Colorado Springs Short-Term Rental: How We’re Averaging $6,200/Mo in Revenue

by | BiggerPockets.com

It’s pretty obvious from my post, 10 Reasons to Invest in Colorado Springs Right Now, that I’m bullish on Colorado Springs. But it’s one thing to tell other people to put their money somewhere, and it’s another thing to do it yourself. So, this post is about putting your money where your mouth is and experiencing this from the client side.

How It Happened

We’re pretty familiar with short-term rentals because we operated a few for two years and have constructed an entire real estate niche around telling people to do what we did: Leverage short-term rentals (i.e. Airbnb) to make money, acquire new properties, and repeat. It’s a lot like BRRRR (buy, rehab, rent, refinance, repeat) but with short-term rentals.

We also had former clients, now friends, who wanted to also do something like this and were interested in a partnership.

The Partnership

I cannot say enough nice things about our partners, and I think our wonderful relationship revolves around the following 

  1. We are respectful in our disagreements. (This is true in our business and politics. Before signing off with someone, you might want to discuss something you disagree on and see if you still like each other.)
  2. Expectations were set. All parties knew their responsibilities.
  3. We lawyered up. So did they. Contracts were drawn. Lawyers advocated on both sides for things that we didn’t even know we needed, allowing both parties to feel confident moving forward.

The Basics

Here’s what you need to do a short-term rental in a different city:

  1. 20-25% down
  2. A real estate agent who knows about short-term rentals (if you are thinking about using an agent that says they know about short term rentals, vet them because they can really make or break your investment)
  3. Additional money for a whole lot of furniture

For us:

  1. The money portion was not an issue.
  2. We were the real estate agents.
  3. Acquiring the furniture was the biggest headache. By far.

The Biggest Headache

In case you didn’t catch it before, furnishing causes the biggest headaches. To begin with, people have very different ideas about what is stylish. Secondly, there’s the question of bargain shopping versus simply taking a trip to IKEA.

When it comes to debates around bargain shopping versus IKEA, the debate is as follows.:

  • This is a business. Therefore, money needs to be conserved by purchasing Craigslist furniture rather than buying new.
  • Time is money. The longer it takes to hunt down every piece, the longer the place cannot be rented—and money is lost. Also, bargain shopping is annoying, is harder to track financially, and involves people who want to talk too much. You may be able to tell which side I’m on.

Either way, one thing you should do is use checklists to make sure you are being thorough and to prevent the headache of constant one-off trips to the store. 

Photos via: Richard Seldomridge

Was it a Good Buy?

First, I’d just like to say we bought a duplex that we kept telling other people to buy, but which they never executed on. We thought we were right, so we bought it, closed in mid-May, and had our first rental in June.

As far as the money:

  • It cost a little over $13K to furnish the place from IKEA. One unit is 2 beds/1 bath, and the other is 2 beds/2 bath. We got six sets of white towels, sheets, etc., because it makes cleaning easier. Also, we decked out the kitchen—not necessarily with nice stuff, but we made sure they had all the amenities because this is somewhere we’ve noticed investors do cheaply, and it gets annoying when you are the one renting it out. (This is an upfront expense that should be catalogued with closing costs, as it should be a one-time investment.)
  • The PITI (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) is $2,156/month.
  • The utilities are $465/month (for both properties combined).
  • We put 5% of the revenue aside for future maintenance/upkeep expenses, which has been on average $315/month. (If you’re saying 5% is low, it’s because the revenue is much higher with a short-term rental, so 5% of short-term rental money is like 10% of long-term rental money.)
  • We’ve averaged $6,200/month in revenue.

So, what that means is:

  • Each month, we are getting approximately $6,200 in sales.
  • Each month, we pay out $2,900 in expenses between mortgage, utilities, and anticipated repair costs (CapEx and budget repairs),
  • On average, our LLC walks away with $3,300 per month, which is then split between us and our partners as agreed upon.

A couple of things to note in these calculations:

  1. These cover three summer months (June, July, August), so the height of the summer time, and we do see decreases during the winter months (October through March).
  2. A good property manager will take 20-30% of your revenue for short-term rentals.
  3. The laws are changing in Colorado Springs (and other cities nationwide) regarding short-term rentals. It’s important to stay on top of these to know you are making a sound business investment and that you have a Plan B should regulations change.

If you would like to learn more about partnerships, partnering with us, investing and/or general real estate, please reach out. We love talking to folks on this site about their goals and helping out.

Are you in the short-term rental market? Why or why not?

Comment below!

About Author

Erin Spradlin

Erin Spradlin co-owns James Carlson Real Estate. She loves working with first-time homebuyers for their enthusiasm and excitement, and loves working with investors because she’s a fellow spreadsheet nerd. She and her husband own three properties in metro Denver and are currently in the process of acquiring a duplex in Colorado Springs. You can find Erin’s blogs here: https://www.biggerpockets.com/renewsblog/author/erinspradlin/ and her airbnb video series here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLgSUZKLPRI9tK3Vd-qpH3Sk2Rh-_pIrNN.

22 Comments

  1. Tim lowrie

    Do you manage other investors properties in the springs? What are the best areas for short term rentals? I would like to hear more about your success story. I have been looking to purchase in the springs but I have little experience in the short term rental industry.

  2. Michael Baum

    Great article and I agree with furnishing a home. It is pretty crazy to think how much you need for a decent sized home.

    We bought a lakefront home in Idaho and it took us a year to get it ready for guests. Things just kept popping up. Finding furnishing to full equip a 2400 sqft house is a real chore to do without going broke.

    You guys really did well as we haven’t broken even on all costs yet. It does take a while to build up reviews so people will feel comfortable staying. So far so good for us as we are all 5 star and are already booking for next year!

  3. Ronnie Saeteune

    Hello,

    I am completely new to real estate but was thinking of turning my home into an air bnb in the future. It always crossed my mind though, who does the cleaning? Do property managers take care of that? Or is that something we do our self? Great post by the way!

    • Erin Spradlin

      Thanks, Ronnie. Just depends on how you set it up. Typically, if people have a property manager- they want to be hands off and the property manager wants you to be hands off. Because of that, they handle all the cleaning and manage that team- you don’t. Without a property manager though, you would be handling that and/or managing the cleaning crew taking care of that.

    • Buckner Toney

      Not to speak for Erin, but Colo Springs does not currently require that the property be a primary residence to be a STR. The laws are very much in flux right now as the city is considering changing the regulations in the near future. The state of Colorado also has some potential bills on the horizon proposing increasing the tax rates for STR’s as well that one needs to stay up on if interested in getting into the market.

    • Erin Spradlin

      Right, so Colorado Springs has different laws than Denver. Denver’s primary residence law went into effect on January 1st, 2017- essentially limiting investments and mandating that it be your primary (where you get your mail.) Colorado Springs has not had that provision to this point, and is kind of a free for all, but is vulnerable to two possible pieces of legislation: 1.) Colorado Springs is looking at limiting investments in Colorado Springs by adding the primary residence provision or something similar; essentially adopting something similar to Denver’s; 2.) the state of Colorado is trying to think of ways to work with the Gallagher amendment. One way they are considering is by raising the taxes to 30% (so more like a commercial tax rate than a residential). If that goes through, it will make Airbnb no longer tenable… We’ll see if that happens because 1.) cities would lose major tax revenue they are collecting; 2.) the mountain towns would be severely impacted; and 3.) a black market would likely immediately pop up.

    • Erin Spradlin

      We can’t really say on that particular property, since we’ve only owned it for three months. Assuming we see $3300 in profit for the hot months (May – September), and a 30% reduction for the remaining months, we would be profiting around $30K for the year. I think that’s conservative, but better to be conservative with your investing numbers than overly liberal.

  4. Jeff White

    Hey Erin,

    Good stuff, looks like a very solid investment that is working out for all the investors, especially with the prices for multifamily down there in the Springs, and the regulatory environment is much more favorable than Denver.

    What’s your projections for the winter months revenue wise?

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