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We never knew how it would end up. But we had hope, and we had dreams. Dreams of Mexican vacations. Dreams of finally landscaping our backyards. Dreams of, you know, just generally avoiding debt.

Fresh off Barack Obama’s glorious win, we Washingtonians dared to advertise our homes for ridiculous sums for the inauguration. Some of our dreams came true. Most of them will not.

In mid-November, my friend told me that she and her roommates were listing their house on Craiglist to rent out during the festivities. At that point, the market was untested, and most of the stories about the inauguration sublet phenomenon told of $5,000 deals.

It seemed too good to be true. So I wanted to follow my friend’s story. She lives in a lovely townhouse in Northwest close to bars, supermarkets, a gym—-it’s quality urban living. On my first post of The Inauguration Rental Chronicles, I posed a question: Easy cash, or enormous hassle? If you’ve been reading the updates, then you know the answer. If not, I’ve decided to repackage the entire series below.

The Inauguration Rental Chronicles, Part 1
November 12, 2008

The roommates first list their home for $11,000 for a week’s stay. They expect to spend some money “just readying the place (new sheets, cleaning costs, possibly some “bells and whistles,” like wine and food in the house for arriving guests.)” They don’t tell their landlord about the plan.

The Inauguration Rental Chronicles, Part 2
November 13, 2008

The first advertisement goes up, and the roommates anxiously await for their Craigslist account to fill up. They get receive no serious responses, and after two days, they drop the price to $10,000. They continue waiting.

The Inauguration Rental Chronicles, Part 3: Interest and Infighting
November 14, 2008

The roommates get a response from a woman who wants to bring 17 college students to stay in their four-bedroom home. Also some roommates start questioning whether others are doing their fair share in the drafting, re-drafting and posting of the advertisement. They want a bigger cut of the check (if a deal is made).

The Inauguration Rental Chronicles, Part 4: Exuberant Exchanges After a Response
November 18, 2008

One roommate responds to the college rep with a lengthy e-mail extolling pretty much everything—-restaurants, shopping, parks—-within a two mile radius of the house. The lady doesn’t write back. Ever. So that’s that.

The Inauguration Rental Chronicles, Part 5: Tricks of the Trade
November 25, 2008

The roommates lower the price again to $9,000. No responses. They start messing with the wording of the headline, highlighting a nightly rate, instead of the lump sum for the week.

The Inauguration Rental Chronicles, Part 6: Nothing, Nothing, Nothing
December 3, 2008

The trickery does not work. The roommates receive no responses. Strangely, people actually start contacting me hoping for tips and advice about getting their Craigslist advertisements noticed. On this front, I most likely fail them. With little else to report, I note: “In the District alone, there were more than 500 listings for inauguration sublets posted yesterday.”

The Inauguration Rental Chronicles, Part 7: Scammers, Opportunists Take Over
December 17, 2008

After a hiatus, the roommates decide to repost their advertisement on several websites. They receive a bunch of non-serious responses from scammers, weirdos, and people promoting their inauguration internet ventures.

The Inauguration Rental Chronicles, Part 8: Hope Dies
January 15, 2009

The roommates descend into all out warfare after the house’s drainage system fails. Tensions that arose earlier in the rental process—-and that have existed all along—-intensify. One roommate declares that she is miserable and moving out. The roommates decide to focus on finding a longterm roommate and officially abandon their hopes of an inauguration rental.

Image by Stewart Leiwakabessy, Flickr Creative Commons