This week we spoke to Amy, a vacation rental owner from Austin, TX who rents out an apartment above her detached garage in the Zilker Park neighborhood.
How did you get started with your vacation rental?
We had a 2bed/1 bath home with a detached garage in the Zilker Park neighborhood of Austin, TX. The house was too small to host any of my family or my husband’s family when they came to visit. So, we decided to build an apartment above the detached garage. Then, anytime family came to visit, we would put them up there. We never really intended to rent it out but then it dawned on us that it made sense. It kind of grew organically into a vacation rental.
We’ve since expanded our house so we don’t really need the space for our family. Now it helps defer the costs of our property taxes, which are very high in Austin.
How did you start out renting it?
Well, this was even before AirBnB came into play. I started by answering posts on Craigslist and then we got on AirBnb as soon as they started. I’ve been on it for 10 or 12 years! I just recently listed the apartment on Vrbo and am starting to build up some reviews there.
Do you manage it on your own?
Yes, I do it all on my own. I have a housekeeper who helps out occasionally when I can’t. I only recently added a cleaning fee.
Do you use any services to help manage your rates?
I’m pretty low key about my rates. I have some festival pricing but I’m pretty consistent because it’s booked all the time. It’s a simple operation. I don’t use the rate tools on AirBnb or Vrbo either because I don’t feel like the comp set is accurate.
The low season in Austin is the summer, although it’s been much busier lately, and it’s really the only time I’m not booked. That’s when I’ll lower my rates. It’s usually booked up every single weekend. I have a 3 night minimum, which I never change, and, as long as my weekends are booked, I’m happy.
Any products that you swear by?
Yes, I love the Nest thermostat. We also use a Schlage keypad lock that I can program from my phone. I’m mindful of my footprint and have an eye towards the eco-friendly. So, instead of using individual toiletry bottles, I prefer to refill larger containers to cut down on waste.
I also provide nice glasses, porcelain plates: things that are meant to last. The bed is a BeautyRest mattress. I don’t want people to feel like they’re in a place stocked with shabby things. I enjoy stocking it with nicer things.
Have you thought of purchasing a second vacation rental?
My husband and I were thinking about it. But, the short answer is no. We decided to put a pool in instead! We have teenagers so we’re not really very mobile…at least for the next few years. Perhaps in the future.
Do you have any advice for someone looking for a vacation rental?
Is it maintainable? We have hardwood floors. They look lovely but they are hard to keep up! I would consider what’s going to make it through repeated use? My space is very simple. I appreciate the simplicity of it; there are not a lot of challenges.
I also feel pretty strongly that managing it myself is the best way because I can keep my eyes on it. Plus, it’s a studio so it’s generally couples or singles who come to stay. I hear of other vacation rental owners with larger properties and sometimes things will go missing or guests abuse the space. I don’t really have those issues.
Any other information about purchasing a vacation rental property that you wish to share with our readers?
My family and I very much enjoy the personal touch of getting to know people. We’ve formed several relationships over the years with guests. That said, I’m an extrovert but I do follow the guest’s lead on how much they want to interact.
Honestly, I get so much enjoyment from promoting my city and meeting people. It’s so nice to have people in the apartment. It’s just a wonderful sense of community.
You can view and book Amy’s apartment here on Vrbo.
We sometimes use affiliate links in our content. It won’t cost you anything but it helps us offset the costs of paying our writing team. All of our opinions remain our own.