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Villa agency reviews

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Hi everyone, wondering if anyone can give me the benefit of their advice on villa rental agencies. We just want to know that we are getting what we pay for, and because we are travelling with children we want things simple - ie this is where you get your keys, the electricility works etc. We have booked apartments in France and Indonesia before and only had trouble once, but for some reason I feel a bit nervous about Italy!

Has anyone used sites such as HomeOwners Direct? They look to be quite a bit cheaper than the agency sites and I am assuming that's because there are no agency fees, but then the risk is higher? Thanks everyone

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