“Wondering if others in DC are thinking of renting their homes out for the inauguration?”

Crowds of January 20th, 2009

“Dear PoPville,

I’m wondering if others in Washington are thinking of renting their homes out for the inauguration. We have never rented our out before, but are thinking about it for this year. Wondering what pitfalls to be aware of when doing short-term rentals, and what those who have rented their places out before for big events usually charge per night (for reference, we have a 3 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom about 10 min walk from Columbia Heights metro stop.)”

For those who are considering it, when will you list yours and who will you list it with?

Ed. Note: Reminds of Eric Nuzum’s post about what it will take to rent his home out for the inauguration during the frenzy of 2008.

90 Comment

  • I just don’t think there’s going to be the kind of demand that would merit leaving town unless I was otherwise planning on it. It’s an historic inauguration, but after all the gaffes and the email embarrassment, I don’t think a huge number of people will be coming to town for the Trump inauguration.

    • This sums it up perfectly (right up until the end – are you just trying to see who is awake after staying up late to watch that crapshow last night?). The urban legends from 2008 of tens of thousands of dollars for 3 br places in Gaithersburg are even more unrealistic now.

      • A family friend owns a 4 bedroom house on Capitol Hill. He was only able to get about $2,500.00 renting it out for the inauguration. Decent for a weekend, I guess, but nothing to rave about.

        • $2,500 for a weekend? Sounds like rave-about money to me!

          • ah

            Sure, but there are costs and hassles associated with it. And you have to find a place to stay . . . if you’re taking a vacation anyway then it’s a way to fund that, but if it’s just to make money while you flop on a friend’s couch it may not be worth the hassle.

          • Some of us don’t have the luxury of thinking $2500 is too big a price to pay to sleep on a couch or in a guest room for a day. Jees.

          • My point was a little inarticulate and I wasn’t meaning to bring up any discussion over whether $2500 is a lot of money or not. What I was meaning is that is wasn’t a huge bump over what you could normally get renting a house. I think they were there for three nights, so that was a little over $800 for a 4 bedroom house. Not really much of a premium over what it would normally cost to rent a house. And certainly not the $1000/room prices that a lot of people thought they could get.

    • I’ve rented out a vacation apt. in my home for 10 years on VRBO/Homeaway. ( Also listed on Airbnb, but rarely get inquiries and prefer not to deal with them anyway.) For Obama’s first, the city was full. For the second, Airbnb had come along and flooded the market, many places were asking crazy amounts, and many places went empty.

      Right now, VRBO/HA has 233 listings open for inauguration. Airbnb has over 300 listings open for inauguration. For anyone thinking about renting, start by simply looking at your competition on these sites. Also look at what hotels are charging. There are a LOT more hotel rooms in DC (and surrounding areas) since 2012.

      • Also – for anybody renting out a place on any site, especially Airbnb – remember to go over your listing with a fine-tooth comb to be sure there is nothing that can remotely be interpreted as violating the Fair Housing Act. There is at least one lawyer/plaintiff pair who are trolling listings and suing people for big bucks.

  • I’m going to do Craigslist and AirBnB. My target is around first week of December when hopefully people are trying to get in last minute and I can get a premium based off that. I’m looking for 7-10k. 5bdroom H street area.

  • I need a third option: depends on who wins the election. We already Airbnb out our separate basement apartment, but I blocked off the week of inauguration on our calendar. If Trump wins, I will leave it blocked. I don’t want his supporters in my home at any cost. If Hillary wins, yes, we will make it available and charge a higher rate than we normally do. I don’t know what that rate will be yet though. I’m not sure there will be as much demand this time.

    • What if Trump wins and some journalists want to rent your place out? This is in fact what happened to my group house in 2008 when we rented two bedrooms out to a couple of Dutch journalists for several days for $1000. Think they interviewed Nancy Pelosi’s daughter in our living room as I recall (her husband is Dutch).
      On a separate note, I wonder how it would go over if a bakery refused to bake a cake for someone because they supported Donald Trump?

      • Accountering

        It would go just fine. Your political beliefs/ignorance is not a protected class, nor should it be.

      • The difference is it’s my home where I live. I can choose who I am comfortable staying as long as I’m not dicriminating against a protected class, which if course this isn’t.

    • Accountering

      Don’t agree – this is ridiculous. Keep your business and personal life separate. With that said, Trump isn’t going to win.

  • We were Airbnb host during Obama’s 2nd inauguration. There wasnt as much demand as his 1st. We didnt get the higher rate than we normally charged, so it went empty that week.

  • If Hillary wins, absolutely, although we’re not leaving town. We airbnb a guest room already, so we are just hoping to get a lot more than usual for it. I have no idea what the going rate will be or what we should request for that weekend though- do others think that airbnb’s dynamic pricing model will have suggestions for pricing over inauguration day weekend? (By a lot more, I mean in the hundred(s) per night, not thousands.)

    • I highly doubt Airbnb’s smart pricing will correctly predict how much you will be able to command- especially since it doesn’t know how close you are to the center of the action, etc. I plan on checking out what other Airbnbs in the area are charging and set my price accordingly for that week. Normally Airbnb smart pricing sets our place at anywhere from $95-$110 per night for a separate one bedroom basement apartment ($95 being our minimum price). I doubt we’d be able to get more than say $300 a night, and even that seems optimistic to me. My guess is it’ll be hard for someone who expects to get thousands, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it shakes out.

      • Our minimum is $65. I’d be thrilled to get 2 or 3 times that amount.

        • I just did a quick search in my area (H St/ Union Station) and it looks like a lot of hosts blocked off that week like I did, but the ones who didn’t are asking between $350 – $600 per night. I’m going to wait till after the election for sure and recheck prices (if the outcome is favorable).
          I’m guessing you could easily charge double that amount, but I’d definitely suggest checking what other similar listings in your area are charging.

    • I highly doubt hillary is going to generate that kind of demand….theres lot of airbnb’s in dc and i doubt everyones going to be trying to make a quick buck. Kinda sick that is all anyone cares about…

      • It’s Airbnb…isn’t the only reason people use it so they cna make a quick buck?

        • reading these posts it just sounds more like extortion then anything else. Get your paper i suppose but eeking out an extra 60$ a night from someone who just wants to come experience ‘history’ i guess…..whatever makes you sleep at night

          • Ok, but how much are hotels charging for the same week? I just checked Fairfield Inn on NY Ave just to see- $659 a night for that week. That is a crap ton for a really horrible location and a sh*tty hotel. If an Airbnb host raises their normal $100 a night rate to $300 for a major event, I hardly think that’s extortion. Not to mention as a host, I use the extra income to pay my mortgage and bills- things would be a lot tighter without it. Can you say that about a corporate hotel?

          • skj84

            Extortion? Really? Its business. Pay a premium for peak times. Some people may go overboard, but when there is demand you can charge a little extra. I think most people know going in that prices are going to be higher than usual for special events.

          • I do a lot of volunteer/serving things that help me sleep at night, but airbnb is not one of them.

          • Uh…I don’t think anyone should lose sleep over charging the market rate to rent a room in their house during inauguration weekend. It’s not like these are people fleeing a natural disaster or something.
            If you want to charge less as some kind of public service you’re welcome to do so but I think your charity would be better used on the red cross or the food bank or basically any other cause aside from subsidizing DC tourism

      • skj84

        First female president is going to generate lots of demand. And whats wrong with wanting to bring in extra income? Its not like anyone is going to strike it rich renting during the inauguration. But the extra cash generated could go towards rent, or mortgages, or bills, or savings or spending cash. Stop being a wet blanket.

      • It’s called free market capitalism. I believe that the inauguration of the first female president – hopefully in a few months – will be a huuuuuge draw.

    • We also host on Airbnb and use a third party site to monitor our prices based on what’s happening in the city. I highly recommend it- it’s called BeyondPricing.com. They charge you 1% of what you make, which to me is so worth it for not having to monitor all DC Events. Our normal rates are around $115. For the inauguration Beyond Pricing bumped it up to about $300 per night and I’ve already got the weekend booked!

  • justinbc

    At this point it’s pretty much a given that Hillary will be the winner, so yeah, sure. The black population in the U.S. is something like 15%, and the turn out for the first black POTUS was record breaking, so even if the love for her isn’t as great I’ve got to assume that with the female population hovering around 52% that there will be a lot of people coming into town to witness history.

    • This. Attendance will be very high for the inauguration of the first female president.

    • Justin, I wish I had your confidence. Yes, she should win, but Trump and the Russians still have another 25 days to kick around and do damage. And I still haven’t seen a good explanation for why the polls were so far off for both the British parliamentary election and the Brexit vote earlier this year, so I probably won’t be exhaling until the actual results come in from the bellwether states.

      • justinbc

        It won’t even be close. He might be dangerously close to 3rd place by the time actual election day comes.

        • The Republican candidate is damn close to losing Utah. What a time to be alive.

          • justinbc

            Not only that but it’s having a yuuuge detrimental effect on what’s left of his floundering businesses. Before there were people who just thought of him as a joke, but would maybe consider staying at a hotel of his, or buying a product, but now there are so many people that adamantly hate him and refuse to give him a cent. And all of his broke supporters that are fueling him certainly won’t be spending $800 a night to stay in one of his crappy resorts.

          • Accountering

            This. I never wish ill on people, but will happily make an exception for this guy. He is a terrible, terrible person, and he deserves all of the bad that comes his way.

          • It’s even within the realm of possibility that he will lose Alaska and Texas. Now wouldn’t that be something. I agree with Justin that this campaign is likely to damage his businesses severely. The Trump name is now toxic.

          • Yes, a Trump humiliation is conceivable, and it would be wonderful and well-deserved. But I am still troubled by the British election last year – every single poll, both a month before the election and on the eve of the election, predicted that Tories and Labour would be tied, and that Labour with its Scottish and Green allies would have a governing majority. But in the end the Tories won by 6% and got an absolute majority in the House of Commons. Again, in the Brexit referendum this past June, the polls immediately before the vote predicted on average that “Remain” would win by about 2%, but in fact “Leave” (the choice of the British “deplorables”) won by about 4%. According to Real Clear Politics, Clinton’s national lead in four-way polls is 5.3%, which is less than the 6% swing between polls and actual votes in the two British cases, and the states where she leads by more than 5% add up to only 256 of the 270 needed electoral votes. Yes, the advantage is definitely hers, but I’m not yet confident that it is in the bag.

          • I would be more worried if it were the same pollsters conducting the polls here as in the UK. (As far as I know, it isn’t.)

  • No, because I’ll be sitting on my couch watching the inauguration. I went to the first Obama inauguration and while it was nice being part of history, the overall experience was miserable, from the frigid cold and hours spent trying to catch Metro, to the long-term injuries my feet suffered from having to stand for eight hours straight.

    • It was SO COLD. SOOOOOO COLD. Also I was only 25 at the time and did not know how to dress properly for cold weather despite being raised in Pennsylvania. OMG IT WAS COLD.

      • skj84

        From PA, dressed properly and still froze. I literally thought I was going to lose my toes.

      • Yeah, that’s why I didn’t go to either of Obama’s inaugurations despite living close in. My friends who went to the first one ended up getting stuck in a tunnel with hundreds of other people and waiting there for hours. Didn’t see a darn thing. I caught the whole thing on TV. I think it would be cool to say you were there, but I’m way too cranky to subject myself to bitter cold and huge crowds for hours on end.

      • My wife has still not forgiven me for taking her to the 1st Obama inauguration (BTW, I went to undergrad in Chicago so we were prepared)…eight years later, apparently she still has shivers thinking about it. She’s not a fan of Hillary, however since she now works on promoting women’s rights, she might have to go to

    • I decided at the last minute to attend the first Obama inauguration. Because of the last-minute factor, I was there by myself. After the inauguration itself ended, people were being funneled through a tiny, tiny exit. It was taking forever and the crowd was getting frustrated. I started to understand how mob violence happens; people were on the verge of knocking down the tall chain-link fences to get out. (Somehow I can’t remember whether the fences ultimately did get knocked down.)
      I got a little panicky — because I was there on my own, no one even knew I was there, which struck me as Not Good if there were a stampede and I were injured. My cell phone wouldn’t work (as happens when you have large numbers of people on the Mall), so it was too late to notify anyone.
      I’d like to be part of history, but I’m not sure I’m willing to go through that again.

      • You could always tell people this time. Plus, I don’t think it’s going to be quite Obama 1st term levels of crush loading on the mall.

    • Oh god yes the cold. I have never been that cold in my entire life. I remember walking through the 3rd St tunnel in a crowd of people to the mall and the energy of the crowds… it was surreal. Afterwards I walked back on the highway over to Pentagon City where I was staying at the time because all the roads were closed. I’m glad I was there but have no desire to go through that again.

  • I’d guess you would get 2 or 3 times the normal rate, maybe a bit more if you are close to the capital, though depending on how security is set up and where people can enter, close in capital hill may not actually be a great location.

    If you already rent out your place, then yeah this will be good for you. If you don’t I would think the logistics of having to go somewhere else and empty your house, get it cleaned extra, etc would probably make this not worth it.

    in 2008, I seem to recall lots of busses bringing people in early in the morning and then leaving the same day.

    These big events never really drive demand for rentals as much as people think they do.

  • skj84

    Maybe. Dependent on if my landlord lets me sublet my room. I am close enough to the Capital that I think I could get some sort of interest. The only issue would be finding a place to stay myself. Either stay with my Aunt up the street or sleep on the couch. I keep swinging back and forth about whether or not I want to attend should Hillary get the nom. I did Obama 09 which was both miserable and exhilarating. I do want to see history happen in person and this time around I live close enough to the festivities I could just walk home. This is assuming I have the day off, I’m not sure what my companies protocol is for inauguration.

    • It’s probably in your lease that you cannot sublet. Personally, I would not let my tenants sublease my house like that.

      • skj84

        That is a very good point. And I would never pull a “what my landlord doesn’t know wont hurt them” because without fail I would get caught. Maybe I can convince my Aunt to rent her extra room out.

  • What’s the typical “minimum night” requirement during Inauguration? I would guess 3 night minimum makes sense?

    • I believe hotels generally do a 4 night minimum, but it may depend on what day of the week it is. Since it’s a Friday this time, 3 day may make more sense.

      • 5 night minimum is what I am doing, based on other my friends’ input who did it for Obama’s 1st and 2nd. I already had one request for $350.00 a night (Lincoln Park 1-Bdr), but declined since it was only for two nights.

  • I thought about it last time (our basement could be an apartment, but we use it as guest room/ playroom/ office) but I don’t know *anyone* who got what they thought they could get. Most didn’t get anything. A few rented their places for a few hundred bucks, nothing like what I’d consider worthwhile.

  • We live near H Street and will be gone for the whole week, so we are trying to figure out how to rent out our 2-bedroom place. Any thoughts on the best way to go about doing a one-time rental? Obviously we’ll put out the word through our personal networks, but any other suggestions (preferably less sketchy than Craigslist)? Does AirBnB allow you to sign up as a one-time thing?

    • You could use Airbnb and just block off the calendar for everything but the week you want to rent. Then you can snooze the listing so you don’t continue to get bookings, but keep it “active” in case you ever want to rent your place when you go out of town again.

  • I’m planning to rent out my basement apartment for that weekend at a higher rate. Anyone know how to change the cancellation policy on Airbnb from flexible to strict for that weekend only? I don’t want someone to book November 9 because they’re excited their candidate won, and then they cancel it a week or day before the inauguration.

    • You can’t change your cancellation policy for a specific weekend. You’d need to change it for everything. If you already have guests booked, it would not affect them, however. Seems like it would be in your best interest to just update to strict.

  • this thread is so DC its sick.

  • I didn’t rent – I invited other Obama supporters to stay in ’08 (fortunately Obama supporters are fine with sleeping bags on the floor). I couldn’t imagine opening up my home this year. Wouldn’t want drumpf supporters anywhere near it, and as an old lady, I get the bed and the Clinton old ladies probably wouldn’t want to sleep on the floor ;).

    • You may be surprised to find out that many of the Obama supporters and Clinton supporters are the same people. 8 years older, but still OK with sleeping bags!

  • I’m planning to stay in town and attend Hillary’s inauguration. One of my favorite memories in DC is walking through the third street tunnel with thousands of people on the way to Obama’s first. It was surreal: the lack of cars and tons of people on the highway felt kind of post-apocalypic, while the excitement and happiness of the crowd was exhilarating. I’ve attended every democratic inauguration since 1992. 2008 was the best, by a lot, but it’s always a fun time to be in DC. Really hoping to see my fifth in 2017.

  • We did it for Obama’s first inauguration. Rented our row house in Woodridge for $700 a night, I think? Paid for a new boiler!

  • We’re not renting out our house.
    I really, really, don’t want to go, for all the reasons articulated above. Cold, too many people, hours and hours of standing around. Plus, though I try to not let things like this influence my decisions, with all of the “election was stolen” by “those communities” (Philadelphia) rhetoric being thrown around, and another 3+ weeks for people to whip themselves into a frenzy, I’m not sure some right wing nutjob isn’t going to do something crazy.
    That said, I really would like my daughter to see the first woman President get sworn in.

    • skj84

      My theory is is they haven’t pulled anything for Obama, they won’t for Hillary. Wishful thinking maybe, but it keeps me sane.

  • We have already gotten 4 requests for inauguration weekend and had to decline 3 of them becuase the pricing was too low. We ended up earning about 4x the amount for that weekend than we would otherwise on Air Bnb in January. I think prices may go up as the date gets closer though

  • Nah, I’d rather enjoy my time at home than try to sell it off to strangers and juggle my family to net a couple hundred bucks. I already have a job.

  • It’s against our Condo rules. I know this won’t stop some folks, but wife and I just have this pathological need to follow the rules.

  • I would rent ensuite bedrooms to people who are renting out their homes and need a place to stay. Maybe charge 10-20% of whatever they charge/net.
    But I probably won’t be willing to move out or install locks on closets for the rando-airbnber.

    Not sure how I would advertise this offer though. (along with the restrictions)

  • Assuming Hillary wins, I’ll probably stay and go to the inauguration. I’ve never been to one, and the female president swearing-in is especially historic.
    I’ll offer my spare bedroom and couch to friends and acquaintances first, and consider renting them out if I don’t know anyone that’s interested. I’m in Capitol Hill so it’s a great location to be for it.

  • I think demand will be somewhere between 2008 and 2012. Black churches literally bussed their way from across the country for Obama’s first inauguration.

    The city is always busy generally on Inauguration week because of the many balls that are held at hotels across the city. Regardless of political stripe, politicians and their families descend on the city and most hotels sell out pretty quickly (though most have this week blocked off well in advance).

    What I’d really love to know is, when Hillary gets out of the limo around 10th and Pennsylvania to walk the rest of the way, if she’ll look over at the Trump Hotel and point and laugh. I truly, truly hope so. Also curious who will stay at the Trump Hotel that week. Seems awkward.

    • I should amend my statement. It isn’t just politicians. Celebrities, corporate executives, lobbyists, etc. all descend on the city for the social events around Inauguration. May corporations sponsor balls and host events and block off huge blocks of rooms at the nicer hotels for their guests. I doubt this will be any different in January.

  • houseintherear

    I currently use Airbnb to rent a guest room, and will open it for that Weds-Sun. Have priced it at $285/night instead of $85/night with a 3 night minimum (but will probably change this to two nights, I think). Decided on this price after a bunch of research. Hope that helps other hosts! : )

    • Houseintherear, what has your experience been with renting out a guest room? Do you ever worry that your guests will steal stuff from the room or from the accessible part of your house? (What’s in the guest room — just a bed? Additional furniture?)
      I am probably too persnickety/particular about my things to be a good candidate for renting out a guest room, but I am curious about how it’s been for you.

      • houseintherear

        I’ve had a great experience for two years now. Only one frustrating situation but nothing criminal or scary happened, they were just hard to deal with re: arrival and departure. Guest room has queen bed, dresser, tv, bedside table, closet. Honestly, with Airbnb people would be stupid to take anything because they are connected to your credit card/bank account. I don’t really have anything of value anyway! I only rent it on the weekends and summers (when I don’t work) so they are aware I’ll generally be around when they’re here. I think spelling out what you expect from guests in the ad makes everything a breeze!

  • No. The less supporters of either major party candidate in the District, the better.

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