Tag: vacation rentals

500 Days of Summer, 100 Posts

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I have exciting news- this is my 100th post!  This means since May of last year I have written a post about every 5 days.  So far there have been 8,700 hits and 233 comments.  I wish there were even more comments, but am thoroughly grateful for the ones I’ve gotten! Thanks everyone.  The blog has turned into one of my favorite hobbies.  I love it!   (by the way, I should have my rightwingchickie guest blog ready tomorrow or Saturday. Just doing some final edits.  I am so excited!).

This week has been a fun week.  It has gone by quickly starting with getting our home, the Sammy, ready for the long term tennants.  This was quite the task with cleaning, gardening, moving furniture and more.  The new tenants came on Tuesday and are thrilled (not that there was any doubt!).  Now I have 2 vacation rentals and 2 long-term rentals.  In addition, today I got a call from a friend of my dad’s wanting me to find tenants for his long-term rental.  The business is growing so fast I can hardly keep up with it, but I am grateful to be busy.  As long as I can continue to work independently and be my own boss then I am happy.  Even with all the stresses and the never-ending work, the idea of going back to a regular job makes me nauseated.  I hope it never happens.

Once Tuesday was over (and the long days getting the house ready) I got to work Wednesday on my events calendar for Grabber warmers.  I have a booth and a warm team van I take to events all around Utah, and I had to get the calendar ready for my supervisor to approve.  It has been next to impossible to get this calendar ready by the end of the August (so I missed it by 3 days, it counts), but somehow I squeezed it in and it is done! Isn’t it the best feeling when a project is finished? Especially one you doubted your ability to complete?  It is the best!

With all this work you might wonder if I had any fun this week.  Fortunately last month I planned a long overdue Mary Kay party with my friend Laura South.  She had been encouraging me to host a party for a year or more and finally I found the time to do it on Wednesday.  After my recent debacles with enrichment parties (see Thoroughly Uncool) I wondered if anyone would come- particularly after several last minute cancellations.  I was seriously worried it would be me, Laura and my friend Suzanna.  To my surprise and delight the turn-out was great.  My friend Rachel H. brought 3 of her friends!  This in a addition to Suzanna, Melany, Anna and Becca.  Including Laura and myself we had 10 people.  My only regret is I was so busy hosting I forgot to take a picture! The food was good, the make up was fun and we all got great prices on good quality make-up.  I will definitely consider throwing another party.  Is it terrible to feel a little popular after such a party?  That is how I felt yesterday.  It was a nice feeling after a summer consumed with work (since Hawaii at least).

Today I took some time off wrote my article for right chicks, attended voice lessons with Anna (so excited!), and then had a lovely dinner with my great friend Angie Powell Barratt.  She recently got married and this was my first time to her house.  It is a charming house built in 1901 they are restoring bit-by-bit (so much cuter than some bland new house).  We talked the night away and it was a lovely evening.  I turned my phone on silent and just enjoyed myself.  Sometimes the best thing is eating a good meal with a lovely friend.

My last comment is on the movie 500 days of summer.  Maybe it is because I feel like there has been 500 days this summer, but I loved it.  There are so few movies which feel  authentically creative- too many are sequels or rip-offs of earlier, better movies.  The plot is about a young couple (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zoey Deschanel) that have a 500 day relationship.  In a very  creative way the story jumps around from one moment to another showing day 5,  301, 499 and back to 1 etc.  It takes a bunch of creative risks including non-linear storytelling, over-the-top narration, a large musical number, sketch drawing on the whole screen, dual panels with different story-lines, and more.  The acting was good,  writing funny, and the music was cool.  It does have a few objectionable things and probably earns its PG-13, but for adults it is wonderful.

One small thing I appreciated about the movie is its non-cliche ending.  The characters are not in a storybook relationship, but they still learn much from each other.   They are even unlikable  in whole sections of the movie- particularly Deschanel (her character is named Summer, hence 500 days of Summer).  In real life most people have a series of teaching relationships before meeting the right person. This movie shows the process of becoming the right person for someone else through a relationship. It is an unexpected and interesting movie on so many levels- characters, plot, sets, style and more.  It is also the kind of movie that is better in the theaters.  You will appreciate the creative touches more on the big screen.  I hope you all like it.  Let me know what you think!

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Visiting Bryce, Cedar City and the Classic Famiy Road Trip

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As I have mentioned many times on this blog that the last summer has been crazy for me.  I have gone from having one job, to thinking I had no job, to having 4 jobs!  In the next few weeks things should down as we have 3 of the vacation rentals converted into long term rentals.  I am glowingly proud of my work with these rentals. I think it is amazing I found 3  long-term tenants in under 2 months without a real estate license.  All I did was use Craigslist and KSL classifieds!  It has also been shocking at the level of  interest in a 6 bedroom furnished rental.  We are easily getting 3-4 calls a day on the house.  If I had my license I would go around Suncrest and call all the homes for rent or for sale and offer to manage their property.  I certainly have experience to brag about! I finally had to mark the homes  as sold on the old ads because I felt bad at disappointing people.  In addition, the two families moving into our homes in Draper are very nice.  They are great people- the best.

With all this work, (I have only begun to describe everything- it has been 7 days a week, long hours!) I was eagerly awaiting our family trip down to Southern Utah.  I think I could have been happy going just about anywhere but it was a particular treat to go to Cedar City and attend 3 plays at the Utah Shakespearean Festival.  It is a Tony Award winning festival with a traditional outdoor theater, renaissance food and a green show with entertainment before the plays.  It is one of my favorite things in Utah. In fact, attending the festival is one of the first theater experiecnes I remember.  When you are from a big family there isn’t a ton of alone time with parents.  This made it particularly special when my dad took me at 8 years old to see Taming of the Shrew, Blithe Spirit, Merchant of Venice, and Volpone.  I am not sure why it was just me but it was a great memory.  I still have the old programs.  Since that first trip I have been 5 or 6 times and just love it!

Before arriving at the festival things were a bit bumpy.  The original plan was to take the Greyhound down to Cedar and meet up with my family who would be arriving from California (they had to make the trip anyways because Anna was coming out to BYU).  Tuesday night (the night before their expected departure) Madeline got very sick.  We were even afraid she might have the swine flu but it was a different  infection (still not fun but better than the alternative).  At first we thought the entire trip would be off, but after a restful day  and antibiotics she was able to travel comfortably in the car.

This delay meant I arrived on the Greyhound (which despite all the horror stories was quite pleasant and affordable) and saw the first play by myself.  It worked out great because the hotel had  a shuttle, and I had food ordered to my room.  It was nice to have one day of vacation all to myself.  That night I saw Henry V, which was excellent.  It was probably  just as well that the kids couldn’t make it because it was a pretty serious and war-torn play.  I don’t know if they would have liked it.

On Friday the rest of my family arrived and we saw 2 plays- Comedy of Errors and As You Like It.  The former was our favorite.  It was funny and in an air conditioned auditorium.  (As much as I love the quaintness of the outdoor theater, it was brutally hot and muggy).  I have heard the festival is loosing funding and the shows aren’t able to get the professional actors they used to get.  I saw a little of this in As You Like It.  You think with all this stimulus money programs like the festival could get a little stimulus.  It is after all a tourist attraction to the city and generates income while being an artistic gem.  Oh well, that’s a topic for another post (btw, I have been selected to write  a guest post for the blog http://rightwingchicky.wordpress.com.  Still working on it but if you have any ideas let me know).

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After the festival we set off to see Bryce National Park and Capitol Reef National Park for 2 days.   Even with the car sickness, it was  beautiful-red rock formations bursting of more than just red.  Purple, orange, yellow, black, white and more.  We even saw some petroglyphs and laughed about an ancient pictionary game gone array.  Can’t you just picture someone carving in the stone and their wife saying “that’s supposed to be a warrior?”.

It was a lot of driving and we did grow weary of it after a while, but it was still a nice trip overall.  The one hick-up we had was on Sunday my dad decided to take a dirt road to show us some of his favorite camping sites.  Naturally I asked “why are we taking this road, when we can take the regular road”.  My dad responded “Because it is beautiful and it is a smooth road”.  I still can’t believe that a grown man was debating with me about taking a dirt road vs a regular road.  To me it makes as much sense as selecting a horse and carriage over a car!

So, we are going down this dirt road and all of the sudden I hear a hissing noise- almost like a rattle snake but it keeps going.

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My  dad  stops the car  and yes, you guessed it- we had a flat tire in the middle of nowhere.  To make matters worse we had borrowed the car from a friend and didn’t know where the jack was or any other items.   We also had tons of stuff in the car, which we had to remove in order to the get the jack.  It was one of the more complicated spares I have ever been a part of changing, but in fairly quick time my dad had it figured out and changed.  Unfortunately as we were getting back in the car dad checked out the other tires and noticed a bubble in the another one.  Clearly we only have one spare tire.  I can’t over-state that we were in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road.  It was the kind of place where you would expect to see a flying saucer!

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We only had one car pass us on the dirt road as we changed the tire and they didn’t even stop to see if we are ok.  Can you believe that? Rude!  My dad kept saying we could camp out overnight but we had no tents or pillows.  I am sure all of you can just see me camping out in the middle of nowhere waiting to be rescued.  Naturally I prayed extra hard we would get out alive and without having to camp out.  Thankfully we did just that, finally ending up in Price, UT.

There is a canyon going from Price to Spanish Fork and we were so nervous about the bubble in the tire that we decided to stay the night.  It was just too risky going on a narrow highway without a shoulder on a bad tire.  We ended up at the Price Holiday Inn in a double suite.  The room was nice and we even got to swim before the night was over. Big O Tires was open at 8 am Monday morning, so we had  the tires fixed early and got on our way early.  As much as I enjoyed the trip, I was definitely grateful to be back home, safe and not stuck on a dirt road in Southern Utah. I certainly will not need to take the scenic route again for a while!

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My family has been in town the rest of the week helping get Anna checked into college at my Alma matter Brigham Young University.  It was so great getting her settled into her apartment.  Today was the last day before my parents left and it was quite the goodbye.  It brought back so many memories of my first year at BYU.  It was a happy time in my life.  I was so excited and ready to be out on my own. I am almost envious of Anna and all the great experiences she is going to have.

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So, this has been a long, rambling travelogue.  My apologies, but it was an eventful couple of weeks.  Now I am back to work on sales tax, vacation rentals, real estate school, and Grabber events.  Busy, busy, busy, but happy.

Successful Renting!

Hurray! Yeah!  Super great! I have a simple post today.  One that doesn’t take too many words.  It is merely an exclamation of gratitude for a little success come my way.

I know I am a successful woman just for being me and living a good life but sometimes it feels good to have real concrete business success.  Today I had some!  As I mentioned in earlier posts I have been working hard lately on a variety of projects including managing 4 vacation rentals, finding long-term rentals for 2 of the homes, receiving training for sales tax work with Grabber, scheduling Grabber events, finding tenants for client with 25 properties, and trying to keep the maintenance and yard work up on the four properties.  Now I have not been alone in these various projects, but in the end the responsibility has been mine.  I have been working every day- even Saturday and Sunday.

It is because I have been working hard that today feels especially great.  It looks like I have found a long-term tenant for two of the homes! The second one has been tentatively reserved, and My dad will be making the contract and finalizing the deal in the next few days.  In addition, we had lowered the price from $2100 to $1950 but seeing the competition this tenant offered the rate of $2100! In this economy to be getting more for anything in real estate is pretty amazing!  This rate does not include utilities which are worked out with my dad.

Both families who are signing long-term contracts with us are fantastic.  They have kids, have good references and experience renting.  I think they will love the neighborhood and be happy in their new homes.  It’s funny because with 7 of my family members living up there (my uncle Jon and Aunt Carol, my uncle Tom and Aunt Jodi, my cousin Anne and her husband, and my Uncle Jim) they will probably hear more about me than I them.  I will certainly be aware quickly if any problem behaviors develop with the tenants.  (I have heard every landlord horror story over the last few weeks).

There is always the potential for problems, but I don’t anticipate any.  I am confident in the character and values of our tenants, and I think  I am doing a good thing finding them a house.  I wish I had houses for everyone who needed them.  I have given tours to at least 1o people in recent weeks and they all seemed very interested. In fact, I had 2 scheduled for tomorrow if things hadn’t come through. Someday I will hopefully be in a position as a property manager to find houses for all of them!

I don’t think there are many people who find 2 tenants for large properties before they even get their real estate license! I plan on taking my real estate classes starting in September, and  I will be able to start my new career as a property manager boasting success others can not match.  Plus, I will have the other work to stabilize my economics as I get things going.

The future looks bright and exciting! I know I will have to keep working hard, but a little success feels good.  With the crazy summer I have had- I need a little success.  The funny thing is I am not making any additional money with this sale, but I don’t really care.   It just makes me happy because I know what the success will do for me later on. The potential is great and thrilling!

In the meantime, I intend to work hard and put my faith in God.  I know any success is truly His and not mine. Hopefully days of success like this will keep coming! For now, I intend to let the little I have soak in.

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Update on Things

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It truly is amazing what can happen in a few days.   Let me quickly update all of you.   It is easier to explain things in categories:

Work- the vacation rentals- Things are still a little unsure with the rentals right now.  We are going to present our case before the board of directors at the end of August, and we will see if we can continue.  If not we will rent the homes as long term rentals.   In fact, we have already found a long term renter for our home the Benji (I found a renter in under 3 weeks- not bad hah!).  At the same time we are pleading our case we will show the other two homes to interested parties and if the right offer comes we will take it. Right now we are getting a lot of interest so things are looking good.  In the meantime I still have people coming and going throughout the end of the Summer and must keep the landscaping and other maintenance up to par (my dad and I  want the homes to be the best in the neighborhood both for our guests and to impress the HOA).

Work- other opportunities- so at the same time the vacation rentals is or may be winding down I have several new opportunities.   First of all, I am going to continue to run events for Grabber handwarmers.  This is something I did last year where we set up a booth at local Winter sport venues and festivals to give out free product. It is a lot of fun and a great way to meet new people.  Plus, it is outside and I am all about work that doesn’t keep me at a desk all day (although the cold weather is no fun!).

In addition to the events, I am going to be doing sales tax entries for Grabber.  This should be easy and a nice steady stream of income that I can still do mostly from my home.  It’s not hard- just a bunch of little steps that have to be kept track of.  I will go in and get training soon.

The most exciting new opportunity for me is I have a new client for property management.  It is a long story but there is a company I have been working with for about 2 months with- giving them the vacation rental referrals we could not fill.  I met up with him last month, and he was very impressed with my occupancy rate and what I had done with nothing more than excel and a google calendar (they have a fancy vacation rental software- oh la la!).  Like I said, I have been giving them our referrals and finally yesterday one of them came through and made a reservation, so I sent the president of the company an email that said “Since we have successfully given you a lead I think it is time to talk
about a commission? Rachel.”.

He emailed me back saying “It sounds like its time to pay Rachel.  Congrats……..the way I see it is when we convert a lead from you, rachel gets paid 10 percent.  I’d also  like to talk to you about more than just commissions on leads.  I think u could really help us internally.  Let’s talk tomorrow.”!

Now I not only get 10% ($249 nt for a week=$1743= $174.30 for me!) but I am also going to be able to do regular work for his rentals.  I am convinced I can increase his occupancy rate.  Afterall, I have our homes the Sammy and the Anna full an average of 24 days a month!  Hard to get better than that.

It’s a great opportunity, and I am SO EXCITED!

As you can tell I have a lot going on with work- almost to the point of being a little overwhelming- but mostly exciting.  It’s the next chapter in my life and it will allow me to continue to be self-employed, which is more important than anything else.  I shutter at the thought of returning to a full-time desk job.  It’s not for me.

Moving on to another exciting development:

School-  I have signed up to get my real estate license.  It is through Stringham Real Estate Schools in Murray, Ut.   To get the license you have to take around 50 classess that are kind of like seminars (no home work, just come to class and take a quiz after).  I can do the classes either online or at the ground campus, and I can do up to 4 a day.   Some people finish in as short as 6 weeks, others take a couple of months.  Amazingly enough, the whole course is only $450 with a $14 book fee and later test/license fees).  In the world of education it is a bargain.  Getting this license will make it easier for me to market my property management skills to others.  Legally I should have it for what I am currently doing but since it has been with my dad I haven’t bothered.  Now is the perfect opportunity to get this done.  I know some people hate school, but I actually enjoy it.  I may not like every class, but I like the general process of learning new things.  I was starting to feel the itch to go back to school and this fits perfectly.  I am thrilled.

While I am busy with work and school I am also trying to enjoy my life.  Lately I have had a great time with old and new friends.  Tomorrow is book club, which I am always excited about.  Plus, I have my calling in church, my community service goal and the ongoing fitness challenge I mentioned a few entries ago (lost 9 lbs so far!).   Not to mention I have this blog I want to keep up (nearly 100 posts in just over a year).

For all of you Latter-day Saint women- my friends and I are doing something creative you might find interesting.  For visiting teaching  (a church program where we make calls on each other, to make sure we are doing well in all aspects of our life) this month we are gathering together at my apartment for a big dinner.  I am inviting my girls, they are inviting their girls and so on. As a group we will teach the lesson, socialize and make sure everyone is doing ok.  If this works I intend to do it many if not all months.   Feel free to steal my idea!  The dinner is this Wednesday, so I will let you know how it goes in a later post.

I recognize this was a very random post, but I wanted to let everyone know how things are going.  It has been a wild nearly 2 months since I returned from Hawaii, especially with work.  I was pretty stressed out there for a while; however, t just as many of you reassured me things have turned out for the best, and I am looking forward to the future.  It is going to be busy but productive and exciting!  Thanks for all your support and I will keep the blog posted on all the latest developments.

Success and Sweat Glands

Zig Zagler the motivational speaker said “success is dependent upon the glands – sweat glands.” I have experienced this type of success this week. As many of you know I have been working hard with my dad to get our vacation rentals ready for the first renters. It was a lot of work and I mean the physically grueling work of lifting, moving, cleaning and organizing (and even shopping can get exhausting).

I wish I could adequately paint a picture of all we have accomplished. Let me just say that on May 31st the current renters came for a tour of the properties. At that time one was mostly finished but the other needed a lot of work. For starters, the basement hadn’t even had sheet rock installed. After their tour I could tell the renters were skeptical that we could get it done on time (and to be honest I was a bit skeptical myself). Since that day we have put in many 10-14 hour days and with the help of a great team we managed to pull it off in a spectacular way. You really wouldn’t believe the transformation if you saw it. Our work included not only the construction but the furnishing, design and organization of the entire house. We had to purchase and clean everything from furniture to plates/pots and pans/TV’s etc. I even learned a lot about home decoration adding plants, flowers and photography to each room. Everything is luxurious and beautiful. The renters couldn’t believe all we had done. It is like a different house. Here are some pictures.

In addition to all the physical work of late there has also been the mental work of marketing the properties and handling new reservations (we are booked for most of July and already getting August!). We had to create a contract, get the contracts out, organize a reservation system, run deposits, set up VRBO.com accounts and more.

With all of this craziness it’s been hard to squeeze in any social time. I hope that in the next few weeks I can do better at that. I miss my friends! I think whenever you start something new (a new job, new move etc) you have to figure out what mixture of work/friends/church etc works for your life and schedule. It takes time.

Anyway, I feel this is a fractured post but I wanted to share with you’all the sense of accomplishment I feel at having gotten renters in the properties. It was a lot of work and sweat but like Zig says that’s what makes success. It certainly feels good to be proud of my work and and to do something I really enjoy (even when it is hard I still like it). I guess Heavenly Father knew what he was doing when he had me quit my job and job hunt for months with no success. He was leading me to these experiences and this growth. I am so grateful for that. Grateful, proud and happy! Here is a picture of how I feel- a self portrait you might say (except I don’t have such large earrings!).