There’s no wrong time to start an STR business. I honestly and truly believe that. I don’t care whether we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and the economy has tanked or we’re in the middle of a boom and the economy is thriving.

The time to buy your first STR is Now O’clock.

(And if you’ve already started your STR business, then the time to buy your next STR unit is Now O’clock.)

I spend a lot of my time pouring over data in the hospitality and travel industry, and no, the numbers aren’t super encouraging at first glance.

But it’s not all gloom and doom either. There’s nothing in this data to suggest, “Oh my God, don’t start a short term rental right now.”

But there is information that says, “When you do start your short term rental, here’s what you can expect, and here’s where/how you need to expand.”

The bottom line? People are ALWAYS going to need short-term housing. Period. End of story. As long as there are people, they will have this need. Those are the facts.

So, let’s talk about where and how to find your next STR unit, so you can fill that need.

Here are some ideas:

#1 Find a landlord with a vacancy they want filled fast.

A lot of people don’t realize that you don’t need to buy your STR property upfront. You can absolutely lease it. And, in many cities around the country right now, there are a lot of places for rent or lease.

You need to understand that landlords have a problem: vacancies. With every vacancy, they lose money on a monthly basis.

I had someone ask me recently: “When I’m negotiating for a property, do I tell the owner or landlord that I’m doing this as a short-term rental?”

Sure. You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) hide what you plan on doing. The landlords could do what you’re doing, but they don’t want to. They’re still going to profit from your STR. Your landlord is in the real estate business, and you’re in the business of providing clean, affordable, short term housing for people.

When you’re solving someone else’s problem (the landlord’s problem of vacancy in this case), then everything else takes care of itself.

#2 Find a place near a hot attraction.

When I say “hot attraction,” I’m not just talking about Disney World or the Grand Canyon or some other big tourist hot spot.

This can mean any place that a lot of people are attracted to and visit, for whatever reason, throughout the year.

And, in times like these, that “attraction” could be a hospital. It could be a huge construction site. It could be a conference center. It could be a university. It could be an airport.

Keep your eyes and ears open for places where a lot of people visit, congregate, and spend time over the course of many months.

They’re going to need a place to stay, and you can be the one who provides that place for them.

#3 Find a place for people looking for a “rustic” experience.

When people ask me: “Will this building/address work as a short term rental?” I tell them that the answer is probably yes. One of the biggest things to understand about the short term rental game is that it’s really not about the piece of real estate.

It’s about the experience someone can have at your location.

There are several different categories of experience: a family experience, an exotic/romantic experience, an urban experience, and one of the ones I’m seeing a lot of lately—a rustic experience.

What do I mean by a rustic experience? Well, it can look a lot of different ways, but basically it’s somewhere out in the middle of nowhere: in the woods, out in the countryside, in a desert, on a mountain. And the accommodations are the bare minimum.

Now, this is really great news for you, the STR owner, because you can get started with a “rustic” unit for very little money. Your customer isn’t really expecting a whole lot. And, for some people, the more bare bones, the better.

You can just set up a kind of living room scenario with very little equipment to create the experience. Think: glamping. For your customer, their experience will be focused more on who they’re with than where they are.

This could be a family, a group of single adults, a couple retreat, whatever. People are really there to just connect, so there’s very little start up or maintenance cost for you.

You’re delivering something that’s really unique. Your customer will bring their own comfort items (or not), and you won’t be expected to provide much. Remember, they’re going for “rustic.”

#4 Find a place that’s outside of your geographic home area.

A lot of STR owners stick to properties close to home, at least in the beginning. And this does make sense. Typically, you’ll need to be more hands-on at first, until you’re ready to start delegating all the daily, weekly, and monthly tasks to other people.

But only looking for properties near where you live can be very limiting. There’s a whole state out there, a whole country even, with all kinds of possibilities. If you live in a place that’s not known for being STR-friendly, you may want to expand your horizons.

We’re seeing more cities getting excited about STRs. They like Airbnb and they like the additional tax revenue that comes from having STRs in their city. Find one of those cities and capitalize on that excitement and enthusiasm.

The ability to be location-independent is one of the biggest perks of being an STR owner.

The bottom line?

You have to create an experience for your customer that generates a five star review. My customers love my business. And I love this business and what it provides for me.

All of us are here because we’ve had great ideas. You’re in a store, something catches your eye, and you think, “I had that idea!”

Take those great ideas and turn them into great experiences for your guests.

This business works. Not because I say so, but because humans have a need for a place to stay. They always have and they always will.

You might have to attack it differently during these times we’re living in, but the business still works.

Are you willing to do what it takes to make it work for you?


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