How Airbnb Helped Us Pay Down Credit Card Debt, Buy a Primary Residence, & More
In February of 2014, I knew three things:
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- I liked to shop,
- My boyfriend (now husband, James Carlson) and I were spending enough time together to make two rents an expensive luxury, and
- We were nowhere near sharing major financial decisions or enduring holidays with each other’s families.
In other words, we weren’t going to move in together yet, but the extra rent was kind of killing my dream Nordstrom’s budget, and I didn’t see that changing in the next year.
Let’s Back Up a Little
I lived in Denver in 2008 and seemed to remember hearing whispers of people making tons of money on short-term rental sites (namely, Airbnb) during the 2008 Democratic National Convention. My assumption was that the site was likely still running in 2014, and with the recent legalization of marijuana, there might be more people coming to Denver than before, which would create demand, which would (hopefully) create people willing to pay for a few days’ rentals, and my grand experiment would end with that 33rd pair of jeans I so desperately needed. So, with that in mind, I sort of cleaned my apartment, posted some photos, and waited.
While I thought I was waiting for a $500 (at best) pay day, I was actually 30 minutes out from having my (our) lives totally changed. Denver wasn’t just in demand; it was in demand. It took less than an hour to get my first booking from a really nice couple who wanted to come to the city for a concert.
How We Got to $3k/Month in Profit
More importantly, though, over the course of the next two years, James and I would host over 150 guests, rent out one of our places nearly full-time and rent additional apartments in the area to turn around and rent out on Airbnb (much easier to do then and not totally legal). With each one-bedroom apartment returning about $3k/month profit, we then turned around and purchased a “new” used car and Invisalign, we paid down credit card debt, and we put the down payment on a primary residence. We then used that equity to get an investment property with a HELOC. Oh, and we also got married.
Related: My Client Tripled His Income Using Airbnb: Here’s What He Should Know About Taxes
Airbnb has changed a lot in the past couple years. Its growing popularity has made it both easier and harder to break into certain markets, and some cities and HOAs have regulations limiting property use—but we remain fanatics for the service. And we remain fanatics because we consider it fundamental to some very positive professional developments, one of which is that we both quit our day jobs and now run our own business: an agency focused on helping people acquire short-term rentals and leverage their assets to acquire additional properties.
Since advocating for something that’s been great for you is not that hard to do, we are venturing into blogging on the subject and hope we can help others benefit from our experience, while also gaining from the experiences of others.
Are you in the short-term rental market? Any questions about breaking into this niche?
Leave your comments below!