From "Critter Corner" to "Take Me Away" to $42K Annual Income!

By the grace of God, I sell well over a hundred properties every year and usually much more than half of these are vacation rental homes. While some buyers choose not to rent out their Smoky Mountain getaway cabin, others do make their Gatlinburg area properties available to guests. In fact, for many owners, it is not a choice, but rather a necessity to generate revenue from their cabin or chalet to help cover the mortgage and other expenses of owning any rental property.

While most owners place their properties with a vacation rental property company, a few choose to go it alone. Please note that managing your own property is definitely a lot of work and not for everyone! Among this smaller group, a few owners really stand out and Mike and Angela Weems are certainly at the very top of that list. We have written about their cabin before and again but it's time for another update. Here is a condensed version of their history owning rental property here in the Smokies:

No strangers to property management (they own several leased homes in Middle Tennessee), Mike and Angela asked me in early 2011 to help them find a great vacation rental property in Gatlinburg. I explained very early on that the truly great vacation rental properties are almost never for sale, because the owners are very happy with them and can't even imagine selling their jewels. Instead, we have to find properties with great potential and then make them into winners. It is important to understand what can and can't be changed and then concentrate on properties that already have the right features so that you can make the necessary changes. Here is my summary on this:

Must Have Characteristics

  1. Very Rentable Location - Must be within 10-15 minutes driving time max of one of our area's major attractions (Dollywood, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tanger Five Oaks Shopping District, the center of Pigeon Forge)
  2. A Very Good View or the absolute potential for one or Complete Seclusion. Having both is truly magic!
  3. A vacation home feel (steeply pitched roof with lots of wood, stone, and glass materials)
  4. A good neighborhood with surroundings that are positive (not a lot of dilapidated trailers, etc.)

Sample Features that Can be Fixed

  1. Exterior stain
  2. Landscaping
  3. Furniture & Interior Accents
  4. The Property Name (Not sure that "Critter Corner" was the best choice...
  5. Amenities
The Weems' story is a perfect example because we found a foreclosure cabin that needed a lot of work but had the good bones. The former owner (a really good guy), a real estate broker and company owner himself, got caught up in the real estate crash of 2008-2011 and lost the property (as well as several others) to the bank. The best that he had done with the cabin on his own rental program was $16,000 annually but it looked NOTHING like this current view of the property taken yesterday:

I wish that I still had a picture of the original cabin but it looked a LOT like this very nearly identical (same floor plan, age, type construction) foreclosure right across the road that we now have for sale for only $112,500!
You'll need to have a lot of vision and be willing to invest to make the necessary improvements but this IS a true diamond in the rough. For more details of our new listing, take a look at this link. To see one of the ways "Take Me Away" is marketed, click the link. Any takers??


Anonymous said…
We stayed at Critters Corner for our Honeymoon in 2002. I have noticed that Take Me Away has been purchased. Do you have any other foreclosures in the area?
email me at
Sorry, inadvertently overlooked your comment. We have a lot of attractively priced foreclosures and I will be happy to send you several of these.

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