11 months prior to your arrival. David’s DVC will often struggle to help you with that… you need a DVC owner who’s “home resort” is the one you want. Other DVC owners (who own in some other resort) have to wait until 7 months prior, and by then the whole resort can/will be booked if it is popular. For example, you will NEVER get the cheapest DVC rental of them all (AKV Value Studio) unless someone books that at 11 months for you. And at around $15-$17 per point, that studio rents for about the price of one of the All-Stars or Pop Century. A lot of advanced planning, and a good owner to work with, can get you what you need. And there’s definitely a lot of value in that. For the record, you can also try to get the “distressed points” (points or reservations that are about to expire) and get the points much cheaper, but you have to wait until close to the time of your vacation to even know if you can get these, and you’d have to be totally flexible about where you stay. Great for a last minute trip, but not what I’d want to do for a planned vacation.
My advice to you: 1) Don’t try to get rock-bottom pricing on a DVC rental. On the contrary, if you see someone on MouseOwners charging too little, you’ll also often see that they have no established history of posting on MouseOwners… RUN and don’t look back from these “owners”. As for the legitimate ones, these are owners of property, not Wal-Mart. It’s true that these private owners are not an established business like David’s, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have as much value. A good owner is invaluable and will be there to help you. The owner I’m dealing with, for instance, has had a wait-list going for me for Beach Club because that’s where I most wanted to be. We haven’t gotten it, but she’s trying. And if you’re not comfortable with the private owner route then just go with David’s… easy. 2) Plan on paying around $15 per point (for planning purposes) and be flexible enough in your thinking to allow it to go a little higher or lower. Definitely plan on higher if you’re asking someone to help you get booked at the 11 month window. Whatever you end up paying per point, it’s going to allow you to stay in a DELUXE Disney resort for the price of a moderate in most cases. And if you have the planning time and ability, you could literally stay in Animal Kingdom Lodge for the price of an All-Star. I’m about to be in a Savannah View studio at Kidani Village for 7 nights at roughly $200 per night… that’s less than I paid for Port Orleans last year. How awesome is that?!? The deluxe resorts are really awesome in comparison to the others.
Edit: If you’re looking to book 11 months out, and I do recommend this, be looking for and cultivating relationships with people on MouseOwners for a couple of months earlier than that… 13 months before your vacation. getting the MOST desired rooms isn’t necessarily even easy for people who own in that resort. They need to be logged in at 6AM to the DAY of 11 months prior… so you need to be set up with them before this day arrives.