South Sound homeowners look to cash in during 2015 U.S. Open

The only way Larry Golden and his family could live closer to Chambers Bay golf course would be to pitch a tent on one of the greens. The family’s modest pale-yellow house overlooks Grandview Drive West and the entrance to Chambers Bay, host site of the 2015 U.S. Open.

The Golden home will be at ground zero when the major golf tournament and its estimated 235,000 visitors descend on the course next June. That’s why the Microsoft manager and his family are planning a trip to Disneyland during the weeklong event.

“I would love to be there,” Golden said of the U.S. Open, “but we just figure it’d be better not to be here.”

The Goldens listed their five-bedroom, three-bathroom home for rent on a free website, eventhomes.com, advertising its location and a $10,000 a day price tag.

They aren’t the only homeowners trying to capitalize on the tournament. More than 150 Pierce County homeowners are on the website looking to cash in on the largest professional sporting event ever held in the South Sound.

Homes all over the area — from Fircrest to North Tacoma and from Anderson Island to Port Orchard — are up for grabs on the site. Their owners might get a boost from the fact that University Place has no hotels, plus many hotel rooms in downtown Tacoma are already booked during the U.S. Open.

By asking $70,000 to rent his home for the full week, Golden hopes to appeal to corporations that want to be close to the action.

“You can’t go wrong with renting your home out for this event,” he said. “At that price point, you’re not going to get that guy that is going to come in and damage your house.”

Steve Sloboda, managing broker of Windermere Real Estate/Professional Partners in University Place, recently launched a website, chambersbayhousing.com with homes for rent within 3 to 5 miles of the course.

Sloboda, who has prior experience in professional sports marketing, expects to list 100 to 150 homes on the site when it hits its stride; there were four listed Tuesday.

If he finds a renter for a home, he receives 30 percent of the price plus a one-time $250 administrative fee. The cost includes listing and marketing the home, running credit checks on renters, writing a rental contract to protect the property and cleaning the home at the end of the week.

Rental prices for the homes already on Sloboda’s site range from $6,000 to $10,500 for the week. He has reached out to companies in other states that put together travel packages to the U.S. Open. Often those companies look for homes near the championship course to offer in the packages, he said.

Because it’s the first time the U.S. Open will be in the Pacific Northwest, there are a lot of unknowns. Sloboda has sought guidance from other cities that regularly host major golf events, such as the Masters in Augusta, Georgia.

With a lack of hotel rooms within several miles of Chambers Bay, Sloboda thinks people will look to rent homes.

“It’s hard to say what people are willing to pay,” he said. “But one of the things I can tell you is from past history in other places, there are going to be a few homes that rent for a large amount of money but the majority are going to go for more realistic prices.”

U.S. Open championship director Danny Sink has cautioned homeowners not to set expectations too high.

“What happens is everyone gets really excited in the beginning that thousands and thousands of people are going to rent houses,” Sink said. “I don’t think the demand is what people feel that it is.”

Typically he sees homes listed for $2,000 per bedroom for the week. If a home has spectacular views of the mountains or Puget Sound, that could increase the price a little, but “no one wants to come out and get gouged on renting a house,” he said.

The USGA, which looks for 40 to 50 homes to rent to players, already has a list of homes for the professional athletes and doesn’t need any more, Sink said.

People who scoff at the idea of paying $2,000 or more a day for lodging during the Open should break down the cost, Sloboda said.

“The cost per day, per person, isn’t that exorbitant if you consider a single person staying in a hotel room,” he said.

Splitting the price among six to 10 people renting a house is competitive with area hotels, he said. And you can’t beat the location.

Golden certainly feels that way about his house.

“Nobody’s going to get closer,” he said.