In just a few years, she acquired and managed several properties in multiple markets, including Massachusetts, New York, Georgia, Indiana, and Brisbane in Australia, while using multiple strategies to maximize return including long-term and short-term rental and flip.
Investing in Australia
Although my intention was to simply acquire a vacation property in Australia, considering the potential to diversify my portfolio globally, I started to analyze the potential to use this vacation property as an investment more seriously. In 2019 we closed our first property in Brisbane at the end of the year.
While the Brisbane housing market isn't as hot as Sydney or Melbourne, it has a comparable population and economic growth. Being so close to the Gold Coast it's also a very desirable vacation spot. After traveling there in person for deeper market research, I started my investing journey in Australia.
Short Term Rentals
Just like my other real estate investments in the United States, I started to connect with local investors and gradually familiarize myself with the local market and economic conditions.
Although Australia’s borders remained closed to foreign travelers for a while due to the pandemic, many tourists and populations migrated and traveled from Melbourne, Sydney, and other cities to Brisbane. I used this opportunity to learn about short-term rentals, especially in this market, in advance.
After being informed that my tenant did not plan to renew the lease, we made a quick decision to switch to short-term rental as the income potential is much higher than long-term rentals.
Knowing how a good team is the key to the success, I spent most of my time selecting my property manager. Through referrals, online resources, and other channels, I found several management companies with very different backgrounds and styles, from big name awards-winning companies to small moms and pops like teams. Some have virtual management systems, others have local in-house teams, etc.
Just like with long-term rentals, I interviewed different managers about their experience, their operation processes, their fee structures. After receiving their proposals, I compared them carefully and picked the manager who I think could be the best fit for me.
(Note: a blog post about how I selected my property manager is WIP, subscribe to get updates)
After signing the contract, I didn't just relieve myself from my responsibilities immediately and left everything to the property manager. Instead, I had a meeting with them to our plans and action items. This is very important because it helps
- Build our collaboration model to avoid frictions in the future.
- Establish and deliver clear expectations in all aspects.
- Achieve higher return in a timely manner with increased operation efficiency
Of course, one meeting wouldn't be sufficient at the beginning. I set periodic goals and keep following up to review the progress and make sure we can hit our target. I would step back more once I think we are on the right track (since that's why you are hiring someone to do your jobs), but I will still maintain regular checkups to make sure everything is up to expectations.
Design and Furnishings
Since I'm not physically in Australia, I need to hire a professional team to design and furnish the property for me.
Many people will trade quality for price, but this will cost you more in the future. Although cost matters as the more you put in, the longer it may take to pay back. However, getting a new designer and dealing with flaws in previous design and furniture could be more headache.
Selecting a furnishing company is a similar process to selecting a PM. I interviewed 2-3 interior design companies with Airbnb experience. After taking my PM's suggestions and getting the expected quote range from them, I went with an experienced styling company that also fits our budget.
Their considerations of many interior design details and their experience won my trust. They know which furniture to get for short-term rentals without compromising the aesthetics, for example:
- Avoid too many mirrors and glass because they will make cleaning harder.
- Use sofa beds when possible to increase total guest limits.
- Get beds with metal frames and headboards to ensure sturdiness and durability while ensuring a comfortable environment for guests.
- Avoid choosing light-colored fabric furniture, etc.
The styling company had its own furniture supplier, which is its one of unique advantages. It helped make sure that we can have quality furniture delivered in time during the pandemics.
My PM was also crucial during this stage as they reviewed the designer proposal very carefully and made valuable suggestions. For example, they suggested upgrading the proposed washer to a larger size for efficient cleaning, etc.
From Building My Team to Listed in 3 Days
Although my PM and designer had no prior business relationships, my PM has still been very diligent in making sure we can get Airbnb set up as soon as possible:
- Got in touch with the previous PM for long term rentals, and sent a notice in advance for key delivery and ensure the proper cleaning was done
- Followed up with my designer to kick off the process and made sure of the pricing and furniture delivery date
- Coordinated with the previous tenant so that the designer was able to visit the property, made measurements, and ordered furniture before the tenant moved out
These things sound trivial and took me some time to follow up, but these are exactly how we got our Airbnb listed 3 days from the tenant moving out. We also got our first booking in just a few hours after we listed the property.
What I learned times and times is that once you build your team they can help you save time and energy, avoid troubles, focus on more important things when scaling up so that you can achieve financial freedom in the end.