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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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U.S. Open neighbors hope to cash in on home rentals

Jack Broom Seattle Times

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Washington – 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.

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.

With the approach of the first U.S. Open held in the Northwest, hundreds of area 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 runup 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 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 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.

Other sites listing properties during the U.S. Open include VRBO.com; Airbnb.com; BCIPropertiers; and Event Homes. The latter recently had homes listed for nightly rates between $1,000 and $5,714 during the tournament.

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