Business of renting rebounds for Masters

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A professional golfer once rented Janna Crane's home during Masters Week. Another year, a crew from ESPN booked it. Sometimes guests leave a bottle of wine as a thank-you gift.

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Janna Crane has rented her Martinez home out during Masters Week for the past 10 years. She and her husband go out of town during the tournament.   Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Janna Crane has rented her Martinez home out during Masters Week for the past 10 years. She and her husband go out of town during the tournament.

"I've never had one single problem," said Crane, the owner of a 2,800-square-foot Cape Cod home in Martinez's Watervale subdivision,

Crane has rented her for home for Masters Week for 10 years. Her family vacations on the Florida coast during the tournament.

"Honestly, we started doing this because the money was good," she said.

Her house typically earns $3,000 to $5,000 a year, and she and her husband use the proceeds for home improvement projects. This year, they hope to add an outside fire pit.

Crane's home hasn't rented for 2011 yet, but there's a good chance it will.

After two years of sluggish demand, Masters housing rentals are rebounding, according to Sue Parr, the president of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. The chamber operates the Masters Housing Bureau, which is representing Crane's home and already has 700 other houses in its database.

"All of our clients from 2010 indicate that they are returning this year," Parr said. "Of the firms who have already booked, they're booking more homes."

Diane Starr, the owner of Corporate Quarters in Martinez, echoed Parr's assessment.

"Sales are better than they've been the past two years. Not only in the number of new companies we're seeing, but the ones that have been coming are increasing their numbers of rentals a bit," she said. "We're definitely headed in the right direction."

Homes and apartments within 10 miles of the Masters Tournament have the best chance of renting, Starr said. Also, pictures of clean uncluttered rooms help.

Despite the improvement, sales trends still favor smaller properties, Starr said.

"I could use more two-bedroom condos and apartments," she said.

Jane Fuhrmann, the owner of Tournament Housing & Events LLC in Martinez, said Masters Week rentals are not as strong as they were five years ago, but they're better than they've been for the past two years. The news bodes well for the economy overall.

"We're directly tied to the economy," Fuhrmann said. "Going to a sporting event is more of an option. If the economy is weak or nervous, you won't necessarily see big companies coming in."

Jennifer Brackett, the director of sales and housing coordination for Executive Marketing Services, is also optimistic about this year's sales but said companies still seem to be operating on smaller budgets.

"In the past clients would book eight nights and seemed to have unlimited money to spend," she said. "Now, they book for a partial week and they're looking for smaller properties."

Reach Carole Hawkins at (706) 823-3341, or carole.hawkins@augustachronicle.com.


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