Between four million and five million people are expected to descend upon DC for inauguration week. With a limited amount of hotel space, renters’ attention has largely been focused on Craigslist. It’s time to make room for one more.
Last Friday, Andre Butters, a mortgage-company owner, launched the Web site Inauguralhomes.com. By yesterday afternoon, the site—designed to connect inauguration visitors to DC-area homes—already had 120 residences listed for rent.
Butters started the site with three friends, two from Wall Street and a fellow mortgage-company owner—all Barack Obama supporters. Butters, a Bethesda resident, helped enter data and make phone calls for the Democratic nominee during the presidential campaign.
“First and foremost,” he says, “we’re Obama supporters. We saw a need for housing, and what better way to get involved than to take a leadership position?”
Inauguralhomes’ goal is to bring as many people to the city as possible, while also keeping prices affordable. The site charges $9.95 to send rental information to ten people, $24.95 to list a property, and $49.95 to list a property in the site’s featured section and receive e-mail alerts when a renter is interested. Butters says he’s not trying to charge “an arm and a leg,” just enough “to keep our doors open and lights on.” Don’t believe him? Ten percent of the site’s income is going to be donated to the homeless.
Butters hasn’t been tracking the number of rentals completed through the site. He simply doesn’t have the time. However, he says the Web traffic has been impressive.
“We’re trying to make a big push locally, to get as many homes as possible by the end of the week,” he says. “After next week, we’re going to push to get more of a national presence.”
Inauguralhomes has already been featured on Fox, NBC, and twice on NPR. The Associated Press even swung by for an interview.
“I want everybody to know,” says Butters, “there’s Craigslist and there’s Inauguralhomes.”