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176. Building Nostalgia Into Your Unique STR Property (AMA)
Episode 1761st August 2022 • Thanks For Visiting • Airbnb Superhosts Annette Grant & Sarah Karakaian
00:00:00 00:15:46

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Welcome to another Ask Me Anything (Ask Us Anything?) episode! Each week we’ll answer your questions on STR, real estate, OTAs, and everything in between.

Jennifer from @PepinForestRetreat asks:

Building unique properties that aren't typically “houses” is my passion, but we've found that funding and building codes and other restrictions can be really difficult to get for something that isn't a traditional building. Do you have any experience with (or any podcast guests that have talked about) building something out of the norm?

(Thanks to Mike from @wanderchatt & @findyourrepurpose for the guest answer!)

Helen from @BrookledgeNY asks:

I own an old girls camp, and one of the things that's unique about the property is the cabins don't come with bathrooms because the campers used to use shared bathhouses; how can I make this a unique feature on my listing instead of an inconvenience? Also, what should I include as a welcome gift or unique amenity in the cabin, as we’re trying to tap into the nostalgia of summer camp for our guests?

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. To hear your voice on the show and send a question to Sarah & Annette, visit Speakpipe.com/ThanksforvisitingAMA

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Transcripts

Host: :

[00:00:05] You're listening to the Thanks for Visiting podcast. We believe hosting with heart is at the core of every short-term rental. With Annette's background in business operation--

Host: :

[00:00:15] And Sarah's extensive hospitality management and interior design experience, we have welcomed thousands of guests from over 30 countries, earning us over a million dollars and garnering us thousands of five-star reviews.

Host: :

[00:00:28] We love sharing creative ways for your listing to stand out, serve your guests and be profitable. Each episode, we will have knowledgeable guests who bring value to the short-term rental industry--

Host: :

[00:00:39] Or we will share our stories of our own experiences so you can implement actual improvements to your rentals. Whether you're experienced, new, or nervous to start your own short-term rental, we promise you'll feel right at home. Before we dive into the content, let's hear a word from our sponsor. Hello, listeners. Welcome back for another great episode with us. My name is Sarah Karakaian.

Host: :

[00:01:06] I am Annette Grant and together we are--

Both Hosts: :

[00:01:08] Thanks for visiting.

Host: :

[00:01:09] It is another AMA show, Ask Me Anything. We have people who are voicing in their questions. So now if you DM us on Instagram, if you email us, we will still answer you, but we are going to do it over the airwaves, so to speak, here on our Ask Me Anything episodes that are going to come out every single Monday. Let's hop to it. We are going to hear a question from Jennifer. Here we go.

Jennifer: :

[00:01:39] I'm a huge fan of Thanks for Visiting. It's been super helpful for us as we're building our first Treehouse Airbnb short-term rental on our property. My question for you is this, something that we've run into looking at building unique properties or acquiring unique properties that aren't maybe houses, but are something a little out of the box is my passion, but we found that funding and building codes and other restrictions can be really difficult to get for something that isn't a traditional house or traditional building. Do you have any experience or would you have anyone you could invite on the podcast that would talk about building something that's a little out of the norm? You can follow us @pepinforestretreat on Instagram. And thanks again for all you do.

Host: :

[00:02:30] Jennifer, thank you so much for the question. Do we ever have someone? Well, that was a thing. So Annette and I admittedly haven't done a unique build anywhere yet. That being said, I do know this, Jennifer, we do have a coach inside of our membership. And we asked him if he would answer your question, because that's all Mike does is build unique builds in unique places.

Host: :

[00:02:57] Container homes, tree houses. Sarah and I have been lucky enough to stay in his container homes. But we do have an excellent answer for you. So let's play that.

Michael: :

[00:03:08] Hey, Sarah and Annette, thank you so much for reaching out. Jennifer, those are both great questions. You mentioned having trouble with zoning and planning and getting your project implemented and also funding. Let's dig into the zoning piece first. You can take it a couple of different ways. You can a, find a piece of property and look and say, "Okay, does this fit our build and does this fit our unique property, what we're wanting to do?"

Michael: :

If it does, then you go to your city or county and say, "Okay, can I build this type of structure?" If the answer is no, then you say, "Okay, is there a process in place to where I can get a variance or a special use permit to build this structure?" If the answer's no, then you need to look elsewhere outside of that city or county and go to a different city or county. If their answer is yes, you can go through that process that involves talking to neighbors and sending letters out to the neighbors and going to planning commission meetings and several months’ worth of work to a lot of times be told no again.

Michael: :

So, yo we personally choose to just find the counties and the cities where it will work and then build in those locations rather than trying to find the locations that will not allow it on the front end. So those have worked well for us as far as getting around zoning. We've also had instances where the county will allow this type of structure, but it has to be 500 square feet or greater. So when we're designing our spaces, we'll just design it at 500 square feet. If we're in a county that doesn't have a square footage minimum, then that gives us a little more freedom.

Michael: :

So I like to stay 400 or smaller. But if I have a really beautiful property in a spot that we really like, we will go ahead and just build a little bit bigger space. When it comes to the financing piece of the question, we struggle with this as well. And I found that after we had our first property for a year and had a track record, then local banks are willing to pick up and refinance those properties. But until then, and still when we're building the properties, because we're still having trouble finding banks that are willing to lend on building the properties and getting them built out in the first place, so to alleviate that, we've worked with private lenders, self-directed IRAs, just individuals that have money that might have been in a CD that drawn a half a percent interest that you've been paying them 6, or 7%, or 8.

Michael: :

And don't let the numbers scare you if your numbers still work. So I don't mind paying 10% interest if I can make the deal work, and it's still profitable to us. I don't care what I'm paying up like 20% if the numbers still work. So don't let the interest rate scare you. Because it will allow you to reach a much bigger audience when it comes to lending and using private capital. So with that said, I haven't personally borrowed at 20%. I usually stay at 10 or less.

Michael: :

So reach out and find those private individuals, network, go to real estate events, and meet those individuals that are looking to put their money to work, and also help other investors grow their portfolios. It's a team effort. Real estate's a team sport. You're on one of the best platforms there are. You are on the best platforms for networking and learning about vacation rentals. So use that network, grow your portfolio, reach out, meet private lenders, meet these individuals with self-directed IRAs, and utilize that money to get it up and producing. And then refi after a year or two. Build your track record to show that you've done it more than once and then go for it. I hope these answers helped. And if you need anything, reach out and feel free to reach out on Instagram @findyourourrepurpose or @wanderchatt.

Host: :

[00:07:05] Michael, thank you so much for sending that to us. And listeners, we will include all of Mike's information in the show notes because you need to see his properties. Not only are they unique builds, but they're in these unique locations. I'm talking on site of mountains because views are really indebted to him. So all that to say, Jennifer, that means, usually what is really difficult to pull off has a bigger reward. And I will tell you that Annette and I have had this mindset shift too of, how do we get private money? How do we get someone to trust us? But remember, you're inviting them to invest with you, to invest in you. And there aren't a lot of options to make a lot of money on your money that's just sitting there.

Host: :

So what Mike is saying is just say, "Hey, we have this good idea." Maybe you have a rendering of it, you have your number, like a pro forma all dialed in. You show them other inspirational businesses and really just have a nice one-pager that you can show them what your plan is for your business and reach out to your network. So I know we're avoiding the bank question that you have because maybe it's not a bank that's going to fund your project. Maybe it's a private individual.

Host: :

[00:08:21] Think outside the bank. And like Mike said, maybe the bank is the secondary lender. You need to get the money first, get the track record. And we've a lot of people on our show that have went to their local bank. So if you have a relationship with a local bank, you're going to have more success there than a big bank. Let's go to our next question.

Helen: :

[00:08:45] Hi. My name is Helen. And my Instagram handle is BrookledgeNY. And I own an old girls' camp. We bought it a year ago. And we've been fixing up the cabins and the bathhouses. We actually live in the nurse's office. And one of the things that's unique about the property is the cabins don't come with bathrooms because the campers used to use the bathhouses, which are pretty close. How do I make that a unique feature and not a negative on my listings? I'm trying to tap into the nostalgic piece to that, but anything would be helpful. And my second question is, what should I include as a welcome gift or unique amenity in the cabin? I thought adding a s'mores kit might be a nice touch, but any recommendations would be great. Thank you so much.

Host: :

[00:09:36] Thank you, Helen, for the question. We have a lot of thoughts for you, Helen. So get excited here. Get some pen and paper out. I think that even when you said it to us-- I mean, how did she say it, Annette?

Host: :

Host  [00:09:48] The nostalgia.

Host: :

Host  [00:09:50] The nostalgia. It's in the copy. It's the way you're going to communicate it. When you said the nostalgia, I started thinking about Camp Otterbein is where I went to church camp and I'm also yes, listeners, I am a band camper through and through. And so I immediately thought of my church camp and my band camp and how exactly what that was. It just came back flooding back to me all the memories. And I think play on that and let people know, remember those childhood days of band camp or church camp or whatever, Boy Scout camp, Girl Scout camp, like you said, you were a girl scout camp. So play on that in the copy. And be very, very honest about it. And it says, if you set the expectations properly, that's what you need to do there. But I would make it a part of the entire experience.

Host: :

And Helen, it's like what happens when they use the bathhouse. That's right. They might meet their new travel bestie. They might need that person I'm going to share a beer with at the campfire. So use that in the copy as well. We have some inspiration for you to do some homework. We immediately thought of Episode 153, where we interviewed Camp Wandawega and they're all about nostalgia too. And they capitalize on the fact that there are no frills experience.

Host: :

[00:11:03] Yeah, look it up for sure.

Host: :

[00:11:04] But the brand that they have is so strong and you're immediately transported to days gone by. So just lean into that with the copy, with the photos, with stories that you're going to start collecting of your guests who end up becoming friends because of the meeting at the sink, at the bathhouses, or things like that. So that's an idea for you. For the amenities, I thought the s'mores is a cute idea, but it's been done. So what else can we think about when it comes to old camps that we can--

Host: :

[00:11:07] And I would research, if you can get any of the information about the specific girls camp if there's a logo or anything like that, I don't know if you can use that because of trademark, if you're going to supply something and you're going to pay extra for that amenity, I would love for it to be a takeaway, something with your brand on it that they could bring home. So is it a koozie? Is it something that has your name on it? Because the s'mores those just go up in smoke.

Host: :

[00:11:39] So Girl Scouts camp, what if it's like a lunchbox like a lunch pail? Or I'm just thinking that kind of thing. What would the girls back then have brought with them to their camp or taken home with them from their camp?

Host: :

[00:12:16] But just run your numbers on it. Maybe it could be a postcard home. I know that that was a big thing at camp. We always had to write home. So maybe you have one of those cards a badge that you could like iron on. It's something members of Girl Scouts we used to do that. So play into the story and playing that history and see what you can dig up. Helen, the s'mores is a really cute idea, but that is definitely something that's not uncommon for guests.

Host: :

Also both for Helen and Jennifer, we also want you to listen to Episode 18, that is with the Box Bop, which is a container home vacation rental here in Ohio. And so for Jennifer, the Box Hop, that conversation might give you some ideas on just a unique stay. Also Episode 88 with Seth and Tory Bolt, they are building yurts at the top of mountains. And so also for both of you, what are their amenities, what are they doing to really dial in their brand, and what's setting them apart from everyone else? Maybe you could just dig into their websites and those episodes and get inspiration there.

Host: :

[00:13:19] We love hearing your voices, and we definitely want to come visit both of you. We'll put you on our travel list. But, listeners, go to our website, thanksforvisiting.me and there is an Ask TFV button there. We want to hear your voice. We want to answer your questions and the early adopters we thank you so much.

Host: :

And, listeners, if you have ideas for Helen and Jennifer or you want to thank Mike for his time, we will put all their information in our show notes. Get connected with these fellow hosts, like Annette and I say all the time, that is the one big surprise we got from hosting all these years is just how much we love connecting with fellow hosts. We all get each other. So if you're inspired to give them some ideas, look at our show notes, reach out to them but until--

Host: :

[00:14:00] And book a reservation with them.

Host: :

[00:14:01] Oh yeah, go stay, travel with them. Until next time, my name is Sarah Karakaian.

Host: :

[00:14:05] I'm Annette Grant and together we are--

Both Hosts: :

[00:14:08] Thanks for Visiting.