From Ordinary to Amazing: A Sit Down with Techvestor, STRs at Scale
Many of us find shows like Fixer Upper or Farmhouse Fixer to be inspirational. After all, we may love our homes, but we know there is a big difference between them and our dream houses, which are always impeccably designed. DIY shows get us thinking about what could be, but what does it take to really transform a house? For answers, we hung out with COO Sabrina Guler and CEO Sief Khafagi, the leaders of Techvestor. The company has flipped, designed, and launched 75+ Airbnb homes across the U.S. in only one year, relying on its 16-point strategy and proprietary platform that analyzes over 18MM data points each month to identify what, where, how, when, and if an investment should occur. What we would find is that managing a $37MM portfolio of STR properties for passive investors takes vision, relentless organization, and a lot of persistence.
“First, neither one of us could lead Techvestor if we didn’t already have experience managing and investing in STRs and people,” says Sabrina. “Before Techvestor, Sief and I were working at Facebook and Apple, respectively, and on the side, we were successful independent investors in short-term rentals and leaders of organizations. The experience was invaluable, as it taught us how to identify the right property, design its renovations, manage the transformation, rent it out, and eventually exit.”
Techvestor is equal parts cutting-edge technology, strategy, and repeatable process, all of which results in its ability to manage everything from acquisition to revenue management under one roof. Each STR is first identified by Techvestor’s platform, which looks at over 250 markets and millions of data points each month.
“We evaluate everything: location, uniqueness, seasonality, tax benefits, diversification, and STR-friendly states as well as other crucial factors,” he says. “If it passes the test – and it’s not easy to impress us, by the way – we add it to our portfolio.”
Then the Techvestor team gets started on the real work: assessing what exactly must be done to transform the STR from average to incredible. The team goes through every inch of the property, inspecting walls, fixtures, floorboards, plumbing – absolutely everything to decide what must be renovated.
“We never get started until we have a concrete plan, and we collaborate a lot with local contractors and designers,” says Sabrina. “We have built a strong network of professionals so that when we start renovations, we can hit the ground running and meet deadlines.”
Part of the renovation plan includes opportunities for what Sief and Sabrina call the “wow factor”: those extra touches that might cost a few thousand dollars more at the time of renovation but that pay off when the property is offered online for rental. It might be a hot tub, fire pit, or some other unique amenity that makes the STR even more attractive to tenants.
Once renovations begin, Techvestor’s project managers keep careful watch over the progress, handling the inevitable bumps and avoiding others so that the house continues to evolve.
The most fun, Sabrina and Sief both say, is when an STR is finished and furnished with beds, appliances, couches, and the myriad of other things that make it a home. “The STR takes on a real personality, and we’re almost at the finish line, when we can list it on Airbnb,” Sabrina reveals. “It’s an affirmation of how hard we have worked and how close we are to success.”
When the STR is completed, Techvestor’s internal project managers like to compare before-and-after photos. They are always gratified by how their efforts have resulted in a property that matches their original vision for it.
“And then we list it and move into the STR’s new life, so to speak: hosting guests,” Sief states. “We do this for every property, whether it’s in the Poconos or Southern Florida. Rinse, repeat!”
As Techvestor has grown, busy professionals interested in passive investments have come on board, attracted to having zero liability for loans and lending and 7-12% cash on cash annually. Benefits like instant diversification over 75+ properties, quarterly reporting and dividends over the first five years that Techvestor holds a property, and discounted rates through the company’s Owner Stay program have also increased investor demand.
Both co-founders agree that if anyone wants to renovate their own home themselves and make it sensational, they can do it. “Be ready for the challenge, however,” Sief cautions. “Once you get started, persevere to the end. Few things are more satisfying than seeing your vision come alive in a house that is everything you want it to be.”
Techvestor is the one of the largest operators of STRs and is redefining passive investments for a new asset class. With more than seven and eight figures in LOIs and commitments, Techvestor is gearing up for Fund 2 in 2023, when it plans to expand further across the United States to more prime STR locations. For more information about Techvestor and passive investments in STRs, please see www.techvestor.com.