Every once in a while a real estate listing pops up that makes you gasp. Like, literally inhale so violently that your coworkers look up from their desks and ask, "What? What is it?" This listing for a $3250 per month, 650-square-foot studio in Clarksville did just that.
But let's back up.
On Tuesday morning, a listing appeared on Craiglist advertising a fully furnished, 650-square-foot studio apartment in Clarksville. The post directed users back to a website which featured rental listings for the studio and a two-bedroom cottage with which it shares a lot. (The cottage rents for $3450 per month.)
A few hours after it was published, the listing started making the rounds on social media before finally landing in the hands of eager Redditors, one of whom summed up the feeling of many Austinites when he or she wrote, "This is making San Francisco look more affordable." To get the bottom of this, CultureMap reached out to owner Brian Stansberry to answer the many, many questions we had about the studio at 1629 Waterston Ave.
First, a little history. Stansberry, a Texas native, began renting fully furnished properties in Washington, D.C. He financed his first property with the $2000 he made selling his 1985 Jeep CJ5 and leveraged that into a small company that rents fully furnished apartments and houses in D.C.'s now revitalized (and very, very expensive) Capitol Hill neighborhood.
While living in the District, Stansberry would return to Austin often, usually staying in the Pecan Grove RV Park. When he decided to move to Austin, Stansberry found he was charmed by Clarksville's walkability and friendly neighbors. When his realtor showed him the Waterston property (which used to be an old auto body shop), Stansberry put in an offer within hours. Since moving in earlier this year, Stansberry has created a series of rental properties in addition to his residence.
Though the initial sticker shock can be, well, shocking, Stansberry points out that these properties are meant to be short-term. "We hope to get mainly a few types of tenants — people moving to Austin and not sure yet of where they want to settle and those in town for a few months on business [or] for school — academics on a semester long program," he explains. He also notes that he is open to negotiating with tenants looking for a longer term rental.
Unlike traditional rentals which are priced to be competitive with the rental market, short-term properties are meant to compete with the hospitality market. "We priced these places to be very price competitive with extended stay hotels and to give people a chance to experience a really great Austin neighborhood," he said.
Indeed, the Waterston properties are competitive with similar properties listed on sites like Airbnb and Homeaway. "We figured a lot of people would much prefer a full neighborhood immersion experience over a stay in a hotel. That way they can get out and eat at the local restaurant, use the local dry cleaner, take their dog to the local vet," says Stansberry.
Though the studio is still under construction, Stansberry says he hopes to have the property ready for short-term rental by January. As far as the cottage, it is rented through June 2015. For more information, including rates and contact information, head here.