Brad Greiner began his career in real estate as a property manager and developer through Open Air Homes, a short term rental property management and development company based in Los Angeles.
Early on, Brad realized there would be a clear synergy between short term rentals and real estate sales, and established OA Real Estate Group to provide real estate services to anyone interested in investing in the short term rental industry.
Brad is passionate about the intersection of real estate, design, and short term rentals, and is in development on multiple exciting projects through inspiring architects. With his unique perspective of the short term rental industry, he is now bringing his focus to real estate. Brad believes there can be a better option to buying and selling homes and aims to introduce these ideas through OA Homes & Real Estate Group.
We interviewed with Brad regarding his upbringing, starting OAH, and the current state of the rental property market.
Are you a LA native?
I would say I am a SoCal guy through and through. I check the box for pretty much every traditional California upbringing. Born and raised here, it’s no shock to anyone that I played water polo in high school and later at UCLA. After graduation I wanted two things – a challenge and a change of scenery – so I went to the only other city LA natives are willing to move to, New York. On my own and not knowing a soul when I arrived, forced me to grow up fast and learn how to fend for myself. My experience in NYC and the drive to survive helped me develop myself as a person and as an entrepreneur and is ultimately what prepared me to move back to LA and start Open Air Homes.
What was the inspiration for the development of Open Air Homes?
Open Air Homes began out of necessity. At the time the company was created, I owned a home in Los Angeles that, through life events, forced me to come face to face with a financial situation which prevented me from affording the mortgage. Luckily, Airbnb had just launched their platform, so I naively threw my property on the site as a last ditch effort to make ends meet. For the first six months, we rented a single room in the house and met some amazing people from around the world. Doing our best to engage with our guests and provide them with the quintessential California experience made us realize how much we actually loved hospitality. So we decided to make something out of it. Open Air Homes really took off after I opened up one of the first high end homes in LA to Airbnb users. From that point forward, our calendar remained full with families and guests from all walks of life, all of them searching for a hotel alternative with enough space for them to be together.
I only managed my own homes for the first few years so there wasn’t really a brand persay for some time. One day, a client (and now friend), Diane Patrone, invited me to a BBQ at a home she happened to be renting from me at the time. We sat in the Airstream on the property with a few of her genius marketing friends and began to orient a direction for the business. Diane was inspired by our homes’ open, outdoor living spaces, a seamless incorporation of indoor outdoor living. It only took one margarita before we settled on the name Open Air Homes.
Unlike our competitors who are dead set on exponential growth throughout the U.S., we wanted to focus our brand on Southern California and what it means to live here – growing at a slower, steadier pace that allows us to offer homes that really evoke what it means to vacation in SoCal.
We don’t want to be the biggest property management company. But we do want to be the premiere boutique hotel brand within the short term rental space, which is why we set ourselves to a higher standard, a standard where quality matters above all else. Our repeat guests expect to see these standards in everything we do and we make it a point to consistently provide them with experiences they will remember for a lifetime.
How do you want the economy to benefit from your business?
It’s disheartening to see the concerns surrounding the short term rental industry in LA and beyond. Unfortunately, a few bad actors have tarnished the reputation of the industry as a whole, by prioritizing profits above all else. Airbnb has not done enough to address these issues, which is why we have open discussions with their corporate offices in an attempt to encourage their participation in remedying and controlling homeowners that sometimes miss the mark when trying to be thoughtful neighbors.
I strongly believe that the LA economy will thrive through a combination of and relationship between homeowners, hotels, hostels and short term and long term rental properties. The concept of short term rentals has become ingrained in the public ethos and it isn’t going away anytime soon. The focus on this new preferred way of traveling motivates us to create a better future for our rental properties and our guests while driving our commitment to be good and active members within our community.
This long-winded answer to how our homes benefit the economy is an important aspect of our business model. Not only are our guests paying 14% taxes to the city, which could be used to develop affordable housing if budgeted properly, but they spend significant amounts of money when visiting the area. Our website’s Stay Local pages encourages our renters to shop and eat at the small, family-owned businesses, further growing and supporting the local economy. I can guarantee you that the retail shops along Abbot Kinney would agree that it is the short term rental homes that allow their businesses to remain open, even as the retail industry as a whole continues to suffer.
There is a future that allows for both homeowners and long term renters to coexist alongside short term renters, and we are actively thinking about our role within that context. Affordable housing is an important key to this as well, and while I am happy to see a lot of new buildings going up along the metroline in Los Angeles, I strongly believe that the taxes paid by the short term rental industry should be earmarked directly for the creation of affordable housing in and around our city.
Social media is the widest used method of information sharing and communication, do you think that this will change or only evolve?
Let me be clear that I believe Mark Zuckerberg’s recent decisions are some of the most dangerous, self-centered, and anti-democratic comments being made at the moment. I am torn every single day about whether or not my company should participate in a social media world dominated by those that do not seem to advocate for the interests of their users. Unless I see a commitment to getting this right, I won’t be able to have my companies use platforms like Facebook and Instagram for much longer.
I want to be clear that this issue is extremely complex and intricate, and while there is no easy answer, I feel Zuckerberg needs to commit a significant portion of Facebook profits to correcting the misinformation and violence that his platform is currently causing.
One of my mentors said that we have to be aware of what the young kids are doing at all times. It’s clear that younger demographics aren’t as into Facebook and Instagram as they once were. I am excited to see this movement away from the fake perfection of Instagram and towards platforms like Tik Tok, where influencers with a strong voice are gaining significant traction. While I am still concerned with the anti-democratic sentiments emanating from China, Tik Tok’s source, I believe that the younger generation will utilize whatever platforms that don’t involve the socially destructive policies that Facebook and Instagram are now associated with.
The hope is that Tik Tok continues to gain support and usage as it integrates a more educational aspect. Tik Tok is the perfect media outlet to amplify the voices of the BLM movement and promote minority groups to the forefront of the social sphere. This is a crucial and necessary movement so that we can begin to break the mold of white privilege that has placed us in this current situation.
I, for one, am actively following more and more Black, Transgender and marginalized users as I believe it is an important moment to provide people with a platform to not only promote products and make money but to continue to contribute their experience in conversations so we can develop a better future together.
These stories have motivated me to reflect about the white male privilege that has allowed me to be where I am today and allowed my company to reach heights it otherwise might not have. I will soon be addressing these issues and more on social media, in podcast form, as a catalyst for conversations about ways in which we can change how we up-lift the often marginalized communities within my network.
We may feel hopeless with our current president and our inability to fully rehabilitate the oppressive system we live and work in, but I still want to encourage other businesses to think of ways that they can change the system themselves. I haven’t been on social media personalities in the past 8 years, but I will be dusting off my video skills and will be adding my voice to this much-needed conversation in the coming weeks to address the change that we need to all be fighting for because even a few individual actions hold the potential to transform an entire industry.
How do you prefer receiving feedback?
We take every bit of feedback at this company incredibly seriously. Every comment sent to our team is addressed accordingly. If negative, we take the necessary steps to remedy the issue, and if positive, we share the feedback with our employees as a token of gratitude for all their hard work.
The Fox Magazine is all about inspiration, what/who inspires you the most?
I am inspired by my team at OAH, how hard each and every one of them works to ensure the needs of the company, those of our homeowner partners and those of our guests are met with the highest standards of customer service. One of the hardest things about our business is committing to a 24/7 schedule. Our international team is a vital part of how we are able to maintain that model and remain in constant contact with our guests.
Our Kenya based team supports our endeavors here in SoCal in so many ways. I am excited to see the collaboration between our cultures and watch how that influences personal growth across the board for everyone involved. I am inspired by how far each of my coworkers has come over the past few years, and as a strong believer in upward mobility, I am inspired to see my them take on more responsibility. They are constantly learning new skills, skills that will inevitably be carried with them through life, wherever they may end up.
What does success mean to you? What are your rules for success?
Success for me is not based on some valuation of our company, which is the typical standard of success for most companies. I base success on the happiness and well-being of my employees. I want to make sure they feel valued and fulfilled with anything and everything they pursue, inside and outside the company. Through the BLM movement, I’ve learned in real time, that our society’s obsession with wealth and power will inevitably end in destruction so I want to make sure I am always cognisant of my coworkers and their lives outside OAH. One of the more tangible examples of success for me is when OAH receives positive feedback from a guest who was impressed by our services.
How do you handle comparisons between Open Air Homes and that of other companies? What is one way you continue to distinguish OAH?
I learned a long time ago that I am only competing with myself. When people compare themselves to the supposed “competition,” it just means they are too focused on what they cannot control instead of their personal and professional growth.
With that said, I was inspired by the companies Lyric, Sonder, and Stay Alfred and how they marketed their properties and branded their experience. The main difference with these companies and Open Air Homes is that they all three took said approach to raising huge sums of money so that they could bring an idea on paper to fruition in real life. Open Air Homes is still 100% owned by me, and our slow, prudent growth has put us in a very good position within an industry that is undergoing aggressive transformations and collapses. Unfortunately, both Lyric and Stay Alfred was unable to weather COVID-19 and have since gone under. Regardless of the “competition”, it is still sad to see the companies that I once looked up to for branding and messaging not survive.
In creating a boutique hotel chain within the short term rental industry, we first must understand that by nature, short term rental homes are all unique, and therefore we will never be like a traditional hotel in offering the same look or feel in each room. With this said, we focus on the areas of the business we can control – namely comfort, amenities, and hospitality. We are committed to providing an equally great experience in these three particular areas, while also allowing for the opportunity to offer a unique experience in every one of our homes.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I think people would be surprised to learn that I currently live in a modest 3 bedroom house with two roommates, my husband, a dog (named Hudson) and a cat (named Monkey). My husband and I have laid everything we have out on the table in hopes of continuing to grow the business, investing everything back into OAH since its inception. We were never looking for a quick buck and instead took comfort in the fact that a few more years of working 7 day weeks will eventually pay off.
What is your favorite innovation-related motto, quote, or words to live by?
I don’t really have a motto or words to live by, but I would advise every startup CEO to follow the path of Elon Musk. His hard work, dedication to a mission larger than himself, and determination to create a better future makes him one of the most inspiring individuals since Steve Jobs. I would suggest we all take him seriously to some degree. Although he gets himself into trouble with his words and actions, watching him stand up for his beliefs and continually work to break the dirty energy practices of the past remains to be one of the most inspiring examples of determination.
At the end of the day, we vote with our dollars, and the more we can get behind him and other companies like his, the quicker we can get on a path towards the cleaner future that we all want. I, for one, encourage each and every one of my homeowner partners to install solar panels on their homes, and will continue this free assistance because we have an amazing opportunity, and honestly a duty, to play a positive role wherever we can – one Open Air Homes roof at a time.
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