Following Your Dreams

How dare you dream of buying a house without a man? Why do you think you have what it takes? Who do you think you are? Dear hosts, those were the thoughts that were stopping Sue Brocker from her lifelong ambition of owning a home. In today’s episode, we’re talking about Following Your Dreams with Sue.

Sue is going to share her hosting journey, telling us about how she always wanted to buy a home and how in her 40’s she went ahead and did it.

Sue has now bought, renovated, and sold a few homes. But even better, Sue eventually quit her full-time job and now generates her income solely from her real estate investments— a dream she never even knew she had.

In this episode we talk about:

  • How Sue bought her first home, then a second.
  • How she got started with Airbnb
  • How she made the transition to having strangers live with her.
  • How Sue had to become her true self in order to follow her dreams.
  • And much more

Listen-up to Following Your Dreams with Sue Brocker.

 Sue: 00:09 Well, I'm very honored that you would take the time to speak to little old me. I'm just a little person.

Evelyn: 00:15 Well, that's what you think, you know, and what happens is this. We think that our stories do not move other people. Right? But what happens is all of our stories are important because I'm not any more special than anybody else. All I did was just get on getting a microphone and decided, Oh yeah, I'm going to tell my story. And I figured someone will find some value in it.

Sue: 00:41 But I know it takes a big step of courage to do that.

Evelyn: 00:47 Thank you!

Sue: 00:47 To put yourself out there and not keep it a secret. You know, my stories are all in my head. I tell one or two people that I come across, but to go public with things, that's that one little step is a big difference. A big thing.

Evelyn: 01:04 What happens is people will judge you. So we get judgment? And, Oh my God, I get emails. Like I just sent out an email and someone sent me something back. They'd call me immature. “You, were an immature person”. And I would say, and I answered back and I said, “I'm just asking you, if you would have said that to me in person, if we were talking in person”, because of course behind this wall of animosity, you know, like on an email, you just say anything.

Sue: 01:37 You can say whatever you want. No, consequences.

Evelyn: 01:40 No consequence. But would you say that to somebody in person? Cause I was talking about when I threw a party before my first guest. Cause I was like, “I didn't know any better”. I was like, “Yeah”, but that's neither here nor there. Look, so one of the reasons I decided to come out and talk is because all I saw was male doing it.

Sue: 02:01 Oh man you mean?, Did you say man?

Evelyn: 02:03 Yeah.

Sue: 02:03 WOW!

Evelyn: 02:05 And I failed that we needed more women, also minority women, but more women and women over a certain age. I'm in my fifties.

Sue: 02:18 Good for you! I'm in my sixties,

Evelyn: 02:20 Exactly! But you see, but what happens also then I found out that over 50% of hosts are women.

Sue: 02:29 I believe that.

Evelyn: 02:30 And they are also women over 40.

Sue: 02:33 I believe that because it's such a comfortable, natural way for older women of mine and your generation to behave. We welcome people. We serve people. We raise our kids. I mean, that's, I mean, we got to face the fact that's the way we grew up is making people comfortable. And a lot of us are, at least for me are divorced or for whatever reason our situations are, we need to make money in a way that's comfortable for us to live. And, we ended up being good at it. I guess.

Evelyn: 03:12 Not you guess you are right! So Sue, first of all, thank you so much for being at the hosting journey podcast. I am so honored that you have said “YES” and stepped up and decided to tell your story because not everybody decides to do so. Okay. Um, so thank you. My next question is how did you start hosting? Cause you've been hosting for a long time.

Sue: 03:37 I actually have… I mentioned it a lot, like in my messages to people who ask questions, you know, every time I answer when, you know, they want proof of something and every year it's more years, the last time I said, it's been over five years. It's like, where did the time go? But, my story is very funny and interesting of how I got started because long before I was a host on Airbnb, I had never heard of Airbnb. I had been just a regular landlord, which is a funny story in itself, but because of a divorce and many other situations of trying to improve my lot in life, I was always afraid after my divorce that I could never have my dream of owning property and being a landlord and, renovating property without a husband. How could I do that by myself? What am I thinking?

Evelyn: 04:38 Isn't it amazing. The limiting beliefs that we have.

Sue: 04:42 Yes! And I believe that, I mean, it wasn't even a strong dream necessarily, but it was something that I just assumed I would always do when I was married because we talked about it and I was going to do it. So after the divorce, I just never assumed I could ever do that. And so I did, you know, jobs that I loved. I didn't have a college education or anything. I raised my three kids on my own and all that turned out successful. So anyway, through not going over some actually other very funny stories of how I got offered job transfers three times out of state to be able to start doing my dream within weeks of those realities happen, three times I got shut down and had to stay where I was. This is over a period of years. So anyway, the last time it happened, it was very traumatic because I had nowhere to go because I had already given notice on my lease. And I, at the last minute had to rent a house. I mean, I was literally on the way to the airport for somewhere else for plans. I couldn't change and I'm signing the lease to my house and I have one daughter left at home in high school. So that's another story. But anyway, when I rented this house, I took a short-term lease because I was sure I was going to get another opportunity to transfer my job soon. But what happened was when I lived at that house for a short time, within days, the house across the street from that had a for sale sign on it. And it was a cute little house. And through a long story series of events, I learned that house was under foreclosure. People had tried to buy that house for years. Nobody could ever get it. Nobody, nothing out of all these hundreds of people in a really years, I won the bid on that house. And it was my first attempt at finally living my dream. I've found out what gave me the courage, but I did it. I bought this house. I won the bid. And over the years that I lived there, I'm telling you, dozens of people would knock on my door and say, can I see what you've done? I tried to buy this house. I would have repairman come to my house. I had a policeman come to my house and said, I tried to buy this house so many years ago. It was so weird. Anyway, it was an adorable little house. I ended up freaking out my family and taking the courage to rent out the finished attic to a tenant, not through Airbnb. And that was successful. So successful that I took the plunge and I renovated the basement, added a bathroom. So now I have two apartments that I'm renting to men.

Evelyn: 07:31 How old were you at this time?

Sue: 07:34 This was like 10, 12 years ago. This was, I was like, what are you are now early fifties? And my kids thought I was crazy. And I thought I was crazy, but I did it. And my neighbors were totally jealous because the neighbor upstairs and the neighbor downstairs were both bodybuilders, super nice men. They would not let me do my chores. They cut my grass. They did, they carried my groceries. They would not let me do a thing. And my neighbors hated it that I was doing so well. But I'm still friends with those guys. So fast forward, I'm doing this at that property where I live doing pretty well. And I come across another foreclosure property, a few blocks away that I ended up buying and fixing up and doing the same thing, but it's not where I live. So I have a four bedroom house that I'm renting out long-term to people in the area doing well. No problem. So one of those times where I was meeting of new prospective tenant, we were talking on the phone. She was trying to get directions on how to meet me there, to look at my place, but I could not understand anything she said she was a foreigner. Her accent was so strong. I could not understand her. And I said, where are you staying on? Come and get you. And she was saying for Alibaba, I couldn't find her. I didn't know what she was saying. Anyway, she finally found me and we got to talking and I asked her to write down what she was saying, where she was saying staying. And she said, Airbnb, I know what is that.

Evelyn: 09:15 A lot of people not understand what we're saying. It, even nowadays like you say, “Airbnb”. And they're like, “Air.. What?”

Sue: 09:22 I had never heard of it. I had never heard of Airbnb. And I go what's that? And she described it to me. And later, as I asked my kids, “What is this Airbnb?”And they told me, “It's a big deal, mom, how come you don't know about it? And I go, “I don't know, but it sounds great”. And I forgot about it. Never thought about it again. It was interesting. It sounded really cool, but I forgot about it until about six months later. And then I stay up late a lot. I don't require a lot of sleep, but a lot of times I'm on the computer. Late at night. I play bridge online with people. And one night I was, I have no idea Airbnb came back in my head and I looked it up and I was so fascinated with the website. This is five years ago, by the way, five years ago, I got on the website and I go, “Why am I not doing this?” This is perfect. This is what I need to do. And do you know that I spent two hours listing one of my rooms that a girl was already living in, just for fun. I thought it'll take a couple months for people to find me. She'll be gone by then. And I'll start. Do you know the very next day I got a request for a booking and I didn't know how to work the site. I didn't know how to reject it. It was a girl living in there. This happened five days in a row. And I finally had to just, I think I called the customer service number. I go, I don't know how to turn this thing off. I'm really not good at technology. And they helped me. So I blocked my calendar and the listing was there, but I blocked my calendar and I didn't know what to do. And this is the God's honest truth. The next day, the girl that was living in that room, who didn't know any of this, of course came and said, Sue, I made up with my friend. I want to go back and live with my old roommate. Can I cancel my…

Evelyn: 11:17 And you must've been like, yeah, yeah, yeah, sure sure sure!!

Sue: 11:21 Yeah, I guess so.

Evelyn: 11:21 Oh my God, you're making me so hard, but can you please leave now?

Sue: 11:25 I said, I guess so, and within 30 days she was gone and I opened my calendar up. And literally from that moment on. I have never hardly ever had vacancies. So as I had the best people. I learned from you and how to make a house manual. I changed my rules all the time. As I learned things to protect myself and I didn't have many serious mistakes or anything, but as they can see happened in my upstairs apartment, believe it or not, those two guys that had been there three years within a month or two, they were gone one at a time. As my vacancy started happening in my properties, I would start listing them on Airbnb. And within a year I was able to quit my job, my dead end job. And I was full time making my better income on just Airbnb bookings at these two properties.

Evelyn: 12:27 Wow! And all you had was just two properties and they had. So the one you had that you will live in, in, so you will live in, in this house, had two apartments.

Sue: 12:37 Well, it had two apartments and a spare bedroom.

Evelyn: 12:41 So, and you will renting this spare bedroom. So you were one of the true brand new host that was like sharing the space with a with a guest.

Sue: 12:48 Yes! That's where I started in my spare bedroom, sharing a bathroom with strangers.

Evelyn: 12:56 Major! I have done it! Been there!

Sue: 12:57 And I had no problems. I was so interested. The people that I, that came to my place and I don't live in a big city. I live in a very small town. Well, I live Roanoke and I'm not ashamed to say it.
Evelyn: 13:12 Roanoke? that's in Virginia right?
Sue: 13:12 It's in Virginia. Yes! I'm about three hours away from DC, three hours from the capital of Richmond. And I never expected to be busy because Roanoke, we don't have much going on here. So, I thought maybe once or twice a month, I'll make a little extra money and have some fun. I'm telling you it was constant non-stop. Weekends, days of the week, people traveling through just needing a place to sleep, people staying for two weeks for a job. I mean, I could tell you stories of the most interesting people and things I learned from people all over the world. People from Sri Lanka, state, and people from embassies, people from Norway, I don't know how they, I was so loving it. And so I had those three rooms in my house, then four bedrooms and the other house. Then over time since I was doing so well, I came across another property, a duplex that I bought, but I couldn't afford it without a partner. And I found a partner and we bought it together and we're doing very well again. So in the duplex, there's two bedrooms downstairs and two beds. So there's four more bedrooms, but in a very short order, my partner and I did not get on. He didn't know what he was doing. He didn't keep his end of the bargain of doing repairs. And he made a lot of mistakes and I realized, this is bad news. We've got to end this. And he was okay with that. He didn't want to do it anymore either, but he was very mean about it. And the only way he would agree to get out of the deal was for one of the other two, completely buy the other one out. And I was willing to let him buy it, but he didn't have the money either. And I said the only, which means taking out a whole new mortgage, which I couldn't do, or I wouldn't have had him as a partner. So believe it or not, the only way I could do it was to sell my house that I was living in, which I really was actually okay with by this time that property was too much for me to take care of the yard and everything, and I was ready to downsize. So it kind of came along at a pretty good time. And do you know the minute that I put that house on the market, out of the blue, a co-friend of a husband of a friend of mine out of the blue said “Still, I've heard a friend of mine that just started working here, heard about what you do, and he's looking for a property to buy. Will you talk to them?” So making a long story short, I literally sold the house I lived in and my other investment property on the same day. Wow. That guy ended up buying my Airbnb investment property. And another family bought my house on the same day. We closed on the same day as I repurchased this home three properties transacted on the same day in October two years ago.

Evelyn: 16:23 Okay. So October 2020 life… I mean October, 2018.


Sue: 16:30 Yes.
Evelyn: 16:30 That was two years ago.
Sue: 16:31 So I moved into the duplex where I am now downstairs. Now I rent out the upstairs and two years ago I renovated a third story attic apartment. So now I have, and that was what was that a challenge? But anyway, that was scary. So in the meantime, my neighbor who lives next door to me, little old lady that I became good friends with, she loved what I was doing here. She was lonely and she loved meeting my neighbor, my guests that would come in and she'd see them in the parking lot and make friends with them. She just was having such a good time over time. She started to get more frail and she kept begging me to buy her house and do the same thing. There am. I can't afford that. I don't want to do their house. I don't want to do. And she would change your mind. You're right. I'm going to stay here for a year back and forth. Change your mind. Finally, two years ago, she made up her mind and since to really take my house, I'm done. I'm going to move with my daughter. And, so I did now that was major renovations, biggest job I've ever done, but turned her two bedroom, one bath house into a four bedroom, two bath house.
Evelyn: 17:55 Wow.

Sue: 17:55 It was adorable. It was a nightmare with the city. In fact, recently I've, after I hang up with you, I need to settle another deal with the city. That's very scary, but I have been successfully doing Airbnb at these two houses, four bedrooms over there, all separate my spare bedroom, where I live and three units upstairs. So it's like, there's two original houses. Now I have two other houses. And over the last year or so, I would say I'm almost exclusively doing travel nurses and executives and people who are here for other jobs who stay at least a month, three months, six months or longer

Evelyn: 18:42 Which is a different market. I know what.

Sue: 18:44 It is.
Evelyn: 18:45 It's a different market. I am. And we just had to change because I did travel nurses this year, but I actually really liked them.
Sue: 18:52 I love them. They're my favorite people their mentality. I mean, I studied biology and microbiology when I was in school. So I'm a sciencey kind of person, but the mentality of the nurses and executives like that is they're busy. They don't have time for drama. They're not looking to party or, you know, hoodwink, anybody. They're serious. People who have a lot going on, they're interested in many things can have an intelligent conversation with them. They are perfectly happy with your rules. They're not people who are trying to get away with anything. You know what you see very often on some of the negative posts. And they're just so happy to be there. And when they do have free time, they go home, they go be with their family or they take a vacation. They're not even really there much. They're busy, they work hard. And, I've learned to supply my properties with just what they need. You know, I know what nurses need. They, I make very strict rules that look, people probably don't like, I don't allow my guests to have visitors. And they normally love that they're from out of town anybody way, they don't know anybody. They're here to work. That doesn't bother them. They're very glad that they don't have to worry about drama or strange people coming in from the roommates or whatever. So…

Evelyn: 20:24 Yeah, because the style of hosting that you doing is per room, you're not renting the apartment completely.

Sue: 20:30 Right? Right! I do have one apartment that attic apartment that I did is like th. It's the only pro, but it's hardly a vacant. So I, there's not much turnover there. In fact, there was a guy I can tell you a funny story, how that got rented. But there was a guy living there two years. I mean, that's how long he was there. And he would still be there if not for COVID. He had to transfer back to his home because of what's happening with COVID. And he was, we were both very sad about that. We became pretty good friends. And anyway, so my transition from talent has lady to landlord, to Airbnb hosts, to investor. I mean, it has been such a miraculous, funny transition that if you had told me 10 years ago, that I'd be where I am now, I would have laughed in your face. I mean, that's not me.

Evelyn: 21:31 And now let me ask you a question Sue. Who do you think you had to become to be able to make all those changes? Because it's and look, what happens is this right? You didn't go from not owning any property to be an investor and running and doing a renovation the way you did on this particular house on the last house. Right? Because, to make that jump from not owning to imagine putting yourself in the shoes of that renovation, you probably would have run scared and never done it again. Right? Like it's making those little, like minuscule jumps, like you just bought the first house and then you had a tenant.

Sue: 22:16 So what's the question?

Evelyn: 22:18 So my question is, who do you think you had to become to be able to… cause you said you were fearful.

Sue: 22:27 Wait, what do I have to become…. I have to become myself. My true inner self is naturally adventurous. I am naturally an adventurous person. But, I don't know why I had those fears. I guess it was a stereo-type of my generation that, you know, you, you have to have your husband doing something so out there. I mean, to me, that was an out there idea of a single woman investing in property on her own without any help or advice or, I mean, I that just was not something in my mindset, even though I saw other people do it, but that was not something that I thought I could do. And I honestly can't even pinpoint a turning point of what made the difference, except just curiosity, because the moment, I mean, when I was living in that rental house and just saw the sign go up on there, it was just curiosity. I just was curious. I didn't think it was good. I was going to do anything. I think it was a cute, adorable house, right across the street. I had a realtor friend who had rented me that house. And I just said, I just want to see what's in there. And when I went, the other thing that helped when I went over there, it was a HUD house. And the guy who is the caretaker for HUD happened to be over there, going in and, and, uh, doing the job that he was supposed to do, taking care of things, to make it ready for sale. And he had no gumption about talking to me. He told me the things that he was going to do, and he gave me tips. He just, we were just talking because I wasn't interested in buying it. I was just curious. I wanted to see, and he talked to me as if I was going to buy it. And I realized the things where he were saying, “Oh, that's no big deal. I mean, I can do that. I mean, I can do that”. And, then when I found out the price and I saw all the things, I mean it needed new HVAC. It needed painting. I knew I could paint. It got meaning it needed a lot of stuff. But I guess the confidence I got from the man who was hired to take care of the place and he, he talked to me as if I was an investor. And I assume I was. I guess maybe just that conversation of him treating me as if I was an investor kind of maybe open the door to my mind thinking, “Well, why aren't I thinking that way?” I mean, I've never really consciously thought about it that way, but now that you asked me the question, it's just like, I kind of rolled into it and started asking my realtor, “how do you go about making an offer? And I knew what my budget was. I knew what money I had and how I could do all this”. It wasn't really hard to figure out and I just rolled into it.

Evelyn: 25:50 Isn't it amazing? and isn't it amazing! Like, here you were like 10 years ago. We are talking about only about 10 years ago, right? That you were like, this is what I want. This is the dream that I want. But the reality of the world that has said like, “Oh, you shouldn't, you couldn't, you are doing, like, you don't have the skills”.

Sue: 26:12 Well, it was the reality in my mind. I don't think the world was telling me that. I told myself that…

Evelyn: 26:19 Exactly! It's only thoughts. It's only believes, right? It's this believes that are not real. They're not real because I mean, if someone else can do it, why can I?

Sue: 26:31 Well, It took a long, it took me many, many years to even entertain that thought. And I think it was just something as simple as, like I said, I was just curious, the house was cute and everything to do. I'll look at it. But the, but just the coincidence of that man, talking to me as if I'm sure he assumed I was thinking of buying and why else would I be there looking at it? Just his natural talking to me about these things, just kind of, I came to, it was a click. It was just a gradual, I can do that. I can call a company and get an estimate on this. I can do, you know, little steps. I, I mean, I can call a basement guy and find out waterproofing. I mean, I can, and I just realized I was doing it. And there was no roadblocks, nothing happened. I think winning the bid was the biggest thing that me, of all people, because if you could see the amount of list of people that were in there looking at it, I have no idea why I won the bid, but I did.

Evelyn: 27:35 Because, it was your house.

Sue: 27:38 It was, there was a lot of prayer involved. I can tell you that.

Evelyn: 27:43 I've never done a foreclosure home. So I don't know what the process are.At least not yet.But you know, I'm about to do a whole new adventures.

Sue: 27:53 I know a little bit about that.

Evelyn: 27:55 I know. And I have talked about it here in the podcast. Yeah. Yeah. I haven't, I'm going to be doing some new episodes all about it, but yeah, it's sort of like here you went and you went into buying a foreclosed home, which is a whole different animal than just like a home that's on the market and everything else. So,

Sue: 28:12 And it wouldn't be habitable for a few months and it just worked out that I was able to stay in that rented property right across the street. And the realtor was, I mean, I don't know if I should, I'll never mention his name, but he gave me the combination to the lock box on there. I could go in there anytime day or night that I wanted to measure and make plans and dream I'd go out and buy. You know, I knew the first thing I remember buying was a mirror for the bathroom in Kirkland's I found a mirror on like, that was the first thing I bought. There was no mirror in the bathroom. So I would go over there every day and dream and change my mind and make plans. How easy is that? I mean, I literally could walk across the street and, I don't think many people would have that chance, but I did. I was in that house multiple times, every day, living in it, in my mind and buying things and making plans long before it closed long before it closed.

Evelyn: 29:19 Oh my God. I actually had something like that in a property I bought. I first bought it apartment. This is the first property I put on my own. I bought an apartment and then I bought a second apartment on the same, floor of the building and I had access to it and I actually made a film.

Sue: 29:37 Do you still have it?

Evelyn: 29:42 No! The film? Yes, I do. I have the film. I'll send you a link to it, but I made a short film. Because my life was as a film maker. And I went into the apartment. I painted it, the apartment we shot in the apartment and I didn't own the apartment yet.

Sue: 30:01 Why would you do that?

Evelyn: 30:02 Because I needed the apartment to shoot? I needed it.

Sue: 30:04 I mean… Oh, you painted it just for your shoots.

Evelyn: 30:08 Yes. We painted it. We needed specific colors and everything. And then we painted it back.

Sue: 30:14 Oh my gosh.

Evelyn: 30:15 Ohh, those are the things you do for filming. And, those are the things. Yeah. You go in and you're like, “Okay, this is the dreams. This is the dream” And I think it's having those dreams. And now Sue, so now you have the house next door, and I know you were talking about that you might sell or not because the market is so hot right now.

Sue: 30:33 Yeah, I changed my mind. One day, I want to sell the next day. I mean, right now within this is normally my slow time of year, probably for most people. But within days I filled up all four of those rooms go figure. So now it's like, do I really want to sell? I'm making really good money. I mean, but I have goals of being a snowbird in a warm climate too. That's what I'm really trying to get at. And I actually did, buy a second home in Florida, right before those storms and that fell through literally at the last hour, I was devastated. Mostly…

Evelyn: 31:11 But you might be able to find something else. And look…

Sue: 31:11 It wasn't because of that or anything… But going through the mortgage and being at their mercy and the dirty trick, they played on me. I realized I have this home that I own free and clear. I can sell it, have the cash right there. I don't have to mess with the mortgage company anymore.

Evelyn: 31:32 You know, who you should check with? I've been working with Quicken Loans and they were so good. They even took, and this is not… Guys, I am not being sponsored by Quicken loans, but, they barely know I exist. I only pay my mortgage every month, but they took my Airbnb income into consideration.

Sue: 31:53 Many lenders well! Well this lenders…

Sue: 31:58 Ohh.

Evelyn: 31:58 And they were like super nice to work with. Very nice people to work with. At least I found them to be.

Sue: 32:05 Yeah, well the truth is that when I moved to the new climate where whether it's going to be Florida or even a foreign country or wherever I go. I don't really want to have a parcel of property that I have to manage long distance.

Evelyn: 32:19 Why?

Sue: 32:19 So that will be in the cards anyway.

Evelyn: 32:22 Why, why don't you want to have another property? That's all learning, and giving you money?

Sue: 32:27 The headaches of managing.

Evelyn: 32:31 You have a team? But, you have team Sue.

Sue: 32:31 I don't have a team.

Evelyn: 32:31 No, but you could. So, what you do is this…

Sue: 32:31 I could… I could…

Evelyn: 32:31 Okay. I did that in New York and that was holding me back, Sue. Holding me back was sort of like, “Oh, I have to be in the property, Ohh I have to be there and you don't have to be there”.

Sue: 32:53 Well, you're right. And I know many people do that and that's not even like a fear. Like how I had to get started and all this. It's just that I don't really necessarily need to be in that position. I could… There's no, negative in me selling the property. Because when I go, I will do the same thing in the house that I have there. So I'll start, you know, I've been successful, Airbnb'ing or whatever, wherever I live. So the Mo I mean, I would make double what I put into this house already. Easy, no problem. But that's just as easy for me to take it and invest on my new place where I'll be a snowbird and I'll continue having that good income there where I live and can manage it easy. It doesn't bother me to do that.

Evelyn: 33:43 Yeah! Just do your numbers, but don't sell something that you have free and clear that it's providing income. Because if you are thinking like, “Oh my God”, Because you could also even just get a loan, like a small loan out of it. Like you could do so much different financial.

Sue: 33:58 I have a home equity line on it. So I can take cash, I can do it that way too. And in fact, that's another funny story because during the process of some other things, when you have… All I can say is I was never allowed to get an equity line on my duplex because they considered it an investment property. So, I can never do it. Now, during this process, I found a bank who would, after many years, I tried so many. So I was able to get a home equity line, but only for half the value, not as much. But the lady said, “Sue, if you keep this equity line for a year. It's hard for me to explain why, but we can re-evaluate and up the value that you can take out on the property after you have this loan for a year”, that'll be next summer. So I do have the option of just taking, using the equity line. And basically what you're saying, take out a mortgage, which I never could have done before. I tried probably 10 or 12 institutions that would not do it. And it wasn't because of the Airbnb income at all, which I know that's a block for many people. It was because this is considered investment property rather than my home. Even though I live here. So, that was another big miracle.

Evelyn: 35:25 Yeah. And, what I'm going to say is like, look, there's so many options right now of what we can do and I'm only selling in New York because it financially makes sense. That have so much equity in that property. But also once I sell, I have to pay so much between…

Sue: 35:47 Yeah, we talk about that a little bit with the 10 31. Have you made any progress on finding properties? I mean?

Evelyn: 35:53 No, no. I'm, I'm actually looking, right. So I go back to New York, tomorrow and I'm dedicating December to looking for properties into packing the house. It's a 16 years of a house.

Sue: 36:07 Oh, that's so overwhelming.

Evelyn: 36:10 No, I'm not going to see it that way.

Sue: 36:14 Are you ready?

Evelyn: 36:14 I am. Well, I don't have a choice, but to be ready! Because I'm selling right? Like this, this is it. This is what's happening, but I'm choosing to see it as this is going to be a next adventure. I don't know what's going to happen. It's going to be whatever it is. It's going to be amazing. A lot of the furniture is going to go to friends and things like that.

Sue: 36:43 Oh wow!

Evelyn: 36:43 Yeah. Yeah. I'm bringing some to Puerto Rico, but I'm not bringing everything. I'm shipping some stuff that I want, but not everything. I'm not buying in Puerto Rico. I'm buying outside…

Sue: 36:55 Are you gonna live in Puerto Rico after this?

Speaker 3: 36:57 Yes. So I'm still going to have an apartment in New York that I'm renting. So I'm going to furnish that apartment with some of that furniture. And then a lot of my friends are calling me like, “Hey, I want”. I actually have a Google document with the spreadsheet, with all the furniture, with everything in it and say like, “Okay, who wants what people call? Cool tips!”

Sue: 37:20 That's wonderful!

Evelyn: 37:20 Yeah.

Sue: 37:23 That's organize.

Evelyn: 37:23 Because it's not worth me bringing it to. Like a lot of the furniture, 16 years old. So sort of like, “do I really want to bother with this?”

Sue: 37:33 The age doesn't matter. It matters how much you love the piece, you know?

Evelyn: 37:37 Yeah. I have very small things that I love and I've in the last year, because I was going back and forth between New York and Puerto Rico. I have detach. So it's more like, “what do I want in my life to be, how do I want my life to be?” So it's not about the things, but it's just like about the experience and the people. I know I do still want to have a place in New York and I want to, like, I have friends there that I like to go visit and everything else. I just don't want to be there all the time. And I have a dream of a particular kind of house that I want here in Puerto Rico, but I'm not buying that yet. I'm buying that probably within the next year.

Sue: 38:18 Are you going to still be doing Airbnb?

Evelyn: 38:19 Yes!

Sue: 38:19 In Puerto Rico?

Evelyn: 38:23 Well, we are doing Airbnb here right now. But I'm looking for something specific here. But in the other States, I'm also going to be doing short-term rentals, maybe some travel nurses. Maybe… It depends on the properties that I buy and where.

Sue: 38:39 Well, the beauty of it is that, you know what you want to do. So you can target your search much more narrow and specific to areas that will be conducive to your target.

Evelyn: 38:53 Yeah, just the market is crazy. The real estate market, it's gone.

Sue: 38:59 No kidding. Well, here in my area, it's definitely a seller's market.

Evelyn: 39:04 Exactly! I mean, who would have thought that now through this recession, right? Beause we were still going through this experience of COVID and people have lost so many jobs and the prices of housing have gone. It's still going up.

Sue: 39:16 It's crazy!

Evelyn: 39:18 But, I don't know what's going to happen in the next six months.

Sue: 39:21 I don't either. That's why, you know, a lot of meme says, “Maybe sale before the prices go down”, but part of it, and this is not a good reason to make a business decision, but I love that house. It's so cute. It's such an adorable house. Everybody loves it! And it's kind of the talk of the neighborhood. I mean, you know, there's kind of like a personal attachment, which is a stupid reason to make this decision. But it affects me a little bit, but the other thing is kind of practical is what kind of neighbors am I going to get? You know?

Evelyn: 40:00 And also let me ask you a question. What are the rules and regulations there for Airbnb?

Sue: 40:05 That is, I could do a whole podcast with you on that. Because Roanoke is probably one of the most difficult places to get approved properly through the city to do Airbnb. If I told you all the hoops that I have to jump through, you would think, why would anybody do it? And, I think I have too.

Evelyn: 40:25 But you did it!

Sue: 40:25 I did do it. And it's only lasts for two years. So I'm expired. So I cannot do legally short-term rentals less than 30 days. I cannot do it because I didn't go through the process to have it renewed, but I don't need to because I don't want to do that kind of rentals in my properties here anymore. I don't need to, I just exclusively do 30 day or longer rentals. So, but I mean, you basically are applying for rezoning of your property. It's only temporary for two years.

Evelyn: 41:01 What happens after two years, you have to re-do it or?

Sue: 41:04 You have to redo it, but you're likely to get it again. It's not like you will be turned down necessarily unless something materially changed in your property, but the headache of it, you have to do all this. If you've ever had researched of what do you have to go through to rezone a property you have to…your life is an open book. You have to put public notices, physical signs out on your property for two months, one month or two months, maybe it's one or two months. There's these notices that say this property is up for rezoning. Here's the public. Anybody in the city, anybody in the world can, can look at what your property looks like on the inside, ask you questions as the city questions. And when you're hearing comes up, any of those people can appear at your hearing and say why they don't want you to do it. Now we're not in an area that there are that many people that really have reasonable objections. It's mostly, I mean, I didn't have anybody up here at my hearing that did that. But the things that you would likely see are neighbors that would be upset about too many people, parking they're afraid of strangers and the typical things. I'm sure you've heard people be afraid of. That are just simply unfounded. And I did have names. Like I said, my neighbor who lived next door, that whose house I bought, she wrote a glowing letter. She loved what I was doing. So that was a very positive thing. And then another neighbor I had gotten to know, wrote a letter as well. So that helped, but there's not many people that have been turned down, but it's mostly only been people who have nasty neighbors that made up stories and things like that. But you do have to appear on the local TV, in a public hearing and explaining what your plans are. You'd have to have an application filled out. You'd have to have photos and interviews. You have…

Evelyn: 43:07 It's a process.

Sue: 43:07 It's a process. It's scary because, you're under government surveillance the whole time. Even though, you not doing anything wrong. I mean, it's un-nerving. It's un-nerving to be that. And then the rules are so weird. I could go on and on about the things that, you know, you can only have two rooms in your house, only so many people. And I mean, there's pages of things that I had. And then once you get approved, then you have to have these inspections. Two or three inspections of making sure all this complies, all your permits have to be in order. It's just a lot of paper and there's money. Those ads that have to appear in the paper for a month, you have to pay for that. That's hundreds of dollars. There's an application fee, that's a hundred dollars. And then you have to get a business license that only lasts a year. I could go on and on. It's not easy to do, but I did it for, and my duplex is the only one I did it for. It's considered two houses, they're two separate addresses. I had to duplicate everything for each house. So it's not fun. And I would do it again. If, I was doing that type of rental, it's not the end of the world since I've been through it. And I know I'd be approved, but I don't need to.

Evelyn: 44:37 Yeah. So you just let it go and did 30 days.

Sue: 44:40 Let it expire. And, I have to say, my income would be higher if I did the daily or weekend because when I do monthly, I give a pretty substantial discount to my long-term guests. Monthly discount in order to attract them. So my income is probably a little lower, but it's worth it to me, much less work. You know, not as much turnover. You know, it's nice having the same people live in your place for a few months.

Evelyn: 45:16 Yeah.

Sue: 45:16 You become friends and, there's not as much wear and tear on your property. So to me, it's definitely worth it. It's worth it.

Evelyn: 45:28 Yeah. It's just different styles of hosting and this everything, right? Like, when you started with short term rentals with having like the shorter 10 days and less, and here you moved to this. So I totally understand. Yeah in New York I'm doing the 30 days. But December… Now, today my last guest is leaving in one of my properties and on one of in my house. And then on the other apartment, December 6, they move out and that's it. That's the last ones for… I know… I know Sue…

Sue: 46:07 It's a new world.

Evelyn: 46:08 I know, it's going to be exciting.

Sue: 46:11 and I can tell by your face, you're ready and eager to meet the challenge. And it's time!

Evelyn: 46:17 It's going to be a new adventure and we'll see all the changes that are going to happen. And you know, it's going to be a new year and we'll see. And then of course, there's the plants that you have. And then the plants that life has for you. Because the beginning of last of this year of 2020, I just spent 40 grand on the siding of the house just because I wasn't selling. I was here. I was in my house. I did a huge capital improvement, you know, that needed to be done. And I was like, okay, I'm going to spend this money because I'm keeping the house and this is value in this. I don't have to fix it for another 30 years. I don't have to worry about it. Yeah. Well, that did not workout.

Sue: 47:01 You know, it's just really funny. The more we talk, the more our lives, I see our lives are kind of parallel in a way, not at the same tim., But you didn't back down from challenges or your dreams or adventures or whatever. You kind of, you actually walked into them more with more of a plan. I mean, you made it happened. Mine, I kind of fell into, I kind of rolled into mine a little bit.

Evelyn: 47:35 I had no plan. I didn't know about Airbnb. When I started, it was like, this was 10 years ago.

Sue: 47:43 Yeah. You really were a grown breaker then.

Evelyn: 47:47 Yeah, yeah… And, no, no. And I rented my bedroom. I like moved out of my bedroom and rented it out because if not, I was… This is when.

Sue: 47:53 That's weird! That is weird!

Evelyn: 47:57 Because the economy was collapsing back then. And for me, and I had a roommate and it had a long-term tenant. So I was doing like you. Like, I had a little room, you do the right thing, right? But then the world has like a different thing. And you're like, “Okay”. And I didn't want to sell the house because my thing was like, “If I sell now, where am I going to live?” I have to live somewhere. And my part of the mortgage was what it could have cost me an apartment. So my thought was like, “Why am I moving to an apartment? I'm going to have to live somewhere”. And the house is not costing me that much more. And then I found Airbnb and literally like you, I put up the listing immediately. And then I was like, “Wait, I'm not ready for this”.

Sue: 48:43 Because you were in your bedroom, you're living in your bedroom and you listed your bedroom. It's the same thing. I actually listed a room in my house where I was living.

Evelyn: 48:52 And you're like, “Wait, wait, hold on, hold on”. And then I was like, I turned down the first couple of people and then I was like, “Okay, fine, Okay. Let me turn”. And then, and I sent out an email about this. I had a party the day before my guests arrived. Like, I had a huge party. We were like celebrating what was celebrating my birthday. We were celebrating the new era. My friends had closed down their restaurants. I mean, the economy was just like terrible. Every week. All of us were unemployed. And we were like, “Okay, let's celebrate, let's have a party”. We had, I have pictures. And they're like, “Oh my God, we have pinatas in the house”. It was a party! The guests walked in and I was still cleaning dishes. I mean, but it was like, it was a share apartment. So it wasn't like a private apartment that he had to be pristine, but still, I was like, “Oh my God. So funny”.

Sue: 49:44 But the thing, I realized I can't remember when my first guest was. I'm so ma!. I got to go back and see if I can figure that out. I've got it…

Evelyn: 49:53 It's your first review!

Sue: 49:56 Well, but I have over 500. I mean..

Evelyn: 50:00 Just go back… Just go back…

Sue: 50:03 When we hang up, I need… I mean, there's many, many guests that I remember because of their personnel. I mean, so many that I remember very specific things, but I just realized, I don't… right at this moment. I don't remember who my first guest was.

Evelyn: 50:15 Yeah. My guest was a professor of innovation from Amsterdam. So I was like, I was like, “Wow, what! “. Yeah. And he was coming to pick up his son who was doing a course in New York. And then he came back with his wife. She was like a police officer, like chief police in Amsterdam. So I was like, “Oh, okay. I'm very impressed”. And by then, and then they rented the apartment completely. Because then believe me, it got to a point that I was renting everything. And then I moved back to the house. My roommate moved out and I went back then and, and the rest is history, but yeah!, Like Sue like you here, you are like, you didn't think you could do this. And like, you have to step into that. And I could just imagine your kids.

Sue: 51:04 Oh gosh. They thought I was crazy. Now I have to say, my kids weren't mad or putting their foot down or anything. They just thought I was weird. They couldn't believe that I was doing that. And I really did prefer, I was hoping to have female roommates, but there were no females that ever came to look. So they were kind of mad when the first one I took was a man. And he was actually from a foreign country, but “Oh gosh, I never had, I never had a problem”

Evelyn: 51:34 Never had a problem. Neither did I, I never felt unsafe. I never felt like, “Oh my God, something's going to happen”. Yeah. I don't know. Maybe because we're women of a certain age

Sue: 51:46 He's going to come after me.

Evelyn: 51:47 No, for me. I come across as very auntie. Like, at some point I remembered this one particular guest. This parents left me, there two teenage daughters who were coming to New York to do a dance class for three weeks. And then we're teenagers. So they were like 15 and they left me the two girls. They left me two girls in the house within my part of the house. And the moms said, “Come in and they left them there. And at one point I was like, are you sure you're going to leave the house just like that? And I was like, “Oh my God, this are not my kids”.

Sue: 52:22 You mean they didn't stay with the children?

Evelyn: 52:25 No, they went back. They left the kids in the house.

Sue: 52:27 And you were okay with that?

Evelyn: 52:29 Yeah, I was fine with it.

Sue: 52:31 Ohh, I would freak out.

Evelyn: 52:33 No, no. I mean, we clear the air all about it. I mean, but we were like, the the girls were amazing. Really responsible young girls. And they were on there forth school. They were there for dance classes and then we'll go early in the morning to dance school and come back exhausted. And, I was so tired, but really good kids. They were from Switzerland, something like that. Awww! the many memories.

Sue: 53:01 Oh, those are the stories and the memories I cherish so much that I've made my life. So rich is the interesting people you meet and even the ones that you don't like wouldn't have back again necessarily. I mean, it's like…

Evelyn: 53:19 They made for good story!

Sue: 53:19 Well, it's like, there's really a job like that in world. I mean, the careers that they would have or the lives they would have, I just never knew that existed. And it really opened my world in so many ways. And the friends you make and the things that they tell you that they appreciate about you, that is just icing on the cake. You know, the reviews you get and the things they personally write in a thank you note or whatever. Staff, I just don't think that's something like, off the top of my head, one lady. And I think she's the only one that's ever said this. Thanked me so much for the perfect temperature in my house.

Evelyn: 54:11 And you are like…

Sue: 54:11 But that was something important to her. And it happened to be a comfortable temperature for her. And she was just so grateful about that. Go figure! Don't think about stuff like that.

Evelyn: 54:21 No, you don't. But, those are the things that make a good stay, right? Like, a little lamp next to your bed.

Sue: 54:30 It just shows you the variety of people's personalities and needs that you, that different things are important to different people. And you never know what it is about your place that people are going to like. You just never know, and you can't even plan for it truthfully, you can't plan. You just got to put your property the way you like it and hope for the best. And, when they mentioned something, it's just really very touching.

Evelyn: 55:01 Well, Sue, thank you so much for sharing your story and for being here at the hosting journey and I will see you around on the Facebook group.

Sue: 55:12 I hope you'll share more of your cliche journey, but what you're doing sounds so interesting and Puerto Rico different. Well, it is a different country, even though you're part of the States, but it's, it's very different. I've been to Puerto Rico one time and I loved it, stayed in an Airbnb out in, it's on the West side of the Island up on the Hill, starts with an I the little city.

Evelyn: 55:37 Isabela?!

Sue: 55:37 Yes! You like that area?

Evelyn: 55:41 Very nice, very nice, very, very country, very mountainous, very beautiful. Very green. I like it a lot. I was there this weekend.

Sue: 55:53 Yeah. I loved it there. And I stayed in a couple places. And then another place in a tiny house in the middle of the country, in a city that started with an M it's not near the water.

Evelyn: 56:03 Is it Manawese, Manate, Mocca?

Sue: 56:08 No… I don't know, but that was one of my favorite hosts of all time. And I it's been a few years, so, it'll take me forever to go back and find the guy's name. But, both hosts. I just really enjoyed, I really liked Puerto Rico a lot.

Evelyn: 56:26 Well, come back, come back.

Sue: 56:28 I just knew that you were there.

Evelyn: 56:31 Yes, yes, yes. Yes. Well Sue, thank you again so much for being here and we'll post a link to your spaces, you know, forever for anybody that wants to take them out. If anybody wants to go to Virginia and look at your place for 30 days guys, 30 day rentals.

Sue: 56:47 Well, I can kind of fudge a little bit if I have to. That's no big deal. I do sneak a few short ones in there. But so don't worry.

Evelyn: 56:58 No worry, cannot.

Sue: 57:01 It's a real honor and I really enjoyed sharing time with you too. And thanks for working through the glitches.

Sue, thank you so much for sharing your story, your memories, and your journey with us. Here is one of Sue's places:


Dear hosts, it’s the end of the year—a time of reflection, of thinking of what was and of what comes next. I hope you’ll take some of that time to not only think about your dreams but also to take action towards them.

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