Lexington, KY – In a little over a year, the streets of Lexington will be flush with tourists, swarming the town for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games – early estimates range between 200,000 and 600,000 people, although until tickets go on sale in late September, no one seems comfortable narrowing down that estimate.
“We have about 600,000 tickets for sale,” said WEG Public Relations Manager Amy Walker, adding that that number includes all reserved seats for the World’s Championships, as well as general admission tickets – in other words, it doesn’t necessarily refer to the amount of unique visitors they are expecting (i.e., if someone wants to go to four events, they must purchase four different tickets, etc.).
“Starting on Sept. 25, we’ll begin to get a much more detailed and accurate picture of who our 2010 visitors will be,” Walker added.
Whatever the numbers end up being, many locals are already planning their escape – and a healthy number of them have decided to try their hand at getting a piece of the “economic impact” while they’re at it, via renting out their homes to the out-of-town WEG attendees during the two-week event.
In addition to WEG’s Official Private Property Rental Partner, Event Home Leasing, at least two private property rental companies in the area (WEG Home Rentals and the Barron-Slone Group) have popped up over the past six months looking to serve as an intermediary between residents who wish to lease out their homes and the potential visitors looking to rent a home for their stay in the Bluegrass.
Walker said that based on the information collected by the official WEG housing bureau (Short’s Travel) via early inquiries about housing, at this point the number of local residents who hope to rent their homes greatly exceeds the number of visitors interested in renting homes.
“We are confident that once our tickets go on sale in September, and once people really start planning the details of their visit, (the number of potential renters) will grow,” Walker said. “But we do want to manage expectations. ÖThe one thing that we don’t want to happen is for people to put their home up for rent independently and then be disappointed if it’s not rented.”
Most hotel rooms will not become available until approximately one year before the event (right around the time that tickets for the event go on sale). People who intend to buy tickets for the Games can put in an early request now for accommodations; at the time of print, the most recent estimate of the number of room nights requested was up to 84,000 over the course of the two-week period. But despite the buzz generated around town regarding the availability of hotel rooms (Lexington has less than 8,000), Walker expressed confidence that there will be enough rooms in the region, which includes Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington and all the surrounding counties, to accommodate the visitors – and also that most of those visitors will decide to take the hotel route.
“The majority of the people coming to Kentucky in 2010 will seek a hotel room,” she said.
That outlook, however, is not deferring the hundreds of area homeowners who have listed their homes with the three leading rental agencies so far, pricing them anywhere between $500 and $6,000 a day. Though renting a home will primarily end up being more costly than renting a hotel, Chris Barnett of WEG Home Rentals feels certain that there will be a market for home leasing, no matter how many visitors the region ends up getting. Access to a living room, kitchen, more space and all the extra amenities of a home will be worth the extra cost to many visitors, he pointed out; plus, it will be a more viable option for large groups who want to stay together.
Cathy Snowden and her husband, Steve, recently listed their four-bedroom home in Chevy Chase for $2,250 a day with the Barron-Slone Group, a company based out of the Georgetown Re/Max Realty Company.
“I e-mailed them on Monday, and they came over to take pictures on Wednesday,” Cathy said. “I was very impressed with their professionalism.” Cathy, who is also hoping to get some WEG-related business through the home staging company that she runs with her sister (Staging Sisters), explained that her husband traveled to Saratoga with his family as a kid, and they always stayed in a rented summer home while away. “He said it was a fun, and I thought that would be a good excuse for us to go someplace – Europe, Hawaii, someplace for a long time.”
For those residents who might want to make a little bit of extra income, but aren’t ready to pack up and go on a trip, the option of being a host family (another service offered by WEG Rentals, wherein the homeowners remain in their home and allow guests to stay with them) might be worth considering. Others are even looking into doing a home swap – temporarily exchanging homes with a family from abroad, or even from here in the states (California and New York will likely be bringing lots of visitors for the event).
Choosing a Home Rental Company
While the three leading home rental companies offer many of the same services, they differ in many areas as well, including commission fees, listing fees and the extent of services offered. Whether you are interested in paying less and doing most of the legwork yourself – or vice versa – we’ve provided a basic break down of the three companies to help you decide which is right for you.
WEG Home Rentals
In a nutshell: WEG Home Rentals consists of five friends from a variety of professional backgrounds, from marketing to sales. Most of the legwork is left up to the homeowner (providing photographs of the home, setting the terms with the potential renter, etc.), but because they don’t take a commission, this service provides the most potential financial gain for the homeowner.
Fees: To list your home with WEG Home Rentals costs $295 – more than the other sites’ listing fees, but there is no commission charge associated with the home rental. An enhanced photo gallery is free if you sign up before Sept. 1 (or for an additional $30 after that time).
What you’re paying for: Three pictures and a detailed description of your property; owner profile to personalize your listing; Google map integration. Referrals for insurance agents and attorneys (both of which you are recommended to speak with if you are planning on renting your home) are also available on weghomerentals.com, as are sample lease agreements; renter guidelines and checklists, and more.