Hundreds of Pierce County homeowners hope to be winners by renting their houses for the upcoming U.S. Open, to be held south of Tacoma.
UNIVERSITY PLACE — The big square hot tub on the deck is nice. So is the tall gas fireplace in the high-ceiling living room, the fire pit in the yard and the view, between trees, of Puget Sound.
But it’s the golf course across the street — Chambers Bay — that has the owner of this pale-green three-bedroom house putting it up for rent for $22,000 — for a single week in mid-June.
Ditto for a renovated brick home about a mile away with its own sports court and a 180-degree view of Sound and mountains, visible even from the old-style tub in the master bath. Its one-week asking price: $26,000.
U.S. Open at Chambers Bay
The event: The 115th U.S. Open will be held June 18-21 at Chambers Bay Golf Course, University Place, Pierce County.
This will be the first U.S. Open in the Pacific Northwest and is expected to draw 30,000 people a day. More tournament information:usopen.com
Tips for homeowners renting out houses:
• Make sure insurance is in place to cover damage and liability.
• Remove or safeguard personal and financial information to guard against identity theft.
• Verify that the rental does not violate any homeowners association covenants.
• Read all terms of the rental contract.
• Consider getting a background check or other way of checking the renter’s identity.
• Change the locks after the rental.
Sources: Alison Dempsey-Hall, spokeswoman for Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson; Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman for Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler
Closer to the course, a three-bedroom home with a Zen meditation garden is offered at $35,000, and the owner of a newer two-story home with five bedrooms is asking $45,000.
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With the approach of the first U.S. Open held in the Northwest, hundreds of Pierce County homeowners have put their homes up for rent for the week of the June 18-21 event, hoping to collect a handsome check from a marquee golfer, corporate sponsor or well-heeled vacationer.
But there are potential pitfalls. State officials advise anyone renting out their home to review the qualifications of the listing service and to make sure their home is protected against damage by the renter — a risk not covered by many standard homeowner policies.
A homeowner in Phoenix recently learned too late what can go wrong. In the run-up to the Super Bowl, she rented out her home and returned to find thousands of dollars in damage. She discovered the renter had thrown a massive party, spread the word via Twitter, charged $5 admission and even admitted some minors, according to The Arizona Republic.
About 30,000 fans a day are expected to attend the 115th U.S. Open, making it, in attendance, the largest sports event ever held in Washington.
Chambers Bay Golf Course, built and owned by Pierce County, opened in 2007 on the site of a former sand-and-gravel quarry. It had been open less than a year when it was selected to host this event.
So far, bookings of houses near Chambers Bay are moving more slowly than anticipated, said a woman whose firm is handling about 300 listings.
“We’re trying to get all the houses down under $25,000. That’s really the top of what I think people can expect,” said Abigail Lopez of Gig Harbor-based Abigail’s Concierge Services, adding that she is no longer taking additional listings.
Lopez acknowledges she helped drive prices up when she began gathering listings early last year, and had no precedent in this area.
“We looked at past U.S. Opens, and we set the bar higher, because there literally are no hotels close to the course,” she said. Now, Lopez said, she is reconnecting with some of the owners, suggesting they set their sights slightly lower.
“It really doesn’t matter how lavish the home is. Everybody has a budget,” said Lopez.
The 156 golfers competing in the U.S. Open can secure lodging through the USGA, but have the option of looking for their own accommodations.
For example, Lopez said, representatives of two-time U.S. Open winner Ernie Els of South Africa have indicated he wants to rent a home with a pool. Lopez supplied information on two properties but hasn’t heard of a decision.
Lopez said an agent in Pinehurst, N.C., scene of last year’s U.S. Open, recently told her many homes near that location weren’t booked until four to six weeks before the event.
“That seems to be cutting it pretty close,” said Lopez, who said she’d need extra help processing contracts and handling other details if a flood of bookings comes at once. She has completed bookings for eight properties, and has a similar number in process.
Other sites listing properties during the U.S. Open include Windermere Real Estate;VRBO.com; Airbnb.com; BCIPropertiers; and Event Homes. The latter last week had homes listed for nightly rates between $1,000 and $5,714 during the tournament.
Lopez said she had high hopes last summer, when she rented two adjoining luxury homes for about $67,000 during the tournament to an Oregon dentist who said she plans to bring her staff and their families.
Lopez, who said she charges a 20 percent commission on her U.S. Open properties, said she has rented to a number of clients whose companies have a connection to the USGA. In some cases, she has been able to get the renting company to add both the homeowner and Lopez’s firm to the company’s insurance during the rental.
Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman for Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, said typical homeowner policies do not cover damage done during short-term rentals.
She advises people who rent out accommodations, such as bed-and-breakfast units in their home, to check with their insurance companies to see what coverage for those uses is available.