Nearly two years after its launch in Michigan, burgeoning luxury short-term rental platform Juniper Holiday & Home is expanding its reach to several other vacation hotspots across New York, South Carolina and Montana.
“Unlike other short-term rental property companies, we take pride in fully owning as well as managing all of our listings,” Juniper Holiday & Home CEO Curtis McDonald said of his company’s growth. “From concept to creation, our team of designers, contractors, and on-the-ground staff work to create and maintain a home that mirrors our commitment to customers and their desire to enjoy a safe yet one-of-a-kind vacation or holiday gathering.
“We are so grateful for the growth of Juniper Holiday & Home and look forward to continuing to offer guests the highest level of service and enjoyment as we add to our roster of premier homes,” he said.
Juniper currently has an $8.7 million portfolio of 11 vacation homes surrounding Michigan’s most notable lakeside locales, including Lake Michigan, Lake Kalamazoo and New Buffalo Harbor. McDonald said the demand for short-term rentals has been robust over the past two years as city dwellers yearn for brief breaks away from restrictions that have made urban life more difficult during the pandemic.
“Of course, we wish the coronavirus would go away, but it’s inadvertently been a plus for us,” he told Inman. “People have looked and are looking for ways to get away from the city without having to be on a packed aircraft.
“Being able to get away with a two-hour drive and spend time with just you and your family has been the main attraction for our guests,” he said. “We’ve had success in the southwest coast of Michigan, from New Buffalo to Saugatuck, and those homes serve the Chicago market. Now we’re ready to target other markets.”
As an experienced developer and real estate investor, McDonald said Juniper has been able to easily navigate an uber-competitive market with rapid home-price growth and intense buyer demand by identifying mid-age homes in the lower end of the luxury market that only need a little TLC to make them vacation-worthy rentals. With some negotiating smarts and a sizable budget on their side, McDonald said it’s been “not so difficult” to compete with second-home buyers.
“We want them to be close to all to the beaches, we want them to be close to the restaurants and the art galleries and all of those things. Mainly, though, we’re looking for homes in the upper-middle part of the market that are in really good shape and don’t need much rehab,” he said. “We have an in-house designer who goes in and furnishes them beautifully and we’ll fix up certain things in the kitchens or bathrooms as required.”
Juniper’s in-house approach to maintenance and management has helped it bypass common roadblocks in the short-term rental space and create a system that will make it easier to break into new resort markets across the Northeast, Southeast and West.
“The first type of market we look for is kind of the premium vacation destination in closest proximity to major cities, and the second type of market is spectacular premium national destinations near national parks,” he said.
McDonald highlighted Montana as one of the markets he’s most excited to break into, as more Americans focus on escaping to outdoor destinations.
“One of the properties we’re looking at is in Whitefish, Montana,” he said. “Whitefish is close to Glacier National Park for summer vacationers, and then in the winter, the Whitefish Mountain ski area near Flathead Lake is the main attraction. It’s a place people want to be no matter what time of the year.”
Even with an ongoing pandemic, McDonald said the short-term rental and hospitality markets are strong — meaning there are plenty of opportunities for Juniper to make its mark and change resort communities’ views of short-term rental companies.
“We do have to be mindful of communities where there’s opposition from the neighbors due to bad experiences with Airbnb. We always seek to be a good neighbor as we grow, and we’re very focused on that,” he said. “We’re excited to see what’s next for us.”