Opinions on investment properties in Big Bear for air bnb?

8 Replies

I see a lot of small 1 bed cabins on the market in Big Bear for around $100k.  My only real estate experience so far is a condo I bought a couple of years ago in LA area that is my primary residence and I have no experience renting.  Would it be reasonable to expect to be able to buy an inexpensive place in Big Bear that is "move in ready" and be able to at least cover the mortgage by renting on air bnb?  I've stayed at several cabins/houses in Big Bear as an Air bnb customer and it seems like most have no problem booking solid through the summer and winter holidays and ski season.  

What I am really looking for is owning a place somewhere that my family enjoys to vacation but be able to have it pay for itself and eventually make some income off it.   

@Ryan Sommer

Howdy! First of all, a shred shack cannot be a bad idea for the winter months! Haha

I would do a little bit of homework if you haven't already. I would test the demand and vacancy rates by exploring the Airbnb app. The Airbnb app will give you an idea of what price point works and what the vacancy rates are for different prices and properties.

If you get a shred palace, and nobody wants to rent from you for whatever reason,  you'll be losing money in no time. But if there is indeed a very strong vacation rental market which will provide you with low vacancy, then perhaps it's worth doing.

Airbnb has blackout dates if the property you want is not available. If you have 50 competitors and they all seem to be booked, then it looks good. If you have a lot of competitors and they seem to have excess availability, run for the hills.

Also maybe call a hotel and try to book holiday weekends in advance. This would be Christmas, NYE, MLK Day and Presidents Day. If they all book at very high prices very early, the consider further. You could probably cover your nut on those holidays alone. Thanks for the vote in advance! 

Also I have spreadsheets for vacation rentals..  Let me know if you want a copy. 

Hey Ryan, I’m interested in the same thing in Big Bear and Arrowhead. I’ve started looking into it a little and have heard from a couple agents in the Arrowhead area. I’ve yet to confirm these things but here’s what I’ve been told:

  1. “Arrowhead vacation property occupancy rates average about 35%”. This seems a bit low to me but maybe not… I’m sure it depends greatly on how well you manage it, still it’s good to be conservative. I’d guess Big Bear would do a bit better.
  2. “Vacation property Management in that area ranges from 20 to 40% with the average being 35%”. That’s a killer! Most potential deals that I have analyzed up there are great right up until that number. If you could find good Mgt for much less, do it yourself, or a mixture of the two then it can be doable. I’m thinking of trying to find a relatively inexpensive cleaning service and manage the rest from a distance via smart phone/locks and such. Planning to physically go there maybe a couple of times a month.
  3. Other potential deal killers, or at least considerations are; all season access, Snow removal, Legal parking, etc…

Hey @Nathan Fogelstrom , I'm here in Menifee too. Newbie to Real Estate investing as well, just been researching a whole lot. Love the Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear area and would also be interested in investing there too. Let me know if you end up moving on a deal, hopefully I would be able to help out in some way. 

Working on getting my real estate license this month, just about there. Like me, you would probably want to shoot out numerous lower offers hoping to score a sweet deal. I would not be shy in shooting out as many low offers as you wanted since it will give me experience in my own investing. 

Hope to talk with you further even just to bounce ideas around.

In that price range you're looking to break even and get a cool place for free most likely. Big bear is going to be thigher demand than arrowhead for sure. Big bear city is probably the best on the cheapest area vs highest demand scale in my opinion. I've been looking for awhile and have watched prices go up for a few years. Which I would've bought a few years ago. Ended up doing long term rentals OOS, but still love this idea!

Let me rephrase my last statement lol.

After doing a lot of decoration and light remodeling at best you're looking to break even. If you self manage. Again, just my opinion based on friends with cabins up there.

Oh and John carmody was my buyers agent when I was looking and was a great resource.

Let us know if you can make it work!! I'll be right behind you

Thanks for advice.  Yeah management seem to be the killer but I've stayed in a few Air BNB rentals out there and owners were just paying maid/cleaning service to turn the place over after people check in.  Everything else was remote and they were all using electronic programable door locks.  I can find some really cheap cleaning people under the table where I live in LA and I would have to imagine you can find people as cheap or cheaper up there.  

I've been thinking about it for a couple of years.  I'm heading up there for Thanksgiving so I might take a little time on the trip to talk to a realtor and look at some places.  

Definitely seems interesting, sounds like you just have to find the right deal and logistics/ancillary items to make it work correctly.

Hopefully it works out and you can make a move sooner than later!  I'm in the Menifee area also.  I'd be happy to catch up with yall if you're interested - rgbastariv @ gmail.


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