Avery Carl CEO & CO-Founder of The Short Term Shop and The STS University sat down for an interview with us at HostGPO to give our members a look into how her career in marketing transformed into a career in the short term rental industry and what she thinks is the biggest mistake short term rental hosts can make. Once you know more about Avery, you will see how she has become a key leader in the STR industry!
Can you give our Members a quick background on The Short Term Shop and The STS University? Who are the ideal folks to sign up for the STS Shop and who are ideal candidates to attend the University?
The Short Term Shop is a real estate agency (brokered by EXP). We work exclusively with short term rental investors to help them buy and sell in some of the most lucrative vacation rental markets in the country. We operate in the Great Smoky Mountains area of TN (Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Wears Valley), The Emerald Coast of FL (Destin, Panama City Beach, 30a), the Forgotten Coast area of FL (Mexico Beach, Port St Joe, Cape San Blas, St George Island, Carrabelle), Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Dauphin Island, AL, and Blue Ridge GA and the surrounding north Georgia mountain areas. Our ideal client is anyone who is looking to add an extra income stream to their family through real estate investing, or current investors who are interested in expanding their portfolios. The STS University is our back end training program where we teach our clients how to run their short term rentals remotely, from anywhere. Having to hire a property manager can really eat into your cash flow, so we teach our clients how to do it themselves, from their smart phones, from anywhere in the world. The STS University is only available to our clients who purchase a property with us.
You started out working in the music industry for a while and then moved onto account managing and marketing for corporations. What inspired you to leave marketing and move onto the world of real estate investing? Do you find those experiences useful to your work now?
Every job that I had prior to real estate investing has contributed to my success in short term rentals, from bartending and waiting tables, to digital marketing and tech sales. I learned certain lessons from each industry that I have brought with me into real estate. The reason I left my marketing job is the same reason most real estate investors leave their corporate jobs: entrepreneurs don’t make good employees. My real estate investing was initially just a retirement plan, but the deeper I got into it, the more entrenched I became in building my own business, and now, 4 years later, the Short Term Shop has sold just under half a billion dollars in cash flowing short term rental properties.
When investing in a rental property, what sort of returns do you think a successful STR should make assuming someone wants a mostly hands-off and passive experience and will hire a management company for the day to day?
With a management company, 10% cash on cash return is a good number. Without a manager, 15% cash on cash return is the benchmark, but we see clients routinely hit 20%, and even well above 40%. You just have to buy right and buy in the right market.
You are still powering through even in the midst of the pandemic. Has it affected business positively or negatively?
The pandemic actually caused a boom in the vacation rental world. Our markets are all regional, drivable, tourism and vacation-dependent markets. By the end of the shut downs, people were dying to get out of their houses, but they were not comfortable visiting big metro areas or being confined with strangers on a plane. What they were comfortable with was going on vacation but staying in control of their environment. This meant going on 5-8 hour drive trips and staying in single family properties rather than hotels. All of our rentals saw higher prices per night than we have ever seen throughout 2020.
Can you send us a link to your favorite listing? What do you love about it?
This one was my first beach property. It was a MESS. It had been foreclosed on twice and was somehow sitting on the MLS for a year. A whole year! The outside was very cute but the inside needed a complete remodel job. It was only cosmetic work, and we spent about $50k fixing it up. It’s now worth double what we paid for it (which crossed heartily over the 7 figure mark), and it grosses about $120k a year.
What is the biggest mistake you see people making with their vacation rental listings, especially in the areas you operate in the most, the Smokey Mountains, Alabama and Florida?
Not getting professional photos done. It is such a small expense for such a huge return. Photos are the bread and butter of any listing. The better the photos are, the more clicks the listing will get, the more clicks the listing gets, the more bookings it will get, and the more money you will make.
What’s the craziest hosting story that’s ever happened to you (good or bad)?
I once had a guest leave us a terrible review because he felt like the layout of the home was not ideal for surviving if a bear decided to bust through the window. Other than that irrational fear, he did have a lovely stay.
Anything exciting coming up for STS or STS University to keep an eye out for?
I have a book coming out on Bigger Pockets Publishing later this year called “Short Term Rental, Long Term Wealth,” on how to invest in and manage short term rentals.
Congratulations on being recognized as a Top 100 Agent by the Wall Street Journal. From where you started and where you are today, what is the biggest lesson you have taken away from your entire career that you wish to share with others?
Thank you! The best advice I can give is to remind everyone to always add as much value to your clients and their transactions as you can. The more value you bring them, the more successful they are. The more successful your clients are, the more successful you will be.