Thursday, November 6, 2008

Within hours of Sen. Barack Obama’s election, District-area residents began looking forward to his administration’s official arrival with their hearts — and their wallets began looking forward to it, too.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there already were 98 postings on the online marketplace for apartments, condominiums and homes available to rent for the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Tony Walker, who lives in Georgia but keeps a two-bedroom house near Foggy Bottom, decided to advertise his home after seeing Tuesday’s after-election celebrations. Mr. Walker is advertising his home for the week for $5,000.

“I saw the 250,000 people last night, and I thought this might be a good idea,” he said. “I figured that with so many people voting, we might get some takers. It’s funny, my wife said, ‘Let’s just ask for $1,000 for the week.’ And I said, ‘Let me check Craigslist first.’ I saw people asking for $2,500 and $5,000, so I knew I should ask for more.”

The weekly rental fees on the Web site ranged from $1,000 to $10,000.

Others looking to profit from inauguration week posted their hotel reservations on eBay. One posting asks for as much as $4,400 for seven nights at the Ritz-Carlton in McLean. A seven-night stay at the hotel during a regular week would cost roughly $3,300.

According to, the Motel 6 on Georgia Avenue Northwest is charging $600 to spend the night between Jan. 20 and 21.

Susan O’Gorman of Fairway, Kan., is among those looking on Craigslist.

“I’m coming because I think it is history,” said Mrs. O’Gorman, who plans to drive the 1,000-mile trip to the District with her husband and two children. “I want to witness history. I want my kids to witness history. We don’t often know when we will be able to witness history.”

Mrs. O’Gorman is looking for a place within 40 miles of the city and close to a Metro line.

However, the competition already appears tough. One Craigslist entry had received 32 inquiries as of noon Wednesday.

“I know everyone is scrambling to find accommodations, so I’ll be brief. I’ve decided the best way to decide on a price is to let the market decide — so if you are still interested, please send me an e-mail with your offer,” wrote the owner of a Columbia Heights property to the 32 persons who responded to her Craigslist advertisement.

However, the poster also added this friendly note: “To save you from false hope, please bear in mind that rental prices in D.C. for this week are starting out around $500 a night, so I am unlikely to consider any offers less than $1,500.”

The poster, who did not want a name used, said the ad already had produced two offers of $3,000 for the week.

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