I'm in the process of setting up a long-term lease agreement for an apartment in my hometown with a landlord which lives abroad. The landlord suggested to use a middleman called HomeAway so that the landlord would not have to travel to my country for exchange of keys, legal documents and the security deposit, to which I've agreed. In our case, the landlord has sent the keys and legal documents to HomeAway, which will keep them until we have transferred the security deposit to HomeAway.
HomeAway has sent me instructions for the bank transfer and I'm not sure what to make of it. Their correspondence looks too fishy for what I would expect from a company dealing with these sums of money but it also looks too good, at least for the average scammer. Here are the things that surprised me:
- The standardised text for the instructions has a few typographical errors.
- They mention in multiple places that the transfer has to happen within 48 hours, which is impossible considering that I got the instructions on a Friday and my bank won't process the transfer until Monday morning.
- Emails from them are sent from a different domain (homeaway-eu.com) than where their website is (homeaway.com).
- The destination account is registered to a private person in Milan, without any mention of HomeAway.
I'm not sure what to make of this. Should I be cautious? Has anyone had a similar experience with HomeAway and how did it play out?