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Real Estate

Pay the rent or buy a BMW?

Marina homeowners reap windfall renting to America’s Cup audience

The best-kept secret is that America’s Cup fans can rent a place near the water for only $50 a night. Once they check in, they can take in the natural beauty, kick up their feet and watch the America’s Cup in living color on their television set. That’s because this rental is located in a 22-square-foot cottage near “the second cleanest lake in Indiana,” according to its online ad.

Now, if those America’s Cup spectators and partiers want to watch the races live, in-person, from the comfort of a nice bayside terrace, then they’ll have to come to San Francisco’s Marina District, where they’ll find some truly eye-opening deals. For example, $25,000 or $30,000 a month will get them panoramic views from which they can entertain family and guests in style. Or they can put that money toward a new car or college education for junior.

You already know that location is supremely important in real estate; timing is also a priority. Commercial and private rentals are opening their doors for the America’s Cup season, and at least some of that economic windfall promised to San Franciscans is going to go into the pockets of the owners of these homes and businesses.

The amounts can be staggering. On VRBO.com, a website that lists short-term vacation rentals by people earning some money renting out their homes, one eye-popping availability is asking $50,000 a month (or only $12,500 a week with a two-week minimum) for a four-bedroom, four-bath unit in the Marina that sleeps eight. For the penny-pinchers among the attendees, there’s a five-bedroom, 3.5-bath Marina unit directly overlooking the America’s Cup Village; this bargain goes for only $30,000 a month, even though it sleeps up to 12 people. Another rental offers to sleep eight in a four-bedroom, three-bath unit that boasts a rooftop deck, perfect for watching the races, even though the unit is located only one block from the water.

Over on Airbnb.com, another private owner apartment rentals site, there are certainly bargains to be had. There’s everything from $75 a night rooms to hundreds of dollars a night. An Oak Street home that sleeps eight in three bedrooms and one bathroom is going for a relative bargain of $6,500 a month (or $1,500 a week). It’s even got a pool, indoor fireplace, and washer and dryer. Or if the vacation renters don’t mind being farther away from the action and having to take public transportation to get to the races, they could select a West Portal place that starts at $89 a night.

Owners of these private homes are benefiting by offering not just a warm bed and good location (the closer to the bay the better, hence the highest prices are found along the Marina’s shore); some of them are able to offer parking (to many visitors and even frustrated residents in San Francisco, that alone might tempt them to shell out tens of thousands of dollars), unique homes with neat architectural touches, and a bit of home (full kitchens, for starters) that most hotels can’t match.

Veteran Bay Area newscaster Tom Sinkovitz and his wife Paula told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Carolyn Said that they were pondering renting out their four-bedroom Marina condo during the America’s Cup. “We’re considering the idea of getting out of town and doing Europe for a few weeks with our 12-year-old twins,” said Sinkovitz. If their condo is located well enough, they could afford a real barn-burner of a romp through Europe and still have cash to throw around when they return.

Of course, the super-high rates are likely only to be paid by extremely wealthy people or by companies using the locations much like they use skyboxes at sports stadiums: It’s where they bring clients and favored employees to be wined and dined and entertained, the better to grease the wheels of the company’s future success. And it’s likely a tax writeoff for them anyway.

In the end, wherever these visitors choose to stay, they are going to be spending time in a city stuffed to overflowing with great restaurants, endless entertainment possibilities, interesting people, and stunning scenery.

That’s not too much to expect on the second cleanest bay in America.

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John Zipperer is the former senior editor for Apartment Finance Today and Affordable Housing Finance magazines. E-mail: john@marinatimes.com