Our AirBnB Tiny House Has Its First Reservation

20 Replies

My husband has a day job, and we also own and operate a choose & cut Christmas tree farm. He takes care of the trees and property in the evenings and on weekends. I do the office management. For about a year we were trying super-hard to get into SFR's, but every offer we made had other offers in competition, and we just felt that the prices were too high, and the numbers didn't work for us.

We watched the TV shows about tiny houses, and we thought they were cool. We talked about several ways to use tiny houses to achieve our real estate goals, but it was all talk until my husband saw a tiny house on wheels on Craigslist. Some guys built it who live just a few miles from us. So, we bought it for $30K. We then spent many months getting water, electric, and a septic system installed, as well as running a gravel road out to the tiny house site at our pond.

This site is less than 100 yds from our home, and we don't want long-term renters living there. So, we've decided to go with AirBnB. We spent about $20K for all of the infrastructure, and went ahead and set up RV hookups for 3 houses. I haven't totaled the numbers yet, but we probably spent about $4,000 for a mini-split a/c, appliances, mattress, bedding, kitchen stuff, decor, etc. We're all in at about $54K, and if we can rent it for $75/night, 7 nights per month ($525/month), our cash ROI should be just over 7%. That $525/month is the lowest number that gives us what we would consider to be a reasonable return. If we get more nights than that, and/or enough bookings to justify adding another tiny house, the total returns will be better.

We live in the country, outside of city limits, so we don't have any problem with ordinances restricting tiny houses. The flip side of that is that there isn't anything to do out here, and it's certainly not a vacation destination.

Our first reservation came in today for 4 nights from a guy who is working on a job nearby. I think this type of guest might be our primary market. I won't post the link here because I'm not sure of the rules on that, but if you google: Airbnb "tiny house on the christmas tree farm" , it will come up.  I decided that getting our first booking qualifies for posting a success story!

Congratulations, @Leigh Ann Smith . That's an awesome story.

Now, for the marketing to continue the reservations. Don't just rely on Air BnB. Where is this first guy working? Can you contact the HR department and let them know you have a place for rent? Ditto any other company in the area that would have outside workers who need a place to stay.

Let all your neighbors know there is a Friends and Family discount available to them for over flow guests. 

@Mindy Jensen , great suggestions!  I do plan to market the listing.  The house is not perfect yet, so I've been holding off doing that until I have it looking like I want it.  :-)  Our Christmas tree farm has over 2,000 Facebook likes, so I'll do an ad targeted to those people and to their friends.  Also, I've located some Tiny House Facebook pages that have 100,000+ likes.  I plan to contact them with info about our house and see if they'll feature it.  And who knows, maybe even one of the HGTV shows?

Those ideas all target people who might be entranced with the idea of tiny houses, but I like your suggestions for more bread & butter kinds of guests.  I'll let you know if I get any good info!

I've been an AirBnB host for two years @Mindy Jensen and those are some GREAT ideas. My wife and I are pretty lazy about marketing our listing because it does really well without much effort. You're reminding me that there may come a time when competition gets stiffer and we will need to have our marketing chops honed. 

Congratulations @Leigh Ann Smith , your listing looks great! We have talked about the idea of buying some land and putting some tiny houses on it for AirBnB. I look forward to hearing about your experience. Get an professional photographer out there to your place ASAP. You photos are great, but the AirBnB verified listings that have been photographed (for free) by their photographers get a search bump.

Looks awesome! I know as an Airbnb traveler it's just the kind of fun place I'm always looking for. As a host - people love little touches and as you finish it up thinking about all the little things that could make people smile. Best way to pull in those good reviews! 

Having a been a airbnb traveler, I have even seen people even put old vans with mattresses in them on airbnb and charge $35 a night. Old van that doesn't run cost $500? That's a pretty good ROI. I have also seen old RV's on airbnb sometimes for $75+/night. You can probably find some really cheap used RV's and get a nice ROI. But your tiny house is much nicer!

That definitely counts as a success story! Glad to see someone making a go with tiny houses. You could also look into setting up some nice tents for "glamping" (high end camping) if you have be space and infrastructure already.

@Neil Henderson , I 100% agree about the photos!  My husband was wanting to just get it listed already, and I was dragging my feet because I didn't have all the decor items yet, and I wanted to get those in and get the professional pics.  So, we compromised.  We went ahead and listed it, but we aren't marketing the listing until we get those photos done.  There are no AirBnB photographers available in my area, unfortunately.  I'm away from home on grandma duty for a couple of weeks, so that's on the agenda for when I return!

I have thought about this after listening to a BP podcast about a guest getting land for really cheap by looking at delinquent property taxes. I am also a fan of tiny houses for myself but will probably go with a shipping container for myself. I haven't looked into it but would think a tiny house/shipping container home on cheap land can be a good cash flow or even someone that just wants a turnkey "off grid" peaceful getaway or permanent residence. It's a growing ideal in these times. I will be checking out more on this but glad to see someone else is doing it. Interested to see how this turns out for you, hope it goes well.

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Congratulations, I think that was very creative of you. I see that your listing has close to 100 reviews on Airbnb, well done ! Could you tell us about the demographics, when and how long people are staying too? What's your ROI now that you have more history?

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