When Neal and Cory Barnett, co-owners at List & Sell Realty, first snagged a great deal on a Topsail Island beachside property in North Carolina by preemptively bidding before the official auction date, they planned to fix up the weathered, two-unit vacation rental and flip it to another buyer. However, the ocean was calling, and the brothers soon decided to fix up the property and rent it on Airbnb as a short-term vacation rental and enjoy it themselves as well.

“My favorite thing about the project was watching its transformation into being a really great place,” Neal said fondly. “The location is just steps from the beach, and we’ve always wanted a place at the beach.”

Because the property has two full units, the investor’s plan to use the property as a personal vacation home and an Airbnb property is a realistic strategy. “The property is really unique because the top and bottom units are completely separate, meaning we have two different units we can rent out instead of just one,” Neal noted. He mentioned that if he had planned to Airbnb from the beginning, he would likely have closed in the garage to make a second bedroom in the downstairs unit, for a three-bedroom/ Beach Airbnb

Project Notes
Purchase Price: $175,000*
Rehab Budget: ~$75,000
Estimated ARV (before Airbnb income): $406,000
*Purchased prior to online auction, which allowed the investors to avoid competition for the property.

“This project was a dream come true for my wife, who is a design expert and a great bargain hunter as well,” said Neal. She sourced nearly all of the design elements in both units. two-bath upstairs and a two-bedroom/one-bath downstairs. This is certainly an upgrade that could be made in the future, however, should this strategy appear to offer promising returns. “We’re really happy with our results, but I will say if we had planned on the Airbnb from the beginning, we could be generating even more income from the project,” Neal said.

Property Rehab at a Glance:

  • New roof
  • Hard Plank exterior siding
  • Tile with weathered wood appearance throughout
  • New kitchen cabinets upstairs and down
  • “Ocean-themed” granite with sea-glass tile backsplashes
  • New bathroom vanities, custom-tiled showers
  • All new stainless-steel appliances upstairs and down
  • Painted interior walls “sea salt green” color currently popular in local beach properties


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