Bostonians Beg Journalists to Rent Their Houses

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By: Ken Maguire, Associated Press Writer

(AP) People who hoped to make easy money by renting their homes to delegates, journalists and others attending the Democratic National Convention have found themselves begging for tenants.

“The problem is everybody got so greedy,” said Beacon Hill resident John Gifford, an investment banker who rented his one-bedroom duplex for $1,000 to a Washington-based journalist.

When Boston landed the political event more than a year ago, some city residents immediately started offering their homes at outrageous prices — as high as $10,000 to $15,000 for a week in an apartment or house — to cash in on visitors looking for convenient and homey accommodations.

They’ve found few takers. With the convention just days away, even the more reasonable prices are dropping fast.

“It’s the great gold-rush hoax of 2004,” said Doug Bates, an Internet marketing consultant who has had no bites for his online ad for his three-bedroom apartment. He has lowered the price from $2,000 to $1,000 and has yet to get a nibble.

The Web site has posted 300 such ads in the past three months, but only three people have called to have them removed from the site, company owner Eric Boyer said.

“Over the last four or five days we’ve been asked to reduce a ton of pricing,” Boyer said. “At the beginning, people thought, here comes the gold rush.”

Most people attending the convention obtained housing through the Democratic Party, which secured more than 17,000 rooms in about 70 hotels in Boston and its suburbs.

Asking prices may have been influenced by memories of the 1999 Ryder Cup, when golf enthusiasts paid more than $10,000 to rent homes in Brookline, a community adjacent to Boston, Boyer said.

One Arlington home is offered at $15,000 for the week of the convention. It boasts more than 3,000 square feet and is just 8 miles from downtown Boston.

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