Detroiters capitalize on golf tournament by renting rooms, homes to fans

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — As the city rolls out its welcome mat for the PGA Tour this week, some Detroiters have extended that welcome to their own homes.

Dozens of homeowners are offering rooms or their whole house for rent to visitors in town for the golf tournament.

Judith Doss descends the stairs into the foyer at her Palmer Woods home, which she has made available as a bed and breakfast rental for $1,875 a night for the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Leading up to the PGA Tour event, there were more than 70 properties available for rent in neighborhoods including Detroit Golf Club community, Palmer Woods and University District. Those postings can be found on sites such as Airbnb, Rent Like a Champion and Vrbo. Some homeowners have found success.

In University District, about a mile drive to the Detroit Golf Club, Miranda Steinhauser and her partner, Brandon Suman, have rented out their 1927 Tudor Revival-style home to a golfer during the event.

The couple has been Airbnb hosts since late last year after they renovated the 3,600-square-foot, five-bedroom house. They listed their home on the Rent Like a Champion site leading up to the PGA Tour event.

“We were told as a neighborhood by the golf club that sporting agents would be likely to look at that site,” she said. “So I kept our Airbnb listing up with a higher price for the week but primarily we focused the listing on RLAC.”

The suit of armor greets people who walk into the ballroom at the home of Judith Doss in the Palmer Woods subdivision near the Detroit Golf Club.

A golfer’s agent booked the home in early April. Steinhauser declined to share how much they charged, but she was advised to charge between $1,000- $2,000 per bedroom for the week. Rental sites also take a cut of the bookings, she said.

Steinhauser said the money she makes from the event will be reinvested in the house. They’re repainting and restoring the exterior storm windows, the original leaded windows and trim. They're also making improvements to the landscaping.

The couple's home features a custom-designed contemporary kitchen, lounge and a sunroom.

The neighbors seem even more excited than her to have a high-profile visitor in the neighborhood, she said. Some improved their landscaping to make a good impression.

“While we are very excited, it’s also been a lot of stress and pressure,” Steinhauser said. “We really want to leave a good impression of not only our home but also of Detroit.

"I have put a lot of time into making them a custom house manual to help things run smoothly and a guide to all of our favorite Detroit spots for food, drink and activities to hopefully help them have a good time while they’re here. We’d absolutely love them to come back for the tour next year, so there is a lot of pressure to get it perfect.”

From the foyer, stairs lead guests to the second floor in the Palmer Woods home of  Judith Doss.

It’s becoming more common for people to rent their homes out during large sporting events, said Richard Fertig, short-term rental expert and founder of Short Term Rental University.

“It’s a really compelling opportunity,” he said. “We see people either move out and go stay with family or friends elsewhere. People they’ve been meaning to visit. … We see people taking trips of a lifetime. We see people visiting their sister and getting paid to do it.”

Fertig said the appeal for renters is the proximity to travel companions that a house provides.

“If you’re traveling with a small group, staying together helps with the bonding,” he said. “It’s a great experience to find a home and live together and have breakfast together. Share the space.”

This is the first time Saundra Byrd has made her five-bedroom, four-bathroom home available for rent. The 1952 house sits along the Detroit Golf Club course where the PGA Tour is being held.

She’s charging $1,800 a night for what she describes as a spacious open living concept with lots of natural night and fantastic views of the golf course. The 3,558-square-foot home sits at the seventh tee of the course. A catered dinner is included.

Judith Doss' 3-story, 7-bedroom English Manor home in the Palmer Woods subdivision was offered as a bed and breakfast rental for $1,875 a night for the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

“I think the area is a hidden jewel,” Byrd said. “We’ve never had an opportunity to show the world what Detroit looks like from a different point of view."

Byrd said it’s been a lot of work getting the Detroit Golf Club community home ready. 

“I think you have to outfit your house so it looks pristine,” she said. “A hotel-type of atmosphere with home touches. They’re in a home. You have to have the amenities and the structure so people feel they get all of their needs met while being in a comfortable, safe, clean environment.”

Byrd was recently talking over details with potential guests.

“Things are pending,” she said. “We’re very optimistic.”

Judith Doss, a regular Airbnb host, said she had hoped to get a corporation to rent her 10,000-square-foot house in Palmer Woods, the former estate of the founder of Sanders Chocolates. The 1928 mansion sits in the middle of the historic neighborhood and is about a mile away from the Detroit Golf Club. 

Doss has seven bedrooms in the home available for the bed and breakfast with a minimum two-night stay. The rate is $1,875 a night for the house, which includes a ballroom, English pub, gym, sauna and swimming pool.

The mansion has many of its original architectural details, such as intricately carved wood paneling and trim, leaded glass windows and a marble staircase with ornate brass railings. Each bathroom has its original, individual tile design and original plumbing fixtures.

Doss, a golfer, said she’s excited for the event regardless of whether her home rents.

“I’m just hoping this is a start,” she said. “I hope this is so successful that they’ll want to stay. … It’ll be interesting how it turns out.”

Twitter: @CWilliams_DN