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Monday, January 28, 2013 - 1:41am

Masters Housing Rentals Spike

Home rentals for the Masters Tournament in Augusta are up this year, thanks to an improving economy. The demand for housing is also pushing prices higher.

Rental bookings so far for the April golf tournament are double what they were at this time last year, according to the Masters Housing Bureau.

“The bookings that we see this month we would see normally in February or March,” said Sue Parr, president of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, which runs the housing bureau. “We’re accelerated this year by at least 30 to 45 days.”

Parr said the rental market has been tricky over the last four years. She said Masters visitors have had less money to spend, but they’re booking early for the 2013 contest. That’s pushing up the rents homeowners can charge.

“We did a see a kind of flat area over the last couple of years in terms of home prices,” Parr said. “But, yes, the more premium homes are going to command a better price [this year] and we’re seeing that our homeowners are taking advantage that.”

Even with the increased demand, Parr said plenty of rental inventory remains as homeowners realize it’s not too late to get a renter signed up.