Hello BP Community! This is my first post, although I have been an active podcast listener and forum reader for over a year. After feeling as if I have done my due diligence and am financially ready to jump in and actually invest, I have been researching different opportunities and areas for investment. As everyone knows, investing locally in Colorado (especially Denver) is proving difficult, even for experienced investors, so unfortunately I've realized I may need to invest elsewhere. I have been generating a "short list" of different markets of interest, and one of the areas that seems promising for short term rentals is Branson, MO. It's proximity to Silver Dollar Theme Park lends itself to seemingly high vacation rental demands in peak seasons.
Does anyone have experience investing in the Branson area? If so, what works or doesn't work for you there in terms of property types? The market seems somewhat saturated with vacation rentals, however I have heard that people are still seeing substantial cash flow from properties there (and it seems that most properties I've looked at on VRBO are pretty much booked up!). Does anyone have any recommendations for property managers and/or real estate agents in the Branson area? I'm thinking it may be too late in the busy summer season to find and close on a property, so would it be to my advantage to wait until early next spring to purchase?
Additionally, what are your thoughts on doing a vacation rental as your first investment property? My thought is the cash flow may be better than long term rentals, providing me with a mechanism to more easily role into a second or a third property. I am concerned though about vacancies and potential issues with finding decent property management.
Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Looking forward to getting more involved in the BP community.
@Lucy McDonald welcome. Great job getting in and getting going. I personally don't have any experience in that area. I seem to remember hearing a podcast where someone was investing in that area with vacation rentals and doing good. I don't have any vacation rental experience aside from the consumer side. I would think Airbnb or VRBO would have some stats or something you could use to gauge the market.
Set up some key word alerts for there as well. You can use the search feature and find other investors who are BP members and reach out to them as well.
Hope it goes well. Post back with what you find.
Welcome to BP Lucy!
I don't invest in the Branson area but I do rent out my timeshare in Branson on Airbnb. Branson is a really great area for vacation rentals. I was booked the entire month of May & June for my Branson resort. I also did a vacation rental as my first investment property. It actually paid off. I do suggest if you are looking at a vacation rental as an investment make sure you do an analysis on the area during the down season. If they have a 2 or 3 month period for a down season and it is hard to get a short term renter how easy is it to turn your place into a corporate rental for a few months. I had to do this to my condo as an exit strategy from short term rentals because my condo association shut down short term rentals. I turned it into a long term corporate rental but there are always people in and out of the area that I was investing. Good luck to you with your vacation property. They are very lucrative.
@Lucy McDonald My niche here in Branson is long-term buy & hold multi-family, however vacation rentals are very popular and seem to perform well. I have several friends that are heavily invested in the space and could help you out. My agent is the greatest (he is also a local real estate investor). Private message me if interested and I will send you his contact info.
@Lucy McDonald I stumbled upon your post researching this same topic. My family and I are considering investing in a vacation rental near the lake in Branson. I would be very interested to know what information you found if you don’t mind sharing!
@Gary Nelson Hi Gary! I saw your post in @Lucy McDonald Branson inquiry. My wife and I are likely to purchase a vacation property in Branson in the next few months, and will also use it as a STR. We'd be obliged if you're willing to share your local agent contact info as well. Will send a pm.
Lucy - curious if you ultimately purchased in Branson and any details in your experience you’d be willing to share.
@John M. I have used Todd Bradshaw as my realtor for STR's and he has been awesome. As a matter of fact he has a couple of deals right now that I talked to him about a few days ago. I would strongly consider them but I am planning on waiting til early Spring to buy.
@Dalton Briggs thanks for the response! I’ll pm for contact info
Also interested in Branson. Curious if Table Rock area or closer to Silver Dollar City would be a better location? Thoughts? Looking for a property manager as well, any recommendations? Thanks!
In my opinion, I think you are better to buy in town or near town. I think it gives you a chance for higher occupancy throughout the year. There are a lot of older people that come in Spring, Fall & early Winter that are not interested in Silver Dollar City. They are mostly there for shows, shopping, etc.
@Dalton Briggs you are thinking closer to the actual city of Branson?
Anyone know of good local real estate meetups in Branson, MO?
Hi, I ran across this thread answering some questions for other people in Branson. I own a Vacation Rental Management company based in Branson. We're based in Branson and Denver Colorado. I personally have multiple nightly rental investments there and currently am moving all of my capital out of Colorado because I get such great returns in Branson. @Dalton Briggs mentioned Todd Bradshaw and the Worley Group, I would include Heather Henderson, Tracy Lightfoot and anyone at Worley in the most knowledgeable Realtors in STR. We work with a lot of Realtors and they are a "must speak with" if you are serious about investing there.
@Chris Tabanico - We are working on a meetup and I will get you in the loop as that comes along.
If anyone on this thread is interested in REAL numbers I could certainly help out. We own and manage properties of all types in Branson. **CAREFUL** the landscape has shifted somewhat with the influx of new inventory in the last couple years. Some Realtors and property managers are still giving out performance numbers from older markets. Don't get me wrong, the numbers can still be REALLY good but not at the performance level of 2 years ago.
All-in-all - good performance in 1-2 bed properties - great performance in 3 bed properties - excellent performance in 4 bed properties and fabulous performance on 5+ bed properties that only make up 2% of the total inventory in a destination that is central for reunions.
Freedom Vacation Rentals, LLC - Marvin Herman
@Vincent Chen - The far west side of Branson is in Stone County as well as pockets of other areas. The central/east side is Taney county and then of course the City of Branson. The City of Branson does require a business license to operate an STR if you self manage. For our customers, they fall under our business license and tax. It's really a simple process of getting a state sales tax license and filling a business license with the city. They will perform an inspection that includes a rep. from the fire department and city. Upon inspection they're looking for health and safety features such as working fire alarms, GFCI's and such.
IMPORTANT NOTE: *** Any STR needs to be in the appropriate zoning. This is essentially anything that is not considered "Low density" residential. There is a helpful map on the Branson website if you go to "cityofbranson.org" - "Business" - "GIS and image maps" - "zoning map". If it's not located in an appropriately zoned area, you would need to apply for a "special use permit" and they are difficult to get. You can also call the city planning and zoning department, give them an address and they will tell you if the property address is in a zoning suitable for nightly rental.
Additionally, most condo's that allow STR in the HOA do not require this or it's already installed, however, any free standing property, duplex's and other properties require a fire suppression system. What does this mean? If you identify a house or lot you would like to use as a nightly rental and it's in the appropriate zoning, the city and most likely the county, will require a fire sprinkler to be installed. You can check on this with the governing fire department for the property.
Yes, there are some requirements to follow initially. We've done this so many times now, it's just part of the process and worth it in most cases. Let me know if there is any way we can help. It can be a little convoluted but once it's done...it's done. The requirement after getting the license or we set it up on management is easy...Pay the taxes and renew the license every year.
@Marvin Herman Thanks for all the details, when I said regulation risk, I mainly refer to the STR law (many metros banned the STR now or near future), do you think Branson have this level of risk?
No, they have regulated it by zoning. Essentially, it's impossible for R1 to be approved at this point. Branson being a very high tourism area, I believe, understands the need and importance for STR. I've never heard any talk about banning STR's. It's an area in which STR's have been around much longer than the existence of the major booking channels.
Originally posted by @Chris Tabanico :
Anyone know of good local real estate meetups in Branson, MO?
Branson STR investor here. (It's still a fantastic market, and I'm still buying, although the cost of property has gone up somewhat dramatically in the last couple of years and the market has started to get slightly oversupplied on the larger-house side as more and more are being constructed.)
I did want to address this question, though. The Springfield Real Estate Investor's Association (I'm a member) is a great group of people (a mix of highly experienced and newly interested, but all above-board and ethical--the leadership doesn't tolerate shenanigans) and many in there are invested in Branson STRs (many also have STRs in Springfield, which of course caters to an entirely different market, but their perspective has been interesting). Meetings are in Springfield on the third Thursday of every month, plus there's a handful of smaller sub-groups that meet throughout the month.
One of the REIA co-founders, Brad Moncado, is an experienced STR investor and holds a yearly boot camp if you're the type of person who needs a data-dump/kick-in-the-pants. Otherwise, I'll echo the mentions to Tracey and team at Worley--they know STR inside and out, so they can help with all the questions about zoning/permitting and such before you buy. Once you've bought, if you feel the permitting/licensing/tax issues are confusing/challenging, Avalara MyLodgeTax will set all that up for you for $50 and then handle reporting/remitting tax for an ongoing $20 per month. Then it's a matter of setting up the property and then finding a good cleaner. Once that's set, it's really not a super difficult thing to run--the biggest deal for most people is needing to be married to your phone in a way that other RE investments don't require, because you always have to be able to answer inquiries and accept bookings, and if you're not fast enough, people will often move on to other listings.
You can definitely self-manage properties remotely, but it is necessary to have some kind of boots-on-the-ground help, whether for maintenance or even just helping guests with occasional issues that pop up (confusion about TV cable box remotes, etc.). Someone upthread mentioned that Branson has had STRs longer than the booking channels have been around, and that illustrates a point related to this: in the olden days, when you'd look up a vacation rental in the classifieds, people were more tolerant of the idea that they were sort of borrowing someone else's house and things might not be completely perfect and they'd have to procure their own supplies, but these days, the booking channels have created almost hotel-like expectations. You risk a bad review if you're not there in 15 minutes to fix the leaky toilet flapper or burned-out light bulb or resupply coffee and laundry soap. :)
I Just relocated to Branson to work specifically with vacation rental investors. This is a top market and it's just a matter of inventory at this point. Prices aren't as insane as they have gotten in other areas, but they have definitely gone up. I've seen quite a few P&L's from sellers where the #'s still work really well.
That is good information. Obviously as the owner of one of the largest vacation property management companies in Branson, we prefer people to use management.
We've found everyone has a different level in which they want to be involved. Some people want passive income and max performance. Others, want the involvement because they find it to be interesting and exciting.
Simply listing on AirBnB and VRBO and hoping for the best is no longer a successful plan for those who are serious about maximizing revenue. Airbnb and VRBO have some really strong competitors coming up behind them. Most people we've talked to say it's not cost effective to purchase a property management system for a few properties, but without it, it's the only way to get out and accurately manage the 75 to 200 sites out there in the game now. A lot of Property Management Systems don't fully integrate with all of those sites and the ones that do typically require you have the least five properties in your portfolio to upload. It is nearly impossible to advertise on more sites than Airbnb and VRBO as an individual doing it by themselves; without the help of an integrated property management system.
In the Branson area, it's a true business for those who want to be top of the market in returns. It's a small percentage of guests or Travelers who want the one on one attention that a person managing their own property can give. In this market, the tourism is so strong, guests just want a good, clean, well kept, interesting place to stay that it fits their needs. There is no advantage any more to the owner who wants to connect with guests and deliver a personal service. There are studies done reporting the majority of guests would prefer to book with a management company knowing they will receive a professional service.
For those who are interested in profitability and returns, not just a hobbie or supplemental rents,I think the misconception is hiring a property manager will result in less money because of the percentage charged. A Quality Property Management Company can get you to Market quicker and in the long run, build return clientele in concentrated marketing efforts. A good property manager should have a strong client base they continually advertise and Market too. A Quality manager should have thousands of reviews on the marketing channels in which a guest can look at and be confident they're getting a good product for what their paying. In the end, with all due respect to hard working people, a good quality manager should easily be able to outperform somebody doing it on their own and therefore pay for themselves or at minimum offset the cost of management.
@Marvin Herman , I have no way to gage the Branson market, but will disagree with your statement about paid managers making more net profit than self managers is not remotely true in my experience. here have been a few management companies, including Evolve, in my market. The folks who manage themselves vastly out perform them, especially the good ones. They don't charge more and absolutely don't book more. I would presume the biggest thing they do is spare you work. I cannot imagine not being able to out perform a management company, but I cannot imagine being able to give the kind of service I give to more than 5 or 6 units. I also cannot imagine companies with hundreds of units getting better than 4.9 out of a 5 star rating. I also get lots of repeat customers, but most of them are from 1 week to one month stays and we all know each other by first names. If you represent hundreds of owners each individual owner has to know they are not your first concern. Now I can believe you may be best at managing for others, that is impressive. What percentage of income do you take? What is your average rating overall of all the units you manage? Do you own any units yourself separate from the ones you manage? I bet your systems are amazing, and you probably save a bunch in economies of scale. I would imagine that you have multiple back up systems like mad. I just find it hard to believe you can give up say 20 to 30 percent of gross and still make more than in the long run.
Anyway Just my 2 cents
@ Jerry W. I'm sorry to hear that is your experience in the area where are you invest. I did say "in most cases" and I can only speak to a few different markets including Branson.
Congratulations on your success in your Marketplace. It sounds to me as if you made the right decision for yourself and your situation. We've found that not to be the same in the Branson Marketplace. I'm a True Believer that if you put in the work you will be successful and it sounds like you have.
For my company, our tating is 4.9 overall.
Yes, I own properties in the Branson area that are nightly rentals.
Unlike Evolve, Turnkey and other "property managers", although I like to refer to them as technology companies, we don't make a living off of the top performing properties and not give lower performing properties attention they need to perform better. Our asset managers continually evaluate performance and how to improve it for each individual property. Every one of the owners we work with gets personal attention and have a direct contact phone number(not for the person in charge of their property with our company.
if you'd like to continue this discussion feel free to reach out and I can get you some examples as well do we have done by a third party and I'll let it company.
again, glad to hear about your success up in Wyoming area and hoping the best for you!