Mike Chen literally grew up in the restaurant business and has worn hats as an accountant, real estate investor, property manager, real estate agent, and of course, short-term rental property owner and manager. His desire to have a place near one of his family’s favorite vacation destinations, Disney World, that he could return to year-after-year, led him to start FunStay Homes.
Can you tell us a little bit about your history?
How it all began!
Once upon a time, in a faraway land, a young prince lived in a shining castle…. Oops! Wait a minute—that’s a different story…
Let’s try this again.
Our journey into investing in short-term rentals dates back to the spring of 2017, when my family and I visited Disney World, Florida, for the first time. Let’s just say, I won Father of the Year in 2017. It all started when my kids visited the Magic Kingdom and told me, “Daddy, this is the best place ever.” It dawned on me that I could purchase property and have an amazing time with my family here year after year, creating memories that would last a lifetime. The expenses would be offset by renting out the property when we were not using it. This is when we decided to take the plunge and invest in a short-term rental. We never expected this purchase to change our lives…. forever!! We now own 10+ STRs, and we’ve started our own booking company called FunStay Homes. In addition, I’m also a licensed realtor in Orlando, FL, specializing in helping people buy and sell vacation homes, specializing in the Orlando area, specifically, the Sunbridge and Windsor Cay Resort communities.
You can read my full story HERE on how we got started
What is your personal/professional background?
I had been working in the finance industry for over 20+ years but never enjoyed working behind a desk and crunching numbers. My wife, Joyce, worked in the IT field for over 20 years; she also wanted to start her own career in real estate. We purchased our first home in 2005, and we realized investing in real estate was the best way to build wealth. I started my side hustle, investing in rental properties while working full-time as an accountant in 2011. My wife and I saved everything we could to come up with the down payment to purchase a rental property. We had an aggressive plan to buy 2 properties per year so we could quickly build a big enough passive income to one day quit our day jobs and do what we love: become full-time real estate investors and real estate agents. In 2016, our portfolio grew to 10+ long-term rental properties, and that’s when we realized we needed something a little more profitable, fun, and exciting. We decided to purchase our first vacation home in Orlando in 2017.
What do you love most about the VR business?
Every day is challenging, and hospitality is fun! My interest in serving people started at an early age, when my dad would take me to his restaurant on the weekends and after school because I was too young to stay home by myself. I watched my dad cook in the kitchen and my mom serve customers in the dining room. I started helping my parents at the restaurant at an early age and grew a passion for helping people and making customers smile. I wanted to make sure our guests had a great time and raved about our restaurant when they left. I don’t own restaurants now, but providing accommodations is the same concept with a lot more responsibilities, because you are part of creating lasting memories for your guests from all over the world.
What do you dislike the most about it?
The STR business is not passive income! You have to keep learning, adapting and pivoting. The industry is always changing, and you have to learn to deal with the ever changing expectations from your guests. There’s never a dull moment in STR.
How do you use OwnerRez to manage your business?
At FunStay Homes, we use OwnerRez primary for integration across platforms and for increasing our private bookings so we can rely less on Airbnb and VRBO.
What is the most useful feature that OwnerRez offers?
The most useful feature is the hosted website. We love this feature because we can integrate the backend and frontend all in one place. We get so many compliments from guests and clients saying how great our website looks. We stand out from the crowd with a dedicated beautiful website to showcase our homes for guests to book.
Thanks for sharing your story, Mike, and for making your dream vacations and the dream vacations of other families become a reality. You forgot to end your fairy tale-like story with… “and they lived happily ever after.”