October 2021: I return back to India after finishing my undergraduate course from the University of California, Santa Barbara. I do not have a job at this moment. No idea what the future holds for me.
November 2021: I luckily get a job at a venture capital startup in India through my connections but unfortunately it does not last long. The founder of the company decides not to undertake the venture and instead goes on a backpacking trip to Europe. Leaving me without a job once again, uncertain about the next steps in my career.
December 2021: I am traveling with my parents and get a chance to visit some of our real estate properties in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. One of them is a 3BHK Apartment near the railway station and the other one is a 4BHK villa near the airport. Something strikes inside me after seeing those properties in an unmaintained state. I feel a strong urge to do something about the current state of the properties and that’s how my short-term rental business journey starts. I finally give in to my mom’s Airbnb idea (she had been telling us to list it on Airbnb since 2008) and it turns out to be one of the best decisions for my career.
Now before I start, let me show you the before and after pictures of the 4BHK Villa in Raipur.
The initial condition is shocking right? However, it is not uncommon in India. Millions of real estate properties are left in this condition across our country. People buy them as an investment and do not bother to undertake the regular maintenance required. This leads to the degradation of the property and the resources are underused by the society. In my eyes, having an idle property in the 21st century should be a crime. Nobody should be allowed to buy a property if they do not intend to use it for personal or commercial purposes. In today’s digital era there are so many amazing rental options available that are beneficial to both homeowners and travelers. In this blog article, I will be sharing one such option.
Within a month of the initial visit, my mother and I got the 3BHK flat painted, repaired, and furnished. After setting up the place, I did a photoshoot of the property using my iPhone. Yes, you heard that right I did not hire a professional photographer, no fancy camera just made use of what I have. I took a leap of faith and listed the property on Airbnb.
Within a week, I had started getting booking requests for my property. It was nothing short of a miracle. I had no expectations when I listed the place on Airbnb, I just did it because it felt like the right thing to do at the moment.
Surprisingly, all kinds of travelers were interested in the place ranging from students to families, couples, working professionals, the list is endless. My first booking comprised of a group of students from Bangalore who were coming to Raipur for UPSC examinations. The property turned out so lucky that two of them got selected as sub inspectors. To this day they message me and keep in touch with their host who supported them in a new city.
Hosting on Airbnb is an amazing job for someone who likes meeting new people and helping them navigate a new environment. By listing your property on this site, you are constantly exposed to different kinds of people who treat you with the utmost request. Through this, you get a chance to expand your network, make lifelong connections as well as help the society.
Let me tell you about one of my other guests who stayed at the property for around 45 days. The couple was from Saudi Arabia and they were visiting Raipur to adopt a child. Sounds crazy right? Endless amounts of market research before starting the business would also be unable to reveal this category of travelers. There are some things you learn only when you step out in the world and dip your toes deeply into it. To anyone who has an idle property and is contemplating its location, amenities etc. I strongly suggest you to list the property on Airbnb and see the response. Take the leap, you will thank yourself later.
Now I’m sure you are wondering that all this sounds great, but am I actually going to make money. Is it profitable? And the answer to that is yes! By renting a property you can easily make an additional monthly income. Let me share the combined statistics for the last 6 months of all my properties.
Do note, this is excluding the bookings I took through offline channels including my company N Estate which I will talk about soon.
After I started getting bookings for my first property, I decided to do the same for our 4BHK Villa in Raipur. Within 2 weeks, the place was ready and the listing was running on Airbnb. And just like before, the bookings started pouring in.
Having replicated the same thing and getting results proved that I knew what I was doing. This wasn’t a fluke, I realized that I could actually turn this into a business. And I did exactly that.
I started listing the properties on other travel sites like booking.com, make my trip, goibibo etc. and messages starting pouring in. I was getting more bookings and my customer base was expanding rapidly. However, all the travelers all had 1 common concern. The exorbitant services fees and taxes collected by these travel portals. In order to address this issue, I decided to form my own company called N Estate through which people could book my properties directly. I started getting bookings through my new company and people were happier with the lesser prices. And that’s the story of how N Estate was born.
Furthermore, I decide to scale up my business by expanding my property portfolio. The next step in my journey was acquiring a luxury villa in Goa. I knew if I wanted to build a brand I needed to have properties in multiple locations. It was a little challenging entering the Goa hospitality market as I did not have any connections in the state. It was a completely new location for me and I would be competing with some of India’s top home rental companies like Vista Rooms, Lohona Stays etc. However, despite the initial complications I was able to get a property and list it on Airbnb.
When bookings started pouring in for this property, I was on cloud 9. It was a huge achievement to tackle a brand new location. The extremely high rentals in Goa increased my earnings significantly.
July 2022: I now earn a six-figure income through my business every month. And the best part about all this is that I can work from anywhere. I do not need to be stuck at a particular location as all the work can be done online. I have the best job in the world as there is nothing better than being self-employed. I own my time, my money, my life.
August 2022: Several people with idle properties have reached out to me and they want me to run their places on a revenue-sharing model. I plan to add 4 more properties to my portfolio while growing N Estate’s social media presence. Do check out my company’s Instagram handle (n_estate_official) to learn more about us.
September 2022: I intend to build the N Estate brand by having a property in every famous tourist location in India including but not limited to Varanasi, Indore, Amritsar, Dehradun, Munnar, Udaipur, Ladakh, Bodhgaya, and Manali.
Stay tuned to find out more details about my business journey. Please let me know in the comments sections if you would like to know more about becoming an Airbnb host.
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