On today’s episode,
Bernadette has a special guest, student Lucy Scott and she will share with us her successful journey through Airbnb and how it helped her have a sustainable income through her family home.
Listen to Episode 43 Airbnb Queen: Lucy Scott
- Lucy Scott, her life and business
- Renovating her family home into a dream home
- A good lesson in renovating, being strategic and having expert support
- Putting up her family home to Airbnb
- Airbnb as a rewarding and enriching experience for her whole family
- Working on lowering her LVR through Airbnb
- Lucy’s market through long term stays in Airbnb
- Lucy’s biggest challenges through Airbnb
- Being mindful of the importance of insurance for your Airbnb
- Lucy’s 3 major tips as an Airbnb Superhost
01:48 – Choosing a career
03:58 – Utilising space to generate income
05:22 – Let’s get cracking!
07:40 – Making new friends
10:13 – Fastest way to get your LVR down is through Airbnb
11:52 – Rented properties
13:20 – Our market in Airbnb
14:06 – The biggest challenge
15:55 – Be mindful of your insurance component
17:30 – People with no reviews
18:06 – Three biggest tips
19:26 – Establishing an area in the house to put in Airbnb
19:59 – An independent listing
“We’re not comfortable borrowing more money from the bank. So our goal is to get to a 50% LVR (Loan to Valuation Ratio) once we get to a 50% LVR we can then continue the renovation process and the fastest way to get to a 50% LVR is Airbnb. “
Today I’ve got Lucy Scott with me. Lucy has taken working from home to a whole new level. I’m being a little bit ambiguous there but she not only runs the business out of home but she also has successfully started an Airbnb business or short term rental business. She epitomises the idea of actually maximising the use of the family home. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today how she’s been able to do that. She’ll share some of the challenges and also the rewards not all of them are financial. Which is a great thing. And I think Lucy would agree that it’s a very enriching experience and so welcome Lucy!
Lucy: Hi Bernadette. Thanks so much for having me. I’m very honoured to be here on your podcast. I’ve been a long term listener.
Bernadette: Well, that’s great. Yes. The podcast has been quite an interesting experience for me. One of my mentors has been I guess talking to me about it for 2 years and it’s taken me this long to get going and now I’m absolutely loving it. And while I haven’t heard of any listeners not loving it.
Lucy: Another platform for you to share your wisdom.
Bernadette: That’s right. Thank you. Now before we get started Lucy, would you like to share. Just a bit about yourself and where you are in life. In family, in business?
Lucy: Absolutely. I am a mom of 3 young kids so I’ve got a 9-year-old, 7-year-old and a 4-year-old trying to manage the family home at the same time. When I was growing up I had a mother who worked full-time and didn’t have much extra time for us to play with. No nothing against full-time mothers. You’ve got to do what you gotta do. But for me, I knew that that wasn’t what I wanted as a mother. I wanted to be able to pick the kids up from school and take them to their activities and that sort of lifestyle.
When I was choosing a career, I chose one that would balance that for me which meant that I wanted to work from home so as a remedial therapist I work from home and the kids are at school. And also when my husband gets home from work that’s basically what I do. But outside of that I am also a self-proclaimed entrepreneur.
Bernadette: I think you’ve earned your stripes, actually.
Lucy: I love to build businesses and I get very excited when that business starts to do well. When I met you, you introduced me to a whole new platform. It’s been wonderful.
Bernadette: Great. Let’s talk a little bit about that. You came to us thinking with renovating in mind.
Lucy: Yes. Because when you were looking to upgrade our house when our 3rd daughter was born. How smart it was, insane like we couldn’t afford what we wanted. So we decided because we were bidding against all these international investors we just couldn’t compete. We decided we were going to get another rundown place with something that had the potential to be really beautiful.
And so instead we bought a rundown place with the idea in mind that we were going to renovate it to be our dream home. When that happened I like to be educated before I take on projects. So I was looking for somewhere I can get some support and a community that will help me do that because it makes such a difference if you can ask questions along the way and hear from people who have done the same thing. With that in mind. Yes. That’s how I came across your course and found you.
Lucy: Very funny because when I went to your course I was so excited I had my plans with me and I knocked into your door and I showed you my plans and I was really enthusiastic and you just said, “No”. Which threw a spanner in the works for me. And when you looked at my plans you said, “No, you’re over capitalising” And then you said, “Just fill in this wall, build this out here. And even next to your bedroom and everything that you need…” Of course, why did I not think of that? That’s brilliant. So any way you did that and now we’ve got an extra bedroom and a bigger laundry which is great.
Lucy: But I like to think of myself as a bit of a minimalist. I then had all this spare space on the side of the house and I hate wasting things as well. With that space, I thought, “Well how can I then utilise this space to generate income for me? Because I don’t like wasting this space” Which kind of contradicts minimalism a bit. But at least it’s not wasted. We found a use for it anyway.
Bernadette: It’s important to note that you did still get your dream home.
Lucy: Still in the works 4 years in. We’re closer to it now very, very close.
Bernadette: Awesome. But with a much smaller price tag.
Lucy: A much smaller price tag, absolutely. It saved us about $80K.
Bernadette: That’s awesome. So that no was a very valuable no.
Lucy: That was a very valuable no. And a good lesson in renovating.
Bernadette: That’s the thing because often if you’re not strategic around what you’re doing either with your family home, what you could’ve ended up with was a big mortgage and not in a position to be able to move anywhere.
Lucy: And as the housing market dropped, too. We would have over capitalised completely. I’m so glad that we didn’t do that.
Bernadette: Yeah. Oh, that’s awesome. Next step, Airbnb. What attracted you to Airbnb?
Lucy: To be honest I was very hesitant to do it. You encouraged me to do it. I think there was something on your Facebook page that said, “Right, let’s get cracking!” I think that’s what prompted me to do it. I finally built this new room or filled in this wall so I could create an extra bedroom for my kids. But I was still hesitant to do it because of stranger danger. In my house with 3 young kids, that was holding me back a bit.
But when I spoke to my husband about it we decided that the way to combat that because a spare room is next to 2 of our girls’ bedrooms that they share. And you can’t on Airbnb choose between a male and female guest. So when we had a male guest, we just moved the kids into the front lounge room. And they loved it! Because it was like a slumber party and they had a TV in there and it was so exciting.
Bernadette: Awesome. And so how’s that been going?
Lucy: It has been wonderful. We’ve had some amazing people come through and created some really strong friendships from all around the world. And another huge benefit for us is having the kids exposed to people from all around the world. They love learning about new cultures and new people and the experiences that they have in different places. And that’s been really rewarding and enriching and they really thrive with that. Even my eldest daughter I said to her if she wants to move into that room that we have for the guests she can but it means that we can’t have homestays anymore. And I said that’s your choice. And she made the choice to stay in the smaller room.
Bernadette: Wow! She’s that keen about meeting different people here. Do you have a choice of how much you can mingle with your guests?
Lucy: It is more difficult when you have a private room. It’s basically up to them if they want to mingle. They come into the common area. If they don’t want to mingle they stay in their room. It is difficult because if they want to be in the common area I’m not moving. We certainly give them their privacy if they’re in there.
Bernadette: OK. It wouldn’t be for everyone but for you, it’s been an awesome experience.
Lucy: It has been an awesome experience my husband and I are very social. We just consider it like having a slumber party and making new friends. Well, we’ve only had I’d say one not so great experience but everybody else has been wonderful.
Bernadette: OK, that’s great. And you’ve actually met some of your guests overseas.
Lucy: Yeah, we have. That’s also one of the major benefits of that. She wasn’t actually an Airbnb guest. She was somebody stayed with us before we started Airbnb. We just fell in love with her. That was the second time we’ve been over to visit her in Mexico.
Bernadette: Wow. I know with our oldest daughter, Hannah. She doesn’t now because they’re further out. That when they live in Melbourne they had this spare room in Airbnb and made a lot of European friends. And so they had one particular guest who lived in Paris and they were about to go to France for a wedding and he said to them, “If you like, you can stay at my place in Paris for the same price as I paid at your place” which was out of this world because his apartment, they had a whole apartment was in the same block as the Eiffel Tower. And in actual fact, his brother David also stayed there and it became a bit of an extension of the family.
Lucy: It’s wonderful. Like we’ve even got this one guy who stayed with us who is now moved to Melbourne. Because our market is the people who are relocating to Melbourne. He and my husband got along famously and they go out regularly rock climbing because that’s both an interest for them. And I’m like, “Well, if you don’t know anyone in Melbourne yet come over for Christmas and you can have Christmas with us”. And it’s wonderful because now we’ve got an open house for anybody who wants to come and socialise. And we love it because it adds so much colour and flavour to all of our experiences.
Bernadette: That’s awesome. What’s the next step?
Lucy: We’ve just finished building an extension as I mentioned earlier. Which is in place of what we originally had planned and what I present to you. Basically, it’s like a studio apartment. And it’s on the side of the house. But what we wanted was something that we could build that we could potentially use in the future. So it’s attached to the house. But we’ve put a lock on the internal door so people can’t get into our house unless they want to use laundry or whatever. But it’s got an external entrance so it’s completely private.
Lucy: What’s fantastic about it also, is if our parents need somewhere to stay. But a bit of independent living at the same time. But in the meantime, we’re using it to generate income because when speaking to you at the course your advice to us was to get the mortgage down as fast as possible so that we can increase this renovation journey. We’re not comfortable borrowing more money from the bank. So our goal is to get to a 50% LVR (Loan to Valuation Ratio) once we get to a 50% LVR we can then continue the renovation process and the fastest way to get to a 50% LVR is Airbnb.
Bernadette: Awesome. And so have you got the second property actually listed on Airbnb?
Lucy: Yeah, I had the professional photos taken last week. I haven’t got them back yet but I’ve already got 4 months of bookings.
Bernadette: Wow! That’s awesome. And so do you mind if I mentioned what suburb you’re in?
Lucy: No, go for it.
Bernadette: Lucy’s in Blackburn in Melbourne. She has got a very sweet little. Well, it’s not so little anymore. Weatherboard would it be Victorian?
Lucy: Yeah possibly yeah. From the 1950’s.
Bernadette: Very gorgeous. Your plan is to work on your LVR. Get that down and then I think that’s really smart.
Lucy: That’s the plan. Get that down and then I really would love an eco-sustainable house at the Mornington Peninsula. After we get to that point that’s the next step.
Bernadette: Beautiful. Have you thought about using any rented properties to increase your return?
Lucy: I was talking to Mary. She highly recommended doing rented properties as well but I have thought about it. But what I think what’s holding me back is approaching the landlords and getting through that process.
Bernadette: Lucy, you’re up for it!
Lucy: It’s something that I can probably get my head around. Not right now, but maybe a year or so.
Bernadette: Yeah just to fill everyone in. We had a get together of some of the Melbourne students last Friday night and Lucy was there and prior to that, we went to look at a listing that one of our students, who’s also been on this podcast is Susie Guest has a fabulous Airbnb in the Docklands and went and had a look at that.
And it’s really interesting because from what I can say in Melbourne does much better than inner city Sydney. Just seeing what she’s able to do with it. It’s a reasonably modest 3 bedroom apartment but I think she said she’s clearing $4k a week after the payments which I think is. Oh, sorry not $4K a week $4K a month, an apartment in a building like that you should be able to do at least a couple of thousand a month if you’re renting. It’s a great strategy and of course the different market. It’s interesting that you’ve identified your market as people who are relocating.
Lucy: Yeah, absolutely. Our market in the internal room is people who are relocating or her for business. The extension, the new room the market is people who are in-between homes.
Bernadette: Okay. That’s interesting.
Lucy: That’s what we found so we’re really encouraging those long term stays. It’s less work for me and it’s so much easier.
Bernadette: Are you doing the cleaning?
Lucy: Yes. For me, it’s so easy because I’m not sure how it will go with the extension but if people are staying for 3 months. You don’t need to outsource that so much because a couple of hours of cleaning every 3 months I can do it.
Bernadette: And so what would you say have been your biggest challenges?
Lucy: The biggest challenge has been I would say relocating the kids. That for me has been the biggest challenge. The other one is keeping the volume down, those are such minute challenges. Aside from that, there haven’t been any challenges. It’s more at the security of the kids, we’ve never had a problem it’s more just trying not to be naive about it.
The other thing is we’ve had to investigate ways that we can get a more secure lock system because at the moment we’ve got normal keys and they can easily be copied. That’s it, just changing our locks to make sure that people can’t duplicate the keys. Other than that, that’s it.
Lucy: It’s been really wonderful. We’ve got one guest who stays every 6 weeks for a week. We have formed a relationship with her. She’s a Russian living in New Zealand and comes to visit her grandmother every 6 weeks.
We’ve made a really strong connection with her as well. I have nothing bad to say.
Bernadette: That’s awesome. Okay. I just want to recap and you also run your business out of your home as well?
Lucy: Yeah. I’m liking the way that my house, the floor plan is at the front of the house, it’s kind of the parents’ retreat. In that area, I’ve got parents living room, bathroom, parents room but also a room next to it that I work from. It divides the house into sections for me so it makes it so much easier.
Bernadette: Yeah. And of course, you would be aware that when you’re using a home for Airbnb and business that it does have some implications on the capital gains tax exemption. That’s something that people need to know. But often with your family home, you’re probably not going to sell it. Not after you’ve put all this much work into that’s probably a lot but it’s always something to be mindful of.
Lucy: And another thing that’s really important to mention to be mindful of is the insurance component. So that’s one thing that I learned about during this process as I called up my insurance company to say, “Look we are now renting out our room in a house and generating income from that I need to upgrade my insurance” I was really shocked because they said to me, “Oh no, we don’t do that. We don’t cover that” It made me realise that if something had happened in the house without them knowing about it, I wouldn’t have had any cover. So I went for several months without insurance. And that is something that’s really important for people to know is that you need to notify your insurance company that you’re doing it because I don’t feel that Airbnb insurance is sufficient. You need more to protect yourself.
Bernadette: Yeah, exactly. And you need to work with a good broker who understands your situation. Because a lot of people think that landlord insurance will cover their Airbnb as well as people with investment properties and that’s not the case.
Lucy: That’s right. You’ve got to really look into it. Speak to a property tax accountant and get that stuff sorted, your insurance sorted and then work out how you want to run your Airbnb business. We had only one bad experience with Airbnb and we learned from that. And so now we regulate our bookings so we don’t take people last minute. We don’t take people with no reviews.
Bernadette: That’s a really good thing to have in place.
Lucy: Since implementing that I mean that was at the very start that this happened but since implementing that we haven’t had any bad experiences.
Bernadette: That’s awesome. I must admit that the only bad, really bad experience I’ve ever had was a last-minute booking. It actually wasn’t through Airbnb and it was through Booking.com. We do the same.
Before we wind up. Would you like to share, maybe 3 tips for anyone thinking about using their family home to build income through Airbnb?
Lucy: Three tips, I guess it all depends on circumstances but the most important one is to just do it. Just do it. Give it a go. Your house doesn’t have to be a palace. It doesn’t matter. Also, keep an open mind about it because you might make new friendships that you wouldn’t otherwise make. And then also another tip depending on what motivates you. For us, our motivation is the end goal and that is our sustainable beach house.
Bernadette: That’s so true. I think you can. It pulls you forward, doesn’t it? Once you’ve got something to work for.
Lucy: Just have some clear goals and that helps really push yourself to achieve them.
Bernadette: Yeah, awesome. Just to recap where you come from. You started out with architectural plans for an extensive renovation and you switched your strategy. Pull those back and actually created the floor plan that you wanted within the existing footprint. Do you still have your double packing?
Lucy: No. What we did is we realised that we couldn’t fit it in, side by side, double carport. We put an extended carport, single carport.
Bernadette: OK. So you’ve still got parking for two cars off the street?
Bernadette: Great. Awesome. And so the first thing you did was to establish an area in your house that you could rent out on Airbnb? That’s got a bedroom and bathroom?
Lucy: In the internal house, it’s a shared bathroom and a bedroom.
Bernadette: And then the second step was to build sort of a granny flat, not a granny flat but under the main roof so that you now have a listing that’s completely independent. And now the intention is to, well I’ve just added this now is to add a couple of rented properties to your portfolio.
Lucy: In the future. Yeah, absolutely. You want my rented properties going.
Bernadette: Well, listen Lucy. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. What I will ask you to do is send me some photos.
Bernadette: And also will include the listings in the show notes so that anyone that’s wanting to experience your brand of hospitality can do that. Yeah, we’ll take it from there.
Lucy: Wonderful. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.
Bernadette: Thank you so much, Lucy. It was great to have you. You’re a breath of fresh air.
Lucy: Thanks, Bernadette.
Bernadette: See you later.