Homeowners cash in on Inauguration Day

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – That spare room or vacant house could be worth hundreds – even thousands – of dollars each night for President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Websites dedicated to vacation rentals and Craigslist reflect both an enthusiasm from visitors and some opportunism from property owners.

“Normal rates range from $200 to $350 a night,” says Sherman King, who has 12 properties in the area. “Inauguration rates are going from $500 to $1,000 a night.”

That is far from the high end. Online listings, especially those on Capitol Hill, require multi-day stays and go for thousands of dollars.

The inflated asking price is a reflection of demand, and homeowners say they still can’t keep up.

“No more Inauguration inquiries please, we’re booked,” read multiple posts on Homeaway.com.

“After the election, I woke up the next morning and I had over 130 emails to respond to,” King says, noting it still doesn’t match the pace set four years ago.

His guests are coming from the Bahamas, Idaho and Texas.

Others with vacation rentals say they were deluged with inquires and requests starting on election night.

“As soon as the results came in, my [page] just started lighting up, and I was getting requests one right after another,” says Monica Snellings, who has a property at 6th Street and Maryland Avenue NE.

“I could have rented it 20, 30 times over,” she says.

Four years ago, hotels were at 98 percent capacity, according to Kate Gibbs at Destination DC.

“There are 29,000 hotel rooms in D.C., and the average rate four years ago was $605,” Gibbs says.

She says many hotels had a three or four night minimum during the previous inauguration, and that appears to be the trend again.

The public ceremony for the 57th presidential inauguration will be Jan. 21.

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