Angela Healy is the CEO and owner of AvenueWest Managed Global Housing and AvenueWest Global Franchise. AvenueWest is a network of real estate agencies focused on fully furnished residential housing for corporations, delivering real estate investors a turnkey solution for property management.
In this episode, Angela gives a comprehensive breakdown of the benefits of corporate housing, including the ideal locations, the properties corporations are paying top dollar for, and the variety of tenants property managers can target to maximize occupancy.
Angela Healy | Real Estate Background
- CEO and owner of AvenueWest Managed Global Housing and AvenueWest Global Franchise
- 500+ units
- Based in: Lakewood, CO
- Say hi to her at:
- Best Ever Book: The Art of Breathing, by Danny Penman, PhD
- Greatest Lesson: Don’t be so focused on the future that you forget to celebrate milestones reached along the way.
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Ash Patel: Hello, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I'm Ash Patel and I'm with today's guest, Angela Healy. Angela is joining us from Lakewood, Colorado. She is the CEO and owner of Avenue West Managed Global Housing, an Avenue West global franchise. Angela's portfolio consists of over 500 units. Angela, thank you for joining us, and how are you today?
Angela Healy: I'm doing very well. Thank you so much for having me, Ash.
Ash Patel: It's our pleasure. Before we get started, can you give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background, and what you're focused on now?
Angela Healy: Absolutely. So Avenue West Managed Corporate Housing is a network of real estate agencies focused on fully furnished residential housing for corporations. So corporations will bring people in on assignment, or they'll relocate people to their location, and they need housing for 30 or longer days. Our average stay is about four months. So we're just providing that for our corporate clients.
Ash Patel: That sounds very lucrative.
Angela Healy: It sure is, thank you.
Ash Patel: Alright. So you said it's a collection of real estate agencies.
Angela Healy: They're all Avenue West, and we have 15 cities across the country right now, looking to grow in a lot more cities. So expansion is on the horizon. But the companies that we're working with, whether they're headquartered in Denver, or California, or on the East Coast, they have offices throughout the country. So they're asking us to be in additional cities, so we're actively looking for additional agents to join our agency.
Ash Patel: When you say agents, Angela, do you mean real estate agents?
Angela Healy: Yes.
Ash Patel: Okay. So if I'm a real estate agent in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and I want to become a part of Avenue West, what do I do?
Angela Healy: We are a franchise. So there is a Franchise Disclosure Document that we would need to get to you. But then we would bring you through all the training, teach you how to do corporate housing, to provide the properties exactly like the corporations are looking for. And then there's also additional real estate business that comes kind of ancillary to the corporate housing... So the corporate housing is a good theater for, one, investors that are looking at putting properties in your program, you can help them buy or sell those properties, but then two, as people are relocating to the area, you can be the agent to help them buy their permanent location after they've stayed in your temporary housing.
Ash Patel: Interesting. So you convert the client into a homeowner?
Angela Healy: Yes, we do.
Ash Patel: Okay. Do you have to be a real estate agent? Because this sounds like a lot of fun, but I don't want to get my real estate license.
Angela Healy: Sure. So in order to manage other people's properties, you do have to be a licensed realtor. If you want to partner with someone who is a realtor, maybe they could do the real estate side, and you could do the corporate housing side. So we have seen a little bit of that. But somebody does need to have a real estate license.
Ash Patel: Got it. So this is not for me. How did you get started in this?
Angela Healy: When I was very little, my parents had rental properties that they rented out fully furnished, and saw how lucrative that was compared to unfurnished; they actually put all four children through private college with that side business of theirs. So after I graduated from college, I was a commercial lender, I had nothing to do with real estate, but I did get my real estate license on the side, and thought, "Oh, I'll just dabble in this." And then as I got into it, and saw how much opportunity there really was in what we were doing, I moved over from commercial lending and haven't looked back.
Ash Patel: Angela, right now all the rage is short term rentals. Who makes more money - the STR folks, or the corporate housing people?
Angela Healy: Certainly, from a short-term rental, if you're in a vacation spot where you can rent out the property pretty consistently on an annual basis - not just we have people come in the summer, and then in the winter you're vacant - you can really work that property and make the most out of that investment. When I think of corporate housing, it's definitely the sweet spot, in my opinion, because it's not quite as much work as all the churn and flips and wear and tear that you get from a vacation rental, but we still make very high dollar for our fully furnished property. So I think it's the sweet spot.
Ash Patel: Is there a price point that you shoot for? I'm assuming higher-end properties.
Angela Healy: It is. So corporations are paying top dollar for the property. So they want a Class A property. We're not looking for a transition neighborhood... Because the other thing corporations are looking for is safety, because they're responsible for the employees that they're putting into the property. So if something were to happen to that employee, that's a real concern of theirs. So they're really looking for safety and security. A lot of our buildings that we work with have 24 hour doorman, FOB access, real secure buildings. So really, it's that class A -- you want it to be newer, you want to have newer finishes, and you really need to have it be a high-end product that you're offering to the corporations.
Ash Patel: Angela, do you cater to families or individuals? And the example that I'm thinking of - let's say there's a vice president who comes from across the coast, they're staying in one of your properties... Does she bring her family in, or is it just her and she flies home to visit her family? Do you have to accommodate families or individuals?
Angela Healy: We do. Pre-COVID, a lot of times the individual traveler may come and they may stay in a one bedroom, so that 75% of our units, were one-bedroom properties. And then they would fly home on the weekends. Post-COVID, we really saw a shift in our overall portfolio mix, where now about 15% of our properties are the single family homes, because the family unit is traveling with the executive. A lot of the children can do online school, or whatever it might be, so they're sticking together as a family unit... And some of them are using the opportunity to say "Okay, I don't need to be in California anymore to go into my job every single day of the week... So why don't I use this opportunity to give my children a great education and go to different locations, have them experience the culture and everything that that new city has to offer for a month, and then go to another city and do it again?" So we're seeing some of that as well. So about 15% of our portfolio is now single family homes, with yards, capability of accepting pets... So all of that is on the table now.
Ash Patel: Is that trending higher? Or has that plateaued?
Angela Healy: That is a really good question. If you had asked me a couple of months ago, I would say it was trending higher. But recently, I think we are seeing people coming back to the one-bedrooms as well... So it may have plateaued. I still think there will always be a need for it, because people will always be relocating. It's just whether that was quite as high as it was post-pandemic.
Ash Patel: Got it. And in terms of location, do you strive to be near Fortune 500 headquarters, new, emerging industries? What's the magic there?
Angela Healy: Certainly Fortune 500 headquarters. Corporations want their employees to be as close as possible. So I have people come to me all the time... I'm only 10 miles away, but it's just not the right property. If they can be within walking distance to that corporate headquarters, that is ideal. So if you're a commercial real estate agent or investor and you're putting a commercial property up, you want to look around and say, "Okay, who's going to not only rent this building from me, but if it is a Fortune 500 company, where are they going to put their employees in corporate housing once they rent this building?" That's a key consideration, I think, when you're a commercial investor.
Ash Patel: As the real estate owner, how do you find the corporate housing person in charge for whatever corporation you're approaching?
Angela Healy: That's one of our secret sauces, right? [laughs] Obviously, we want investors to come and put their properties in with our program, because we have those relationships, and we have a team of national salespeople of which we've just added a very high power industry veteran, Brent Bemis to our team... And they're bringing those relationships to the table.
So if a particular company is letting people go, and consolidating, that's still good for corporate housing, because they're consolidating those employees to a new location, new city, and will provide the housing during that consolidation. So whether they're adding people, subtracting, whatever it may be, as long as they are changing the number of employees that they have, that's good for corporate housing, and we see that activity.
Ash Patel: So a few weeks ago, when Microsoft announced they're laying off 10,000 people, that's when you want to swarm in and say, "Hey, look, I gotcha." Is that right?
Angela Healy: Well, you certainly can, because they're not going to keep every commercial location that they currently have. They're gonna consolidate those people into fewer locations, because they're looking at that expense as well. It's not just the people, it's the facilities, and everything associated with it.
Ash Patel: Interesting. So a company like Microsoft - well, maybe not that big; most large corporations. Is their corporate housing centralized, or are they regionalised?
Angela Healy: For most of them, they are centralized. They have a Mobility Manager that will handle those relationships, and they work with the relocation company that they have contracted out. So between those two, they would handle most of that activity.
Ash Patel: So one of your companies, Gillette, or Miller Coors can call you and say, "Angela, what do you have in Memphis, Tennessee?" So you're the point person for them.
Angela Healy: Correct.
Ash Patel: And then you scramble and find something in Memphis, Tennessee.
Angela Healy: Well, hopefully we have it in our inventory already. If we don't, we have partners across the country that can also help us facilitate an area where we might not have something directly.
Ash Patel: I would think partnering with short-term rental owners would be ideal, because their suites, their apartments, their resorts are already furnished. Has that worked out in the past, or no?
Angela Healy: Not always. A lot of times the short-term, like the Airbnbs, whether they are somebody's secondary residence and there's too much personal property inside the property - when a property owner puts their property in with Avenue West, we will go through and completely make it to our standard. No personal items, not a lot of fluff associated with it, but has all the required furniture, and internet, and everything associated.
Ash Patel: Angela, we were talking about short-term rentals being ideal for corporate housing, and you made a great point in that you can't have personal items left behind... Because if you're staying somewhere for four months, you want it to feel like home, and not like you're borrowing somebody else's house, right?
Angela Healy: Correct.
Ash Patel: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Angela Healy: Yes. And a lot of the properties that we walk into, we just end up having to completely come in and convert them over to our standards. And then once they get up to that standard, then they typically leave it that way, instead of their personal items still being there.
Ash Patel: And this might be a silly question, but does it come fully furnished with towels, extra linens, kitchenware, everything?
Angela Healy: It does, and we have that standard list of inventory that's required. And then we also do a linen and towels service. So the property owners aren't leaving linens and towels in; we're providing those items into the property, such that whenever we do a maid service or a turn clean, we're able to just come in, take all those items out and put fresh in, and then wash them back at our industrial machines back in our location, instead of trying to run them through the washing machine at the property.
Ash Patel: Industrial machines. So you're scaling each location that you go to.
Angela Healy: Yes.
Ash Patel: What's the minimum number to where you can [unintelligible 00:13:10.09] some of the pain?
Angela Healy: Every new franchise, our target is to get them to a minimum of 30 properties.
Ash Patel: Wow. Okay.
Angela Healy: ...where one person, or a husband/wife team can easily handle the 30 properties. If that franchise owner then wants to scale larger than that, they can. So we have several offices, we have over 100 properties, and that's where you really see the economies of scale, and job responsibilities as well. You're able to hire people specifically for certain jobs, instead of one person wearing every hat.
Ash Patel: I'm assuming you have to go into major cities... What's the most rural market you have?
Angela Healy: So right now we do have an office in Fort Collins, Colorado. Our target is to have at least a million people or more. What's unique about Fort Collins is that it has the university there, that does a lot of tech spin-offs; so bigger companies like Microsoft have an office there. So we're able to piggyback off of some of the tech that's associated with that.
We also have a location in Colorado Springs, which is a real defense city; it has several military bases all within a 30 mile radius of each other... So there can be other drivers, but yes, our target is a million or more in the population.
Ash Patel: Alright, my wheels are turning here. Let's take Bentonville, Arkansas, for example, the home of Walmart. Do you have anything there?
Angela Healy: I don't. I would love to, but I don't.
Ash Patel: Well, so how do we evaluate that? Walmart's been one of the biggest companies out there for many years. I would imagine there's a ton of hotels around their headquarters... Is there a way to analyze that market and see if there's a need for short-term corporate housing?
Angela Healy: Sure. And if you think about it, if you're a corporation and you're going to give your employee that experience, "I'm going to recruit you and bring you to our headquarters", do you want to put them in a hotel for three months? That's not really a good, viable long-term option. Some people may like it, they might like the happy hour and the free breakfast that comes along with it... But at the end of the day, do you want to be eating out all the time? Do you want to be able to cook your own food? Do you want to have more space than 350 to 400 square feet? Do you want to have a real desk, maybe a full office, or just a little desk area? So there's some considerations. Do you have outdoor space? Is there a balcony? Most hotels just have windows, and sometimes they don't even open. So it's really the experience that we're trying to offer to the employee, and in a tight labor market, that experience can mean everything with regards to them choosing your job over someone else's.
Ash Patel: That is a great point, because you're right - how long does somebody want to spend in a hotel? ...even if it is like an executive suite; you want a proper kitchen, maybe a patio, or a garage to put your car in. Lots of rental cars, you probably don't care, but I get that. I totally get that. Like, have your family over - you're not going to invite them over... If you're in a really cool area, what are you gonna do, invite them over and have them stay in your suite? Or it'd be nice to have the kids have their own room... Great point. So even if a market is already penetrated, there's still room where you can go in there, maybe provide a better service or a higher-end home to capture some of that market share.
Angela Healy: Yeah. And the other piece that we're seeing corporate housing is with summer interns. So the reason that corporations bring summer interns in is not just to get some work done over the summer, but it's to qualify these people to potentially become employees of their organization afterwards. So where 20 years ago you might have put four interns into a two-bedroom and had them bunk up, now some of these corporations that really have a very tight labor market are really pulling out all the stops for their interns, in terms of their housing in order to be able to then recruit them after they graduate.
Ash Patel: Again, my wheels are turning and I'm thinking when the college students are no longer in school is when the interns start, so you can find something that you can rent for a very high amount over the summer. Great solution. Are you targeting, other than just corporations, traveling nurses or airline pilots?
Angela Healy: Yes. Anyone who is moving around, absolutely. And it's not just traveling nurses and doctors or the airline pilots. And typically with the airline pilots, what the airlines does is they will find properties, and then they'll rotate the people out, depending on who's flying in that day and who's flying out. It's a little bit different of a service, but certainly very viable. But then also, the insurance claims - something happens to your home, it got flooded, there was a fire, and you have to move out? So we do see insurance claims.
We also see, especially in a tight housing market, we saw where people were selling their home before purchasing another home, because they couldn't have the contingency in order to be able to be successful in purchasing that new home. So we were putting them up even for a temporary stay, whether it be 30, 60 days, 90-day stay, depending on how long it took them to find their new house; or if they're building a house, and it's not ready yet, but yet they had to sell the old house in order to qualify for the loan.
We also see grandparents, they're coming to visit the brand new grandbaby, but they don't want to be in the house with the grandbaby. They want to be able to go somewhere else and put their head down and be able to sleep that night. But they want to be around for a month in order to help their daughter or their son.
Ash Patel: I love that, and I don't know that people ever think that. How do the grandparents know to look for short-term housing, instead of a hotel or an Airbnb?
Angela Healy: We do advertise on Airbnb. All of our properties are listed there, but they're just there for a minimum of a 30-day stay. So a lot of times we do find that particular tenant through Airbnb; or their children may know of us in the area already, so sometimes it's a referral from the child.
Ash Patel: Angela, what's the minimum length of stay?
Angela Healy: It is 30 days. Some cities like Las Vegas it's 31 days. They might have a slightly different requirement. But we're trying to stay within the real estate law of that particular city, where we're not doing the hotel lodging tax items, so...
Ash Patel: Got it. So for someone that's visiting family for an extended period of time, or if you have family visiting you, maybe do a search for corporate housing, instead of short-term rentals.
Angela Healy: Yes.
Ash Patel: It's great hack. I love this.
Angela Healy: And then you're gonna find a property that is 100% serviced by a company that's used to dealing with that duty of care that we have; as a Corporate Housing Providers Association member, we have a duty of care to every one of our guests. So you know that you're gonna get the quality of what you're looking for.
Ash Patel: I would imagine your furnishings have to be higher end, and not the typical IKEA living room set...
Angela Healy: Correct. Correct. We want something that's going to live the life of the property; well, maybe not the property, but to have a longer-term life than dorm room furniture, or something like that. So yes.
Ash Patel: Angela, do you take on investors? Or do your franchisees take on investors?
Angela Healy: Yes, that's what we're looking for. So we're managing other people's properties. So we're looking for investors that want to invest in this type of real estate. Really, what I tell investors is that you should look at your real estate portfolio like your stock portfolio; you do stocks, you do bonds, you do high tech, you do more blue chip, you diversify your portfolio... And this is one of the ways that you can diversify your real estate portfolio.
Ash Patel: If I'm an investor, but I don't own property, can I partner with you or one of your franchisees and say, "Let's go out and find a really cool house that we can split on your corporate website?"
Angela Healy: We are real estate agents, so we can help that investor find the right property that would best suit our program. Because not every property works for corporate housing, so we can point you to "Okay, this would be the perfect investment if you wanted to go this route. So here are the numbers, here are the costs, here's the potential revenues", so they can run their ROI numbers.
Ash Patel: Okay, I like this. So I can have you or your team find a house for me to buy, I get the title, I get the depreciation, and you manage the whole process, and then I get a cut of the revenue.
Angela Healy: Correct. Absolutely.
Ash Patel: Now we're talking. I love your model, but I'm not going to rent out corporate housing, and I'm not going to seek out tenants, but what a great passive model. I love it.
Angela Healy: It is. And then we can also help you furnish it as well. So if you're purchasing something brand new and it's not furnished yet, we offer services to help you furnish the property to our standards, where you don't even have to lift a finger. We can just come in, do the whole thing, get it all set up, get the photos taken, and start to market it and run with it.
Ash Patel: And I'm not going to hold you to this answer, but I would imagine the furniture is an immediate write-off.
Angela Healy: You would have to talk to your tax advisor. In some cases it's five years, but it just depends.
Ash Patel: Got it. Awesome. Angela, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?
Angela Healy: My best advice ever is that diversification. Don't put all your eggs in one basket; even cities. If you think "Okay, I'm diversified, but every one of my pieces of real estate is in St. Louis, Missouri" - you're still not diversifying. So through the Avenue West program, you have access to multiple cities to invest in, so diversify that way as well.
Ash Patel: Angela, are you ready for the Best Ever lightning round?
Angela Healy: Okay, I'm not sure what this...
Ash Patel: You're about to find out then. Angela, what's the Best Ever book you've recently read?
Angela Healy: Oh, "The art of breathing."
Ash Patel: What was your big takeaway from that?
Angela Healy: Sometimes so much gets piled on you, and it just feels like a lot of stress... And I think sometimes we forget that we just need to sit down and breathe; and do we remember how to breathe? Because breathing is so natural. But it really helps me with regards to stress reduction.
Ash Patel: Is that where you come off so calm, cool and collected? Good for you.
Angela Healy: I hope so...
Ash Patel: You absolutely do. Angela, what's the Best Ever way you like to give back?
Angela Healy: We have Avenue West Cares, and we partner with a homeless shelter in every one of our cities, and we give a meal for every reservation. So we're just trying to commit to our local communities to help fight that homelessness, or people who are in transition, just on the other end of what we're doing. And then also all of our used furniture and linens and towels, we donate to that same organization.
Ash Patel: Angela, our last question we have on our lightning round is how can the Best Ever listeners reach out to you... So you passed the lightning round with flying colors. How can the Best Ever listeners reach out to you?
Angela Healy: Our email address is global [at] AvenueWest.com. You can also find us at AvenueWest.com on our website, and we're on LinkedIn, we're on Facebook, Instagram... However you like to see your social media, we are there.
Ash Patel: Angela, thank you again for blowing my mind with your business model. I love what you're doing. Thanks for educating myself and the Best Ever listeners on corporate housing. I can't thank you enough. Again. Thank you.
Angela Healy: Thank you for having me, Ash. I really do appreciate the opportunity, and sorry about the internet going out...
Ash Patel: That's okay. We salvaged it, because you're calm, cool and collected. You didn't panic.
Angela Healy: Oh, great. Thank you.
Ash Patel: Best Ever listeners, thank you so much for joining us. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a five star review, share this podcast with somebody you think could benefit from it... Also, follow, subscribe, and have a Best Ever day.
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