Launch Your House Hack: Tips for Preparing Your Property Before it Goes Live
Denver House Hack - What to know before launching your property.
Ready, Set, Launch: Tips for Preparing Your Property Before it Goes Live
Want to house hack? Start here! Ben Einspahr, short-term/medium-term rental expert at Envision Advisors, sat down with Rifaah Alkhamis and Kevin Czura to discuss their recent adventures in house hacking.

Ben Einspahr, short-term/medium-term rental expert at Envision Advisors, sat down with Rifaah Alkhamis and Kevin Czura to discuss their recent adventures in house hacking. From the logistics of starting out, to finding and closing on a third deal, these two give us some great insights into how to handle house hacking. 

Three Learning Options!
  1. Listen to the podcast “#435: Launch Your House Hack: Tips for Preparing Your Property Before it Goes Live” Denver Real Estate Investing Podcast
  2. Watch the YouTube video.
  3. Read the blog post. Note, the blog is an executive summary. Get the in-depth breakdown from the podcast or video.

Rifaah Alkhamis

Rifaah Alkhamis is one of our OG house hackers. During his last lease he signed as a renter in 2017, he got to know his landlord and became what she called: “her responsible tenant”. Over time, she became Rifaah’s real estate mentor and introduced him to Charles Roberts and his team. He attended every Real Estate related free class he could go to, then he bought his first house hack. Rifaah recently closed on his third property and just put his listing on and went live, so it is cool to see how it’s working out.

Kevin Czura

Kevin Czura just purchased and furnished his first house hack: a 2-year old, 3-story townhome divided into two units right across Federal from Mile High Stadium. His first Airbnb bookings were recently made, so we have a front-row seat to see how this property is doing. 

Be Ready When You Go Live

Kevin’s first booking is 2/18 and then he is booked all the way out to July already. When you have a property you are getting ready to go live, be sure you are ready. You might be booking the very next day. And, as a reminder, you do not want to cancel a guest because Airbnb will charge you and you can lose your superhost status for over a year. Airbnb does not want you canceling reservations. It affects your reviews and will take you down your overall score, which can affect your amount of bookings, how much they’re willing to pay, etc.

Starting Out: Furnishing Your House Hack

One thing I remember when I had my very first house hack was furnishings. My wife and I spent all day picking up used items in a truck and delivering them to our house hack property. I prioritized savings over time.

Kevin prioritized speed first. He was advised to spend a little extra money on the front end. Kevin’s family has run an interior design business in Minneapolis for a while and they advised to spend more money on couch/sectional because it will last longer. And buying new and getting delivery will get you the furniture faster than picking up used items, etc. This was massive. 

All the big things that Kevin had lined up ready to go, including bed frames. He timed all that stuff to come in one day so the delivery guys could carry things up stairs, which is especially important with a three-level townhome. In fact, American Furniture Warehouse has a service where they will send someone out to fix your walls if they get dinged up. So, after all Kevin’s furniture pieces were delivered, he was able to file a claim with American Furniture Warehouse. He sent a few pictures of the walls, then they came out and fixed all the damage.

Tips for House Hack Decor

It’s important to put together your color scheme and decor in advance, then know to what level you are decorating. If you are going for a higher-end look because you are charging more to rent your space, don’t skimp on decor. Kevin says, you actually don’t have to spend more money to make your place look classy–just be sure to search around and don’t cut corners. Finally, clean and sparse is better than buying too much stuff. Keep that in mind. 

House Hack Pricing in 2023

Let’s look at pricing and what the outlook is for your properties. Kevin’s first bookings were $220 a night. His unit is an upper-end 2 bed/3 bath property, within a 3-minute walk of Mile High Stadium. Kevin was getting bookings further out, but wasn’t getting anything for February, so he turned on the smart pricing through Airbnb and got a booking right away. It wasn’t even that much of a discount, but it worked.

After doing smart pricing through Airbnb for my house hack property, I realized it was way too low, so it wasn’t working for us. It serves Airbnb, but not necessarily the property owner. But, if you’re looking to maximize bookings and get your rating up, then it works. 

Kevin’s motive was to fill February, so Airbnb smart pricing worked to fill that out, but after that, Kevin said he would check out PriceLabs dynamic pricing, which is what I recommend instead of Airbnb’s smart pricing.

House Hacking Goals

Kevin’s house hacking goal is simple–he’s currently at House Hack #1, and the goal is to get to House Hack #2.

Rifaah is in process of closing on House Hack #3. This property was not expected. It’s actually his neighbor’s house in the Berkley area of Denver. His neighbor’s house was on the market, then he took it off. So Rifaah called his neighbor to see why it was pulled and he said to make him an offer. He went under contract last week.

Filling Your House Hack

When I was trying to move from one house hack to another, it was a lot to juggle. You are managing your closing date with finding renters–moving in and moving out–it can be a lot.

Rifaah has listed his current home for rent for $3300/month. There are 7 showings already. Everyone has their own 30 minute time slot. Google calendar scheduling is a new add-on service that can replace Calendly that Rifaah uses to schedule showings. Rifaah will need to rent their current home right away then move into the new property and fix it up while they live there. Rifaah is moving every 2 years or so and goes through the purging process to make each move a little bit easier.

Back in 2016 when I was filling my first house, and I was doing the blocking, I saw there was a 1 out of 5 showing rate. So I would schedule a few people on the same day. It saved my time and if 2 people were there at the same time, it created some competition and drove people to get a lease signed. 

Kevin is using the shotgun showing approach too. He has found that an unintended consequence of that is that people will try to see the place sooner and offer more for it. They will try to beat the crowd if they know it is an open house style.

Thanks to Kevin and Rifaah for sharing their current strategies, breaking down their deals, and showing us what’s working and what’s not.

Don’t Forget: House Hacking Webinar Series Starts 2/15

Are you ready to get started house hacking? Check out our 6-week house hacking webinar that begins February 15th. Register here for the 2023 Guide to House Hacking in Colorado: Advanced Strategies for Maximizing Returns in Today’s Market. 

Connect with Kevin and Rifaah

You can connect with Rifaah by emailing him at [email protected] and Kevin by emailing him at [email protected]. You can also follow Rifaah on Instagram.

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Authors
Ben Einspahr
Ben Einspahr is the House Hacking & AirBnB Specialist at Envision Advisors. He helps clients implement strategies that generate above average income from their properties in Denver, where cashflow is getting harder and harder to find. He’s an investor himself, and for the past several years he’s been building his portfolio both in and out of state. He has 3 properties which he’s used to replace his w-2 income. It just goes to show how the number of doors matters so much less than the cashflow that each one produces!
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