How Real Estate Investor Set up Successful Airbnb Rental in Seattle

How Real Estate Investor Set up Successful Airbnb Rental in Seattle

Real estate investor Peter Keane-Rivera recently got into short-term vacation rentals. He spent three months and $11,000 creating a ’70s-themed Airbnb, he told Insider. Since listing it in January, it has been fully booked despite the ‘Airnbust’ era.

After nearly five and a half years of long-term rentals, Seattle-based property owner Peter Keane-Rivera is experimenting with short-term vacation rentals through Airbnb.

The 30-year-old investor bought his first property — a 3-bed, 2-bath house with an unfinished basement — in 2017. He filled the three rooms, renovated the basement, and now has four tenants living there, who make monthly payments. housing costs and then some.

Keane-Rivera bought a second property in 2019. It’s a five-bedroom that he lives in and also rents out next door. It came with an unfinished “mother-in-law suite” that he remodeled to add a sixth door to the property.

Until recently, he had a long-term tenant in the suite. But now he’s using the space to try his hand at short-term rentals.

A real estate mentor encouraged him to give it a shot a few years ago.

“He said, ‘You’re going to double the rent on a long-term rental unit if you convert it to a short-term vacation rental,'” Keane-Rivera, who works full-time at a major aerospace manufacturer in the Area Seattle, Insider said. “And for two years or so, I circled around and tinkered with the idea.”

He thought that using the space he already owned to create a short-term rental, rather than buying a whole new property, would be a low-risk way to get into Airbnb investing: “I wanted to start small, learn from it and scale up.”

Towards the end of 2022, he started designing Far Out & Groovy Guest House.

Investing $11,000 in his Airbnb during the ‘Airnbust’ era

Keane-Rivera expected the setup process to be relatively simple. He recalled his mentor telling him, “You find a niche, decorate it right and take really good pictures. If you build it, people will come.”

While that may have been true when his mentor was listing Airbnbs, vacation rental bookings began to slow in 2022 and hosts began to worry about what became the ‘Airnbust’.

Keane-Rivera owns two properties in the Seattle area. Courtesy of Peter Keane-Rivera

Keane-Rivera said he was aware of the challenges many short-term rental owners were facing, but instead of letting that hold him back, he thought, “If I can make it in this rough, tough environment and competitive Airbnb, then I can do it anywhere.”

However, in order to survive, he had to get creative – and it took a lot more time and money than he had originally anticipated.

After looking at other Airbnb listings in the Seattle area and assessing his competition, Keane-Rivera decided to create a 70s-themed space. It would stand out among the other listings, which he found, for the most part, uninspiring.

“I looked around at what everyone else had and it seemed like the trend was mid-century modern,” he said. “But today’s interpretation of mid-century modern style is bland. It’s too gray and brown. It’s minimalist. It’s boring.”

He then thought about what he would want as an Airbnb user.

“When I go on vacation somewhere, I want to have an experience that I can’t get anywhere else,” he said. “I want something unique. I’m willing to spend a few dollars more to have a ‘wow factor’.”

A 70’s themed design would provide that “wow factor”. Plus, he thought he would serve two large groups of people: boomers, who lived through the ’70s and would appreciate his vintage items, and millennials, who tend to look for “a very authentic experience “, he explained.

Keane-Rivera was expected to spend about $5,000 and three weeks to transform the mother-in-law suite. He underestimated both the time and cost components of the project: It took three months and about $11,000, he said.

So far, it has been worth the time and effort. His guesthouse has been fully booked since he listed it in January 2023. Someone even booked it for 35 days, he said, adding, “Meanwhile, you have people in the Airbnb community who can’t get anyone to book their listing for him saved lives, so I felt worthwhile in my mad pursuit of a remote and strange Airbnb.”

It helped that he initially listed the price at $75 a night, which is well below market value, he explained: “My first month I just had to get people in the door to get the reviews and the flyer.”

He says it’s too early to call it a successful investment, but being fully booked during a Seattle winter, which tends to be a slower season for vacation rentals, is a good sign. Currently, the space is listed for $99 to $128 a night, but, according to a third-party Airbnb pricing tool he pays, he could list it for $200-plus in July. Being verified as a “super host” can also boost its rate, he added.

“This is prediction from algorithms that can be poor indicators of future returns,” he stressed. “So I’m trying to keep everything very conservative and offer the best possible product to see how the market reacts.”

However, if he continues to consistently book his space, his conservative calculation sees him break even (plus recoup the cash flow he lost during the three months he was remodeling the space) by the end of the summer, he said, “After that , it’s all upside down.”

Take a look at Keane-Rivera’s ’70s-themed inn, which he designed himself and furnished by visiting “every vintage store in Seattle and Tacoma,” he said. “I did my best to look for authentic designer pieces and put them in my space to provide a heightened experience. There are some quirky and loud pieces.”

Courtesy of Peter Keane-Rivera

Including a mural that would be a fun backdrop for photos was one of Keane-Rivera’s priorities.

“Now, with things going viral on Instagram, one of the main features of a good Airbnb is to have a wall to take pictures and tag yourself on Instagram or wherever,” he explained of the colorful wall, to which an artist hired. do. “It was hands-off,” he noted. “No templates. No tape.”

Also in the living room is a unique accent chair with speakers inside.

Courtesy of Peter Keane-Rivera

“It’s an original 1975 Lee West egg chair,” Keane-Rivera said. “This is the piece that ties it all together.”

He added speakers so when you sit down, “it’s like a sound dome,” he explained. “It’s attached to a record player from the 70s that I bought from a guy on the internet who restores records for a hobby.”

Guests can listen to any of the recordings he has on display.

Courtesy of Peter Keane-Rivera

Even the smallest accessories and appliances in his Airbnb are from the 70s, including the coffee pot.

“I got it on ebay still in the box,” he said.

Courtesy of Peter Keane-Rivera

Keane-Rivera plans to buy another property later in 2023 and convert it into an ’80s-style Airbnb, he said. If he buys a third, it might be 90s themed. After all, “it seems to be the natural progression.”

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