By George Utley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The city of Rio is hosting seven matches, including the final, of the 2014 World Cup between June 12th and July 13th and accommodations have been a hot topic for both fans traveling and those able to offer a room to rent. With demand and prices shooting high as early as mid-last year, now the market is seeing a surplus of supply, especially in the temporary apartment space.
After reports of hotel prices being bumped up to six times their usual high season peaks by Match, the accommodation agency appointed by FIFA, many football fans could be forgiven for thinking that they had been priced out of the market. Temporary apartments are always a great option in Rio, but early bookings drove prices soaring as well, with the 600,000 tourists the city expects to receive (56 percent of the tickets sold to foreigners).
However, according to Frédéric Michel Cockenpot, Managing Director of WhereInRio, the situation has changed as there are now more apartments on offer than there is demand. “Right after Carnival, the rental market for the World Cup changed mainly because a lot of Cariocas woke up and decided to offer their own apartment for rental.”
“First they were asking a very high prime due to the fact they knew well how agencies like WhereInRio had already rented out most of their proprieties in their own portfolio, and at a good price. Combined with a huge amount of rooms set free by FIFA back to the hotels […] most of the properties couldn’t find renters. So prices went down.”
That is good news for those looking to find accommodations still during the World Cup in Rio. In fact, now may be “the perfect time to finalize your booking for the World Cup,” Mr. Cockenpot explains. “Owners have realized they [will not become] millionaires with world cup rentals. They now [changed their expectations] to be more reasonable.”
Martin Stockl of Rio Management elaborates, “Owners wanted to refurbish their properties before the World Cup in order to charge a higher rate. In Brazil, sometimes these things take longer than expected. As most people have already booked, the market is now flooded with newly upgraded apartments with only a month until kick-off.”
Asking prices for the World Cup are on average 25 percent down on what they were this time last year. “A year ago it was almost impossible to find an owner to sign a rental contract. At first Cariocas originally had unrealistic expectations for their newly renovated homes,” explains Stockl.
“They thought they could cash in on higher net worth clients, but the reality is these corporate clients made their reservations well in advance. There is now only demand from the fans, who cannot take thirty days off work, can’t afford to stay for the whole month, and who want to follow their team´s progress in the tournament throughout Brazil.”
Stockl has sound advice for people still hoping to rent their apartments for the tournament. “Bear in mind there are only seven game days in Rio. A 3-to-10 day package is reasonable, but people will be hard pushed to stay for longer. Prices should be set no higher than they are on New Year’s Eve or Carnival, as you are dealing with a similar client base now.”
Also, June’s rental calendar is currently far busier than July’s. With the higher ticket prices for the later stages of the competition, Rio still has plenty of unreserved properties, as fans wait for the results to come through before deciding whether to stay or not. “We have eighty reservations confirmed, 65 of which are for June. July will probably not book up until June,” says Stockl.