Wow, a month has passed since we hosted our first guest and we have been trucking right along, with over nine guests in just four weeks!
What We Have Learned
Really, most of what we learned happened in the first week. Between the first guest filling the house with the smell of weed and cigarettes, and one of the first four guests flushing a tampon down the pipes and causing a $100 blockage in the pipes, we learned that signs are our friends.
I’ve also learned that most guests are fine with never meeting us. I tell them all that we are just down the street if they need anything, but most have been quite happy with coming and going without any interaction.
Our 5th guest, in for a fencing competition, was the exception. He wandered out into the yard while I was busy building the side path towards the Airstream. He was young and lives in New York and he was quite interested in meeting our dogs and asked if he could see inside the Airstream. It was a mess. It isn’t finished obviously, but he liked it and really enjoyed petting the dogs.
Later he asked if I would mind printing a document for him so he could sign it, scan it and send it back. He loved seeing the inside of our house. “You don’t see many houses this size back East,” he said.
Nope, I’ll bet he doesn’t. Can you imagine how expensive our 3,500 square foot house would be in New York City? Heck, Cottage West would be a pretty penny as well!
All in all, we have had very good experiences. Not everyone is going to be a great guest, not everyone will be happy with their stay, but I have a strong feeling that most will enjoy visiting Cottage West and want to come back.
What We Have Earned
By mid-October, less than two weeks in, we had grossed nearly $550. By the end of the month, we saw $1,538 of gross income. And we’re in the beginning of the off-season! That’s exciting when you compare it to potential rental income.
Rent for a two bedroom one bath house would be around $600-$700 per month around here. It would be higher if we lived north of Independence Avenue. The Avenue serves as a sort of economic dividing line, go south of it and the rents, and property values, are significantly cheaper.
Changes and Improvements
Our last guest checked out today and we have blocked off the calendar for the next four days as we have the clawfoot bathtub resurfaced.
Our third guest mentioned in private comments that the bathtub would look better if it wasn’t stained, and I noticed that someone had marked us down for bathroom cleanliness (despite it being clean as a whistle) and realized that if I didn’t want to have folks complaining the bathtub wasn’t clean, I needed to make it look better. Heck, it was clean enough to eat off of, but that didn’t matter, it looked stained and therefore could be considered “dirty.”
It will cost $425, but if it makes the cleanliness go up to five stars than it will be well worth it!
One day to do the procedure and three more days to cure. We’ll be back in business by the weekend!
I got a discount of $125 by lumping it in with our old kitchen sink in the main house. I’m looking forward to that sink looking amazing. It’s pitted, stained, and in desperate need of improvement.
Keeping the Neighbors Happy
It is important for us to maintain good neighbor relations. In the last weekend of October, the neighbors who sold us the house we live in, asked us when we would be tackling the massive amount of weeds on the far side of Cottage East.
Despite laying down bricks, the weeds had grown through the bricks in abundance. And despite our best intentions, doing something about it had not been a priority compared to the other list of “to-do’s” but keeping our neighbors happy superseded my plans to work on the pathway on the west side of the house down to the fire pit and the Airstream.
So instead, we spent the weekend pulling out the weeds, clearing the backyard of Cottage East of construction debris, and re-laying the bricks in a 90-degree herringbone pattern and adding mortar in between the spaced bricks. This will eliminate weeds for a long period of time, up to five years, and we just need to maintain it with weed killer once they start popping up.
I asked pretty please for some help from them. We had two trees and a bush right on the property line. It was in our way, and in theirs as well, and they had some heavy machinery that could make short work of the vegetation and make their future fence holes easier to dig.
Later, as the husband came around to talk with us, he mentioned he had seen folks leaving Cottage West with bags. “I guess you’ve been renting it out then, right?”
I told him our goal was that he would see very little coming and going, “I would prefer you wonder if there was someone there than there be some party or disturbance that removes all doubt.”
Our goal has always been to operate a rental that is respectful of our neighbors and our community. After all, we live here too! I want to bring business into the area, while not calling attention to it. There are families with small children, hard-working peaceful neighbors in this neighborhood and they deserve peace and quiet.
Being Financially Responsible
I’ve devised a way to handle the income we receive from Cottage West. The amounts all go into our Rental Income savings account for the entire month, without being touched.
I keep track of all expenses paid out during the month of October, which came to $386.20 (utilities, internet, Netflix, Hulu, insurance, and supplies). I automatically set aside 20% of the income, subtracting the expenses from it, and put the remainder in our Rental Slush account. This will also help us with taxes at the end of the year. Later, after we have paid off the debts associated with getting this project done, we will increase that amount to 30%. What isn’t used to pay taxes will go into our Retirement Savings account.
I also will wait until the middle of November to allocate all of these funds, thereby allowing all income and expenses to hit before allocating the amounts the appropriate places. It will essentially be a mid-month surge of income in our main checking account.
We are well on our way to Superhost status on Airbnb. We have a few more guest stays until we qualify, but our ratings are right where they should be.
Becoming a Superhost will push us up in the listings, although, we are already on the 3rd page of the 17+ pages of Airbnb listings for Kansas City. So we are doing GREAT!
Operation Airstream – Delayed, But Still in Sight
Our next Airbnb will definitely be our 1956 Flying Cloud Airstream. This past Saturday we delivered it to the folks who will hopefully take it from barely functional to livable.
First order of business? Replacing the old hitch, which is dangerously rusted and impossible to lock down. After that, there is a short list of repairs that we are completely unqualified to do.
I recently went through all 306 Airbnb listings in Kansas City and found one, just ONE Airstream available as an Airbnb. It rents out for $142 per night.
Now, granted, it also has a hot tub and a private, enclosed area of its own. But I know that, by this time next year, we too can have a fabulous spot for guests to visit our Airstream. Who knows, we might eventually end up putting in a hot tub!
Winter – Time for Soup, Writing and Painting Ceilings
With October 30th’s shocker snowfall and the frigid temps that followed, my brain went from “work on pathways” to “must make soup and bake bread.”
What can I say, there is a sharp dividing line between the seasons for me. My priorities shift in time with it.
As I scheduled my first deposit of earnings into my bank account the other day, my thoughts were straying to what kind of soup I wanted to fix for dinner and my plans for finishing my take on Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” on our main floor bathroom’s ceiling.
I’ve also got it in my head that I want to paint our bedroom ceilings (it’s two 12×12 rooms) a dark blue and maybe some galaxy clusters of stars eventually as well. That will have to wait until the Van Gogh project is done though.
There are a half dozen writing projects begging for my attention, as well. Plenty of things to keep me busy until it is time to dig into the finishing touches on the Airstream.
Changing seasons mean switching gears, I guess. But I know, eventually, these projects will get done. Until then…onwards and upwards!