New Guy Looking @ House Hacking Vacation Rentals in Central, PA

3 Replies

Hi nice to meet you.  I've been binging on the PodCast, and I think I'm ready to take some action here.  

Here's my situation:

I may need to purchase a property within 30 mins of Lititz, Pa.  Our family is not going to permanently going to relocate here, but we will need to frequent the area enough that it's beginning to make sense to purchase a 2nd home.  

Our goal would be to make sure the house that we are not currently staying in would be used as an air bnb.  I'm not sure that the residence we are currently staying in is optimal for an AirBnb.  Cranberry Twp is a suburb of Pittsburgh and doesn't seem to have much of a short term rental market.  We'd be keeping the property because we love it and hope to live in it for part of the year.

My target area is:

I'm guessing that Hershey, PA is the hot-spot for short-term vacation rentals.  I welcome other's opinions about this.

Target Property:

Single family home.  3/4 BR home.  

Interested in meeting:

- Anyone local investors, especially if you have an AirBnB going on.  

- Would need to build a team to help me manage property while I'm living in Pittsburgh.  I'm willing to do most the heavy lifting to get everything started, but will need to find people to help when I'm 4 hours away.

My questions are:

- How can I tell if my current house is going to be good for an AirBnb?

- How can I find investor friendly or airbnb host friendly agent in this area?  Should I go find a local meetup?  Any central PA presences online here?

- Need to learn more about this local area.

- Need to learn more about how to analyze deals.  I think I've found the right place for me to do more digging.  So much more for me to go look through.  I'm off for now to continue learning!

Welcome, Adam! 

I focus on buy and hold long term rentals, but I've explored the airbnb model for several of our properties, and I'm a (painfully) frequent input is limited, but here goes:

 - if I were you, my first step would be to study up on the local ordinances around short term rentals. More and more local councils are curbing or eliminating the ability to rent short term. 

 - the best way I've found to determine if there's a market is to go to airbnb / vrbo / homeaway and search for similar properties. Note the number of properties, avg per night cost, and how yours could be differentiated. 

 - reaching out to a local real estate agent could also help you gauge the market - they often get requests for short term rental location assistance for folks moving to the area or between homes. 

 - I'm sure you've thought of this already, but your town doesn't have to be tourist-heavy to be a good airbnb location - I've seen wildly successful short term rentals located near universities and hospitals and nowhere near a tourist destination. 

Best of luck to you, Adam! 

Hey Adam,

This is an interesting question.  I can tell you my experience.  We wanted to buy a lake house that we could get other people to pay for.  We selected an area that had good summer rentals (obviously because it is a lake house), but we also found a lake near a very good football program so we could also get fall rentals.  I have found that I haven't been able to fully cover the cost of the house based on our VRBO and AirBnB listing of the property, but it has been close so I just figure my usage, which is about once a month, I am basically paying for.

Here is how I analyzed what I could afford.  I used AirBnB and VRBO to approximate what I could get on a nightly rate.  I figured that I could get one week long rental and two weekends during peak season, every home game during football season (7 weekends), then about 1 weekend per month in the offseason.  This seemed to work out to what we have seen over the last two years.  Our occupancy is around 100 days.

We have set up our "Team" with a good cleaning lady and a couple local handy men.  This works for us since we are relatively close and we visit the house pretty frequently.  In selecting your house, you will want to make sure that house you select has very little maintenance, especially yard work.

I have found that real estate agents really don't understand short term rentals and since we were buying just one property, we really didn't look for a real estate agent with short term rental experience.  It was more important that she was available for when we could look at houses and that she would be there for the inspection, appraisal, etc as we were not able to attend.

I would list on both VRBO and AirBnB if you are buying near Hersey.  VRBO nets us our longest rentals (week long) and AirBnB fills in the weekends pretty well.

Hope this helps.

Hello @Adam Kalnas !  You are correct in that you cannot go wrong with Hershey market in Central, PA.  You can also check our AirDNA to get info about AirBNB rates, etc but it is a paid service.  Litiz isn't too far from Lancaster and Harrisburg too, which could have some potential.  I'm biased towards Harrisburg since that's where I live and know the best, but being the state capital you always have state workers coming and going that people forget about with Harrisburg.  I do long term rentals though, so I don't have much advice on short term rentals.

There are great meetups in the Central PA area as well.  There is 1 in Camp Hill, 2 in Harrisburg, 1 in Lancaster, 1 in York 1 in Lebanon.  Download the 'meetup' app and search real estate for a central pa zip code and should see the results.  Let me know if you need more specifics about the meetup.

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