Homeowners getting less for Masters rentals

Flooded market, cutbacks blamed

Lisa Whitney is able to pay a portion of her children's college tuition and take her family on an annual vacation with the money she makes renting her house during Masters Week.


The Evans resident has been renting her home for six years. Each year, she and her husband receive $17,000 to $20,000 from renting their 6,000-square-foot home in Jones Creek subdivision. They have two children in college and another in middle school.

They are renting their home to corporate clientele through Executive Marketing Services in Augusta, she said.

"It's a really nice way to make a little extra money and to go away on a nice vacation," Whitney said. "We will be going to Turks and Caicos this year. We get to do things like that that we otherwise probably wouldn't do. I feel very fortunate that I'm able to make that kind of money. As long as I'm able to do it, we just love doing it."

The Whitneys have not had to lower their rental price this year, but other homeowners haven't been so lucky. Houses are renting at cheaper prices than past years for the Masters Tournament because of corporate cutbacks and an influx of homes on the market.

Even Tiger Woods' announcement that he'll play the tournament might not make a difference.

"Basically, the large companies that tend to come in for the Masters made the decision to budget their trip to Augusta over a year ago," said Jane Fuhrmann, the owner of Tournament Housing & Events LLC in Martinez. "Whether Tiger plays or not really doesn't have anything to do with the large companies. There will probably be some smaller groups that will want to come in."

Fuhrmann said she expects some increased activity but it's too soon to know how much her business will be affected.

The Masters Housing Bureau, which has an inventory of 1,000 homes, started receiving e-mails from journalists requesting housing within three hours of Woods' announcement Tuesday, said Sue Parr, the president and CEO of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, which operates the Masters Housing Bureau.

Housing rentals have been down slightly at Corporate Quarters in Martinez, said owner Diane E. Starr. Corporate Quarters has more than 1,000 homes in its database and works mostly with corporations, which have been sending fewer people to the tournament, she said.

Starr anticipates renting 80 percent of the available homes, which is similar to last year, but with less spent overall on housing.

The market is also being affected by unemployed residents who are trying to earn extra money by renting their homes, she explained.

"The market is flooded with houses. That causes the price of all the homes available to start dropping because there's more inventory available than normal," Starr said.

Housing rentals at Executive Marketing Services are similar to last year, said Vice President Chris Cheek, but he has also noticed a decrease in rental prices.

"A lot of them are reducing them even further as we get closer to the event," he said.

Corporations have also reduced the amount of time their people stay in Augusta, Cheek explained. Rather than sending a large group for the entire week, companies are entertaining people in waves and having them stay only a few days. As a result, the company might need only one house.

However, some homeowners haven't had to lower their prices at all, Parr said. Many returning renters will pay the same price they've paid in the past "because they see the value."