Yesterday Mike stumbled across a listing for a beach house at an island we've never been to. The photos showed a great beach view, and the price was a possibility for us. Since we've got a big anniversary coming up this summer, and the home is available one of the weeks of his vacation, Mike emailed the man with one specific question: Is there a clear view of the beach from the porch? The man emailed back with the answer: Yes, there is a good view of the beach from the porch. Slightly different wording.
We were able to use Google maps to find the place and view a satellite view of it, as well as the street view. (Amazing what you can do with technology these days.) Bottom line: It does not have a clear view of the ocean, nor is it at all an oceanfront lot. Yes, it's a beautiful home, and on a nice beach, but it is back across a street from the beach, and the ocean view is at an angle to the left. There are houses directly across the street from the home's porch. The view was obstructed.
I talked with the man when he called, and he danced all around the question. He kept wanting to describe the other nice features of the place - It was at the end of the island, not much traffic, large lots, great area. He never would really say right out that the view was obstructed by another house, although he did finally admit that there was a house directly across the street from his house that we were looking at, blocking the view of the ocean.
We decided against it. I told Mike that if he had just come right out and said "The beach view is at an angle to the left," we might have been more amenable to renting it even without the view we'd like. But we did not feel like we were dealing with an entirely honest man - just with a man who eagerly wanted to rent his house out.