Have you ever stayed as a guest in a BNB? How was your experience?
Are you interested to learn more about starting a BNB? What kind of questions would you like answered?
I’ve been posting on my Palo Alto BNB (Bed and Breakfast) Page since December 17th, 2018, been involved (among other things) in the operations of this hospitality business since October 2017, and was directly involved with the renovation of the family-owned property prior.
Instead of bombarding you with real time posts on my personal daily social media feed, I’ve summarized my first 8 posts for your convenience. If you’d like to see them real-time, please go “like” my Facebook Page “Palo Alto BNB” or follow my website at www.paloaltobnb.net
There you can learn about some of the issues running a BNB and the area of Palo Alto and some real estate details of surrounding area.
BNB’s are a popular choice in the San Francisco Bay Area and Palo Alto is not exception. With the rise of locally headquartered companies like Apple, Facebook and Google, and other companies small and large attracting thousands into the local work force they provide a regular stream of professional transients from around the nation and internationally who perform their business in synergy with the local economy.
Facebook is particularly interesting because despite the prestige of being associated with the City od Menlo Park, which is one step north of the ubiquitous “Palo Alto”, Facebook headquarters is actually adjacent to one of the lowest income-per-capita residential areas on the San Francisco peninsula (though not particularly low on a national scale). The City is East Palo Alto is part of San Mateo County, unlike the internationally-known City of Palo Alto which is the northern most city in Santa Clara County. Only a highway, for the most part, separates the two cities of common name.
Santa Clara County also includes Silicon Valley cities like Mountain View (Google), Sunnyvale (Lockheed Martin), Cupertino (Apple), Santa Clara (Intel), Palo Alto (Stanford University and Hospital, Hewlett Packard, Tesla), Los Gatos (Netflix), the behemoth city of San Jose (Cisco) and other smaller and often more affluent communities stretching into the beautiful foothills of the San Francisco peninsula.
To give you just a bit of the contrast between Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, in 1990-92 East Palo Alto earned the dubious distinction of being the “murder capital” of the United States.
Criminal and illicit drug dealing activities were so rampant in this decades-old lower socio-economic area, residents and commuters were frightened to drive down main thoroughfares for fear of being car-jacked by brazen criminals. Moreover, the homicide rate was so intimidating (in 1992, there were 42 homicides) it made my law enforcement friends who worked in Compton, CA balk at the prospects of having to jump into the fray.
Fortunately for the community, the state and local law enforcement agencies did step in and with sweeping campaigns putting the area on the right track removing entrenched drug crime elements. Nearly 20 years later and steady progress has made the East Palo Alto a much safer place to live and to work, the future prospects continue to look bright.
The potential of the area of East Palo Alto is probably best evidenced by Facebook’s Menlo Park move (2011) and breakaway expansion plans which paralleled more major anti-drug actions in East Palo Alto bringing even more substantial changes to the peace of the community in the last few years.
While the recent high-flying developments in the real estate market are widespread in the San Francisco Bay Area, including East Palo Alto, the area still has a deep community of lower income residents and home owners who are proud and happy to be established there. Progress continues to be made to improve living conditions and it attracts more companies like Amazon, a recent addition to the business landscape of East Palo Alto in addition to investor-philanthropists like the Zuckerbergs and Laurene Powell Jobs, both residents of Palo Alto.
A sharp contrast still exists, however, as highlighted in a recent article, a particular zip code in Palo Alto has registered the most expensive average real estate prices in the country.
From a financial investor standpoint, rental rates per home value ratios are often more favorable in East Palo Alto, where properties can still be found for under $1M, when compared to Palo Alto despite Palo Alto’s safer, quieter, established neighborhoods and highly-regarded schools. For example, a 3 bedroom 1 bath home in East Palo Alto, valued at about $1M may rent for about $4000 per month where as a similar Palo Alto home (humble based on trends in home building) may only rent for $6500 per/month but cost $2.5M.
Although this previous example of rental rates is only an single snapshot (rents can be substantially varied and higher in both cities, especially in Palo Alto, given more valuable properties) the demand for rentals remains strong. This could be reinforced by the fact many professionals are assuming not to buy properties (in the Bay Area) but rather opting to rent or lease believing their long term plans will take them out of the area (where property is less expensive among other reasons) or that their investments are better situated outside of the real estate market.
What makes BNB popular, nevertheless, is not so much related to the real estate values, it is better linked to the professional transients in the area with the proliferation of business activity, Stanford University, Stanford Hospital and the others variety of needs for temporary accommodations in this hub of Silicon Valley where a home is preferred.
Building Recession Immunity in the Age of Social Media
I’ve used social media for a few years now, since the Summer of 2014 when my old friend and fellow submariner Jeff Marcey told me Facebook was the way to go to promote my business.
Before, like many people who resist change, I had a very prejudiced attitude against social media and platforms like Facebook but knowing my friend is usually ahead of the curve with his ideas, I decided to take a first step.
All of those years I spent in relative isolation in my former corporate engineering space, I was hard at work though not involved with the world of the social media, those apps that were altering the minds of the new generation of socialites and professionals.
Staying in isolation from the influence of the internet doesn’t allow exposure to the advantages offered by smart phones and the apps that power them – and, yeh, it doesn’t help being turned off by the sight of so many people postured with zombie-like face to Iphone, an idiosyncrasy on a pandemic scale, evidence that we have not reached any kind of zenith in human development.
Nevertheless, with the crash and burn of the smoking remnants of my corporate career in 2017, there has perhaps been no better circumstance to entertain and develop new ideas like running a BNB! (This option wasn’t obvious, only after not succeeding at other efforts to build a survivable income).
Now, from my experience, there is no better platform than Facebook that I know of that is more useful for organizing reunions. For me, It’s been a labor of manly camaraderie without any kind of financial intentions. We’ve already managed to help gather many shipmates from the submarine I served on (USS Bremerton SSN 698) of which many have attended a couple of successful gatherings.
A reunion is one thing, what about other purposes?
What other ways can you get social media to help with your goals and how is it done?
What does it have to do with hosting a BNB?
That’s a complex question and one I hope will make sense as we go along.
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If you’d like for me to speak with your group in regards to hosting or property management, send me an inquiry