Extended-stay hotels are also popping up around the region, but Marriott doesn't believe the two are in direct competition. Last year it opened a Residence Inn, its extended-stay brand, in downtown Baltimore.
Patrick Miner, that hotel's general manager, sees average stays of 11 days or so. That gives him more flexibility than corporate-housing providers to take customers on short notice, he said, so he sometimes fills rooms with people waiting for a corporate-housing vacancy.
Though the city is seeing a boom in such housing, corporate units are sprinkled elsewhere in the region as well. Annapolis Accommodations Inc. does most of its business in Anne Arundel County. It neither owns nor rents but rather acts as a go-between for people who want housing and the owners of local investment properties.
"We have everything from an in-law apartment to a five-bedroom executive home," said Jane Ramsay, co-owner of the company.
Some customers stay for a surprisingly long time.
Consider Dave Blair, a specialty real estate lender who moved his operation to the region from Northern Virginia to escape the traffic. He's been using an Annapolis Accommodations single-family residence in Eastport as a home and an office for more than a year now. He thought he would be in the area only temporarily, but he's decided to stick around and doesn't want to buy a house just yet.
Dolores Wilson, president of J&S Management Inc., a local provider with units in the city, Baltimore County and Columbia, has had customers on long-term assignments that kept getting extended, "as long as three and four years."
`A better way'
Jouan -- an Argentine native who speaks four languages -- has carved out a niche that includes a fair number of international clients. That's because he got the idea to try corporate housing while working with international patients at Johns Hopkins.
"Just trying to book places for people -- there were all kind of barriers," he said. "I grew fed up ... and said, `You know what, there's got to be a better way.'"
Vicki Hardin, a travel coordinator who was Jouan's co-worker at the time, remembers the birth of the business.
"I was running out of apartments," said Hardin, now at Under Armour. "I said, `I don't know what I'm going to do.' He said, `Well, I have a chance ... at an auction down at the Belvedere.'"
Jouan picked up four two-bedroom units at the complex on Chase Street for $27,000 apiece. He and wife Susan Kenney renovated the condos themselves. She kept them clean. Four years ago, he left Hopkins to focus on the business full time.
Now Chase Street Properties has a shuttle to pick up guests from the airport and take them around town; wheelchairs and similar medical equipment on hand for patients; and a cluster of waterfront residences that rent for $2,500 a month to $14,000 a month (parking and cable included).
"We stay 97 percent full," said Jacobs, who joined the company three years ago. "If we have a place open more than two or three nights," she says a bit sheepishly, "we start to get upset."