Anyone doing STR's primarily with rentals?

17 Replies

Looking for advice and tips! I recently found a RENTAL property that is willing to allow me to use it as a STR. I'm super excited about it because it's in a great area. I'm not local and I have a PM company who specializes in STR who will be managing it. I would love outside the box tips from any of you experienced peeps to help my listing be successful as I really want this this method (STR on rentals) to snowball into several more. The eventual goal is to buy properties for flips/LTR's but for now, this is what I can do. I think the PM company I hired will do a great job doing basic marketing for the property (they have a good success rate) but I want to know what else I can do.

- any tricks on decor/amenities that directly lead to bookings?  (I'm considering adding bathrobes)

- have you made websites for your listing and do you get bookings from there?

- do you do any extra advertising?  (FB/Insta/googleadwords)

- anyone do videos for their listing and put on youtube?  I am actually a video producer so that would be easy for me

I am one of those people who is never satisfied being average.  I want to be THE BEST.  Which means I want my rental to make more $$ than every other one currently on the platform.  Thanks in advance!

Hey Julie! Professional photography for your listing is a must. I find that bright minimal styled areas seem to book best but it really depends on the market and what your guest is looking for. 

I like the idea of a video walkthrough on youtube! That could be very useful, but I don't think you will be able to link it on most listing platforms, so it would need to serve as a way to bring people to your listing. 

I'm interested in the numbers of what you are paying for rent and how much of a cut the property manager is making. To me it doesn't seem like there would be very much money left over for you after you pay the property manager and pay rent. 

@Julie Hill why not buy properties for this purpose? The reason I say this is say you sign a one year lease and your landlord sees you are being successful so he feel he deserves more rent and keeps raising the rent drastically every year or they decide they can do what you are doing and refuse to renew your lease so that can VRBO the property?

Owning gives you more control over your own destiny.

Now if you are going to say you don't have the down payment etc there are ways around this such as owner financing all or just the down payment.

Just something to think about.

Originally posted by @John Underwood :

@Julie Hill why not buy properties for this purpose? The reason I say this is say you sign a one year lease and your landlord sees you are being successful so he feel he deserves more rent and keeps raising the rent drastically every year or they decide they can do what you are doing and refuse to renew your lease so that can VRBO the property?

Owning gives you more control over your own destiny.

Now if you are going to say you don't have the down payment etc there are ways around this such as owner financing all or just the down payment.

Just something to think about.

YES!! That is the ultimate goal. I do already own one that I'm about to start STR too. I need more cash to buy more. I wish it grew on trees :) According to the projections, this rental could make a pretty great net in just one year and the landlord has zero interest in STR.

@Julie Hill Congratulations and best of luck. 

Just because you're not local doesn't mean you need a property manager. No reason why you can't establish a network to identify one or two maintenance people and hire great cleaners who provide you with feedback. Hiring a PM doesn't mean you're going to provide the best unit though it does provide you with hands-off peace of mind. You don't strike me as hands-off though. And extra things like bathrobes (depending on your specific location and guests) might yield only marginal gains. Videos might be supported on some platforms and if they're easy for you, why not have them ready?

Originally posted by @Nancy Bachety :

@Julie Hill Congratulations and best of luck. 

Just because you're not local doesn't mean you need a property manager. No reason why you can't establish a network to identify one or two maintenance people and hire great cleaners who provide you with feedback. Hiring a PM doesn't mean you're going to provide the best unit though it does provide you with hands-off peace of mind. You don't strike me as hands-off though. And extra things like bathrobes (depending on your specific location and guests) might yield only marginal gains. Videos might be supported on some platforms and if they're easy for you, why not have them ready?

 Sadly right now I run my own business which means I work 12+ hours a day (and travel 90% of the time for it) so at this point I'm going to sacrifice that percentage for ANY percentage if you know what I mean.  This is definitely in the long term plan though.  Hiring a PM now also gives me a great way to learn how this whole thing works - plus I'm all for piece of mind - especially when it's not my property.  

@Julie Hill , congrats on finding a lease option!  Definitely not an easy thing to do so congrats on that win.  As for some of the day to day stuff you are referring to, I'm not going to try and blast it all here, but welcome you to read a few of my BP blog articles on a variety of topics in this area when you have the time.  (Click Here)

Best of luck on your ventures and looking forward to hearing how it goes! 

Cheers!

@Julie Hill Not to rain on your parade, but what if occupancy is only 50% of what you project?  Will you be able to break even?

But to answer your 4 questions...

1. I have tasteful paintings of nudes in most bedrooms.  99% of my renters are guys.

2. A Facebook page is what I have. Not worth it to me, but I don't put much effort into it. CraigsList has been by far the best online tool for me

3. Heck yeah.  I sent my house flyers to every welding school and refinery in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Illinois, Tennessee, Indiana.  I have 2 billboards by the refinery.  Oct-Dec I distribute 300 calendars of scantily clad women to all the companies that had their workers rent from me. I have a door magnet on both sides of my truck advertising my houses. Every person that takes a drug screen to get in the refinery gets a metal pen with my information.

4. No.

Originally posted by @Jon Crosby :

@Julie Hill, congrats on finding a lease option!  Definitely not an easy thing to do so congrats on that win.  As for some of the day to day stuff you are referring to, I'm not going to try and blast it all here, but welcome you to read a few of my BP blog articles on a variety of topics in this area when you have the time.  (Click Here)

Best of luck on your ventures and looking forward to hearing how it goes! 

Cheers!

 Thank you!!  I will totally check these out!

I am partnered on some rental arbitrage AirbnB deals.  I provide the money and a friend with much energy acquires and manages.  Safest way to get into real estate and throw off some serious money quickly, IMHO.  Agree that finding a landlord to allow you to str is the tough part.  We are rejected by about 6 out of 7.

The goal is to control the property for security deposit and first months rent (and furniture).  All future rent payments are paid out of money earned in the month before.  Then , when you get enough cash, you get a second unit.

Here is a great article on where buying works, versus rental arbitrage, and last graph is house hacking.   The last chart shows where you can live and make money, if you rent and are willing to AirBnB out the other bedroom.  If city didn't matter and I had no money, this is the chart I'd concentrate on.

http://blog.airdna.co/buy-vacation-home-properties...

Our experience has been to go with some funky furniture or decor.  Also, you want to get a rating on the property right away, so start with lower pricing until you get at least one review.  AirBnB will give your new listing a higher search position for the first week or two, so take advantage of it.

Also, you'll want to put a one year option into the lease, with a guaranteed rent raise of something like 5%.  Owner will be happy with that and you'll know if the property performs well by then.  And if it performs great, the landlord can't crank your rent through the roof.

Just noticed you are from Denver.  Great place to AirBnB, especially because competition is diminished with laws regarding must be owner occupied.  You could crush it by renting out your place when you aren't there.  Had an acquaintance that targeted the area to get a place in Denver solely by AirBnB data for where he would make the most money.  He also traveled a lot, with a flexible schedule, so he would leave his calendar open and do his work travel when people booked his place.  If your schedule isn't flexible, just leave when you are traveling open and incentivize a stay during that time by having day 2 be crazy cheap, so when people see your listing, they have to click.   Then have something like 3 day min or something.  

@Paul Sandhu

Are you doing these Short term rentals in Coffeyville?  I haven't been in that part of KS for a long time - figured your economy took a dump after Amazon left?  Sounds like you've had some luck there?

@Shane H. Yes, these are in Coffeyville.  After Amazon left a person could buy a decent 3 BR house with CHA for under 10k.  I can charge motel weekly rates for the houses and rent them to refinery contractors.  Definitely a niche market. Wouldn't work in Indy or Parsons or Caney.

@Julie Hill your management company should be able to answer all of those questions for you since they should have experience in your area.  What type of marketing you do totally depends on where your rental is located and how big your PM company is.  I have heard of individuals crushing it with Facebook marketing, simply paying to advertise a link to their listing on Airbnb or VRBO.  Ask your PM company if they can run ads for you, although most of them don't really bring value with marketing unless they have a large following and get a lot of direct bookings.

-Tricks for decor/amenities:  A hair dryer can add $10/night .  Also ask your PM company to leave out coffee, snacks, and tea for guests.  Ask them to survey guests to figure out what is the best bang for your buck.  I do this by using software that sends a survey out to every guest post-stay.

-Websites: Your PM should use software that allows them to take direct bookings.  The larger the company generally the more of a following they have.  Also depends on the area and what platforms people are using.

-Advertising:  Google Adwords and Facebook have proven to be most effective.  Make a page just for your listing on Facebook and promote it.  It will show up on google searches when people search for things like "where to stay in X town"

-Videos:  We don't do videos because they generally cost way too much.  Airbnb screens out all links, VRBO allows them, and I am unaware of other platforms that allow URLs to youtube pre-booking.  Instead, make a free floor plan of your listing and post it as one of the photos.  

Originally posted by @Paul Sandhu :

@Julie Hill

1. I have tasteful paintings of nudes in most bedrooms.  99% of my renters are guys.

Now that's not something you'll read in the Airbnb 101 handbook. 

@Julie Hill

Congratulations! That's so exciting. I know a few people doing the rental arbitrage thing with Airbnb and short-term rentals. (I'm looking at you @Tyler Work .) That's exciting to find a landlord who's open to it.

Before answering your questions, can you tell us where your new property is located?

Your questions:

1. Go minimalist, but try not to be too "stagey." That's a fine needle to thread. I think sparse modern furnishings do well, but if it looks like every other moderately priced home-staging furnishings, I think that's not quite as appealing. Maybe throw in some books and something to be a little more unique.

2. I like Tyler's idea about a Facebook page. You should also build out a website and have it ready to go for bookings. Not many people are going to find it right away, because you won't be high up in Google search rankings. Write some content on the website about Airbnb in that area. Good content will eventually drive eyeballs to your site and then they may start booking through there instead of Airbnb/VRBO.

3. See above

4. This is a cool idea, but there's no place to put it on Airbnb. You could put it on your website though.

Some other thoughts:

- be sure to get the emails and phone numbers of all guests and stay in touch with them. When they return to town, they may remember you and book again ... this time through your website

- Pay for good photos! Probably the number one mistake people make is assuming some quick cell phone ones will do it. I like Virtuance. It's $100 for 10 or $150 for 25 photos. They're all HD and make your place look amazing. See below for examples. 

Oh, and good luck!

-------

Here are three cell phone vs. professional photos of an Airbnb listing



Originally posted by @James Carlson :

@Julie Hill

Congratulations! That's so exciting. I know a few people doing the rental arbitrage thing with Airbnb and short-term rentals. (I'm looking at you @Tyler Work .) That's exciting to find a landlord who's open to it.

Before answering your questions, can you tell us where your new property is located?

Your questions:

1. Go minimalist, but try not to be too "stagey." That's a fine needle to thread. I think sparse modern furnishings do well, but if it looks like every other moderately priced home-staging furnishings, I think that's not quite as appealing. Maybe throw in some books and something to be a little more unique.

2. I like Tyler's idea about a Facebook page. You should also build out a website and have it ready to go for bookings. Not many people are going to find it right away, because you won't be high up in Google search rankings. Write some content on the website about Airbnb in that area. Good content will eventually drive eyeballs to your site and then they may start booking through there instead of Airbnb/VRBO.

3. See above

4. This is a cool idea, but there's no place to put it on Airbnb. You could put it on your website though.

Some other thoughts:

- be sure to get the emails and phone numbers of all guests and stay in touch with them. When they return to town, they may remember you and book again ... this time through your website

- Pay for good photos! Probably the number one mistake people make is assuming some quick cell phone ones will do it. I like Virtuance. It's $100 for 10 or $150 for 25 photos. They're all HD and make your place look amazing. See below for examples. 

Oh, and good luck!

-------

Here are three cell phone vs. professional photos of an Airbnb listing

 The good news is... I'm actually a pro cinematographer (which means pro photography is even easier).  I got this!  

Originally posted by @Julie Hill :

 The good news is... I'm actually a pro cinematographer (which means pro photography is even easier).  I got this!  

 You're all set, then! 

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