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  • Sabrina Guler is the cofounder of Techvestor, a $65 million fund with 130 short-term rentals.
  • She started off with a single condo, and has “made a lot of mistakes” in growing the business.
  • Now she’d never buy a condo for a short-term rental, and isn’t afraid to take on debt.

Sabrina Guler got her start in real estate with a bold proposition. When she was 7, she offered her grandmother $20 for her house because she loved it so much.

Now Guler, who was highlighted in Business Insider’s annual list of up-and-comers to watch in real estate, oversees a $65 million fund called Techvestor. It owns and manages 130 short-term rentals in nine states across the country, with properties in Memphis, Tennessee; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains.

Techvestor allows accredited investors to funnel $25,000 or more into short-term rentals that the company acquires, kits out, and manages. It then distributes income among its investors.

Over the three years she’s helmed the company, Techvestor has carved out a niche in catering to family getaways and large groups with children. But, that’s not how Guler started out.

“At first, I wanted to go the safest route,” she said.

Guler breaks down four of her biggest takeaways about starting a successful short-term-rental business.

Never buy a condo for a short-term rental investment

Before Guler launched Techvestor, she bought a two-bedroom condo in Tuscon, Arizona, for $145,000 with plans to use it as a second home and rent it out long-term.

She quickly realized that tons of nearby condominiums were bringing in around $4,000 a month and were consistently booked on Airbnb. She changed tactics and decided to list the property as a short-term rental.

A sprawling backyard with a pool, basketball court, and putting green.

The backyard of a Scottsdale property that Guler’s company renovated.

Jason Wentworth from Desert Lens Photography.



Now, she said, “I would never buy a condo ever again for an investment, for many reasons.”

Initially she was attracted to the fact that, with condos, someone else takes care of the grounds, the landscaping, and other external fixes. But having a homeowners association comes with its downsides for short-term rentals, chiefly that the HOA has control over whether or not owners can rent their properties.

“I don’t use that property as a short-term rental anymore. It’s a long-term rental,” she said. “I did that because the HOA changed. It required 30-day-minimum rentals. That’s actually a big thing that I teach people — I would not recommend buying a condo for that reason.”

Don’t be afraid to take on debt

With that first condo buy, Guler said she put down 15% rather than the minimum required, 10%.

“In the real-estate investing world, a lot of people love to lean on leverage, and leverage actually scared me in the beginning,” she said. “It was my first property and I had never taken out debt.”

She’s since learned that some corners of the investment world teach you to put as little down as possible, as there is an “art” to balancing leverage that can help you scale up your investment portfolio.

“I did a lot of things wrong with my first rental,” she admitted. “Now I wouldn’t do that.”

Turnkey properties are not a good investment

Guler started off looking for turnkey properties when she started in short-term rentals. Now, with three years of experience under her belt, she believes targeting bland turnkeys is a recipe for getting lost in the ultra-competitive short-term-rental space.

Hosts that don’t invest the time and energy to stand out, she believes, won’t see big returns.

“They think all you need is a cute little mural and a couple of midcentury couches, and you can call it a day,” she said.

Nighttime view of a home's backyard with a purple-lit poo and orange reclining chairs.

A nighttime view of a Techvestor property.

Jason Wentworth from Desert Lens Photography.



Techvestor now buys single-family properties with “big lots” that have the most potential for what Guler calls “amenity-filled renovations.” Techvestor completes renovations that can total up to $200,000 to trick out homes that are designed for big family getaways.

The company aims for a minimum nightly rate of $200, and its website said it’s able to fetch premiums because of design, functionality, experience, reviews, and the automation it employs to deliver payouts to Techvestor’s 500 investors.

“What makes our properties so lucrative, and what pushes our properties on the top of the SEO on Airbnb, is we custom-create all these amenities and outdoor spaces,” she said. “That is what gets our properties to rent.”

The company has installed custom pickleball courts, putting greens, barbecuing stations, basketball courts, and ping pong tables to make properties where a family can stay without leaving for entertainment.

“You’re here to spend time at the house,” she said. “We want to make sure that every dollar you spent you banked on it.”

Realize that running a short-term-rental fund can zap some passion

Guler got into the short-term-rental business because of her passion for interior design. Some of her favorite memories from the early days were picking out pillows and couches for her first rental.

But after scaling up so quickly from one condo to 130 properties in three years, bouncing across the country by car and plane to make sure each of Techvestor’s rentals was furnished perfectly, Guler said she couldn’t focus just on her design passion.

“I tell people who want to get into this space, do you really want to run a fund? Do you really want to get into something of this size?” she said. “Because you can lose your tastefulness in this process, scaling this big.”

Her tip: If you really enjoy the creative side of investing, do something smaller, like investing in boutique hotels.

“That’s what I learned coming out of my condo world into a fund. You lose the creative touch on every single project because you’re running a business now,” she said. “It’s run on data and it needs to succeed numerically. You can’t just like the pillows on Amazon.”

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Axel Springer, Insider Inc.’s parent company, is an investor in Airbnb.