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Charlotte Observer: Would-Be DNC Home Renters Adjust Expectations

With the Democratic National Convention less than a month away, some Charlotte residents who want to rent out their homes for the event have had to adjust their price expectations. While there are stories of people cashing in on the Sept. 4-6 event, many homeowners have lowered their prices in the hope of getting something rather than nothing. The rental craze surrounding the convention started months ago, but rental activity has spiked in the past few weeks, according to two rental services. DNCRental.com co-founder Brendon Urban said the rental website has seen its volume of listings triple in the past three weeks and is still taking listings. Urban said there were about 350 listings on the website the last time he checked, and the site gets about 7,000 to 8,000 unique visitors a day. "We expected originally that during this time it would be a complete slowdown," Urban said. "It seems that more and more folks are listing their homes, and we're definitely seeing an uptick in people renting homes." The surge in renters is probably made up of seasoned convention-goers who know how to get a good bargain, said Trent Corbin, owner of Providence Property Management, which leases uptown residences and is affiliated with DNCRental.com. "Homeowners are a lot more willing to negotiate when the clock is ticking down," he said. The average going rate has been about $250 per bedroom per night, although rates have been all over the map depending on location, Urban said. He said property owners have lowered their listed prices, such as dropping from $1,200 to $900 or from $700 to $500. Many homeowners got started early on renting. Ashley Hardee and her husband, Lee, own a three-bedroom, two-bath house in uptown's First Ward. They rented it out through DNCRental.com in February for a total of $7,500 for five nights. "I'm going to go to the beach and enjoy the Labor Day weekend," she said. But others, like Kristin Garber, haven't been so lucky. She's offered to rent her two-bedroom, one-bath residence on West Trade Street - minutes from the convention floor - for $2,500 for the week but hasn't found a renter. "Everyone started hearing about people renting their homes for these exorbitant prices," she said. "I kind of thought I'd get more interest." Meanwhile, many are losing hope of renting at all. Jon Riley said he and his wife posted ads for their uptown condo on Craigslist and Airbnb.com but haven't had success. Other rental businesses were too swamped to help them. "I really have a hard time from my perspective believing the DNC is going to bring the crowd as advertised. Either (that or) Charlotte is much more prepared to meet the need than advertised," Riley said. "Either way, this close to the DNC convention we are not expecting much." Jay Ferguson, managing partner at DNC Charlotte Housing, said the trouble some homeowners have is a matter of location. "There's a lot more supply than demand, but not necessarily more supply than demand in the places that renters want to be in," he said. "If (owners) don't have a property downtown, it's a lot less likely that they're going to find a renter."