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Jonathan Farber: How to Achieve Financial Freedom in 6 Years | Episode 6 | STR Data Lab™ by AirDNA

From college to working in tech to then pivoting to real estate, Jonathan’s STR journey has been a wild one and after this episode you’ll want to dive head first into starting your first short-term rental (STR).

Jonathan Farber joins us this week to dive deeper into what it takes to own, scale, and improve your STR business. This week you will learn how he started his business, how he was able to quit his 9-5, how to hire virtual assistants, and so much more. He talks about how it is key to higher help earlier on if you want to scale your business faster.

Jonathan also gives us the inside scoop on house hacking and how it could benefit people at any age. He may also give you tips on how to decide if certain real estate investments actually make money or not.

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Read “How to Finance Your Vacation Rental: A Step-by-Step Guide”:

https://www.airdna.co/blog/how-to-finance-your-vacation-rental

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Read the “Airbnb Cap Rate: What is a Good Cap Rate for Your Rental Property?”:

https://www.airdna.co/blog/your-airbnb-investment-what-is-a-good-cap-rate-and-how-do-you-calculate-it 

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Read the Full US Market Review:

https://www.airdna.co/blog/airdna-market-review-us-september-2022

Listen On:

Transcript

00:00:13:15 - 00:00:28:13

Speaker 1

Hello. Jonathan Farber. It's so nice to meet you. I've listened to your podcast. I've seen you on The Beat, but we have never sat down together to have a conversation. So this is so wonderful to have you on the podcast.

00:00:29:22 - 00:00:37:12

Speaker 2

Appreciate you having me. I'm excited to be talking to you, too. I've been working with you guys for a while and you're some of your other people, but the first time we get to meet.

00:00:38:05 - 00:00:48:01

Speaker 1

It’s good to be here. Well, and I'm new. I'm still new to the industry. So, you know, again, you're going to have to teach me everything today. But apart from that.

00:00:48:01 - 00:01:07:07

Speaker 2

It's a small industry. So yeah, it's amazing what and I'm sure we'll get into it like what you can do with social media and use it to network but also learn stuff. And it's pretty small actually. So I'm sure you'll meet all my friends and all the other, you know, STR operators and all that. So it's cool.

00:01:07:07 - 00:01:18:27

Speaker 1

Yeah. Now it's good. Yes, you're good. It's a good reminder. A good reminder that the world is small place. Are you going to VRMA by the way? Are you coming to VRMA in Vegas, baby? No.

00:01:19:06 - 00:01:20:10

Speaker 2

When? When is it?

00:01:20:10 - 00:01:23:24

Speaker 1

Oh, it's like in two weeks. I’ll send you the invite.

00:01:24:06 - 00:01:25:24

Speaker 2

Send me the details. Yeah, maybe.

00:01:26:03 - 00:01:35:18

Speaker 1

Yeah, it's the big vacation rental manager's show but it's at Caesar's. I mean, so I don't know, I don't know what your thoughts are on Vegas. We can talk about that later, too.

00:01:36:16 - 00:01:50:01

Speaker 2

I hate Vegas, but I am down to maybe go to a conference and maybe play some golf. My golf coach is out there. So, you know, maybe we could creatively write some stuff off. You know.

00:01:50:08 - 00:02:08:03

Speaker 1

They have they have a golf tourney, actually, it's at 8 a.m. on Sunday, the 23rd of October. Okay. But yes, that's right. I forgot. You are an avid golfer. So yeah. Now you've got a good excuse to come. I like this, but I also hate Vegas. Love vacation rental managers don't love Vegas.

00:02:09:15 - 00:02:14:13

Speaker 2

Sounds like, we might be on the same page, right? Send me the info, you never know.

00:02:14:13 - 00:02:40:09

Speaker 1

Yeah, I like this, I like this we will see you there. Okay. Well, all right. We're already 2 minutes in, and we haven't even introduced you. So, Jonathan Farber, please tell me you so your your big thing that I am super impressed with because I'm 40 and I still haven't been able to achieve this is you to financial freedom at the age of 27 you don't even know what I was doing at the age of 27.

00:02:40:09 - 00:02:47:03

Speaker 1

And now you're an amazing coach and teacher for a lot of folks in the industry. But tell us a little bit more about yourself, my friend.

00:02:48:19 - 00:03:08:21

Speaker 2

Okay, I will. I'll do my best to give you the short and sweet. I grew up in Long Island. I was not a driven person. So if anyone's listening to this and you're not feeling like you're in the place that you want to be or you're not feeling like you're on the path, that maybe you should be on or other people are on.

00:03:08:29 - 00:03:32:12

Speaker 2

Let me just tell you front and center, you don't need to be anywhere at any point. You can always make a change and you can do things really quick. We'll get to that, but you can change things really quick. So when I was coming up, I for me I was like like not doing the smartest stuff when I was like 15, 16, 17, I got into golf through actually doing some dumb stuff.

00:03:32:12 - 00:03:54:05

Speaker 2

My mom grounded me and that's actually how I learned how to play golf. Self-taught because I couldn't leave my house for three months when I was 14. Oh, my God, that's a story. I guess maybe another time. But anyway, I got into golf. I love that. And then I want to play in college and I thought was maybe golf pro, but towards the end of college I realized that really wasn't going to happen and I was not really like sure what to do with my life.

00:03:54:18 - 00:04:18:19

Speaker 2

And I had some friends that were making money at a software company. And at that point I started becoming really motivated in making money in business. So I started reading a lot of different books, Think and Grow Rich. You know, The Compound Effect, Traction, a lot of different types of books and ultimately I wanted to make money and figure out how to become financially free at young age.

00:04:18:19 - 00:04:44:16

Speaker 2

I heard it on a podcast. I don't really know what it meant and that was my goal. So when I was 21 or 22, I was working my job in corporate America and I was buying and investing in real estate on the side. When I was living in Raleigh, North Carolina, moved down there to start work. And yeah, and things were very different down there too because I everything felt cheap compared to New York, where everything was really expensive, you know, and it was at the time.

00:04:45:08 - 00:05:02:03

Speaker 2

So and trust me, we'll get to like probably limiting beliefs and, you know, getting started later. But at the time, guys, this is 2015. Everyone was telling me it's the worst time ever to buy real estate and everyone was telling me it's the worst time ever to invest in real estate, they said we’ve in a bull market for seven years, this is the top.

00:05:02:03 - 00:05:22:20

Speaker 2

How do you know it's going to keep going up? How do you know it's going to make money? And I said, other people are doing it. Other people have been doing it for a long time. Who are you getting your advice from? So anyway, I kept doing it and I just started with low money down strategies, creative financing strategies, strategy called house hacking, a strategy called the burn method buy rehab, rent, refinance.

00:05:22:29 - 00:05:42:27

Speaker 2

And then I started slowly getting curious about other strategies because I wasn't moving fast enough. I felt like I could get the financial freedom still by 30, but I knew there had to be a faster way. So ultimately then I started thinking about different ways to do that. One of them was multifamily. One of them was flipping and one of them was furnished rentals.

00:05:43:08 - 00:06:01:25

Speaker 2

And I wanted to kind of go down the path with each do a little taste, do a little trial and see which was best. And I tried the first two of multifamily and wholesaling was doing okay with wholesaling. We were making pretty good money, but it was really transactional and there were all these problems that just didn't fit my skill set.

00:06:01:25 - 00:06:19:19

Speaker 2

I couldn't build systems as easily. It was very people dependent and I just didn't enjoy it that much. Multifamily. When I learned about it more, I realized people were not making as much money as they seem to be making when they talk about how many units they have. But then when you ask them how much cash I actually bring every month, it's like peanuts.

00:06:19:19 - 00:06:42:09

Speaker 2

It was hilarious. I had a podcast, this was eye opening for me because I was podcasting at the time. A guy had like 2000 units and I was making more every month with five units than he was making so called with 2000. I was like, this is this requires investigating. So I wouldn't focus so much on unit count guys for I'd say myself and maybe some of you guys listening, it's more important how much you make and how much you keep.

00:06:42:12 - 00:07:04:09

Speaker 2

That's what matters. So I got into the world of furnish rentals. I was eyeing a couple of deals in North Carolina. They were actually off market rentals, and I reached out to the owners and asked if they would ever consider selling. They did, and I was kind of off and running when one tiny furnished rental Airbnb property was making more than my five other traditional rentals at the time.

00:07:05:02 - 00:07:25:15

Speaker 2

That was it. So I just started doubling down on furnished rentals, hiring virtual assistants, help with the analysis to help with the outreach, to help with the management. And my goal then was to get as many as I could to go into as much good debt as possible while I still had my job. Because banks only like you sometimes when you have a job, depending on what type of loan you're going to get.

00:07:25:20 - 00:07:42:29

Speaker 2

Right. And my goal was to max that out once I hit that, I was kind of just doing my job and 5 to 10 hours a week. And then I was doing real estate, investing full time and traveling full time. And then my boss kind of caught on and we had a little bit of a confrontation. And then that was the end of that.

00:07:43:08 - 00:08:07:17

Speaker 2

But in general, yeah, I kind of got the bug when I was like 21, 22, and it took a couple of years to get rolling, but then things move really fast towards the end. And now I think there's a lot of strategies people can use to do things faster with the Internet, with virtual assistants. Then it even took me, you know, it took me maybe six years, five years to get to a point that I felt comfortable.

00:08:07:17 - 00:08:21:29

Speaker 2

But I think people could do that in two years, 1 to 2 years today, no problem. So anyway, that’s the gist and then when I when I got to a point where I was quote unquote, financially free, I realized I still actually love to work. I took a bunch of time off and played golf every day and I was like, I'm bored.

00:08:22:15 - 00:08:44:00

Speaker 2

I actually like work. I like being fulfilled. I like working with cool people. So for me then it was just a matter of doing an exercise called Lifestyle Design, where I just wanted to draw out what my perfect day was every day, which for me consists of waking up in warm weather every day of the year, doing meaningful work in the morning, doing some exercise, doing some stuff with a cool team, creating content.

00:08:44:00 - 00:09:03:08

Speaker 2

And then every day pretty much I play golf at 2:00, so it doesn't matter if I'm in Colombia or New York. I play golf pretty much every single day. It's just what I want to be doing and I don't like the cold. So now I do the winter in Colombia and the summer in New York, and we're still doing deals and, you know, hiring people and having fun.

00:09:03:08 - 00:09:21:22

Speaker 2

So don't get me wrong, there's days that aren't always perfect and aren't always fun, but I find I can work a lot harder for myself and work a lot harder when I feel like I can move my my net worth in a big way. So for me, that's the thing, because I say that because some people are like, I just want to, you know, become financially free and be on a beach, you know?

00:09:21:22 - 00:09:42:11

Speaker 2

And a lot of times I find if you have that mentality the whole time, you won't do the things it takes in general to get to financial freedom, you need a strong mentality. So the goal is to work on stuff you love with cool people, not to just, you know, atrophy. So yeah, I'll shut up. That was that was not that short and sweet of an intro, but its a start.

00:09:42:23 - 00:10:02:15

Speaker 1

No, it was really great. I was well, first of all, I think I love that you were like, I wasn't moving fast enough and it still only took you six years, but you're like, No, that was not fast enough. And I mean, I think you make a really good point, right? Like if your goal is just to sit on the beach, like, you know, this might not be the best, the best business for you to be in.

00:10:02:15 - 00:10:19:19

Speaker 1

First of all, you know, this is a lot of work, like you said. And I think we'll get into a little bit of finding that work life balance that you've found and how you've achieved it in a second here. But I want to circle back to a couple of things. The first the first thing being, okay, house hacking, define this for me.

00:10:19:19 - 00:10:26:08

Speaker 1

It's the it's the buzzword of the industry. What does it mean to be a house hacker to you, Jonathan?

00:10:26:08 - 00:10:51:12

Speaker 2

House hacking, guys, I'll explain what it is. It remains probably still the best strategy in real estate if you're I mean, I don't want to discriminate here. If you're under 30, it's like a home run. The younger you can do it. You can do it at any age, but you'll hear why in a sec. Why it's not maybe as interesting for people that are that are older, but basically it's a strategy where you buy a property with a bank loan.

00:10:51:12 - 00:11:13:09

Speaker 2

A bank will give you 97 point or 96.5% of the down payment. You just need to bring 3 to 5% of your own money. You buy a property, you rent out the other rooms or units. You have, maybe friends or you have roommates or you have tenants. Live in the other units. They pay you rent by them paying you rent.

00:11:13:16 - 00:11:30:29

Speaker 2

You cover your costs. You own that asset. And in a lot of cases, you actually get paid to own that asset when there's money left over. And if you want to do it with short term rental or with furnished rentals, what you can do is furnish the other units. Let's say you buy a duplex or triplex or a quad plex.

00:11:31:07 - 00:11:59:29

Speaker 2

You could do furnished rentals and then 30 night minimums and those. And you'll first sure make money to live. And I love that strategy, guys, because one, you can do one of those a year. And two, that's most people's biggest expense in life is their housing they make. Most people make the biggest, they flip everything. All my friends in corporate America, they do the exact opposite of what you're supposed to do if you actually want to be financially independent on first year out of college, you take their paycheck, they buy a stupid car, they pay stupid rent.

00:12:00:06 - 00:12:23:29

Speaker 2

Right? And now they have all these expenses that, of course, you're going to be trapped to a job. You're going to be trapped to all these things that you don't need. So the goal is to flip that if you can get rid of your cost to live, which is the biggest expense you'll have when you're 22. Right. And it's so much easier to get to financial freedom if you I tell people, if you house hack and you buy one vacation rental and you do it the right way, you could you should be financially free in one year.

00:12:23:29 - 00:12:29:01

Speaker 2

You should be financially free in six months just with those two things. So that's what it is and that's why it's such a great strategy.

00:12:29:23 - 00:12:57:27

Speaker 1

I love that and I wish that you were giving me this advice back when I was, you know, potentially under 30. You're right. There is sort of like this this concept of the rat race that people get into. And you have to kind of work to live and live to work, etc.. But tell me so tell me at this point you're 21, 22, and you're you're telling your parents, you’re like guys, I'm just going to I'm going to saddle a bunch of debt here.

00:12:57:27 - 00:13:01:17

Speaker 1

How was that conversation? I just need to know as a parent, I'm a parent too.

00:13:03:21 - 00:13:24:08

Speaker 2

They thought, well, they never wanted me to do sales and like anything that wasn't quote unquote safe. So here's the worst. And like, you know, the truest advice I ever got or the harshest but truest advice ever got is to not take advice from people you wouldn't trade places with. So it sucks. But it is. It is true.

00:13:24:09 - 00:13:45:14

Speaker 2

Like, for example, my family wasn't in a financial place that I wanted to replicate the people around me that were giving me advice on what to do financially. They weren't in a place that I wanted to replicate. So you but they're, they're the most convenient to get advice from. So it's really hard to you grow up listening to the people around your whole life.

00:13:45:14 - 00:14:08:20

Speaker 2

They want the best for you from their viewpoint on life. They think that you do things a certain way, but ultimately it was tough. They didn't necessarily love it at the beginning or think it was so great. They got onboard quickly when they saw what could be done and now, you know, I've helped them start investing in real estate, but I just I had to go to different people for advice.

00:14:08:20 - 00:14:28:16

Speaker 2

That's part of the reason I started podcasting and aggressively networking. I just wanted to meet mentors that could say, Hey, I've done this before. I've seen good and bad, and here's why it's still good, as opposed to someone who has never done it before, and they're telling you that your life is going to suck or you're going to have to deal with fixing toilets.

00:14:28:16 - 00:14:44:29

Speaker 2

I've never fixed a toilet. I'm not handy. I never plan to be handy. But I had people tell me that I'm like, Okay, how many rentals do you own? How many rentals have you ever owned? Zero. Okay. I thank you. I appreciate you being a family friend. I'm like, let's just not talk about this, you know, like, it's not it's not good.

00:14:45:00 - 00:14:56:21

Speaker 2

So. It was tough, but, you know, they came around. But that's the best advice that I ever got on that. And, you know, I think people would be happy if they took it. It's not always easy, but it it makes a difference.

00:14:57:21 - 00:15:16:22

Speaker 1

I love that. No, that's really good. And so speaking of like sort of getting advice, it sounds like you found the right people to talk to the right resources. You were listening to folks that were doing this and were doing it courageously. So so talk to me about how you sort of gain the confidence to know where you should be investing in markets.

00:15:16:23 - 00:15:31:00

Speaker 1

Like, what was that? What were you like? Okay, yep. I'm going to saddle this debt. I think at one point it was quite a lot of debt and I'm confident that it's going to work. Or maybe you weren't confident. How did you muster the courage?

00:15:31:00 - 00:15:52:21

Speaker 2

I, I look at it like people have different risk profiles. And everyone needs to take a self assessment or have self-awareness of where they stand. Some people, they need to go from A to B and there's a piece of glass in the way. And they run through the glass when there's a door right two feet away that they could have just walked through.

00:15:52:21 - 00:16:09:09

Speaker 2

But they just wanted to get from A to B, so they were just going to steamroll. There's other people that would look at getting across that. They would look at it for 7 hours and they would call everyone that they know and ask them how to get across. They wouldn't take any action. So you need to assess which one you are first and then solve for that.

00:16:09:09 - 00:16:32:26

Speaker 2

That's my opinion. So for me, I found I was like somewhere in the middle. I am more prone towards action and then figure it out than I am towards like over analysis, which is good and bad. But I still think people say, is it better to be overly aggressive with action or be like an analytical mind? I think and I'm not I really don't think I'm biased in this.

00:16:32:27 - 00:17:00:25

Speaker 2

I think it's way better to just be action oriented, because if you keep taking action, you'll keep learning, you'll keep figuring out what changes you need to make, as opposed to someone that's trying to read a book on how to ride a bike, you know, like, you'll just never learn. You need to sometimes do the stuff. So for me, I, like, had a formula of I want to get a base level education, I want to have sort of a cabinet of people that I can call and ask, maybe mentors, maybe informal mentors.

00:17:01:06 - 00:17:17:12

Speaker 2

And then I want to have a strategy that's been proven that I could just double down on and do it in a way that was not that risky. But for example, like the first one, I didn't feel a lot of risk because I only had to come up with three and a half percent down to buy a property.

00:17:17:12 - 00:17:37:14

Speaker 2

So the bank was really buying the property. I didn't really feel that much risk. And here's the other thing with house hacking, everyone needs a place to live. So I needed a place to live. I really didn't feel any risk because my worst case scenario was my roommates don't pay me rent, but my monthly payment was still less than I was paying in rent six months before.

00:17:37:15 - 00:17:59:20

Speaker 2

It was like risk is there. There's, you know, but then with other types of deals, there's more like unknown or a higher downside. But there's another exercise that I really like to do. It was from Tim Ferriss, a YouTube video, and he talks about it in his book, but it's called Fear Setting, where you just go through every worst case example of what could happen with what you're about to do.

00:17:59:23 - 00:18:23:15

Speaker 2

And when you put it on paper, you realize most of the worst case scenarios are not that bad and they can be planned for now. Some of them aren’t great, but you're not going to die. You're not going to be way worse off than when you started. And for most people, it's like opportunity cost. They think doing the same thing in a job that they think is safe every day or, you know, years, ten years later is safe.

00:18:23:21 - 00:18:35:21

Speaker 2

But there's an opportunity cost of not doing stuff that's, you know, protecting yourself or building retirement or building something for your family. So, you know, like that's something people don't talk about enough. But that's that's kind of how I thought about it.

00:18:36:01 - 00:19:08:08

Speaker 1

I love that advice. I just, I, I just wrote that down fear setting. I think it's such a great exercise for people to do just in general and especially maybe nowadays in sort of the climate we're in with the economy and everything else, with housing prices and interest rates. I think it's really good for folks just to kind of sit down and approach it with a cool head, look for that door, instead of running the glass wall, although I'm very relatable, I probably am more of a run through the glass wall kind of gal myself.

00:19:09:11 - 00:19:31:18

Speaker 1

Such practical advice. I love that Jonathan. So talk to me a little bit about so you have obviously like flash forward to be 27 years old realizing you kind of play golf for 10 hours a day and be satisfied, but also wanting to strike that balance. And like you said, you didn't want to necessarily live in the places where you were potentially operating.

00:19:31:18 - 00:19:49:03

Speaker 1

Right, and where you were hosting. So, how did you hack your way? Pun intended to sort of being able to have that life work life balance you were looking for still being able to play golf, not having to fix toilets. I need to know how to do that as well. I don't know how to fix a toilet either.

00:19:49:15 - 00:20:23:00

Speaker 2

You don't. I promise. You don't need to know that. I was just, you know, like it actually happens if for any any Reddit users that are listening to this, like it's actually a thing that happens for for anyone that follows the Reddit threads like fire or fat fire or fire is a shorthand for financial independence. Retire early, but there's a lot of people on a lot of subreddits on that that talk about people that achieve financial freedom, then they become depressed because the thing that was always their goal, they achieved and they ask the question, now what?

00:20:23:04 - 00:20:39:29

Speaker 2

Or What's the point of all this? Or I have so much time to think, you know, which is a little scary. Just it's just a weird thing and not a lot of people experience it. So the Internet's cool because you can find communities and deal with that issue. Like people may be rolling their eyes at that right now, like, oh my God.

00:20:39:29 - 00:21:02:08

Speaker 2

Like complaining about being financially free or feeling like sad about it, trust me like, wait till you get there and you'll see what happens. Not to say you don't want to set that as a goal, but then it becomes a new game and a new fun thing to figure out what you do next. So yeah, I did. I was kind of expecting that because it's something that in the book Four Hour Workweek he talks about is like, what do you do after it happens?

00:21:02:08 - 00:21:19:13

Speaker 2

So it's good to have a little bit of a blueprint, but I still definitely had like, you know, weird times with it. So I just sought out other people that had done it. I went on Facebook, I went into Facebook groups. I went on Reddit. I was doing more like podcasting, talking to people and I heard a lot of different answers.

00:21:19:13 - 00:21:41:23

Speaker 2

Some people said, get into philanthropy, get into doing more deals, you know, take more time off, you know, like figure out like what actually makes you some people just want to be like giving all the time and doing different things. For me, I realized I still just needed fulfillment. Like, I like to get up and do things every day for me.

00:21:41:23 - 00:21:57:03

Speaker 2

Now though, I realize like I like to break things up into sprints, so I'll do like a quarter or two quarters in a row, like working on projects and I maybe I'll just take a quarter and you know, not, and that way like I can recharge but also kind of itch to get back at it at the end of it.

00:21:57:03 - 00:22:16:23

Speaker 2

So for me though, I just wanted to think about like that exercise actually that really helped me the perfect day exercise, a guy named Frank Kern. If you go on YouTube, just type in Frank Kern. Perfect day. Basically, it was really helpful to just think about what do you want to do every day? And in that video he starts it from I achieved X success.

00:22:16:23 - 00:22:33:05

Speaker 2

I had X millions of dollars and I was really unhappy and it was just really hit the way he said it. So it was just a matter of for him working with cool people, working on cool projects, having something to look forward to, doing some stuff for fulfillment, do it for fun, be around people. For me now, family is really important.

00:22:34:09 - 00:22:52:01

Speaker 2

You know, having relationships are really important and just I like working with people that like give me energy and get me fired up, you know, and go about it that way. But I realized it took it took time to realize that. But I think everyone needs to learn it a little of themselves. But having a plan for when it's about to happen, I think is a good thing, too.

00:22:52:13 - 00:23:11:26

Speaker 1

I love that. Yeah, and I think you're right. There is sort of this concept of like I'm thinking into the future when I'm going to have this luxury of being bored and unhappy. But that's that's exactly where we want to, of course, everyone to get to at some point. Well, okay, but so but how did you get away?

00:23:11:26 - 00:23:18:19

Speaker 1

Here's what I really need to know. How did you get away with not cleaning the toilets? And talk to me a little bit about virtual assistants because I know you're big on those.

00:23:19:20 - 00:23:46:06

Speaker 2

Okay. Yeah. So I think that everyone should tinker with some form of like leverage or automation or virtual assistants in your life or business just because it's like it can become fun and it can just make you happier. Like, so as far as like toilets goes, yeah. Like these are properties that I don't live near. I live in New York and then I live in Colombia.

00:23:46:06 - 00:24:16:08

Speaker 2

The country. Yeah, half the time. So and the properties are in Kentucky and North Carolina and probably Florida pretty soon. So the way that we set that up is we just have systems to build relationships with vendors or people that are looking for extra work in an area to do things like cleaning handy people, to be a runner, to run stuff from unit to unit, or to let you know packages into a unit and open it and put it together.

00:24:16:15 - 00:24:34:26

Speaker 2

You can find a lot of these people on sites like Thumbtack and TaskRabbit and Facebook groups and Craigslist or in your network. You could just put a Facebook post out and say, Hey, I'm looking for someone to help 20 bucks an hour. You'd be amazed how many people are looking for an extra side hustle or way to help with something.

00:24:34:26 - 00:24:49:16

Speaker 2

So it's like you need to get the word out on what you're looking for. But I have a system to do that in new market. So and then with technology, you know, you can get multiple quotes, you can let people into your properties with smart locks, they can take pictures, they can take videos and they can update you.

00:24:49:16 - 00:25:08:23

Speaker 2

Sometimes it's good to go, sometimes it's not necessary. So in each market, you know, we have those people in place that will help with day to day stuff, with repair items, with, you know, potential big problems that could pop up and just feel ready with that. And then we have virtual assistants that help with anything that can be done from a phone or a computer.

00:25:09:02 - 00:25:33:04

Speaker 2

So we use a tool called Hospitable to do our property management. We use PriceLabs to do our pricing. We use OpenPhone as a virtual phone, and our virtual assistants can just interact with these tools. They can send messages, they can update our pricing, they can update different discounts and they're great. They're trained, some of them come trained, some of them you train.

00:25:33:04 - 00:25:57:13

Speaker 2

It just depends what you're looking for. And, you know, you can find great virtual assistants all over the world for 4 to $8 an hour. And they can do more than you would ever imagine. And they not again, I'm like, you know, I'm a little torn because in some cases I would prefer to, you know, keep money in the U.S. but sometimes it's just not possible.

00:25:57:13 - 00:26:14:11

Speaker 2

And sometimes when you're a small business owner, you got to figure out how to get scrappy and do things to grow that you know you need to do to compete with bigger companies. And when you're a startup, you need to figure out how to do that. So most people are in a startup phase and they need to just figure out how to, you know, get through that.

00:26:14:11 - 00:26:37:03

Speaker 2

And that's what a lot of these tools are. Also, Zapier is a great tool for automating things and moving to different softwares to talk to each other. So those are some of the tools we use and just how we set it up. Crazy. If anyone is looking for help with that, you could just DM me on Instagram. We have a free like kit on virtual assistants that we could send back to you and happy to answer any questions.

00:26:37:22 - 00:26:59:18

Speaker 1

I love that. Okay. Well, because yeah, you are the millennial millionaire. I am an elder millennial. And so I'm like, What are we doing with robots? I knew this day would come. Here It is. But but in all seriousness, I mean, that's super smart, right? So what you're talking about is like putting systems in place, having processes, and then using the technology right to scale your business.

00:27:00:15 - 00:27:13:28

Speaker 1

And I just love that sort of right because I do think a lot of people have that picture in their heads, but they're like, Well, I'm going to have to be there. I'm going to have to be turning over the sheets. I'm going to be have to check in on the cleaning people. But like, you know, there's quite a few tools out there to help you.

00:27:14:14 - 00:27:24:12

Speaker 1

And we say zap it a lot. And our in our world, AirDNA uses Zapier as well. So shout out to Zapier, well, just zap it, why don't you just zap it?

00:27:25:00 - 00:27:42:27

Speaker 2

I mean, if it's redundant and it's like anything that we do more than once, we document the steps and we see if we can automate it or we just add it to a checklist that someone's going to do. So, you know, it just I think that's just these are little things that people can do. Like, you know, even even here's an example.

00:27:42:27 - 00:27:51:09

Speaker 2

Like anyone listening to this could hire a virtual assistant to handle their email. Well, maybe you can maybe try it in a corporate job, but, you know, as a maybe.

00:27:51:09 - 00:27:53:21

Speaker 1

Don’t tempt me, Jonathan, don't tempt me.

00:27:54:15 - 00:28:09:06

Speaker 2

That was one of the things that I got a little in trouble with when I was getting a little help from the Philippines in my day to day job. But anyone listening to this, okay, let's break it down. The process. A virtual assistant can help with your managing your email, but it's a great exercise for anyone that manages their own email.

00:28:09:06 - 00:28:36:15

Speaker 2

Currently, what you should do is think about how many different types of emails you get to your inbox every day. For most people, you're not getting more than 10 to 15 different types of common emails, either asking for a meeting, asking you to be on a podcast, asking your opinion of things, asking for your time, whatever. So what anyone can do, and this is just like it sounds obvious, but we live in the world of templates.

00:28:36:15 - 00:28:58:23

Speaker 2

Everything we do is templated. So in my email I know I typically get like eight types of emails. We have a template for each of them and then a virtual assistant can just make tweaks to a template. Or the way that my virtual assistant works is what they do is they just come into my inbox every day. They start drafting replies to things and then I check my email just to look at drafts and just hit send.

00:28:58:23 - 00:29:12:01

Speaker 2

If there are things that they need extra assistance on, they just send it to me and then I'll look at those. So that way, you know, you're not living in your inbox. Everyone's seen it a zillion times. Like not to live in your inbox. Well right there is a way that you can get out of your inbox. So just little things.

00:29:12:01 - 00:29:26:24

Speaker 2

But like if people just thought about what they did of how many times we do a repetitive activity and how can we turn it into a system, everyone, I think, would be a little bit happier. Well not everyone. You'd be happier if you did it, not you, but just in general, you know. So that's like my mission. We always try to do that.

00:29:27:09 - 00:29:39:14

Speaker 1

I would be I would be way happier if I wasn't in emails. And that's a genius solve. I'm going to have to try that out. Do you have a name for your virtual assistant? Have you named them do they have a have a persona yet?

00:29:40:19 - 00:29:41:10

Speaker 2

No, we.

00:29:41:17 - 00:29:42:17

Speaker 3

These are people.

00:29:42:28 - 00:30:08:02

Speaker 2

Our virtual assistants. We have our actual people. These are these are people that are use it that are, you know, doing all sorts of different tasks. Some people do all of our social media posting, wow. Some write captions, some do edit, some do our podcast edits, you know, repurpose. So, you know, it has to work together like updates have to be passed and we use notion for that to project, manage and to track to do’s.

00:30:08:09 - 00:30:20:22

Speaker 2

But you know, like these are the, you know, some people use asana, but, you know, people can can learn things quickly and work within a system. Oh, you guys use asana. It's good. Asana is great. Yeah.

00:30:21:02 - 00:30:30:05

Speaker 1

Well, I mean, don't give Abby ideas. I think she's she's going to listen to this and she's going to hear you said, you know, automate your social media.

00:30:30:05 - 00:30:53:05

Speaker 2

You know what I mean? Like, it's funny. And not to get like philosophical here, but there's a guy in Twitter's and his name is Naval and he's he's like, you know, that the goal is to, you know, get all repetitive work done to the smartest, simplest way possible so that we can be creative, we can work on problem solving. We can work kind of in like our zone of genius, whatever that is.

00:30:53:16 - 00:31:09:24

Speaker 2

Some people are great at doing different things. They should just if those things make the money, make them happy and they're good at it, they should just do those all day and not do things that feel really heavy to them. So we always try to figure that out. For myself, but also people on the team like, what do you like doing?

00:31:09:24 - 00:31:14:14

Speaker 2

What do you great doing? And then hopefully it's going to make us all money. So we're going to plug you into that.

00:31:15:04 - 00:31:41:13

Speaker 1

Oh, my gosh. Well, Jonathan, I am I am so happy that we did get philosophical on this. That's the place I like to be in general. Like, let's go deep. Let's not let's get past the sort of surface level things. This has been so wonderful for me to get to know a little bit more about you. I don't want to steal your whole day from you, but I do want to play potentially a fun, fun game with you.

00:31:41:13 - 00:31:42:01

Speaker 2

Let's do it.

00:31:42:02 - 00:32:02:14

Speaker 1

All right. So it's called and you've already given a bunch of shout outs to this one. You might have to dig dig a little deeper for, but it's called The Who, What, Where game. Okay. So besides yourself and we'll get to this in a minute, too, who would you recommend a new host listen to for advice?

00:32:02:14 - 00:32:29:02

Speaker 2

Uh, that's a good one. Um, who could they listen to for advice? There's a a couple of really good ones on YouTube. A guy named Robuilt. Yes. And Sean Rakidzich. Or is Airbnb automated or maybe changed his name puts a lot of good stuff out on YouTube. Those are good ones. There's so much good there's so much good stuff on YouTube.

00:32:29:03 - 00:32:29:24

Speaker 2

It's crazy.

00:32:30:01 - 00:32:35:26

Speaker 1

There really is. Yeah. And big shout out to Robuilt. We love we love working with him as well. Oh, there you go.

00:32:35:27 - 00:32:36:06

Speaker 2

Perfect.

00:32:37:23 - 00:32:45:18

Speaker 1

Okay. So now what do you wish you knew before you started in the short term rental business?

00:32:45:18 - 00:33:17:15

Speaker 2

Oh, that's a good one. If I could go a couple of different ways with that. I think what I wish I would've known was to hire help faster. And I mean like a virtual assistant or an assistant because like, you know, I have it's a small industry. A lot of my friends like do their stuff differently and like, you know, they'll make a piece of content where they're like, it's like doing stuff with their family and they're like responding to messages.

00:33:17:15 - 00:33:36:22

Speaker 2

And I'm like, that's just not I don't think that's the way it should be done. So I don't think that's like quality life. I think maybe, you know, not so I wish that that would have been like, you know, something more of a priority for me. But I think people get a little scared because they're like, I can't afford an employee or the software, you know?

00:33:36:22 - 00:33:48:24

Speaker 2

But now there's ways you could do it so inexpensively and it pays for itself, you know, and you're kind of you're losing money by not doing those sorts of things. So but it takes time to get a feel for it. And but I wish I had done that a little bit sooner.

00:33:49:13 - 00:34:06:28

Speaker 1

I love that. Yeah. Well, I think, you know, it's also like for control freaks like me, there's probably a trust, an element of trust in it too. But 100% when you start to think about your most finite resource, which we cannot grow on trees time, you got to really think about where do you want to be spending your time and who do you want to be spending it with?

00:34:06:28 - 00:34:07:20

Speaker 1

I love that.

00:34:07:20 - 00:34:30:04

Speaker 2

Yeah, that's really true for people that struggle with, you know, the and I'm a everyone everyone that's like, you know, wants to be somewhere want their there's a control freak element but at the end of the day the mentality has to be 80% of something is better than 100% of nothing, you know. So for me, a lot of things they're not going to get done if I have to get around to doing it.

00:34:30:04 - 00:34:42:18

Speaker 2

So if somebody else can do it 80% and it gets done and we can improve it, that's the name of the game. Consistency and like, you know, that's a muscle that needs to get flexed and we all are weak it at the beginning. But delegating is a skill.

00:34:42:24 - 00:34:57:18

Speaker 1

Yeah, yeah. No, that's a really that's again a really good piece of advice. All right. I've got one more for you. If you could hop into a time machine knowing what you know now, where would you have invested when you got started?

00:34:58:02 - 00:34:59:02

Speaker 2

What location?

00:34:59:02 - 00:35:06:24

Speaker 1

Yeah, what location or I mean, sure, it can be broader. If you needed to be broader.

00:35:07:00 - 00:35:07:29

Speaker 3

No

00:35:07:29 - 00:35:29:16

Speaker 2

I probably would have just said like the Smokies like five years ago. I don't know. I think you're going to you might hear that answer a lot. Nothing against the Smokies. Well, now I do something against the Smokies now think it's just overpriced. Yep. Like five years ago, you could you could do the most ridiculous, life changing deals.

00:35:29:25 - 00:35:58:25

Speaker 2

And also, like right before COVID, it was just like sort of the perfect storm of like, you know, value luck and opportunity and and now it's popularized. And, you know, that's how the world works and that's how technology works and social media work. So that's yeah, that if I can go back in time, I probably would have taken all my money and put it there and like five years ago.

00:35:59:04 - 00:36:07:02

Speaker 2

But you know, we have a good process for finding more unknown markets now. That's good, but that one would have been a homerun.

00:36:07:29 - 00:36:17:09

Speaker 1

I love that. I love that. Well, what is your process now? Because you don't have I'm assuming your virtual assistants have not built your time machine yet.

00:36:17:09 - 00:36:18:10

Speaker 2

I know that would be great.

00:36:20:03 - 00:36:20:20

Speaker 1

its a realtor’s dream right?

00:36:20:20 - 00:36:21:15

Speaker 3

Process now.

00:36:23:05 - 00:36:46:10

Speaker 2

The process now is we have a virtual assistant every day that logs on that analyzes new markets and new deals and presents the numbers to me and a team every day. Wow. And that's how they this person is amazing. They analyze 1 to 200 deals in like an hour and a half and usually can come up with like 40 deals that are very they look very good.

00:36:46:10 - 00:36:54:01

Speaker 2

Then there's some additional due diligence and I I'm happy to plug you guys here because you guys are a big this wasn't a softball question.

00:36:54:01 - 00:36:55:27

Speaker 1

Well, it wasn't. I promise.

00:36:56:00 - 00:37:17:20

Speaker 2

You guys you guys are a big part of that process using AirDNA, love it and getting information quickly and looking into trends and looking into markets and looking into historics so that that's a tool that he uses every day. We have a I think a countrywide Marketminder license. So that helps. That makes the job easier and faster.

00:37:18:17 - 00:37:34:27

Speaker 2

And then, you know, we cross-check it with other things, but it definitely, definitely is a big part of the process. But that's what he does. He analyzes deals every day and then presents the top ones to me. We send then some of the top ones to one of our communities. It's a little special thing that we do for them.

00:37:34:27 - 00:37:50:12

Speaker 2

We pick deals for them and find deals for them. And then some of the other ones I look at to invest in or we send out to our newsletter, which also we could send you the link if you want to subscribe to that and get deals sent to them, all that good stuff. But that's our process for finding deals now.

00:37:50:12 - 00:38:14:02

Speaker 2

And you just follows a process looking at growth and looking at increase average daily rates and some trends and then attractions of the area hospitals, colleges bars, restaurants, national parks, amusements, things like that. We're always kind of like plotting how far different things are from those why people are coming to areas and different tourist websites and go on from there.

00:38:14:02 - 00:38:27:18

Speaker 2

So, you know, it's a process, but if anyone's looking for help with any of that, again, just get in touch, DM me on Instagram hit our newsletter. Check out our YouTube channel, our Facebook group, you know whatever. And it's what we we talk and do every day.

00:38:28:15 - 00:38:42:17

Speaker 1

This is your perfect segue because that was going to be my last question was where can people find you, Jonathan, because they're obviously going to want to talk to you more about all of these things. And we got it. We got to dig in more to this virtual assistant. I love it.

00:38:42:17 - 00:38:44:24

Speaker 2

We might need to do it. We could do a part two. Yeah.

00:38:45:10 - 00:38:50:24

Speaker 1

Part two. How the virtual assistants doing the analysis on Airbnb data. I love that. On AirDNA.

00:38:51:00 - 00:39:08:06

Speaker 2

Yeah, just again, it's something that I knew I wouldn't do if it was on me to do. I did it for a while, but I just didn't like it. So I wanted to not do it anymore. And there's things that they can do that I don't want to do and I can do things they can’t do anyway. Yes.

00:39:08:17 - 00:39:09:18

Speaker 1

Makes perfect sense.

00:39:10:16 - 00:39:35:06

Speaker 2

But my handle across everything is just J-O-N-J-F-A-R-B, Jon, Jay Farb and Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. Social media is probably the best way. Yeah. @jonjfarb and I only have one account. You'll find this when you have other people that come on the show. There's all these fake hacker spam accounts. Yeah, but they'll put, like, a period under one letter.

00:39:35:07 - 00:39:46:09

Speaker 2

Or anyway, my only account is jonjfarb. J-O-N-J-F-A-R-B, Twitter, Instagram TikTok, Facebook. Jonathan Farber hit me up. We get back to every message and we'll see if we can help.

00:39:46:24 - 00:39:57:29

Speaker 1

Absolutely. Love it. Well, we'll put all those links in the show notes. Jonathan, it was an absolute pleasure to get to know you. You've definitely inspired me and I think you have inspired our listeners as well. Thanks so much for joining me.

00:39:58:26 - 00:39:59:23

Speaker 2

Thanks for having me.

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