Hundreds of Indianapolis-area residents remain hopeful they’ll cash in on the Super Bowl by renting their homes to visitors willing to fork over thousands of dollars for a place to stay.
As of Friday morning, about 350 listings were posted on Phoenix-based SportsEventRentals.com and 63 listings were on the website of Phoenix-based MajorEventRentalz.com. Several homeowners have posted on both sites. The companies, though based in the same city, are not affiliated.
MajorEventRentalz.com began blanketing Indianapolis last summer with enticing signs advertising the chance to fetch rent payments of up to $10,000 per day.
But, so far, daily asking rates are falling well short in the days leading up to the game on Feb. 5. Listings for places ranging from downtown apartments and condos to an 11,500-square-foot mini-mansion are falling between $1,800 and $6,500, usually with a mandatory five-day minimum stay.
MajorEventRentalz.com promoted the $10,000 figure based on one home in Dallas during last year’s Super Bowl that brought a daily rental rate of $15,000, said Mike Smith, an advertising agent with the company.
Smith declined to divulge how many homeowners have been successful by using the website but said the company is pleased with the results. Homeowners pay MajorEventRentalz.com a $595 flat fee to promote their homes on the website whether they rent it or not.
“The response we’re receiving is excellent,” he said, citing the 700 daily page views the website is receiving. “Our houses are priced to move.”
MajorEventRentalz.com started in 2009 and advertises home rentals for other events, including the Kentucky Derby, the Masters Golf Tournament in Georgia and the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York.
The company sends a photographer to homes of potential renters to create on online virtual tour. It provides a standard contract for landlords and homeowners to use but doesn’t act as a middleman between owners and renters unless they request assistance, Smith said.
Smith expects demand for Indianapolis-area homes to increase after Sunday’s two football games determine who will play in the Super Bowl. A dearth of available hotel rooms should help as well, he said.
Robert Hayes, CEO of SportsEventRentals.com, agreed. The company was launched four years ago and charges $50 a year to list properties for several sports events around the globe. For the Super Bowl, daily rental rates range from $700 to $9,000 for a 12,000-square-foot mansion.
"Starting Sunday, our Web traffic will increase 500 percent," Hayes said. "They'll get interest because there is no place to stay, and if there is, it's very expensive."
The NFL estimates Indianapolis will draw between 100,000 and 150,000 visitors over a 10-day span for the game and affiliated activities.
Steve Hamilton, who listed his condominium in the downtown 3Mass building for $3,900 a day onMajorEventRentalz.com, said he's optimistic about finding a renter at his price.
“I’m pretty confident, once the two teams are set this weekend, and with the limitation on hotel rooms,” he said. “I know of three friends who already have rented properties, so I don’t think we’ll have a problem based on our location downtown.”
Hamilton’s confidence is bolstered by two “legitimate” inquiries received so far, including one from California.
He’s also wary about failing prey to potential scams. Hamilton said he’s received three e-mails similarly written in broken English from couples claiming their company is paying for their wedding and honeymoon, and that they are interested in staying at his condo. The e-mails further said their companies would send certified checks once dates are set.
Hamilton ignored the e-mails but his online research revealed the scam usually involves a certified check sent in an amount greater than the rental rate of a home. The senders of the e-mail follow up by saying they mistakenly sent the wrong amount and ask for the difference to be returned. The catch is that the original check they send will bounce.
Bill Thomas, president of the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana, said the consumer watchdog has not received complaints about MajorEventRentalz.com. But he urged residents who list properties on the site to be mindful of potential cons.
“Just do your homework and check your options,” Thomas said. “If anyone asks you to wire them money, that’s when you should be cautious.”
Shad Tidler, who’s attempting to rent his apartment on West Market Street for $3,500 a day, has received no unscrupulous e-mails but he’s fielded about five inquiries.
If he’s successful, Tidler plans to use the money toward a down payment on a home.
“I thought we might have it rented by now,” he said, “but it only takes one time to get your investment back, and then some.”