In this episode, Sarah Weaver—investor, content creator, and real estate coach—discusses her experience with self-managing her rental properties. She emphasizes the importance of having a team and hiring the right people to help you invest, as well as having systems in place for maintenance requests and vendor lists. She also shares tips on furnishing short- and mid-term rentals and managing move-in/move-out inspections. She highlights how mid-term rentals are better for her investment style than long or short-term rentals and discusses why it might benefit other remote investors. Finally, Sarah advises listeners to embrace their fears and function in them as entrepreneurs.
Brandon Hall 00:00
This is the hacking real estate Podcast, episode five
Brandon Hall 00:46
Welcome to the Hacking Real Estate Podcast where we dive into the stories of seasoned hands on and tech savvy real estate investors. We'll learn the strategies and tools they use to maximize returns and minimize hassle all while navigating the rapidly changing real estate market. I'm your co host Brandon Hall and managing partner of Hall CPA and I'm sitting alongside my co host Vikas Gupta, CEO of Azibo. With our combined 15 years of experience in real estate investing and entrepreneurship. We're here to help you up your real estate game. Let's get hacking. Our guest today is Sarah Weaver, a coach, speaker, real estate investor and entrepreneur who helps real estate investors and agents level up their portfolios. Sara hosts retreats and seminars around the world, where she pulls from her experience self managing properties across four states. Sara, welcome to the podcast.
Sarah Weaver 01:35
Thanks so much for having me.
Brandon Hall 01:38
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Sarah Weaver 01:40
Yeah, so well, that was a great intro. So thank you so much. Sometimes I want to say like, I'm just a girl who bought some real estate and is obsessed with traveling. So I created some businesses to fund my lifestyle.
Brandon Hall 01:53
I love that approach. Because you've got your why baked into the whole real estate investing, which a lot of people don't write. Or it's like the financial freedom, the retire early crowd, but you like a travel world.
Sarah Weaver 02:06
So it starts out as like a negative. It's like, I hate my job, and I hate my life, and maybe even my wife, and I want to get out of it. But then it's like, okay, but where are you going? Whereas I've always known exactly where I was going, or what I'm running toward.
Brandon Hall 02:24
So you So you bought rentals to help fund your lifestyle. And you said you travel a lot. Where are your favorite places to travel to? Or what are the coolest trips you've been on?
Sarah Weaver 02:35
Oh, that's a great question. So I actually own a company that takes real estate investors on epic adventures. And so I wouldn't do I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn't at least mention where they are, are taking investors. So this year alone, we've done two events in Guatemala and Central America. We have done two events down in Chile hiking the W Trek and Patagonia. I don't know if either of you are avid hikers.
Brandon Hall 03:03
Not that avid!
Vikas Gupta 03:08
That's a bucket list item.
Sarah Weaver 03:09
Okay, awesome. Vikas well, we will be doing it and 2024. So for any avid hikers, we're also doing Kilimanjaro this summer. So yeah, pretty hardcore. If, if you're, if our listeners are like you, and they're like, No, thank you. We also are headed to Italy, at the end of June. And that will be more like coasts, sipping some wine, even some pasta, talking about real estate!
Brandon Hall 03:35
Im more like a Santorini guy, yaknow? cheese, the wine, yeah, I'm all in there.
Sarah Weaver 03:43
Then we have conferences and conferences are amazing. It's a way to like get in the same room with people that you deeply admire or or want to learn from or didn't even know you wanted to learn from. However, unless you're going to partake in what my friend called lobby con, and just hanging out in the lobby and you know, hallway conversations, there's still also like, there's only so much intimate relationship you can create at a conference. So my goal with Invested Adventures was to take one step further and invite a small group of people typically, we're anywhere between 11 and 17 investors. So let's call it you know, a 15 person event and add an epic adventure. So January 2022, was my first trip. And I've now served over 170 investors.
Brandon Hall 04:31
Now it's amazing. Good stuff. Well tell folks about what you were doing before all this and how you got into real estate.
Sarah Weaver 04:37
Yeah, great question. My resume is a bit of a joke. I have taught English in South Korea. I have been a journalist. I've been a marketing intern. I was a real estate agent for about five minutes. If anyone thinks that that is the pathway into investing. PS it's not. And so I was doing a lot of different things. I have a degree in journalism and International Studies. is because I wanted to be an international journalist. And then life took me other directions, I really prioritized travel most of my 20s. And so I only worked jobs that let me work remotely. And so while I had, you know, normal W-2, I worked for the man, the man, let me live anywhere. So I was working in Bali, I was working in Brazil, frankly, kind of living my dream. And that's when I started to buy real estate. I thought, Okay, well, I have to pay taxes in the US, no matter where I live. Once you're, you know, have that passport, or you're a resident, guess what you're paying taxes for life. And so I thought, Okay, well, I should probably have some, you know, tax benefits, even if I'm never here. And so I picked up my first primary home, use the rent by the room strategy, had a bunch of roommates. And then I became the best landlord/roommate, I was never there. And that kind of was the beginning of it all.
Vikas Gupta 05:57
That's a great story. But I'm curious for our listeners, and for myself, like, why isn't being a real estate agent, the pathway into real estate?
Sarah Weaver 06:06
Great question. So I think being licensed and having access to the MLS can be a benefit. However, if you're going from zero, meaning you read the books or the podcasts and, and but yet, you know, you want to learn about real estate investing, going and getting your real estate salesperson license isn't going to teach you anything about real estate investing,
Brandon Hall 06:28
then I'll just add in my two cents there too, because sometimes I get frustrated with how agents get compensated. But I always try to remember that when you're working with a real estate agent, you're not necessarily paying them for that one deal. You're paying them for the pipeline that they're working to build. And so kind of to your point, Sarah, like, if you're going to become an agent to get access to the MLS, you still have to compete with all the other agents that are building the pipeline. So it's almost just like, is it just easier to just go and find some of the best agents to work with to send you deals and just become known as the person that can close on those deals?
Sarah Weaver 07:07
Yes, I think so. I love working with investor friendly agents. I can teach investors how to what I call get to the top of those agents lists, because that's exactly I love what you said you want to be the person known for being able to close. So investors hear that. And then agents your benefit to everyone is to be a rockstar at finding deals, ideally off market. But don't get me wrong. I've bought a perfect BRRR off of the MLS set found by an investor friendly agent. And so your job is to find great deals, and then negotiate the hell out of them. So while your job, investor, is to close the deal, agent, it's your job to get us to the closing table.
Brandon Hall 07:51
Love it. Love it. So talk to us about your portfolio today. What does it look like? And how many states are you investing in?
Sarah Weaver 07:57
So I own mostly small multifamily, so duplexes and fourplexes in four states, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, and it is 19 units, nine of the 19 so almost exactly half, are mid term rentals or medium-term rentals. So they're furnished, and then I rent them out for 30 days or longer.
Brandon Hall 08:19
And who are you renting those mid term rentals out to typically it's like traveling nurses are professionals? What does that look like?
Sarah Weaver 08:25
It really varies, um, my units in Omaha, Nebraska, almost always travel nurses. So travel medical professional professionals that get 13 week contracts at the hospital. They book in my unit, they either find me on Airbnb, or a website called furnishedfinder.com. But just this morning, I wrote up a lease for my property in Des Moines, Iowa or Urbandale, Iowa to be specific. And she is coming in. She's working for the Army Corps of Engineers.
Brandon Hall 08:55
Cool. Wow. Yeah, that's awesome. I have a property in Surf City, North Carolina. And the Army Corps of Engineers just approved a big beach sand revitalization project. So very exciting.
Sarah Weaver 09:09
Yeah, reach out, reach out to their hiring manager and see if you can be the go to person for them. Because not only did she, like want a furnished place, but she would like to sign a year lease.
Brandon Hall 09:20
Whoa, wow. Interesting. That's cool. Yeah.
Sarah Weaver 09:23
That's a first for me. So just so that every all the listeners understand that normal is three months, and then 47% of my travel nurses in 2022. They extended from three months to six months. And so half the time they're three month contracts half the time they're six months. This will be my first 12 month and I'm pretty excited about it. Because here's the numbers: she'll rent it for 1900 a month. It's a duplex. My duplex has one unit that's an MTR that shall rent. The unit next door is a long term rental. it rents for 650
Brandon Hall 09:58
Oh wow. So She's renting it from 1900 a month. The unit right next door is renting for 650.
Sarah Weaver 10:05
And he's under market rent. Don't get me wrong, you should be at about $800.
Brandon Hall 10:09
Still, though, almost 3x, two and a half x. That's amazing. What does your vacancy look like with your midterm rentals
Sarah Weaver 10:18
I haven't tracked for q1, so I'm a little behind, but for 2022, two of my units were 100%. Because when I had those nurses do six month contracts, I would even have a same day checkout. So clearly very proud about those two units. And then the other seven units, not including the two because I don't want to excuse statistics as journalist journalists are really good at that. The other seven are at 97% occupancy. So yeah, that's 100% and 97%
Brandon Hall 10:48
And does that ratio of like, what long term Fair Market Rents would look like? Is that pretty consistent across the board where your mid term rentals can pull two to 3x?
Sarah Weaver 10:58
Yeah, so the building that is a four unit has one long term unit, long term tenant still, she pays $800 plus a pet fee, but that doesn't count, you know, so her rent is $800 or $830. And then those units are going for $1875.
Brandon Hall 11:15
That's amazing. Okay, so I have a lot more questions about this. One, what made you want to get into midterm rentals? Like how did you identify that there was even an opportunity there?
Sarah Weaver 11:29
Yeah, great question. So immediately, I was attracted to this particular property that started at all it was a fourplex, where each unit is a one bedroom, one bath. So for some investors, that's not really a super attractive property. You know, they like the 3/2s or the 2/2s. I love this one bedroom, one bath, because I'm right near a bunch of hospitals. That is not a requirement, let me make sure that's really clear to everyone, you do not have to be in your hospital, look, you just shared that you have like the Army Corps of Engineers about to do a big project is a great example. So if you're near any kind of construction site, you can rent to construction workers, if you're near an Amazon warehouse, you might be able to work with seasonal workers. So there's lots of different tenant types. I just particularly really liked this property. It was of course, brought to me by an investor friendly agent. And I house hacked it. So I really believe in delayed gratification. I don't recommend, you know, quitting your life wherever you live and moving to Omaha, Nebraska. But for me, I was living in a van, not down by the river, but by a beautiful waterfall in New Zealand. I actually just posted a picture on Instagram of it today, and was living in a van in New Zealand was contacting this investor friendly agent or Nebraska. And when we found he found this four Plex off market, somehow the sellers agreed to accept FHA three and a half percent down, which was like unheard of, you know, at the height of 2021. And so I had the money I could have done 25% down conventional like they would require, but I just knew it was a huge opportunity that the sellers said that they would accept FHA. And so with tears in my eyes, I sold the van, of course, for a profit because I even hacked van life and flew 8000 miles to Omaha, Nebraska to live in this unit.
Brandon Hall 13:23
Wow. Okay, well, what made you pick Omaha, Nebraska? Like, why zero in there?
Sarah Weaver 13:28
Yeah, so I liked the population growth, job growth, wage growth. So people are are surprisingly getting paid more rent rate increases. So it's not anything sexy, like, you know, Arizona and 2020, solid 26% increase. We're not seeing anything like that. But just a steady 5- 11%. Even appreciation last year, to my surprise, my property appreciated 10%. And I was expecting closer to the national average, like four to 6%. So all of these metrics, like make sense. Granted a lot of metrics, a lot of markets across the US fit that right. So then it comes down to deal flow. I found an incredible agent who , there's no better way to say it, then he gets it. And he had deal flow.
Brandon Hall 14:15
How did you originally pick? How did you originally get Omaha on your radar? Like, did you have friends there? Were you from there? Or was it? Were you just analyzing a bunch of different markets?
Sarah Weaver 14:25
I was analyzing way too many market markets. So learn from my mistake and just like pick two markets. So I was reading offers in Oklahoma City, San Antonio, outside of Austin, outside of Tucson, all over Ohio. I was looking everywhere. And frankly, that just means I was distracted. And so what made me really zero in on Omaha was I grew up in Kansas City haven't lived there as an adult but grew up in Kansas City. So that's three hours away. And then my grandparents live in a small town in Iowa. Which was about an hour from Omaha 45 minutes. And so I was like, well, if I'm already flying there for Christmas, I might as well. But everyone should also hear that I was also writing offers in Ohio and Oklahoma and I don't know anyone there. But essentially it hit all of my metrics. I found a great agent, and it is nice that now every time I visit Grandma, it's a tax write off.
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Vikas Gupta 16:02
How are you finding agents in all of those different markets?
Sarah Weaver 16:06
Facebook. I can tell you guys exactly what I did. I opened Facebook, I wrote in the search, little bar, real estate, and then the name of the city so you know, real estate, Omaha, Omaha real estate investing Omaha, buy, rent and sell, and then just like a ton of combinations, and then this is going to sound like really weird advice, but I think it's key. I joined all of these groups. And then I didn't, I wasn't obnoxious. And I do kind of mean that to be rude. Because a lot of people are like, help me I need an agent. Well, guess what agents are going to comment on that post. Agents that just hang out on Facebook. In my opinion agents that hang out on Facebook, they're not really working or finding new deals, so they're not the best agents. So instead of posting and being attacked by vultures, I recommend you be a lurker. I specifically use the word lurker and not creeper. And you just kind of lurk in those groups and you start to learn and you're like, okay, like Vikas, he buys a lot of real estate, and he hasn't said anything. Like, he's not an asshole. Then there's this person and this person, oh, they just complain all the time. So I'm never gonna talk to that person. And then wow, this person is always helpful. Like he anytime someone asked for a plumber, you know, Joe's always saying, Yeah, I got a plumber, I got a light. So then I start thinking, Okay, I'm going to strategically reach out to people that are doing stuff, like whoever's posting that they're buying a bunch of real estate. And then I'm also going to reach out to anyone that's like, adding value and being kind.
Brandon Hall 17:40
That's awesome, really interesting approach not only to picking a market, I don't think that-- I don't know that I've ever interviewed anybody on a podcast that was just looking at all markets and willing to, it sounds like, willing to move to wherever you ended up purchasing. Most of the time. It's like, we're buying in places that we have friends or family or we were raised, or we've lived. So that's really cool. And then also, the Facebook approach is also really cool. I mean, I think most most times that you hear about new investors using like BiggerPockets or something rather than Facebook to pick up agents. So very neat. And then I'll, if you don't mind, I'd love to switch back to the topic of the midterm rentals. So you you bought the four unit? Was that your first midterm rental that you tried?
Sarah Weaver 18:27
It was. So what happened was I moved into that unit, and I furnished it because you I lived there. And then I immediately put it on Airbnb. I was like, Oh, well, I can rent it on the weekend and then go stay at grandma's because again, you guys I'm very into delayed gratification. By no means is this good life advice. Okay, so this is what I was thinking. And my very first Airbnb guests asked to stay all summer. And a normal person would be like, No, I don't want to be homeless, where I was like, Oh, you're gonna pay me $1875? I was immediately turning around and looking at Airbnb in Mexico, where can I stay for less than 1500 and just live off of 1875 and more or less that was like the beginning of of it all.
Brandon Hall 19:14
Very cool. Because that's, I love that story. Because you got a taste for the mid term rentals almost accidentally. But that exposed that entire space to expose you to the potential that entire space because I think a lot of people when they buy their first like property that they're going to Airbnb or or they're thinking about so they Airbnb or or long term rental. The question is like, Okay, if I Airbnb, I'm taking this risk of furnishing the entire property and if it doesn't work, that's going to stink, but for you because you've furnished it, lived in it and then rented it on the weekends. It's very low risk, in my opinion, way to try it and then All of a sudden, wow, look at this opportunity of midterm rentals. Very cool.
Sarah Weaver 20:04
And what was really interesting is I don't want to I don't want to like dumb down my experience by any means, like I definitely knew about travel nurses and that phenomenon. And I definitely like intentionally bought this building. However, I wasn't anticipating how every single tenant from then on out was going to be a travel professional, like traveling medical professional. And so what's really interesting is in that very first month as a landlord of a four Plex, I had owned a duplex before owned a single family. But I had never owned a building like this. In that very first, like 60 days, my tenant below me, vanished in the middle of the night. Like, just pieced out and like, wrote an email and was like, I'm gone. And I immediately called the property manager because I was self I am still self managing, I was self managing. And I was like, What do I do? And they're kind of like, good luck, you're probably not gonna get anything from these people, you know, they're just gone. And instead of panicking, I like immediately got on Facebook marketplace and started buying furniture. Because I was like, Oh, this is sick, I'm gonna furnish that one too. And so I furnish that one, then the tenant and the other unit, oh he'll probably never hear this, he was so rude. He was such an a-hole, I was so excited for his lease to expire. So he got a nice notice of non renewal. And so then that unit became a furnished rental. And then I also bought the building next door. So I saw the guy next door, I'll try to make this story as short as possible. But more or less, he was mowing his own lawn, the landlord, and I knew that because I had been on his LinkedIn, I had knew how many properties the owned. Again guys that was lurking, not creeping, okay? And, and I walked across my driveway, introduce myself. And I really took that approach of like, "Hi, I'm just a girl, like, I'm just want to give you my info." And he was like, "What'd you buy yours for?" And I was like, "Well, I bought it for 320." And his eyes got as big as ping pong balls. And I was under contract within eight days.
Brandon Hall 22:07
Wow. Good for you. Okay, so you said that you, you were aware of the, like, potential midterm rental opportunity or short-term rental opportunity with traveling nurses? How did you? How do you become aware of the traveling nurse ecosystem? Like, what do you what do you research to understand if you're, if a property in whatever neighborhood or area could be good potential for something like that?
Sarah Weaver 22:32
Yeah, there's two different ways to approach that. So one is you go to furnishedfinder.com/stats to see what the demand is in your markets, really cool resource. And then the next thing you can do is you can actually pick up the phone and call HR departments. So human resources, or hiring recruiting departments of these hospitals. It's the same advice that I give you, for the Army Corps of Engineers, is get in with those people. And then you can be the number one resource for their housing when they bring in new travel professionals. And so you can call the hospitals and ask them like how much how much staff are you doing. And if you're having a hard time getting on the phone with them, no surprise there. They're in like the business of saving lives, not in the business of business. So another way to do that is to go on indeed.com. So just the job ad, like where you would look for a job and start looking for travel nurse positions. And so as if you were a travel nurse looking for a job, and then most of those are posted by recruiters. And then you can pick up the phone and talk to those recruiters. And same thing, I just tell them, "Hey, guys, I'm just a girl that has a bunch of units. And I'd love to house and be like your housing specialist for your travel nurses."
Brandon Hall 23:45
It's that simple. Just pick up the phone and call HR departments and people that are recruiting traveling nurses. I mean, I love that approach, especially the Indeed approach that's very smart,
Sarah Weaver 23:57
And it's not passive. So I think they're like, that's what needs to be really clear here. So if you guys are looking for real estate that's set it and forget it, buy long term buy and hold. It's why half my portfolio is don't long term, hire a property manager. And that's passive. What I do is not passive.
Vikas Gupta 24:15
But I think it's great advice. And I really appreciate, like the level of detail that you're taking us through and you know, the URLs and the approaches that if this doesn't work, do this. I mean, that's like that tactical advice, I think is so helpful for our listeners. One thing you just mentioned, you know, it's not passive. You said you self manage, you don't have a property manager, like Can you talk us through that decision making and why you self manage? And the second part of my question, not to load this up too much is I'm really interested in self managing with your travel lifestyle.
Sarah Weaver 24:52
Yeah, absolutely. It is not perfect. Let me start by saying that I actually am firing someone today. So don't post this interview right away, I should let her know before anyone else finds out. Um, so that is what's happened in the last year is I've finally brought people onto my team to be what I like to think of as like my bouncer between me and the tenants. So that I'm not -because I'm here, like, for an hour, I'm with you guys on this podcast. Or I'm coaching my own mentorship program, or I'm hiking Kilimanjaro and like with my clients, and so I just can't manage my properties in the same way that I used to. So I've hired someone onto the team. It's not working out. And I'm happy to like, tell you guys why, because it's not her fault. Hope she hears that and HR department hears that -- that it's not her fault. But it's, it is hard, it's really difficult to find someone that has the same flexibility that I used to, because a lot of people that aren't able to just work part time because it is just a part time job. But everything about the job you can do from anywhere. So if anyone would like to work for me, it's a really great job, you can work from anywhere, move to Bali, I'll tell you exactly what Villa to stay in as long as you answer your phone. And so so I have someone on my team. And that's how I self manage. But when it was just me, because at the beginning, I couldn't justify that expense, like you kind of have to get to, it depends on how much your properties are making. But you probably have to get to 12 units or more, until you're able to bring someone on your team, depending on of course how much you're making. But for me, that number was probably 17 units, I'd like needed 17 units to feel good about having someone on staff. So before that, when it was just me, you just have systems. So your tenants know that they need to do maintenance requests through Apartments.com. Or if they're Airbnb guests, then they're gonna message you through Airbnb, once you get more units, you probably want a PMS or property management software. I like hospitable. So that is where all of the so if someone comes from FurnishedFinder, they get to lease an apartment stock calm. If they come from Airbnb, then they're just an Airbnb, well, then I need those like calendars to all communicate. So they all communicate through a website called Hospitable. And all of that's an app on your phone. And then the most important part for any out of state investor, whether it be long term, short term or medium term is you have to have what I call the vendor list. So I have a list of not just one plumber, but five plumbers, not just one handyman, but well, two, I wish I had five. So if you're a handyman in Omaha, please call me. And you just have a list of all these people and you and now my staff knows that you pick up the phone, and you really just text them, so that it's even cooler. You don't need to be anywhere. You can just text the plumber, here's the issue. Here's the door code, here's the tenant number, communicate with them, communicate with me, tell me where to swipe my credit card and bada boom, bada bang.
Brandon Hall 27:56
Very cool. Well, good luck with that conversation. I know that those are never fun. You know what, though, if it ever doesn't suck, that's when you should look at yourself and ask who you become. That was advice given to me one time because I've run a business with a bunch of people. And I've had to go through that a few times. And somebody told me that, I thought was good. But let's get back to the property management piece. So how does mid term rental management differ from like short term rental management or long term rental management?
Sarah Weaver 28:32
Yeah, so the number one reason why I love my midterm rentals more than short term rental is because they take up less time, and what I call mind space. So there's probably a lot of listeners who have experience with short term rental. So you have someone check in, they figure out the door code, few they don't need you. But then they can't figure out the Keurig, it'slike 2023. I don't know how anyone can't figure out Keruig. But they can't figure it out. Or they can't adjust the thermometer or something is leaking. And that's a problem, right? So if something is leaking in your short term rental that needs to be addressed like immediately, because the person especially just one bedroom, one bath, like if the toilets not working, we have a major problem. And they're only going to be there for two nights. That's the quickest way to get a one star rating, right? So everything is is an emergency. And not to say that I'm not reading, especially plumbing issues like an emergency. But your travel nurse is going to do the same thing. You know, they might they might check in or your medium term tenant I should say my check in they might still have questions. They tend to be a little I don't know, they're pretty smart. They usually know how to use the TV and everything. And then it's radio silence for about 79 days. And it's amazing. And then about 79 days in, you're like Hey, want to renew. And then last year as I told you guys 47% said "yep!". I was like "great." Click the button. It's done. No problem. So there was less coordinating with the cleaners which granted, it is automated. I understand that short term rental people, like put down your pitchforks, I understand that it's automated, but it's still taking up mindspace. Like, how did the cleaning go? How did the check-in go? Did the review posts are these things, okay? And if you're if you're so far removed from your properties, I'm learning, that's when mistakes happen. And so I love the medium term rental, because I can plan accordingly. And I can go off grid now for three to five days. Because my units are good, everyone's fine. Everyone knows who to contact if something goes wrong. And there's likely less emergencies than a short term rental.
Brandon Hall 30:41
Great explanation. Thank you very much for sharing all of that. 2023. Obviously, the markets a little wack right now, what are you looking at in terms of scale or growth plans? And what does that look like over the coming years for you?
Sarah Weaver 30:56
Yeah, great question. I think it's, it's kind of like the magic question. So for me, I found something that worked. I buy boring buildings and boring markets, I turn one side of the duplex into a medium term rental, I turn one side of the unit into a long term rental, it's safe, and I can test the market for a year. If it's great, which I already told you the numbers on one of mine, poor Marcelo, he's probably going to get a notice of non renewal, because I'm probably going to turn that unit into a medium term rental. And so am I going out and buying a 50 unit and turning them on to medium term rental? No, I'm not. But I'm just slowly picking up properties that I want to have in my portfolio. I'm at a place now where I'm loving the act of business. It's so fun, like growing my coaching program, I also own a company called ARIA design services, and we furnish furnished rentals for our clients. And so we're furnishing Airbnbs all over the country. And so I'm focusing a lot on my active business, and then just picking up properties that make sense to stay in my portfolio.
Brandon Hall 31:58
If you're furnishing if you've spun up a business furnishing, short and mid term rentals for clients. What are some? So anybody that's listening to this? That's going man, I'm gonna check out mid term rentals, short term rentals? What are some furnishing tips that you could share with our audience?
Sarah Weaver 32:16
Yeah, the first and foremost is don't break the budget. Like, don't be like, Oh, my wife is really good at furnishing. Well, yeah, she's probably also really good at spending money. And that is, that's no dig on anyone, especially any wives. But that's just you have to have the mindset and the discipline as an investor. And so even though like that, let's call it I don't know, that coffee table is so cute. If it's $75 more than the other coffee table is that a good investment? As long as the other coffee table isn't like an Ikea POS, then yes, go with something that's cheaper. So you have to know where to spend your money. So that brings me to my next tip, buy great pieces of art. So whether you like this piece or not, I don't really care. But my guests tend to really like this and this like piece behind me. For those of you not watching video, I just pointed to a really unique canvas. That's Albert Einstein, it's black and white, but then has some pops of color. And so I buy like unique pieces of art. And then they're not that unique. Because you guys, I'm buying them at AtHome or Hobby Lobby. So they're not they're not anything fancy. They're just unique, right? And so know where to spend your money. Throw pillows are going to be what I call seasonal, meaning you're gonna get a few seasons of tenants, and then you're gonna throw them away. So don't break the bank on them. And still buy them. They make your unit look really nice. Coffee table books, coffee table books, coffee table books. You can buy them on eBay, you can buy them at half price bookstore. They make a huge difference. Anything that like can create texture and different levels. That makes a huge difference. Um, what else can I tell you blackout curtains in the bedroom are an absolute must. I buy mine at Target, because when the dog eats them, and my nurse goes in, she can just run over to Target and buy the exact same panel. Whereas unfortunately, if we buy them on Amazon, then we have to replace all of the curtains in the room because they don't match. Now I buy those from Target. Any other questions about furniture? I can talk about furniture all day.
Vikas Gupta 34:23
Are there any specific pieces of furniture where you know? Yes. Do you invest heavily like the bed or the mattress or the couch or, or any pieces where you see people think that they should invest heavily but they shouldn't?
Sarah Weaver 34:38
Yes, absolutely. I have found really good luck with a less expensive couch. Because unfortunately, if you allow pets The couch is going to be one of those throwaway things. So I have a great couch on Amazon. Well, it used to cost $429 But inflation is real and now it's about like $590. It's fantastic. And the vendors really great because I've had a pet ruin just a cushion, and I'm able to just buy a cushion and fix it. So I really like that couch. So definitely try to go-- not cheap-- but cheaper on a couch, whereas the beds cannot rave enough about the 12 inch Zinus. I don't know how you pronounce this z i N U S. Green tea mattress and do not get the tenant. It's not enough. It has to be the 12 inch. And people will be messaging you your guests will be messaging you asking you where you got this bed, it's amazing
Vikas Gupta 35:33
Queen or King size beds?
Sarah Weaver 35:34
If a King fits, go for it. If the King is going to take over the entire room, then go with the Queen.
Brandon Hall 35:43
Got it? Appreciate all those furnishing tips. What would you say one of your biggest mistakes or larger bigger mistakes has been related to your midterm rental journey? Like if you're looking back and telling Sarah who at the beginning of 2021 was acquiring these rentals. What would you tell her watch out for?
Sarah Weaver 36:06
Well, I think because I'm in the thick of it, it's like taking my eye off of the ball thinking that these people on my team had it handled. Because unfortunately, this is like this is the thing that we do as entrepreneurs, right? Like no one cares about your business as much as you do. And so just actually last night, in three hours, I filled two of my units, messaged two of my Airbnb guests asking them to extend and this morning, both of them accepted and I made $780 for like a week of extension. And so I'm like, oh, like why can't my employees do these things. And the reality is, A) I did not slow down enough to train them. My previous employee would tell you the same thing. I didn't spend any time with her, because I'm going from one meeting to the next or one trip or one conference to the next to the next. So definitely my mistake. And what I'm looking to do differently is to like really properly trained someone. I think I hired Well, I think they're both really talented people that that I no longer am going to employ. I just didn't train them properly. So that's on me. And then I think as far as buying, man, I think really humbly I've got really good properties. Well, any investor probably does this is you just underestimate like repairs. So when you buy a property, I don't underestimate any like rent ready repairs, I've gotten really good at analyzing deals. However, these old buildings, I mean, if you have a cast iron pipe, you're going to be replacing that bad boy at some point if you own property long enough. And so just knowing that, like that stuff is coming. And when it does chill out guys, like as long as you have money, or even just a functioning credit card. It's a business. So this that's a business expense. And so don't lose your shirt or like, don't ruin your personal life because you're freaking out because you know something's leaking. It's just part of the business. And that's taken me years to be able to confidently say that.
Vikas Gupta 38:09
Before we wrap this up, though, Sarah, I do have one more question about self managing. So you talked a lot about maintenance, which is super helpful. The other piece of self managing that we often at Azibo hear is difficult for out of state property owners is the move in move out. And the the walk through the inspection, and just that entire process. So how are you managing that?
Sarah Weaver 38:35
Yeah, for my long term units, I'm hiring someone. So usually, it's someone either on the team or somewhat adjacent to that investor friendly agent. They're kind of like the nucleus of my team, right? Like they introduced me to this guy, and then that guy introduced me. So I'm contacting my investor friendly agent asking them if they know anyone, usually there's like a junior agent or a buyer's agent who will, you know, become a, I call them a runner, and maybe for like, $50-75 bucks, they'll go do it for you. Or you can hire property managers. So I've done that too, where I've done enough place in my business, or even physically in the world, where I'm like, Oh, I don't want to deal with this turnover. So you can hire a property manager to just do placement and not manage the property and that I cannot recommend enough. And then for the midterm rentals, and in the furnished rentals, there is no turnover, like the turnover and the move in move out checklist is all handled by the cleaner. And so that's like why I like the MTR is for long distance investors, is there's essentially no showings.
Vikas Gupta 39:39
That's really helpful. And I think, you know, one common theme that we've heard from all all of our guests who, whether it's fix and flip long term, short term, wedding venues, property managers self managing, it's the importance of the team like that's definitely the common thread through everything. Get that team. Right. And the other piece of that the common thread we've heard is, you know, the starting point of your team is going to be that agent.
Sarah Weaver 40:07
Yeah, absolutely. And then it allowed me to buy properties -- so that everyone knows I had been to Omaha before. My aunt and uncle live about 45 minutes away. My grandparents live about 45 minutes away, but I had never been to this part of town. And then that on the MLS perfect BRRR that I bought was in a town I had never been to. And so definitely, if you guys are worried about estate investing, like I encourage you, you can do it.
Vikas Gupta 40:35
Got it. Great. Well, thank you so much. This has been an incredibly insightful, really in the weeds in a helpful way, interview. To wrap this up. We have three closing questions, if you don't mind. Question number one. What is your favorite book? And it doesn't have to be about real estate, although if it is about real estate even better. Yeah.
Sarah Weaver 40:56
All right. Well, then I'll give you two. I can't obviously not mention my own book. I wrote a book 30 Day Stay: Mastering The Medium Term Rental, published by BiggerPockets, co authored with Zeona McIntyre. If your listeners want 10% off the book, they can go to ilovemtr.com. So please check out my book. I am not that. I'm not a narcissist. So that's not my favorite book. My favorite book is, Oh, that's such a good question. Definitely The Four Hour Workweek. I use that as like a more or less a reference book. The best compliment I ever got was from someone who's like in his 60s, and he's like, You remind me of a guy and I was like, Oh, God, and he's like, Yeah, that guy Saris Tim Saris. And I was like, Yes, I was like, that's the best compliment.
Vikas Gupta 41:45
Oh, that's great. I think that book has also come up several times previously on this podcast, well, it will definitely put a link to your own book in the show notes of this episode. Second closing question, and you have to pick one, what do you think is more important: cash flow or appreciation?
Sarah Weaver 42:02
Cash Flow. I can I can you elaborate. But I think for me, it was, I wanted to quit my job. I wasn't one of those people that was like, I hate my job. I hate my life actually loved my job. And I loved my life. And I knew that I was meant to be an entrepreneur. Yet, I was scared of really stinking scared. So kudos to any entrepreneurs that like, take the leap before they're financially secure. I needed the cash flow from my rentals to pay my expenses so that I could jump into entrepreneurship.
Vikas Gupta 42:34
And final closing question, any last piece of advice that you want to leave our listeners with?
Sarah Weaver 42:39
No, that we're all scared. Like any entrepreneur that starts a new business, or anyone that buys real estate out of state, even if there's some big tough guy, he's scared, like, We're all scared. And we're doing it anyway. So I call it function in the fear. No, that fear in most places is like trying to keep you safe. So like that hair on the back of your neck sticking up. And then next thing you know, you're hit by a 2x4, that stuff happens, like that's biology keeping you safe. However, don't get that confused with just the fear of the unknown. We're so used to being able to Google everything and know what's next. With real estate investing. There's a lot of uncertainty. And you need to function in the fear.
Vikas Gupta 43:21
Yeah, I think that's great advice for any entrepreneur. As a startup founder and a person who spent a lot of time in early stage startups. That fear is definitely present all the time. What's the next shoe that's going to drop? Things are going well, well are they're actually going to go well again next month? That's always there. So I think that's a universal feeling that you just have to embrace. As an entrepreneur.
Sarah Weaver 43:43
If you didn't cry this month, you're not doing big enough stuff.
Vikas Gupta 43:47
You shouldn't make that a piece of art for your your next midterm rental Well, great, well, thank you so much. Before we go, where can our listeners find you?
Sarah Weaver 44:04
Absolutely. The best place is sarahdweaver.com. You can find information on ARIA design. My coaching program, of course, Invested Adventures, the epic adventures for real estate investors, which I think they can send his wife we're gonna get wrangled into coming to Kilimanjaro in a few months, put your hiking boots on, and then Instagram. If you guys have any questions about anything that I shared today, my Instagram is also @sarahdweaver.
Vikas Gupta 44:29
Well, thank you so much. I think this was a fantastic interview really insightful, and we appreciate your time. Yep.
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