In late November, a friend asked me if I was considering listing my place to rent out for the inauguration. “No, no, no—-not worth the hassle. And anyway, no one’s really biting on those craiglists posts anyway,” I said very, very confidently.
“Oh,” he replied, “Well we are listing our place,” he stated referring to his Sursum Corda group house.
I thought he didn’t stand a chance. Then I saw him a few weeks later, and he told me a Japanese film crew was paying something like $4,000 to $6,000 to live in his home, adding something about “Well it’s the perfect storm of being 10 blocks from the Mall, and close to the Capitol…” and after that, I lost him.
Not fair. I was pretty sure I was right about the faltering inaugural rental market. But I started to doubt. Perhaps, I was missing a great opportunity.
I feel so much better these days. Today, the Washington Post published more evidence that my hunch was correct. The story’s headline: “Inaugural Rentals Begging For Takers, Plans Dashed For Easy Money.”
“I’m blown away by how little demand there is,” said Tania Odabashian, vice president at Corporate Apartment Specialists in Northern Virginia.
“Initially, we were flooded with calls from people looking for [inaugural] housing. For about four or five days, the phone would not stop ringing. . . . But now we have apartments as low as $150 a night that we can’t get rid of. I’ve rented one two-bedroom in Tysons Corner. We have six or seven apartments inside the Beltway that will probably end up empty.”
Brokers cite several reasons for the sluggishness. Initial crowd estimates of 4 million people were far too high — officials are now planning for half that — and scared off many potential visitors. The difficulty of getting tickets to official events may have prompted others to stay away. And property owners who had visions of easy money priced their units way too high, often for more than $1,500 a night.
“Everybody wants to make extra cash,” said Andre Butters, co-founder of inauguralhomes.com. “They see a few people put ads on Craigslist for $10,000. People think that’s what the norm is. That’s not what the norm is.”