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Short-Term Rentals In A Utilitarian Market | Episode 31 | STR Data Lab™ by AirDNA

Short-Term Rentals In Indiana?! On today's episode, we sit down with Kirby J Atwell, who went from serving in the Army to owning and managing Short Term Rentals. Kirby discusses why he prefers buying houses in Utilitarian Markets vs. the more Commercial/High-End Properties in popular markets. He also discusses why it's essential to focus on the design of your property and how it'll pay dividends down the road. You don't want to miss this episode!

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Connect with Kirby on LinkedIn: 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirbyatwell

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Connect with Mariah:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariah-kamei

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Connect with AirDNA on LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/airdna 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/airdna 

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@airdna.co 

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Transcript

00:00.00

strdatalab

Oh my gosh we're live. We're direct with Kirby Atwell of living off rentals podcast Kirby you and I were just talking about how cool your name is man.

00:12.64

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, you know it wasn't that cool when I was in like seventh grade and that Kirby's dream world came out um, is then everyone is calling me this pink marshmallow. But since then um, it's been cool because I'm like the only one so it's very googableable and you know everyone kind of.

00:14.90

strdatalab

No oh a.

00:30.84

Kirby Atwell

Remembers you I Guess when you have a unique name.

00:30.86

strdatalab

Hundred percent yeah your name is not John or for whatever reason at our company we over-index on Jamie's both male and female. It's very and James and it's like it's yeah there is there is one poor individual that was like fine I'll just go by a nickname like.

00:37.38

Kirby Atwell

Yeah.

00:49.11

strdatalab

I'll be Jimbo so because James has already taken. ah ah yeah so yeah, Kirby's unique Mariah's relatively unique. Occasionally I find another mariah but ah, well this is great. well well sir I'm so excited to have you on the podcast. Um.

00:49.17

Kirby Atwell

Um.

00:51.25

Kirby Atwell

If you invent a new name.

00:59.30

Kirby Atwell

Yeah.

01:07.34

strdatalab

Not only because you're also a fellow podcaster but also because you have such an amazing journey to short term rentals and to to rent ah to real estate hello words E Escape me ah real estate investment. So yes, how does how does. Ah, one go from being a Us Army officer to becoming a full time rental preneur. That's the term I you I'm using but you tell me what you like to call yourself.

01:36.71

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, but I mean that's what they teach you first day in the military is how to take care of short-term rentals so a natural transition. Um, now it was ah it was interesting. You know when I was growing up. I always wanted I knew I wanted to be in the military. Um I knew I wanted to serve most of the men in my family had all served in different time periods and and so I wanted to do that. But I knew I didn't want it to be a career so I knew I was very entrepreneurial minded. My mom. Was more entrepreneurial and I really took a liking to that. So I knew that's what I wanted to do long term didn't know what it was going to look like um and then you know I read rich dad poor dad while I was in the army and I got really hooked on on real estate investing. So.

02:08.41

strdatalab

I have it.

02:19.60

Kirby Atwell

Um, so I bought a few properties when I was in the army and then really got deep into it when I got out and initially it was flipping houses and realized that that was sort of ah a treadmill that I was never going to get off of and it was a ton of work tons of stress and I just built this faster and faster treadmill. Um, until finally I discovered long-term rentals and then very quickly short-term rentals and the power of short-term rentals. Um, and I've been hooked ever since I sold off I had 24 long-term rentals I sold them all and said this is purely what I'm focusing on um now and so.

02:47.59

strdatalab

Wow.

02:56.13

Kirby Atwell

It's been amazing. It's just it's a it's been a life changer really has.

02:58.11

strdatalab

Oh my gosh I Love that you went all in you were like where I'm going all in on this. Well firstly I Just thank you for your service I think you know that's that's really important work. You're doing and and did and then also I I Just always love when people are like yeah I was multitasking a little bit like I was.

03:02.90

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, so thank you.

03:17.36

strdatalab

Also already buying properties while I was also you know, busy protecting the country. No big deal I'm like well that's yeah, those are life goals. Um, so yeah, so talk talk to me about what was that moment that you I get I'm assuming sort of new in your gut or or some ah some other place.

03:17.94

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, just.

03:37.60

strdatalab

Your heart that you were ready to make that because again, that's a big risk take risk taking moment I would say to say no I'm out I'm out a long term I'm going in on short term when did this happen. What did that look like for you that process.

03:48.31

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, that's a great question. Um, and this is kind of what I recommend to other people too. It was and I I hear this story a lot of my podcast of people starting this way. But we moved we lived in the suburbs of Chicago and we knew we wanted to move over here to Northwest Indiana

04:00.68

strdatalab

Um, yeah.

04:05.44

Kirby Atwell

Still sort of a suburb of Chicago but now we're outside of Chicago but a lot friendlier in the tax ah tax bracket or property taxes and and so we moved over here and we bought a property close to Lake Michigan and we had this big unfinished basement that was a walkout basement and we're like.

04:11.96

strdatalab

If.

04:22.20

Kirby Atwell

You know what I keep hearing about this airbnb thing this is back in 2017 and and we're like let's just give it a try. You know worst case scenario we put the money into the basement. It increases the value of our house and we can always use it as a long-term rental so that's.

04:34.10

strdatalab

Love that.

04:37.68

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, so that's what we did. We were rehabbing our house anyway to move into because it was all 1970 s original in there. So um, so we ended up putting an extra about $30000 into the basement to make it a 1 bedroom apartment standalone. You know, separate entrance and with that first summer we rented it out. It made $22000

04:55.50

strdatalab

Flow.

04:57.45

Kirby Atwell

Just over those first few months in the summertime and so we said you know we have whole houses that are rental houses that don't make that in entire year. So you know there's something to this and if we can you know scale this and you know start buying other properties. It makes a whole lot of sense. So that's that's kind of how. That that was the realization moment for us that there's something to it.

05:21.79

strdatalab

Oh my gosh. It's very cool. Yeah, that makes a lot so you sort of had a prototype right? like a low risk prototype prototype like no matter what I'm putting equity into the house. You know it's going to you know help with appreciation. It's a little bit flexible in terms of what I can do with it. Um, and then you saw the instant.

05:25.30

Kirby Atwell

Are.

05:39.24

strdatalab

Return on that. That's very cool. Well how did that inform. So so what's interesting about that right? which is like I think what? what we hear more often than not right is folks being like yeah I like I picked a very you know, popular destination market to go into right? but you were in Indiana like. I'm I mean I'm sure that there are draws to indiana'm by no means am I saying that but you're not necessarily in a beach place. Yeah, what am I trying to say like this is how I do it I just offend my guests. Ah.

05:59.53

Kirby Atwell

Um, yeah, yeah, we trying to say yeah no no I get that all the time people. When whenever I posted I'm doing this in Indiana people like why would anyone go on vacation in Indiana and I'm like well and actually we're at 70% occupancy you know so there there must be some reason that people are coming here. So.

06:25.33

strdatalab

Yeah, yeah, well it like I've been thinking a lot about that clue I'm pretty new to the business I do not come from. Well definitely not from the army background. Definitely not from the real estate background like it's yeah I mean frankly, my parents were not like focused on like be an entrepreneur. Ah.

06:39.58

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, that's.

06:42.72

strdatalab

Probably be happy if I was like an educator. Um, but like the the idea that you have to sort of have all this acumenine you have to know all these things and then like pick this market. That's just going to be a vacation place versus like just looking in your own backyard right? like that's been one of the nice Aha moments for me lately in this business is like.

07:02.46

Kirby Atwell

Okay, who.

07:02.58

strdatalab

Like we're in Colorado, there's lots of draws for locals to go. You know to little mountain towns or little lake towns. So did that shape a lot of your strategy was it sort of like I built the prototype and I should continue to explore these sort of what are we. Calling them what what should we call them. Kirby.

07:19.49

Kirby Atwell

You know I I refer to these markets as utilitarian markets. You know where you know it it can it can work. It can work as a vacation rental area like in the summer where it's mostly all people going to Lake Michigan and and the indiana dunes national park which is one of the newest national parks.

07:26.21

strdatalab

Woo I like it.

07:39.13

Kirby Atwell

You know? So so people come here on vacation but then it's affordable enough that people will book for all kinds of stuff. So it's not like the only thing people can afford this house for is a vacation they can afford it for every I mean we we um looked at the the reasons. Why.

07:39.56

strdatalab

Um, very calm.

07:46.15

strdatalab

A little man.

07:57.45

Kirby Atwell

Our last several hundred guests stayed and it was almost like several hundred reasons it was like you know the the craziest reasons that we never would have expected and and but you know it's better to have a house than a hotel room. So so there's all these Utilitarian reasons that people stay there too. So.

07:58.65

strdatalab

Wow.

08:17.60

Kirby Atwell

Answer your question. Yeah, that's that's exactly how it kind of played out we we looked at towns around us initially I thought I need to be local I've realized since then that you can do this at a distance. Um, but I looked at towns around us and I I said you know this this town next door. It's called Michigan City Indiana it's ah right down Lake Michigan it's an old industrial town. Extremely affordable. Um, and you know these properties would work really well as long-term rents a lot of them. So I found what I thought would be the best long-term rental I could find um and then just again tested it out and said.

08:37.91

strdatalab

Wow.

08:46.43

strdatalab

Um, with.

08:54.26

Kirby Atwell

If I do this and it just doesn't work after a couple months I'm going to pull the plug and then I'll I'll rent it out as a long-term rental and it was the exact opposite it. It worked phenomenally well right from the start and so then we were kind of off to the races and.

08:56.60

strdatalab

The name.

09:04.74

strdatalab

Wow.

09:08.27

Kirby Atwell

And we start optimizing buying bigger properties buying multiple units. You know, 2 unit 3 unit property and realizing that the income on that is just incredible. so um so yeah so that's kind of how it just grew from there.

09:19.86

strdatalab

Oh my goodness. Yeah, that's super smart. Well I like this because you know there is definitely an inherent risk always in getting into this business but I really like that you applied some very like smart sort of tactical approaches to that you were measured in your approach right? You didn't go all.

09:25.98

Kirby Atwell

Are.

09:39.29

strdatalab

Like what I think the takeaway for me as a nub would be is like you don't have to like go all in right? like raise all this capital to just get started you you made small incremental steps in the right direction which ultimately led you to feel very confident about saying Nope I'm.

09:44.33

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, yeah.

09:58.60

strdatalab

All in on short term rentals right? That was a process over how long did that take you Kirby did it take you a couple years when did you go all in.

10:00.60

Kirby Atwell

Exactly it. It was I mean it was after I experienced that first separate house that that and realized the power that we started calculating the numbers because it was cash flowing about 1000 to 1500 a month of you know net.

10:09.37

strdatalab

I am 1

10:19.53

Kirby Atwell

Take home after all our expenses on an extremely affordable property and so we're adding it up and I was a cfo of a nonprofit at the time. Um, and so we we added it up and said okay, if we can get to 8 of these will feel very comfortable with me leaving my job. My wife was already staying home with our three kids and so.

10:25.81

strdatalab

Shop.

10:38.38

Kirby Atwell

Um, so that's what we did. We just kind of started plotting toward it at the same time selling off the long-term rentals which were just very unpredictable. Never really, um, you know on paper you could kind of calculate Cash flow. But then you'd have a tenant move out destroy the place and you'd have to put all your money back into re-rehabbing it. So um.

10:44.94

strdatalab

They are one.

10:52.53

strdatalab

Right.

10:58.23

Kirby Atwell

So yeah, So so that's kind of um how we we organically like you said organically Grew and I think those are the the companies that that I look at and I I tend to see the the um the best ah performance or I guess the most success are the ones that. Have a little bit of success. They figure out how to grow that success and incrementally grow as opposed to like you said just raising a ton of capital and going in and buying a thousand units all at once and hoping for the best.

11:28.37

strdatalab

Yes, yes, yeah, there's definitely an element I think and even maybe more so in the future of like slow and steady wins the race right? and and you know for anyone that again, maybe sort of is just starting out or has some potential misconceptions about how fast success occurs.

11:37.45

Kirby Atwell

Um, and.

11:47.80

strdatalab

But because I think there is a decent amount of people that you know were super smart but also just got into the market like right in 2020 and we're able to like like because what you're talking about is you know way before 2028 away before Twenty Twenty one um that you know you you have to play the long game when it comes to real estate.

11:52.38

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, yeah, exactly who.

12:06.62

strdatalab

And what we're seeing a lot in the numbers for 2023 is you know a tale of sort of very different markets where definitely we spend a lot of time looking and talking about where supply is sort of jumping the shark where we're getting oversaturated how that relates to what demand is doing.

12:15.00

Kirby Atwell

Um.

12:26.11

strdatalab

And you know thus far given all the potential tumultuousness of 2023 we're still seeing a lot of high travel demand. It's just that supply is slightly outpacing that in a lot of key markets right? So what's interesting about your approach I'm to connect some dots and maybe take some to.

12:35.78

Kirby Atwell

Are.

12:43.78

strdatalab

Jump to some conclusions I'm rolling out my jumping to Conclusions Matt for you Kirby um, you know if you if you were one of those people that sort of overinvested or not overin investsted but invested heavily in a destination market. You might be now feeling the pinch from a competitive standpoint whereas for you.

12:58.10

Kirby Atwell

Right.

13:02.21

strdatalab

You're in a market that maybe people never has occurred to them if.

13:03.51

Kirby Atwell

Right? Exactly exactly? Yeah, that's it and and I've always taken the approach like and it was tough in 20202021 twenty twenty two when I'm looking at people owning properties in these beach destinations that have doubled in value and I'm sitting there going.

13:14.27

strdatalab

Now.

13:22.70

Kirby Atwell

You know I properties they're they're all you know they're appreciating but it's way more steady growth. Um much more conservative and so my approach was always these need to work really well as long-term rentals so I have a backup plan just in case regulations change anything occurs with economy. Whatever. Can sleep comfortably at night knowing I can switch them all back I still have great positive cash flow on all the properties. Um, and it's no big deal. Um, but I think there's other people who you know have bought at the top of the market just purely based on cash flow not looking at the the underlying value or backup options.

13:51.97

strdatalab

Theo.

13:59.83

strdatalab

Um, let me.

14:01.97

Kirby Atwell

Um, and now like you said they're they're feeling the the pinch and I thought it was was interesting because I always look at the aird. Um, you know the projections for the the top markets for the upcoming year and last year it was a lot of like I think um was there was a hawaiian market as is one of the top ones.

14:13.57

strdatalab

Um, they are.

14:18.79

strdatalab

Yeah, Maui Yeah well we got we got some flak for that one.

14:21.98

Kirby Atwell

Maui yeah yeah, oh yeah, so so Maui was top and and there's others similar like that like vacation like um beach you know, um, higher end areas and and this year like none of them really aligned last year with with my type of markets.

14:33.25

strdatalab

Um, yes.

14:40.00

strdatalab

Notes.

14:41.14

Kirby Atwell

This year all sudden I'm like what the heck it's like all markets right around me in Michigan and Indiana and the Midwest and northeast so um, very affordable markets. So I think people are catching on.

14:50.26

strdatalab

Ah, ah, ah I was about to say this is like it's like ah you're like well thank you? That's very validating and also you're like are you driving people into my markets is that what.

14:57.10

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, yeah, exactly yeah, exactly stay in Hawaii no.

15:01.86

strdatalab

Thanks! Thanks for that. That was my best kept secret. Ah yeah, go back to Hawaii oh my goodness. Well so so so it sounds like you're you're sort of poised again. You've got your strategy is slow and steady responsible growth. Flexibility in the in your investment strategy so that you can always sort of pivot depending on what happens with travel demand what happens with other things you looking for destinations that have a utilitarian draw right? So it may not be just about some you know. High fluctuation and occupancy due to you know it being summertime and everyone goes to this town but there's something slow and steady that is pulling people in um, that may not need you know sort of permanent resonance. What are you? So my loaded question you're like where is the question. Mariah yeah, you're just making a bunch of statements.

15:54.72

Kirby Atwell

Um.

15:57.10

strdatalab

Um, is what are you doing differently in 2023 how are you pivoting your strategy or or is it more of the same.

16:07.12

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, so that's a great question. Um, and there's there's sort of analogy that um I started thinking through recently actually your over the last couple weeks because I I've I've been in the process of trying to buy a new treadmill. Um, and I've done way more.

16:16.46

strdatalab

Um, you.

16:21.16

strdatalab

Um, oh.

16:24.84

Kirby Atwell

Um, research on this than I ever should have I've spent way more time on it. But I've got this old one that like you know it's a decent running treadmo. But it's it's old and it like probably is terrible on my joints. Um, so I've been kind of looking at 2 types of treadmills I've been looking at.

16:35.89

strdatalab

And eve.

16:42.23

Kirby Atwell

The the underdesk one because I've got a standup desk here and the kind that you know people say they can add 10000 steps a day just by while they're working just by walking slowly and these treadmills like the the top 1 on Amazon's like four hundred and fifty bucks like 4.9 star reviews like people. Love this thing. Um.

16:45.14

strdatalab

Um, oh yeah.

17:01.42

Kirby Atwell

And then I've also like kind of been debating should I just bite the bullet and get the nicer commercial style one that you can. It's got all the bells and whistles like you can run super quickly on um, you can do all kinds of workouts on and I was looking at those and I can't find one that's really over.

17:08.00

strdatalab

And I hate.

17:14.60

strdatalab

Why.

17:20.95

Kirby Atwell

Much over a fourstar review and that costs about you know 4500 buck like 10 times as much. Um, but the reviews are like super critical because the expectation is super high on that treadmill because it's like high-end that people are paying 10 times as much.

17:34.96

strdatalab

Um, my.

17:38.86

Kirby Atwell

The the reviews on the four hundred and fifty dollars one are through the roof and so you look at both and you're like well the the commercial one must be making a whole bunch more and it's like well maybe but how much does it cost to to create all that technology bill that you know maintain it the customer service with you know with.

17:46.24

strdatalab

You.

17:57.45

Kirby Atwell

Higher end customers who have at high expectations compared to the Utilitarian model that's very just like it does what it's supposed to do it doesn't You can't run on it. You can't incline it but it just keeps my feet moving all day and it and so.

17:59.23

strdatalab

Um, yeah.

18:14.28

Kirby Atwell

So I kind of like was thinking about that and I'm like that's really the difference between so there's like almost like 2 models in this short-term rental space where there's there's that that commercial model of our commercial treadmill type model where it's like the high-end you're you're paying a lot more for it upfront you're you're.

18:14.73

strdatalab

Um, the need.

18:19.97

strdatalab

Totally.

18:32.27

Kirby Atwell

Delivering a different type of service that the expectation is much higher. It costs a lot more um or there's you know the model that I have that almost I mean we have well over a thousand stays and and almost all of them are 5 stars and people say this is the best airbnb have ever stayed in.

18:38.33

strdatalab

Um, right.

18:48.25

strdatalab

Wow.

18:50.26

Kirby Atwell

Because people's expectations are set that it's you know one hundred hundred and fifty dollars a night two hundred and fifty dollars night stay depending on the season. But it's very affordable and it's easy to deliver over deliver on that type of um utilitarian type of short-term rental and so. Profit margin is super high because our costs are super low and it doesn't take a lot to manage. So um, so that's that's the model that we stick to and so to answer your question There was a longwinded way to answer your question. We are sticking. Yeah.

19:17.60

strdatalab

Um, love this.

19:21.79

strdatalab

No, it was great I love going on a journey like that and I love a good analogy So but.

19:29.76

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, it it kind of helps you wrap your head around it because I get all the time like we were talking before this people like Indiana who who's going to go on vacation in Indiana and I'm like yeah but there's right exactly or Chicago they just want to get out of the city and come over here and go to Lake Michigan or whatever. But it's like.

19:40.82

strdatalab

Ah, people who live in Indiana for starters. Ah.

19:48.81

strdatalab

Um, nice.

19:49.63

Kirby Atwell

You know people travel for work people anywhere people live. There's going to be weddings funerals. Um, you know all the utilitarian reasons. So if you can capitalize on that and be the best in that market which is actually easier to do than in a market where everything's a million dollars plus um

20:07.16

strdatalab

I love this? Yeah, there's so much interesting sort of stuff in there and I know you have an Mba so I'm guessing that sort of helped you like think about like the unit economics and like all of that fun jazz be.

20:07.16

Kirby Atwell

You can do it really really? well.

20:18.35

Kirby Atwell

Um, so a little bit.

20:22.48

strdatalab

Because yeah, you know that's a very very good point if you are paying $1000 a night for an airbnb. Your expectation is so so high for what that experience is going to look like.

20:29.99

Kirby Atwell

Um, right exactly.

20:34.90

strdatalab

Ah, versus if yeah, you're sort of like no okay I paid two fifty and I got you know, better value out of this than I would have gotten if I'd paid two fifty at a hotel and I'm super happy so lowered expectations I think yeah under under promise over deliver right.

20:48.94

Kirby Atwell

It's apples and oranges. Yeah, exactly yep exactly and the bars set much lower at the 2 50 in terms of your competition. Um, there's people who like roll out of bed and take a picture of their room and they're like I'm going to put it up on Airbnb and today.

20:58.36

strdatalab

Um, yeah.

21:03.86

Kirby Atwell

So that's kind of the competition you're dealing with at at a certain level. So.

21:05.58

strdatalab

Oh very interesting. Yeah I hadn't thought about that. But you're right? Yeah like people people are putting a little bit of less effort so you have lowhanging fruit in terms of just a little bit of step above that um and I will say kudos to you I'm not going to have the stat because I'm I'm.

21:16.25

Kirby Atwell

Exactly.

21:23.89

strdatalab

Generally the common color commentary on this podcast but and there is a beautiful stat. Maybe I'll get it in the show notes for folks around just how important those 5 star reviews are for your Adr right? So like that that concept of again.

21:34.28

Kirby Atwell

Um, yeah, yeah.

21:38.57

strdatalab

Making sure that you're myopically focused on those reviews and getting those 5 stars Four point nine s as often as possible and making sure that that's achievable for you right? like give set yourself up for success. There folks don't make it impossible to get a 5 star review.

21:51.84

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, yeah, exactly don't lie to yourself in terms of what your business model is if you're not somebody who's going to be ultra ultra focused on making sure every single detail is perfect.

21:57.90

strdatalab

Um, no.

22:04.97

strdatalab

Right.

22:06.72

Kirby Atwell

And why do you want to attract people who are going to have that expectation in your house and just have that headache all the time.

22:14.69

strdatalab

Yeah, yeah, no I mean yeah I think that's what would keep me up a lot a night a lot I'm not a short-term rental preneur yet I have I have a lot long-term rental. Um, but you're right like that would I literally was just talking some about this is like yeah no like it's always I'm on pins and needles like did you get into the house.

22:25.40

Kirby Atwell

Um, nice.

22:32.22

strdatalab

So okay, are you happy? Are you satisfied with the experience. What's going to potentially go. Ah oh my goodness. Um, so so ah, sounds like a lot more of the same sort of doubling down on the value that you can bring to the space dare I.

22:32.97

Kirby Atwell

Um, yeah.

22:36.44

Kirby Atwell

Right? exactly.

22:50.14

strdatalab

Ask you sir and it's okay, if it's not us. But how are you determining sort of what that value ratio is how are you pricing.

22:59.40

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, you know it's the the way I initially figure out um a market because I help other people kind of get started with this same model as well and what I recommend is is to go to air Dna first and look at what's the yeah and.

23:08.40

strdatalab

Um, yes oh thank you? Good sure.

23:16.81

Kirby Atwell

Air dna is the best. Ah so go there first? um and just look at you know, just with the free the the free um version. What the average is for each market. You know what's the average nightly rate the average occupancy.

23:18.48

strdatalab

Ah, ah.

23:27.30

strdatalab

Um, yes.

23:31.54

Kirby Atwell

Um, and then compare that to the average purchase price in those towns and so if you start to list that out and you start to look at okay this town that I never would have thought was a short-term rental market has a you know, typically what you'll see is like it's going to be within an hour drive of a city but not in the city.

23:36.41

strdatalab

Um, a.

23:50.80

Kirby Atwell

So if you buy something like 30 minutes outside the city. The average purchase price might be a fourth of what it was that same house in that city. So you're buying it for a fourth but then the average nightly rate in that average occupancy might be 20% less or 30% less so when you start to look at your.

24:03.39

strdatalab

Is right.

24:08.18

Kirby Atwell

Return on every dollar invested your ah Roi is absolutely through the roof compared to what if you go to just defaulting to that you know city location or a more traditional vacation rental location where the price points have have really really appreciated. So.

24:20.64

strdatalab

Um, yeah.

24:27.73

strdatalab

Um, yeah.

24:27.79

Kirby Atwell

So it's kind of like this this value play and I use air Dna to figure that out because it's so convenient. You can see in any market. Um, where the what the nightly rate and occupancy rate is yeah yeah.

24:39.60

strdatalab

We definitely strive to make it convenient ah and offer as much for free as possible. Well, that's that's awesome and then are you? what's what's I mean I feel like you're the kind of guy that might have a 5 year vision here. What's.

24:51.71

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, yeah, it's a great question. So no, no, it's ah that we we do talk about that a lot. Um and that's actually what has led us to where we are right now. So we.

24:54.18

strdatalab

What's next for Kirby at and the fam. It's what's up for the atwell fam not to get personal but but.

25:09.87

Kirby Atwell

Moved from that property on like Michigan to a forty five Acre Farm which is not too far from Lake mesh we're still about 10 minutes from lake Michigan um, but it's in Valrezo Indiana and we absolutely love our kids so we we didn't have any yard where we were before we were on like the sand dune that was like super steep.

25:12.60

strdatalab

Wow.

25:26.33

strdatalab

Um, meeting Oh wow.

25:29.20

Kirby Atwell

And so we went from that to forty five acres that our kids can run around on and so um, but part of the intent with that after experiencing the first one in our basement was let's build this out. You know, let's let's kind of land hack where we can buy this old farmhouse that I'm in right now.

25:42.89

strdatalab

Ah, yeah.

25:47.36

Kirby Atwell

Um, and we reha the farmhouse then we took an old barn. We rehab that and turned a corner of it into a airbnb. Um, and then we've got a thirty five acre um ah hayfield that's surrounded by woods and so ah, the intent long term is to start to build those out.

25:55.55

strdatalab

Ah, very cool.

26:06.48

Kirby Atwell

Again organically I don't think I'm going to go out and take out a you know $2000000 loan to start you know building 20 of these structures at once but you know start building a few at a time on the outskirts of this hayfield kind of tucked in the woods and um and I think there's going to be a.

26:15.21

strdatalab

Ah.

26:24.30

Kirby Atwell

Ah, pretty big draw just based on our bar and b and b being pretty much booked up all the time. Um, and so that's the intent over the next few years but it's not like a ah rush at this point. So.

26:36.41

strdatalab

Very cool again. Slow and steady wins The race I love all of this strategy curvy My next question for you and sorry feel free to ask me questions. Ah but you know how this goes youve got your own podcast. Ah.

26:38.54

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, thank you.

26:48.35

Kirby Atwell

Ah, thank you? Yeah yeah.

26:52.34

strdatalab

Um, is what what I what I want to know maybe more anecdotally than anything but are there things that you applied from your time in the military to your time in the army to how you run your business today. Are there some like pro tips some military hacks that we should know about.

27:09.90

Kirby Atwell

Ah, um, well I don't have to carry a gun anymore. Um, which is good. Yeah, um, but there's there's a few things The the main thing I think so I went to West point military Academy and it's ah you know pretty intensive in terms of.

27:13.53

strdatalab

Um, which is lovely I'm sure.

27:20.43

strdatalab

Wow.

27:27.90

Kirby Atwell

You know, just the structure of things. Um and especially as ah as a freshman there as a plebe you know there's all these things you have to like you can't talk outside your room you got to like March everywhere you go, you have to do all these duties and um, you're always getting yelled at for stuff and you.

27:35.80

strdatalab

Um, oh yeah.

27:44.79

Kirby Atwell

You know meals you're serving all the upper classmen and stuff like that. So um, so you learn attention to detail. You know it's a high pressure environment purposely you know so that you'll be able to respond under high pressure in the future. Um, and you learn attention to detail. So I think that's carried with me.

27:48.72

strdatalab

Um, right mean.

28:03.99

Kirby Atwell

And some of it's a positive some of it's a negative probably my wife would say um in terms of you know, having structure and just not. You know, not letting the details slide between the cracks and so that's absolutely.

28:17.30

strdatalab

Yeah.

28:21.15

Kirby Atwell

Ah, been key in in short-term rentals because you have guests coming going all the time and so you've really got to have a good system around paying attention to those details because that makes a huge difference when guests show up. Um, and yeah, so that's that's 1 thing and then I think um.

28:33.46

strdatalab

Definitely.

28:39.19

Kirby Atwell

I think the other thing is more I guess probably more from the standpoint of being a long-term investor First this was something that um I had to really and this probably isn't a good answer to your question but it's it's something that I would recommend I recommend to people if they're coming from the the long-term rental investing world. Um.

28:51.46

strdatalab

Um, it's going to be a great answer. Great answer. Um yeah.

28:58.85

Kirby Atwell

You've got to really change your mindset I think you know, especially with the military background was more like very practical mindset and thought and dollars and cents and so ah, a 3 hree-bedroom house is a 3 hree-bedroom house in terms of you know it's going to rent the same no matter what you do to that if you're putting in.

29:05.69

strdatalab

And.

29:17.83

Kirby Atwell

Super fancy finishes or or not, you know it's the rent for a 3 hree-b bedroom house is the same in that town. Um, but and so I kind of carried that into the short-term rental space and my wife is the designer in the family and she was like no, we need to do this and that and it's going to cost more and I was like no way we got to.

29:24.59

strdatalab

Um, behave.

29:37.80

Kirby Atwell

You know, keep it very simple and and then I realize actually once you know she convinced me to do some of these things we were exponentially rewarded for it. You know you're that unique factor and these you know these instagrammable type of features.

29:48.50

strdatalab

Um, elephant.

29:56.69

Kirby Atwell

Make a huge difference and and you do get a much bigger reward for it and compensated for those things in the short term rental space. So it is a a different type of investing that's for sure.

30:05.89

strdatalab

Oh my gosh that was a great answer I was amazing answer firstly all I heard was listen to your wife. So I mean your wife is always right? That's what I heard but I think I think that's I think.

30:14.73

Kirby Atwell

Um, that's good advice.

30:20.68

strdatalab

A good point and I've I've heard a lot of that sort of being you know a successor for lots of folks in this business is when they kind of like find their counterpart right? So you're like so it sounds like you and your wife make a good team. You're very much looking at the numbers and the practicality part of it. She's like look we got to add a little heart to this This is about.

30:30.47

Kirby Atwell

Um, yes.

30:38.50

Kirby Atwell

Um, yeah.

30:38.71

strdatalab

Providing an experience for people. This is about that instagrammable moment right? like this is how people are shopping and choosing where they're staying. Um, ah this is amazing. Well how much.

30:45.38

Kirby Atwell

Exactly? Yeah yeah.

30:51.10

strdatalab

How hands on are you are how have you sort of I'm guessing you have some efficiency there as well with sort of how you're managing these properties.

30:59.24

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, they're all, um, quote unquote self-managed. We're up to 21 listing where we're about to put our most recent triplex on which will be 21 listings thank you um and we own them all. We don't do any like co-hosting or anything like that I thought about it for a while but it's just not.

31:07.69

strdatalab

Um, congrats.

31:16.76

Kirby Atwell

Passion I like owning the properties. Um and and so initially I thought I needed to be super handson. That's why we picked the town right next door to where we were living part of the reason and so I was going there when you know we had maybe an elderly guest that couldn't figure out how to use the digital lock and.

31:25.80

strdatalab

Um, me right right.

31:35.80

Kirby Atwell

Friday night I'd go there to unlock it or I'd go there to fix the wi-fi or you know all the the little things that can come up supplies. You know that that the cleaner forgot to leave out I'd drop them off and then I realized what am I doing I ruin enough Friday nights with my family or.

31:41.73

strdatalab

You are.

31:53.39

Kirby Atwell

You know it's it's actually costing me a lot more money spending the time going over there. So then we started putting systems in place about a year after we started doing this and now there's properties I haven't even visited in over a year and they're you know, 20 minutes down the road and.

31:53.70

strdatalab

Um, yeah, right.

32:03.81

strdatalab

Wow.

32:09.00

Kirby Atwell

And that's because we have a great team. We have a great handyman and a great cleaner boots on the ground we came up with lists of every possible thing that could ever come up. Um, and it's been assigned to one of those 2 people and we have an agreement with them that if this is the case then.

32:20.32

strdatalab

Um, very cold.

32:26.54

Kirby Atwell

They're responsible and then we have redundancy in place in terms of you know backup cleaners and in a backup handyman but um, so that's how we managed that aspect and then once we got to 5 properties we brought on a guest relations person who actually lives in Florida. She's never been to Michigan City um but she knows it better than most residents and and she does all the guest relations. So she ah you know does all the bookings lines up the cleaners all the day-to-day activities. So we're really not super involved in the day-to-day. We're not paying anywhere close to 20% to a vacation rental manager.

32:43.96

strdatalab

Um, Wow I recall.

33:02.89

Kirby Atwell

Um, it's all in-house. It's hourly work. Um, but we have some really tight systems in place.

33:09.94

strdatalab

Ah, you that doesn't surprise me at all. But that again is some really practical advice for folks on how you can you know, operate with more efficiency and also not have to waste your Friday night spend your Friday night with your kids or whomever. Um.

33:22.33

Kirby Atwell

Um, exactly Yeah, exactly.

33:26.21

strdatalab

That's fabulous I Love this well Curvy I've had so much fun with you. This has been amazing I I know we let's do this again soon I would love to play a short game with you and then I want you to tell people how they can get more wisdom from you.

33:30.77

Kirby Atwell

Um, and great talking to you I agree.

33:45.61

strdatalab

Are you are you up for a game yet for a game. Let's do it. Let's do it. It's yeah, well, no, hopefully not. It's it's it's I We try to keep it simple for people. Um, and also there's no real rules to this game so feel free to break them if you need to.

33:45.76

Kirby Atwell

Um, okay, absolutely stump me.

33:57.48

Kirby Atwell

Ah, awesome.

34:04.17

strdatalab

It's called who what where? so The first part is who apart from yourself and your podcast would you recommend folks either just starting in this business or looking to scale or increase efficiency or or profits or anything where should they go for and who who not where who.

34:22.38

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, yeah, that's a great question. Um, and it's probably evolved for me a lot over the years I try to look at people who I feel like have experience that's created a lot of wisdom um in their advice and so.

34:22.41

strdatalab

They go to for inspiration.

34:39.88

Kirby Atwell

There's 2 people that kind of stand out my mind I subscribe to Seth Godin's daily blog. Um, and so I've read a bunch of his books and it's just like every every day he sends a daily blog in your email and it's it's like a paragraph but it's like you summed up exactly what I was thinking about or.

34:45.98

strdatalab

Um, yes.

34:56.32

strdatalab

Um, yeah.

34:59.81

Kirby Atwell

You know problem that I you know was wrestling with in a paragraph. So well. So I'd recommend subscribeing his blog's been around for like the last twenty five years he's done a daily v blog that he sent out and it's super short super consumable. So that's one and his books are great and then the other one is Greg Mccune

35:09.64

strdatalab

Um, yeah.

35:19.45

Kirby Atwell

I don't know if you've heard of him but he wrote essentialism and um, effortless and effortless is the new one that he came out with like a year ago and both of those books I've read many times, especially essential as I read it like every single year for the last like eight years or something like that. Um.

35:20.44

strdatalab

Um, oh yes.

35:34.77

strdatalab

I call.

35:37.45

Kirby Atwell

And yeah, it's just it's It's such great. So many people struggle with the same thing like too much on their plate not knowing how to prioritize like spending time on things that aren't that important in the end and so it it really helps you walk through. Um.

35:44.49

strdatalab

Right.

35:56.17

Kirby Atwell

How to get to the essential things that that make the biggest impact in your life.

36:00.93

strdatalab

I love this all right? Well I'm going to add both of those first of all I love that he's kind of going with this alliteration thing. Um I'm going to put both of those on my reading list and thank you, you just like you and funny enough because the next question um is a little bit about that. But i.

36:03.92

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, yeah, no kidding.

36:17.91

strdatalab

You just made me I haven't I haven't explored Seth Godin in a minute so I got to go back and check him out. Um, the yeah I love that sort of daily wisdom in your inbox and also love that you know there's a 2 probably at a category folks right? again. Just great folks to add all right? Well you nailed that question I'll give you an a plus.

36:20.89

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, yeah.

36:29.90

Kirby Atwell

Um, youth.

36:34.15

Kirby Atwell

Thanks, It'll hopefully bring out the other scores.

36:39.56

strdatalab

Yeah, ah ah the next question was is a what question. So essentially what do you wish you? you know knew when you first started that you know now like what did you? you know what was the the thing that like would have been great to have the cheat code on.

36:54.25

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, ah um I think the turning point and the thing that made the biggest difference for me was going back to when I again when I was married so it's probably like a lot to do with my wife again. Um we were married in 2015 and shortly after that.

36:56.16

strdatalab

But instead of having to learn it on your own.

37:13.73

Kirby Atwell

Yeah I was still doing the flipping company at the time and on this like giant treadmill and so we started to have a lot of talks around like you know our future What we wanted that to look like and you know I think a lot of people create goals based on I want to you know like have a certain job like I want to be this type of.

37:18.70

strdatalab

Um, right.

37:29.75

strdatalab

Any.

37:32.19

Kirby Atwell

Like a doctor or a lawyer or whatever or I want to do you know construction or do some type of work and I think you like preassume a lot by by having that be the goal as opposed to what what we finally got to is Okay, what do we want our day to look like on a daily basis.

37:45.37

strdatalab

Um, and.

37:48.73

strdatalab

Oh yes.

37:52.19

Kirby Atwell

In an ideal scenario. Um, and so I went from sort of chasing what I thought success looked like to coming up with my version of success in like a perfect day and and for us it boiled down to like autonomy you know, controlling our our time and impact. Um those two things and so.

38:07.48

strdatalab

Um, right right.

38:10.70

Kirby Atwell

To get there. We were going to need to get to financial freedom where you know we we didn't have to work a full-time job and and so we were able to use it and and we realized actually the number that we needed to get to was a lot lower than we thought to have our ideal lifestyle because a lot of it just revolved around flexibility and freedom. So.

38:28.33

strdatalab

Um, right right.

38:30.55

Kirby Atwell

Um, so once you do this, It gives you this amazing destination to backwards plan from and all of a sudden decision making and the next step to take come into focus so much easier and so.

38:46.78

Kirby Atwell

If people are struggling like where do I start should I get into this type of real estate or that type of you know, investment or whatever should I do short-term rentals or not like start with your ideal lifestyle 105 years down the road and then what's the thing that's going to support that the best and you can backwards plan from there and.

38:47.61

strdatalab

Um, me.

38:53.79

strdatalab

Bright.

39:05.87

Kirby Atwell

Think that's a great first step to take so.

39:08.50

strdatalab

That's great advice I'm goingnna all right? Well I'm pencilling in some vision boarding time for my husband and I or long overdue for that. But yeah, so smart and I think what also boiling it down to like what is a perfect day look like for you helps you? Also I think understand what you value to your point right? like because.

39:10.37

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, yeah.

39:23.94

Kirby Atwell

Um, yeah.

39:26.41

strdatalab

You may sort of need to explore what what really is is it about like you said autonomy is it about making a gazillion dollars like what you know sort of what is the the ideal situation for you from a value perspective and then you can work your way into. Okay, what's going to help me support those values right? that oh my gosh all right? Well I'm giving you you another a plus. Obviously all right the night the last the last and final question is the where question. Um, if you could hop in a.

39:42.91

Kirby Atwell

Um, right right? exactly? Yeah, so thank you.

40:00.24

strdatalab

And what I like to call the hot tub time machine. Um, just because it's clever. Ha obviously ah, but if you could go back in time again knowing what you know now where would you have started to invest Kirby what was the what's the market or the property that got away.

40:03.34

Kirby Atwell

Yeah.

40:19.28

Kirby Atwell

Oh man I mean I think everybody because I've asked a similar question quite a bit on my podcast and and everyone's like I Just wish I would have started a lot sooner and you know and and more aggressive and bought a lot more properties and that sort of thing. Um, so you know that's.

40:25.69

strdatalab

Um, yeah, yeah, right.

40:35.46

Kirby Atwell

That's true, knowing what we know now like you know the last decades just been phenomenal for for anyone in real estate. Um, but I think 1 thing that you know just it really Um, I'm like dang it that one really kind of would have been a great opportunity is I so like. When I was doing long-term rental investing in this was like two thousand and fifteen sixteen I came across this 11 unit property in just outside of Indianapolis in ah Noblesville Indiana Indiana which is ah a suburb a pretty nice suburb of Indianapolis and and it was just like.

41:02.57

strdatalab

Um, f.

41:12.69

Kirby Atwell

Decimate it was like you know there were squatters living in there and stuff so I got it for like almost nothing and the crew that I had in Chicago they drove down there and and basically lived there and rehabbed it all 11 units and it turned into this beautiful property. Um, and but I was up in Northern Indiana three and a half hours away and so.

41:28.80

strdatalab

The hate.

41:31.58

Kirby Atwell

I went through about 3 or 4 different property managers long-term renting this place out. Not really under. So I never you know I didn't know anything about short-term rentals so it didn't even occur to me that that's a possibility. Um and this really amazing asset.

41:41.77

strdatalab

Um, right.

41:47.96

Kirby Atwell

I mean kind of limp by because there's just constant problems and and the the property managers weren't proactive So A small problem would turn into a big problem because it wasn't addressed and then those things spread between tenants and it just was always a thorn in my side until finally. I Sold the property I like I'm just I'm done with this I Want to focus on short term rentals because I was just starting to get into them now looking back that would have been an amazing shortterm rental like a boutique hotel kind of thing like where he could ah turned each unit into its own unique like style and just I mean.

42:08.55

strdatalab

Um I.

42:15.86

strdatalab

Of course oh.

42:24.23

strdatalab

Um, ah.

42:25.80

Kirby Atwell

Perfect location like everything about it was set up to where the value of it probably would have double I mean it would have been a difference of you know, 7 figures in terms of value. Um, and I just didn't it didn't occur to me. So um. So yeah, so that one was kind of the one that got away for me. Um, and if I could do it over again. That's that's exactly what I would have done.

42:48.64

strdatalab

I Love it. Well an interesting takeaway there too is like I Love what you said about like a small problem would turn into a big problem and so like that idea of sort of being like a frog and boiling water right? where you were probably like at the end you're like this is just too much like this is all right like you like I can't see the long term plan here like.

42:58.81

Kirby Atwell

Um, yeah, exactly exactly Yeah, there's more stress than than and it was worth you know being just but it managed totally different. It would have been a different story.

43:07.86

strdatalab

I Just need to shed this liability. It's not an asset anymore.

43:17.90

strdatalab

Right? right? I Love that? Yeah yeah, that idea of kind of like flipping everything over on its side and just like okay well wait like what are the what are the false constraints I've put on this property Very interesting. Oh my goodness. Well curby again. This is great.

43:18.71

Kirby Atwell

So yeah.

43:27.66

Kirby Atwell

Exactly yeah.

43:34.50

strdatalab

People want to know more from you How how can folks hear more wisdom from you here. How can people get in touch with you.

43:42.11

Kirby Atwell

Yeah, so the best way I think is to join the living off rentals Facebook group I'm pretty active in there and you know I've got the living off rentals podcast. We've got about 170 episodes of that with really smart people on there. Um.

43:47.62

strdatalab

Love ya.

43:56.98

Kirby Atwell

And then um I put together a masterclass for people to help them get started with their first short term rental and that's at livingoff rentals.com/ start um so people can check that out as well.

44:10.72

strdatalab

Very cool. Well I'm yeah I'm down. Let's do this right? Well hervey a pleasure. Ah, like again, let's talk more often I'm so excited to see what 2023 brings for you.

44:22.93

Kirby Atwell

Um, thanks Mariah I really appreciate this is this spent a lot of fun. Thank you.

44:24.48

strdatalab

Oh good. Well, that's what I aim for is a fun podcast all right? Thank you.

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