Nogo Homes is going somewhere precisely because visitors stay put in its short-term rentals. The company’s slogan is “Because when you stay with us, you never want to go home.”
Nogo Homes is co-owned by Becca Stiles-Nogosek and Taylor Nogosek. The married couple first met at Rochester’s Studio Academy high school for the arts, but started dating in 2005 after they graduated. Becca and Taylor, both 37, have been married for almost 17 years, but one of their latest adventures together is managing short-term and vacation rentals.
Becca and Taylor started Nogo Homes in 2019. They currently own two short term/vacation rentals and host and host 22 others. Their rentals are in Rochester, Spring Grove, Newberg, Lewiston and Winona.
At first, the couple renovated the four-stall garage in their home into a guest house. The project was partly for fun, but also to make a little bit of what the couple calls “fun money.”
“A few weeks after we put it on Airbnb, it was fully booked and we were turning people away every day. That’s when we knew we were on to something,” says Becca.
Taylor always wanted to find ways to be financially independent without relying on someone else for a paycheck, and both Becca and Taylor were interested in real estate investing, but coming from working-class families, they didn’t have people in their lives who to help them Get started. Between finding some generous mentors in the community and watching YouTube videos, they were able to learn enough to get the ball rolling.
Becca worked in a non-profit profession specializing in events and fundraising, and during the COVID pandemic, her work was drastically changed. She says the pandemic turned into an opportunity to see if her side job could turn into a full-time gig. Taylor still works full-time as a building tradesman while working part-time for Nogo Homes.
Many of the properties that Nogo Homes manages are in Rochester and are part of what Becca and Taylor call medical tourism.
“A lot of people don’t know the amount of tourism dollars that come into the state of Minnesota through Rochester every year,” says Becca. “Medical tourism is tourism and we are proud to be part of the economy of the community where we have lived all our lives.”
Nogo Homes listings feature properties like the pet-friendly, three-bedroom Iron Butterfly that’s just 3 miles to the Mayo Clinic. It can accommodate six guests and even includes a piano.
“What we’re doing is expanding the patient care that happens every day at Mayo Clinic and other medical resources that Rochester has to offer,” says Becca. “We get a lot of patients and their loved ones, but also medical professionals who are settling into the community, medical start-ups who are working to bring new products to market, and those who come here for sporting events and to visit relatives who live here.”
Properties managed by Nogo Homes outside of Rochester are more traditional vacation rentals. Their three-bedroom Below the Bluff property in Lewiston sleeps 10 guests and offers ATV trails, a trout stream, and an artesian well on its 17-acre property.
Nogo Homes offers its rentals through Airbnb, VRBO and by direct booking through their website at www.nogohomesmn.com. In 2022, Nogo Homes had 70% occupancy of its rental properties. “To put that in perspective, that’s 7.5 percent higher than similar listings in southern Minnesota and nearly 40 percent higher than the national average,” Becca says.
As a family team, there are several disadvantages. With each partner serving as a support for the other, it’s hard for the two to vacation together, and long before they started renting out properties, they enjoyed staying at them on their own trips. They hope to hire a few hourly employees to help offset this difficulty.
The partnership also has advantages. “It’s great because we have completely different skills,” Taylor says. “It allows us to be effective in different ways that complement each other.”
Taylor’s professional experience in the trade allows him to take care of home maintenance issues and is also responsible for knowing city ordinances and searching for new properties. Becca focuses on what she calls “soft skills” such as marketing, communication and customer service.
Becca and Taylor hope to expand Nogo Homes and are even considering taking their business international. When evaluating new properties, they consider things like who the properties might be suitable for, which influences their design choices and price points.
“In Rochester, affordability and proximity to medical services are most attractive, along with creating homes that are pet-friendly and have outdoor space,” Taylor says.
Taylor says she had to learn how to assemble a lot of items she doesn’t deal with in her day-to-day life, like baby gates and portable cribs. For her part, Becca has learned a lot about automation and accounting.
Becca says she enjoys consulting and hopes to grow that part of their business. “Working with property owners, investors and those interested in learning more about the industry is something that is fun to share with others,” she says.
When their guests arrive, they work hard to ensure a pleasant stay so that those guests will return or recommend their rental to family and friends.
“We didn’t start down this path thinking it would turn into a career, but we’re another example,” says Becca, “that if you do something you love with love, you’ll find fulfillment, and if you’re lucky like we were, you too can be successful.”