This is a "tell-it-to-you" essay, based on an interview with Dave Claunch. He owns the Bloomhouse rental in Austin, Texas. This essay has been edited to make it shorter and clearer.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
About 10 years prior to my wife Susan and me buying it, I knew about the Bloomhouse. Although I knew the exact location, I had never been there.
We were searching for an investment property to either flip or set up as a holiday rental. We were looking to partner up with a friend who runs a vacation rental management company, Lodgewell.
The Bloomhouse was on the front of the Business Journal that I received one day in my office. It was a color insert with high-end properties. I thought that it would be a great investment if we were able to make it work.
Why we invested in property
We bought the Bloomhouse in April 2017 and renovated it for 18-months. It went online in January 2019. It had been listed for about six to seven months when we purchased it. This is unusual in Austin, Texas.
It was even more shocking that the appraised value of the property was lower than its land value. The 1970s-era building was reducing its value, and people were looking at it to tear it down and build a McMansion. I believe the sellers refused these advances because they wanted it to be preserved.
The Bloomhouse's front door is reached by a special path. Dave Claunch, via BI
We were searching for something more traditional but my passion for this unique property as an art piece drove our decision. No one else was stupid enough to purchase it and renovate it -- except for me.
The outside of the Bloomhouse. Dave Claunch, via BI
The economics were good, but the building was in bad shape and had many problems. Mold was present and the plumbing had calcified.
How to party-proof your rental property
I took a big leap of faith to fix up the property, solve all the problems and make money at the end. It was not my goal to simply return the property to its original state. I wanted it to be as perfect as possible, but also party proofed because vacation rentals are torn down pretty quickly.
I was aware that people often buy cheap furniture, and then it breaks. So I made sure to make everything as durable and long-lasting as possible. Lodgewell does an excellent job of screening applicants. We limit our rental to four people to attract those who appreciate the artful side of the building and are not thinking, "Hey this is cool, let's have a kegger."
How to prevent vandalism in our rental property
Furniture and decor for the living room. Dave Claunch, via BI
There haven't been any major issues. You'd have to really try to break the concrete. Certain things are more fragile, but the interior walls have about an inch of stucco.
The couch in the family room. Dave Claunch, via BI
The contents have been damaged to a certain extent -- furniture has broken or carpets have become stained -- but maintenance is less about fixing damage caused by renters, and more about maintaining the building so that it looks nice.
Renters can be classified into two types:
Creatives are the ones who love it most.
The bedroom. The bedroom.
The price of a two-bedroom home with one bedroom starts at $400 per night, and can increase depending on the season. All the guests are creative and appreciate art. I have friends in finance or accounting who feel uncomfortable at Bloomhouse. They don't like the way it makes them feel. The creatives are the ones who feel most comfortable.
The first hour is a little disorienting because we are used to walls that are square and even, and the structure on the inside feels so organic. You feel a bit out of place.
The Bloomhouse bath. The Bloomhouse bathtub.
After an hour, I have heard from people that I've spoken to and my own experience is that it feels really comfortable. After a few days, you think "Oh my god, why aren’t all buildings this comfortable?" It's much better."
How do we market our rental properties?
Our management company reports that 60% of our bookings are from Airbnb, 10% from VRBO and 30% from direct bookings.
We do have social media accounts, but are not very active. This is my side gig, and I am busy with other things. We don't actively promote the property, although my wife occasionally posts. We're fine with the fact that most of it is through news articles or word-of-mouth.
The staircase of the Bloomhouse. Dave Claunch, via BI
A few videos about the Bloomhouse have also gone viral. For example, one TikTok video posted in June received nearly two million views. The property's unique artistic value has been a surprise to many people.
The Bloomhouse has a reading nook. Dave Claunch, via BI
We are booked 90% of the time. I attribute this to the uniqueness and beauty of the property. We bought it to have it as an income stream and as an investment, but we also wanted it preserved as a work of art.