So much rain! Be sure to keep an eye on your basement.

Splash GuardsWe’ve gotten some record breaking rain in the past few weeks.  In the past week alone, we’ve gotten between 3 and 5 inches of accumulated rain in the Kansas City area. (You can see this data on the Storm Watch website. Storm Watch collects rainfall data across dozens of sensors located around the metro.)

With so much rain, it’s very important that you regularly keep an eye on your basement to watch for any sign of water leaks. Our renters are asked to notify their property manager immediately if they find water in their basement so that we can address the issue.

It’s important to make sure that the systems installed in your home to divert water are working properly.  Here are some basic, but important tips for you to consider:

Gutters, Downspouts and Splash Guards

Disconnected DownspoutOne of the major causes of water damage in basements is storm water that’s not properly directed away from the foundation.

Make sure your gutters are draining well during light/medium rains.

Check the downspouts around your property to make sure they are attached properly and angled away from the foundation, preferably towards soil graded away from the house.

Splash blocks can help move water away from foundation walls but don’t work at all when broken or turned back towards the house. Make sure your splash guards are positioned correctly beneath your downspouts.

Sump Pump

Sump Pump Discharge LineIf your house has a sump pump, check the drainage lines for leaks or breaks, especially at the exterior of the home. Some of these pipes have complex runs (like the picture at the right) to move the water to an appropriate drainage point.

A break at any point drops the water back against the foundation creating an unproductive loop.

Watch Your Basement for Signs of Moisture

Keep an eye on your basement (especially finished basements) for signs of water or moisture. If you notice a musty or damp odor, chances are there’s water somewhere, even if you haven’t been able to find it visually.

Humidity can be controlled with a properly sized, stand-alone dehumidifier or potentially by alterations to the HVAC ducting (with owner approval for our tenants).

Utility drains should be inspected regularly and kept free of debris or potential blockages.  Did you know that obstructions leading to flood are potentially a renter liability?

Avoid Expensive Repairs

Hopefully, this information will help you avoid expensive repairs by making sure water is being diverted away from the foundation of your home during this rainy season!

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Happy Memorial Day from Home Rental Services

Monday, May 25th is Memorial Day. We’ve had discussions in the office about what Memorial Day is all about as well as the fact that people sometimes get it confused with Veteran’s Day. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans.

Did you know that Memorial Day started out as “Decoration Day” and was observed to honor and respect the memory of those that lost their lives in the American Civil War? It later became a Federal holiday to honor anyone that lost their lives while in military service.

We are so thankful for the men and women who have protected the freedoms we enjoy each and every day. Many of us won’t ever know what it’s like to be in a war zone. Or worse, to lose our life in that war zone. Thank you to the brave men and women who have done so for so many decades. And thank you to the families that survive them for being strong.

Grilling Safety Tips for this Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial day is not only a time to remember and reflect those we’ve lost, it’s also a good time for family gatherings.  One of the fun things to do when we get together is eat, and a popular menu is burgers and brats on the BBQ. We thought it would be a good idea to share some grilling safety tips!

Please watch the three minute video below from the NFPA for some great tips… and if you need some motivation, here are some statistics that grabbed our attention:

– In 2012, 16,900 patients went to emergency rooms because of injuries involving grills.
– One of every six (16%) home structure fires in which grills were involved in ignition, something that could catch fire was too close to the grill.
– Overall, leaks or breaks were factors in one of every five reported grill fires.
– Gas grills contribute to a higher number of home fires overall than their charcoal counterparts

 

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2015 Pop Tab Pandemonium – HRS at the Ronald McDonald House Event [PICS]

Ronald McDonald House Charities LogoEvery year, we support the efforts of the Ronald McDonald House through their “Pop Tab Pandemonium” event.  This year, the event was held on Saturday, May 9th, and many of our team members were able to attend.

Pop Tab Pandemonium is an event where people bring the aluminum pop tabs and old keys that they have collected as a donation for the Ronald McDonald house.  We save pop tabs all year long, and in the course of doing business as a residential property management company, we accumulate quite a collection of keys that can be recycled. We had hundreds of keys and a bunch of tabs to drop off!

The Ronald McDonald house partners with a local salvage and recycling company to convert the keys and tabs to dollars that go directly towards supporting the Ronald McDonald house programs and projects.

Pop-Tab Pandemonium is an opportunity for groups and individuals across the metro area to visit the Ronald McDonald House and drop off pop-tabs.

On any given night, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City serves 87 families. Last year, our Houses and Family Room provided lodging to more than 4,500 families as well as opened our doors to support over 63,000 visits from family and friends of in-patients at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

On February 12, 2015, the third home named Wylie was opened.  This new house added 20 more bedrooms, taking the total up to 87 bedrooms in Kansas City.  Here is the Grand Opening video!

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Carbon Monoxide Kills – Make Sure You’re Prepared!

The following quote from the Rossen Report on the Today Show really caught our attention:

Last month, seven children were killed along with their father when carbon monoxide filled the bedrooms of their Maryland home.

It’s shocking how many people don’t have carbon monoxide detectors in their homes.  Did you know that 20,000 to 30,000 people every year get sick from carbon monoxide poisoning?  Even worse, roughly 500 of those people die while sitting or sleeping in their own homes.

As we did some research, we were surprised to learn that carbon monoxide will seep through drywall.  In other words, carbon monoxide can get to any part of your house, regardless of closed doors and what you might think is a sealed room located far away from your gas heater or HVAC unit.

The Centers of Disease Control reports that only 30% of American homes have carbon monoxide detectors in them.  That matches up with the real world survey we did with our team.  (And yes, we encouraged everyone to get a carbon monoxide detector!)

Kidde Carbon Monoxide DetectorPeace of Mind

It’s not expensive to get a Carbon Monoxide Detector.  There’s a highly rated Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector with a 10 year sealed battery for less than $50 on Amazon.com.  The nice thing about these units is that they can sit on a dresser or shelf once activated.  It does come with a mounting bracket if you prefer to install it on a wall.

Where to Install Your Detector

If you are installing only one carbon monoxide detector, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) suggests that it be located where you sleep.  Additional detectors on every level of your home, and in every bedroom of your home, would provide extra protection against carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you don’t have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, please consider getting one!  Wouldn’t that be cool if our “public service announcement” saved your life?

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Group O’Dell and Raving Fans Event [PICS]

Group O'Dell LogoIf you didn’t know, Group O’Dell is one of the top 5 residential real estate teams in Kansas City. We have a wonderful partnership with Group O’Dell and refer business to each other often!

2014 was a record breaking year for Group O’Dell totaling over $70 million in volume and 279 sales. The numbers were released last week which landed Group O’Dell as the #5 team in the KC Metro and the #1 Keller Williams Team in the Midwest region. You can see the full Kansas City Business Journal List here.

One of the great things about Group O’Dell is that they genuinely care for their customers, business partners and staff.  One of the ways they show their appreciation is through Raving Fans events.  We were invited to the most recent event and had a great time!

Group O'Dell Raving Fans EventThe event was held in the Twilight Ballroom at 28 Event Space downtown.  It was a beautiful venue!  Kandy and David both won door prizes.

We really appreciate our relationship with everyone at Group O’Dell and couldn’t think of a better way to say thank you than to show everyone that we truly are raving fans!

2015-04-28-RavingFans 2015-04-28-ODell-Raving-Fans-06Web 2015-04-28-ODell-Raving-Fans-03Web

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3 Important Tips When Leaving Your Home for Vacation

It’s beginning to look a lot like summer!  You may be planning on taking a vacation soon.  We wanted to give you three important tips to help you make sure your home is in good condition when you get back from that exciting vacation!

Thermostat1) Keep your air conditioning on and thermostat set no higher than 80 degrees.

You don’t want to come home to a house filled with mold.  If you turn off the air conditioning while you are away, there is a good chance that mold will start to grow.  It can grow in your kitchen, in your bathrooms, and any place there is moisture and warm, still air.

Click here for more details on why you should never turn your thermostat off.

When your air conditioning is off, the air in your home is not circulated and get over 90 degrees during hot summer months.  These are perfect conditions for mold to grow and can cost thousands of dollars to fix.

2) Turn off the water supply to your house.

Main Water Shutoff - Lever TypeMost houses have a master water supply shut off valve.  When this valve is closed, the water supply to your home is shut off.  It’s usually located in the basement, on the street side of the house.  (That’s because the main water supply is usually on the street side of your house.)

Click here for more details on finding your shut off valve.

By shutting off the main water supply, you avoid the possibility of a water leak doing major damage to your home while you are away.  Often, it’s a simple supply line that breaks at just the wrong time… when nobody is home to notice.  And then water flows freely for a few days.  Imagine the damage!

3) Let a neighbor know that you are going to be out of town.

It’s a good idea to let your neighbors know if you are going to be away for more than a day or two.  Your neighbors are the most likely to see a problem while you are gone.  We recommend that you leave them contact information in case they do see something out of the ordinary.

Even better, they might be willing to pick up your mail and newspaper so that it isn’t obvious you’re gone!

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The Kansas City Rental Market is Heating Up

Things are heating up!Things are Heating Up

The official first day of summer in 2015 is going to be June 21st.  We feel like summer is already here because things are definitely heating up in the Kansas City rental market.

We currently have 50 homes for lease in Kansas and Missouri.  We add new homes often, but they are getting leased as quickly as we can add them.  That’s good news for everyone!

Use the links below to see our available listings:
Home for rent in Kansas | Homes for rent in Missouri

New Technologies

We do our best to adopt new technologies to make us more efficient and easier to work with.  We recently upgraded our online application system for prospective renters to be mobile friendly.  We did this because more than 30% of the visitors to our website are using a mobile phone or tablet.

We are also in the process of upgrading our website to a modern and more mobile friendly version!

If you or someone you know is looking for a great property management company, we would love to help!
We’re a phone call away: (913) 469-6633.

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Maintain your HVAC – Cates Heating and Cooling

Many of us do a pretty good job getting the oil changed in our cars.  We have that handy little sticker in the window that tells us when it is time to get to the shop based on the mileage on our odometer.  We do this because we really don’t want our car to stop working.  We need reliable transportation.  The HVAC system in your home is a significant investment just like your car and you rely on it to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.  As summer heats up, this is even more important.  Can you imagine having to go a day or two without air conditioning when it is over 100 degrees outside?

Are you giving your HVAC system  the same care and maintenance as your car?  Often, this is not the case.  It’s something hidden  away in the back yard that is just supposed to work.  Many people struggle just to keep the air filter changed on a regular basis. If you fall into this category, we recommend that you adopt an HVAC  maintenance program.  Just about every HVAC service and maintenance company in Kansas City has an annual maintenance program.  They come out once in the spring/summer to make sure your air conditioner is working properly for warm weather.  They come out once in the fall/winter to make sure your heating is working properly for cold weather.  The important part of the program is that they will call you when it is time for them to come to your home to perform the service.  It is that reminder, just like the little sticker in your car window, that it is time to do some maintenance on your HVAC system.

We manage hundreds of homes in Kansas City and it is important to have a great relationship with an excellent HVAC service and maintenance company.   Cates Service Company Heating and Cooling is a family owned and operated HVAC specialist that has been in business for 34 years.  They are one of the largest locally owned HVAC service companies in Kansas City.  They design, sell, install and service air conditioning systems, heating systems and water heaters.  We have been using Cates Service Company Heating and Cooling as our primary vendor since late 2009.  We appreciate the good work that they do and we recommend them often.

Let us know what you think!  We would love to hear from you.

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Our Top 5 Kansas City Parks To Visit!

We’ve found ourselves outside more lately because the weather has been so nice.  We thought it would be fun to do a roundup of 5 of our favorite parks in Kansas City!  Let us know if you have a favorite park of your own.

If you want to find a park close to you that’s not on this list, be sure to check out the Johnson County Park and Recreation District website, or the Kansas City Parks website.  There are hundreds of parks in Kansas City!

Parks in Kansas

Antioch ParkAntioch Park – 6501 Antioch Road, Merriam, KS

The forty four acre Antioch park features new or updated amenities such as two fishing lakes, walking path, tennis courts, picnic shelters, basketball courts, restrooms, playground, paved parking, and cook out grills. Antioch Park attracts up to 700,000 visitors each year.

Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park – 87th Street and Lackman Road, Lenexa, KS

The 53 acre Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park has one swimming pool, a three-acre lake, a gazebo/bandstand, five picnic areas, six reservable shelters, four jogging/walking trails, three soccer 1/2 fields, five playground areas, six open play areas, two sand volleyball courts, four lighted tennis courts, a basketball court, a baseball field, community garden, Legler Barn Historical Museum, railroad caboose and a restored railroad museum.

Shawnee Mission ParkShawnee Mission Park – 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee, KS

Shawnee Mission Park is home to a number of fantastic amenities as well as a beautiful 120-acre lake. The beautiful scenic lake is a very popular spot for boating, fishing, sail boarding, and much more. The park also has eleven spacious shelters, numerous picnic areas, nature trails, play areas, an archery range, a 53-acre dog off-leash area, a disc golf course, and is a great place to enjoy mountain biking and horseback riding.

 

Parks in Missouri

Loose Park – 5200 Wornall, Kansas City, MO

At 75-acres, Jacob L. Loose Park is one of Kansas City’s most popular, beautiful and historical parks. It’s well known locally as being a major site for the Battle of Westport.  It’s where Confederate forces were routed by Union forces in the area in which the park is now located.  The 75 acre park features a playground with a sand pit and small rock wall, a beautiful pond, fields perfect for kite flying, frisbee, or ball games, spraygrounds, tennis courts, paved trails, and a beautiful rose garden.

Penguin ParkPenguin Park – North Vivion Road and North Norton Avenue, Kansas City, MO

Vernon Jones, the Kansas City North parks district supervisor, created and built figures for Santa’s Wonderland in Gillham Park. After another employee made a miniature penguin for Santa’s Wonderland, Jones decided to build a large penguin in 1964. The penguin was placed on the northern area of Lakewood Greenway and was a hit.  The park has a shelter house with picnic tables, restrooms, and playgrounds for all ages (swings, slides, climbing equipment, merry-go-round, spring animals, and more). The 1.88-mile Lakewood Greenway Trail runs through the park.

 

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Natural Gas Leaks : Here’s What You Need to Know

Natural Gas – The Basics

Did you know that natural gas provides a quarter of all the energy used in the United States?  It’s amazing to think about the fact that natural gas travels through more than 2 million miles of underground pipe to get to your home or business.  Gas utilities serve more than 68 million residential customers and more than 5 million businesses.

We rely on natural gas for heating and cooking.  It’s an important part of our lives.  But if not maintained properly, natural gas explosions can cause serious injury and death.  Here’s an example of a residential natural gas explosion that happened in September of 2014.  Also, you might remember the explosion at JJ’s on the Plaza in 2013.

How To Detect a Gas Leak

Natural Gas is odorless; therefore, an additive that causes a “rotten egg” smell when the gas is in the air is mixed with the methane before the natural gas is delivered to the general public.  In the event of a leak, you should be able to smell this distinct odor.  Another way to detect a gas leak is if you notice dead or discolored vegetation near a natural gas source.

Natural-Gas-Source-Graphic

(Photo by Midwest Natural Gas, Inc.)

What To Do If You Discover a Gas Leak

Natural-Gas-Today-NewsThe Today Show recently did a report on natural gas leaks, and had a great list of what to do if you discover a natural gas leak:

  • If you notice something obviously wrong like sparks or flames, evacuate your house immediately and call 911. “You want to make sure that you’re at a safe distance,” Altman advised. “You want to make sure you’re across the street somewhere that you feel safe, and once you get there, you want to make sure you dial 911 from there.”
  • If you don’t notice anything obviously wrong, make sure all the burners on your gas stove are turned off.
  • If the stove is off and you suspect a leak, don’t turn on the lights. “That could lead to a spark, which causes an explosion,” Altman said. “You want to make sure you have a flashlight handy.”
  • Open all the doors and windows. “You want to make sure you ventilate the house,” Altman said.
  • If you suddenly notice your grass or shrubs have changed color, looking more brown or rusty, that could be a sign of a leak: the gas pouring out of the pipes. If you see any of these things, make sure to call 911 immediately and then call the gas company.
  • If you have turned the gas off in your home, do not try to turn it back on yourself; call the gas company to do that for you.

If you are one of our renters, please get the situation under control using the tips above and then let us know what happened.  Everyone should know how to detect and respond to a natural gas leak!

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