Interior designer Lauren Williams and her boyfriend Cameron Hughes bought a rundown cabin in the mountains near Banner Elk for $75,000 in March 2019. They’ve since completely transformed the place, and now you can rent it for $200-plus a night on Airbnb.
The Charlotte couple worked on the cabin every weekend for 11 months, pouring $35,000 into renovations, before opening for reservations this February. By March, most weekends for 2020 filled up.
About the house: The 600-square-foot home was originally built in the 1960s as a summer cabin, but it was updated to be used year-round before Williams and Hughes purchased it.
Even so, it was in rough shape — so bad one contractor told them to tear it down. The couple ended up purchasing it for $12,000 under asking price.
Renovation work: With Williams’s interior design expertise and Hughes’s dad’s help (he’s an electrician), they gutted the house and expanded the back deck to create a large outdoor living area. The house has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and it sleeps two to four people.
Cost breakdown: The couple spent $110,000 on the property, including renovations. If they charged $200 per night and were booked solid for 365 days, that’s $73,000 in just one year before taking into consideration costs like maintenance, cleaning service, mortgage, etc. Bottom line: The property has huge earning potential over the years.
Here’s what it looked like before:
And here’s what it looks like now:
Williams says the outdoor area is her favorite spot in the house. It has a hot tub, fire pit, lounge chairs, and outdoor living and dining spaces — all with views of Grandfather Mountain.
Inside, there’s a new gas fireplace, and totally renovated bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen.
Location: The house is about 2.5 hours from Charlotte in a community called Seven Devils, a remote area just outside of Banner Elk. It’s a 15-minute drive to Boone, 20 minutes to Blowing Rock, and close to both Sugar and Beech Mountains. If you’re there in winter, ski slopes and tubing parks are close by, and there are tons of trails to access during warmer months.
[Agenda related guides: The 16 best hikes around Charlotte, 20 things to see, do and eat in Blowing Rock, 2 hours from Charlotte]
Book it: Rates start at $200, and Williams and Hughes charge $40 extra if you want to bring your dog. Look for more dates in 2020 and early 2021 to open soon.
Looking into buying your own short-term rental? Here are 3 things to know.
(1) Look outside of your desired area. Williams and Hughes first searched in Blowing Rock and Boone, but Seven Devils was close to mountain attractions with more options under their $100,000 budget.
(2) Consider who will manage and maintain your property. If you don’t live within a short driving distance of where you’ll handle turnovers, you’ll need to hire a maintenance person and/or cleaner. “Look into this before you buy,” Williams says. “Someone has to be your set of eyes when you aren’t there in between guests.”
(3) Look past dated fixtures, kitchens, etc. and DIY what you can. Williams says doing a bulk of the work on their own is what made buying an investment property possible. It took some creativity to look past the initial state of the house when they bought it, but the investment has already been worth it.
OK, here’s a look around.
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