South Carolina

Thousands are coming to SC for the eclipse – these homeowners are profiting

Airbnb users on the rise in Columbia for solar eclipse travelers

Katie Fox is renting her house for the solar eclipse
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Katie Fox is renting her house for the solar eclipse

Katie Fox will spend this month’s solar eclipse as a weekend landlord.

She is among dozens of homeowners in the Columbia area who are leasing their dwellings to out-of-towners visiting the area for the Aug. 21 eclipse.

“It’s a great way to make it possible for more people to visit Columbia and make a few bucks in the process,” Fox said. “This provides someone a unique way to experience a community.”

It will be the first time Fox has rented out her 18-month-old Cayce home, but she might do it again if the experience goes well.

She is comfortable with the idea because she has stayed in homes she has leased in other cities. She also has welcomed to her home at no charge guests who traveled to the Midlands for conferences.

The home rental service Airbnb said 6,900 eclipse watchers so far have arranged guest stays across South Carolina through its listings. That total includes 530 coming to the Columbia area.

The company didn’t say on Friday how many Columbia-area homes have been offered for rent.

Home rentals are in demand because nearly all of the 11,200 hotel rooms in Lexington and Richland counties are sold out for Aug. 20 and 21, according to John Durst, president of the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.

“It’s natural there’ll be spillover with home rentals,” he said.

Most home rentals are listed at rates of a few hundred dollars per day or higher, similar to charges for leasing residences in Augusta for the annual Masters golf tournament.

Fox, a management consultant, is receiving $500 per night for her four-bedroom home during the weekend. One group of renters will stay for three nights – Aug. 18-20 – and another group is staying the night of Aug. 21.

She originally intended to use the earnings for a Caribbean vacation during the eclipse. But a recent job change left her with insufficient time off for a getaway, so now she intends to use the income to reduce credit card debt.

She will provide her renters with protective glasses for viewing the eclipse as well as a list of related local events and directions to them.

Fox expects to be cleaning her home for the second group of tenants when the sky turns dark in mid-afternoon on Aug. 21.

She plans to interrupt the task to go to her backyard to peek at the eclipse, even though she initially wanted to be on a faraway beach where it couldn’t be seen.

“I’ll be busy, but I’ll catch it,” Fox said.

Tim Flach: 803-771-8483