David Works Hard At Habitat For Humanity! [PICS]

Habitat For Humanity LogoWe think it’s important to give back to the community, and we get involved in various not-for-profits throughout the year to try and make a difference.  Our very own David Carey recently volunteered for a day of hard work with Habitat for Humanity! He joined a larger group from the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors that was volunteering.

Here are David’s thoughts on the experience:

I’ve had the bug to work on a construction project for a few months, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to do something I enjoy and help others. I have been wanting to participate in Habitat for Humanity through church, and it just so happened that Church of the Resurrection was at the same site on the same day!  We started out at a house that was ready for siding, but there were too many volunteers, so a small group (including myself) split off to a second job site to work on exterior painting. We were able to get two coats of paint on the front of the house.

After lunch, we returned to the job site to find out that they needed help at a third job site. The third location was not a new build, but a home owner that had a garage that had deteriorated to the point where it was falling down. There was another group that had torn down the garage, but the scrap needed to be hauled into the dumpster. We were able to clear the area and the home owner was very pleased. After a full day of work, I am definitely ready to go back!

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Habitat’s mission is to change neighborhoods, communities and lives. They do this in many ways, but primarily through organizing volunteers to build homes for low income families in the greater Kansas City Metro.  Many of you are already familiar with Habitat, but if not, you would be amazed how many people/companies get involved.

Companies host “volunteer days” for their employees to come out and build together, often wearing company logo shirts to show their team spirit. Other companies donate significant amounts of materials for use in building the homes, including wood, siding, paint and nails.  The technical work is overseen by qualified professionals, but the bulk of the work is straight-forward, manual labor.  We can all swing a hammer, work on siding, sweep floors and paint… with a little direction!

Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity is an incredibly rewarding experience.  You get to see a house being built and know that the new owner would not have otherwise been able to afford it.

Fun Fact: Did you know the Kansas City chapter of Habitat for Humanity is the seventh oldest affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International?  They have been helping families since 1979!

From the Habitat for Humanity Website: Home ownership represents the essence of the American Dream. It also represents the single largest investment most people make in their lifetimes. Yet for too many people, the American Dream is just that; a dream they will never realize because their income is too low to qualify through conventional means to purchase a home.  Habitat for Humanity believes to break the cycle of poverty, low income families need their income spent on housing to serve two purposes: provide a decent, affordable place to raise a family and build wealth through home ownership.

 

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Vendor Spotlight: Sage Restoration

We work with quite a few companies in the course of managing hundreds of homes in Kansas City.  These companies provide professional services like carpet cleaning, mold remediation, lock re-keying, painting and repair work. Our success depends on these companies being able to provide consistent, professional work for our owners.  We have worked with some of our most trusted companies for years.  Sage Restoration is one of those companies, and we appreciate them so much!

Sage Restoration

SageRestoration-Alan SageRestoration-Stephanie

Alan and Stephanie Sage are the owners of Sage Restoration, located in Overland Park, Kansas.  They are dedicated to helping people who have experienced water, fire,smoke or mold damage in their home or business.  They have trained, uniformed technicians that know what they are doing!

We have experienced first hand that they work quickly and efficiently to get these kinds of problems cleaned up.  We have called them early in the morning as well as after 5pm and they have always done a great job of answering the call and helping as quickly as possible.

Alan and Stephanie rely on us to lease their personal rental properties.  We think that is probably the biggest compliment we could receive.  If you ever find yourself walking into your home to find damage from water, fire, storms, etc. be sure to call Sage Restoration at (913) 905-0500.  They will be there for you and help you get back to “normal” as quickly as possible.

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Summer Vacation? Awesome. Water Damage When You Get Home? NOT Awesome.

So here we are in the middle of sunny July.  Friends, family and co-workers are taking vacation and going to fun and interesting places.  It would be a shame to end a great trip by coming home to a nasty surprise… running water dripping through your ceiling.  Can you imagine how shocking and a little scary that would be?  We have people on our team that have experienced that first hand, and it is no fun at all.

Ceiling Water Damage

All you have to do to make sure this doesn’t happen is turn off the main water supply to your home before you leave for an extended period of time.

Also, be sure to turn your hot water heater to the “vacation” setting or turn it down to a lower setting.  That way, you won’t risk damage to your hot water heater if the water level gets low, and you will also save money by not having to keep the water as hot while you are away.

First, you have to find where the main water line comes into your home.  Usually, this is located in the basement along an exterior wall and enters your house close to ground level.  You will see a pipe coming in and either a round, turn-type shutoff or a straight, lever-type shutoff.  (See the pictures below for examples of both types.)  All you have to do is make sure either type is turned from the open position to the closed position, and you have shut off all water to your house.

Main Water Shutoff - Round/Turn Type Main Water Shutoff - Lever Type

Our friends at Sage Restoration shared with us recently the three most common types of water damage they see:

Sage Restoration1.  Washing machine line bursts or was not connected properly
2. Dishwasher water line connection bursts or leaks
3. Supply line to the toilet bursts or leaks

Be sure to avoid this potential problem at the end of a great vacation by turning off the main water supply to your house before you leave!

 

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Homeowners’ Association Documents Recently Updated!

Home Rental Services - HOA DocumentsMany of the homes we rent are in neighborhoods with a homeowners’ association (HOA). These kinds of associations are a governing body for the neighborhood and have the power to enforce the rules and bylaws agreed to by all members of the neighborhood.  Typically rules and regulations apply to the exterior appearance of homes, fences, vehicle parking, additional structures like sheds, noise levels, pool use and more.

We continually update the homeowners’ association (HOA) rules when we receive them.  We also work hard to obtain HOA documents for new houses when we begin to manage them for our owners.

We have added more than 50 new HOA folders in the last 18 months!  We are happy that we can make them available for our owners and renters so they can better understand the rules and regulations for their homeowners’ association.

Please click on the HOA Documents link below to view the list of all neighborhoods that we currently have HOA information for.  Once you find a neighborhood that you are interested in seeing, simply click on the folder to see the PDF documents we have that contain specific information about the HOA rules and regulations.

Click here for the list of HOA Documents

Technical note: We are using a web service called Dropbox to store and share the HOA documents.  Dropbox makes it very easy to share any folder in your “virtual locker” with anyone, including people that don’t have Dropbox installed.  We upload the HOA PDF files to our Dropbox account and link to the public view of those folders from the home page of our web site.

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Renters Insurance – It Should Be A No Brainer For Renters

Renters Insurance PolicyDid you know that less than half of renters have renters insurance?  We think this is a real risk for our renters and wanted to do our part to educate them.  The June edition of the Home Rental Services newsletter, that goes out to all of our renters, will be about the importance of carrying renters insurance.

Just because someone is renting an apartment or home doesn’t mean they are off the hook when it comes to insurance. The landlord’s property insurance policy will cover the building if disaster strikes, but it won’t cover the renter’s belongings.

The Renter is Responsible For Damage or Loss of Their Personal Property

The renter may not think their “stuff” is worth much, but if you added it up, they probably have thousands of dollars of personal property.  Their stereo, TV, iPad, DVDs, furniture, everything in their kitchen from appliances to silverware and the list goes on.  If a renter’s possessions are destroyed by fire or water damage, renters insurance will provide the replacement money. If they don’t have renters insurance, this would be a significant financial setback.

A Renter is Personally Liable For Accidents

Personal liability is virtually unlimited for a renter.  A friend could trip on their rug and sue them for $100,000.  Or their barbecue left unattended could destroy their neighbor’s house or apartment.  If they have renters insurance, their insurance company will cover at least some of their costs.

Renters Insurance Is Not Expensive

A renters insurance policy costs less than $200 a year, on average and covers renters against losses from fire or smoke, lightning, vandalism, theft, explosion, windstorm and water damage (not including floods), according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).  If their home is damaged by a covered event and they have to live somewhere else, most policies will reimburse them for the difference between additional living expenses and normal living expenses.  Most policies provide at least $100,000 of liability coverage (if someone sues them) and about $1,000 to $5,000 worth of medical payments coverage (which allows someone who gets hurt on their property to submit medical bills to their insurance company).

We think that every renter should have renters insurance for peace of mind.  If the day comes when they do need it, they will be so thankful that they invested the equivalent of a good cup of coffee every week to protect themselves.

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Kandy’s Article in Thinking Bigger Magazine

Thinking Bigger Business LogoKandy Meehan, founder and president of Home Rental Services, was interviewed for an article for the June issue of Thinking Bigger Business Media, Inc.  The article “The Girls Behind the Bookcases” tells the story of Kandy bringing her daughters Caitlin and Carrie into work often as they were growing up.  She talks about the positive impact this had on their future in the business world.  She also talks about the benefits of owning a business and work/life balance.

Caitlin is now Director of Client Care for Home Rental Services and is involved in almost every aspect of running the business.  Carrie is now Director of Business Development for The Neighborhood Handyman and is responsible for branding and marketing efforts.  They are both smart and driven women who are making a big impact with their efforts.  It is obvious that their work ethic was heavily influenced by being with their mom and involved in the businesses at an early age.

Kandy makes an interesting comparison between Millennials and Baby Boomers:

I think the Millennials will handle multiple home and work responsibilities better than we Baby Boomers did. We just worked, worked, worked and worked. This new generation understands the need to balance personal time and work.

To read the full article, be sure to check it out at Thinking Bigger Business Magazine.

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Home Rental Services – Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Awards Event [PICS]

Home Rental Services attended the Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Award in May 2014.  Kandy and David took their spouses to the event for a fun evening of dancing and entertainment.  It was a black tie event held at the Overland Park Convention Center.

May 2014 Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Awards May 2014 Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Awards

David particularly enjoyed the talk given by Major Dan Rooney, Founder and President of the Folds of Honor Foundation.  Through scholarships and other assistance, Folds of Honor gives back to the spouses and children of soldiers killed or disabled in service to our country.  Click here for more information on Folds of Honor.

Quote from the event description:

The Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Awards recognize Kansas City business and community leaders, who have achieved tremendous business success while possessing the grace and selflessness of giving back. Our winners are the “Who’s Who” of Kansas City and have an unparalleled passion for community, family, freedom and faith, and have continuously displayed a lifetime commitment to both business and personal excellence.

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Top 10 Mistakes That New Landlords Make

We recently ran across an article from RUN Property CEO Rob Farmer about the top 10 mistakes that new landlords make.  (RUN is a large property management company in Australia.)  We loved the list!

We are one of the largest residential property management companies in Kansas City and have been helping our clients since 1989.  We have seen these mistakes time and again over the years.  If you are thinking about becoming a landlord, we want to make you aware of these potential pitfalls.

Mistakes New Landlords MakeTop 10 Mistakes That New Landlords Make

1. Treating property investing as a hobby
2. Forming a direct relationship with the tenant
3. Thinking of a property as their own home
4. Not keeping the property in good condition or not doing repairs quickly
5. Not having a depreciation schedule
6. Failing to increase rents regularly
7. Losing sight of the bigger picture
8. Paying down the wrong type of debt first
9. Using the wrong accountant
10. Failing to use an experienced property manager

Be sure to read the full article here that explains each point in more detail!  If you have a property in the Kansas City area, give us a call at (913) 469-6633 to talk about these and any other questions you may have prior to renting your home for the first time!

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The Kansas City Rental Market Favors Landlords in 2014

The rental market continues to thrive in Kansas City and we have some impressive statistics to share with you to prove the point.

We are the only property management company in Kansas City that will show your house for rent before the previous tenants move out.  This significantly shortens the amount of time your house will sit vacant between renters.  Most property management companies in the area wait until the current renters move out before showing your property.  They also wait until the last 30 days of the current lease to begin marketing the property, while we begin 60 days before the lease ends.  The result is that the properties we manage have vacancy periods measured in days instead of weeks.  This means more money in our owner’s pockets.

Statistics

Strong Rental MarketThe average number of days of vacancy for the properties we manage was TEN in March 2013.  The average days of vacancy was FOUR in March 2014.

Vacancy costs you, the owner, money.  Expenses like utilities, lawn mowing, snow removal, lost rent, etc. all contribute to negative cash flow during vacancy.   By shortening the number of days your property is vacant, we reduce the amount of time your rental property is not generating revenue and actually costing you money.

The average amount of rent increase when a renter is moving out and we put it back up for rent was 6.5% in March 2014.

The national average was 4.1% for class A single family rental properties.  We are expecting the increase to be higher in April, May and June because that is the time when many people need to move.  It is also traditionally a time when rental property inventories are low.

Investors are still trying to acquire more properties, but many properties are selling before they have been on the market for 24 hours.  Nationally, reluctant landlords are starting to sell which reduces the for-rent supply, which of course increases the pricing pressure to bring rents up.

Nationally research shows that:

- The credit quality of rental applicants is improving compared to historical averages
– Renter turnover has gone down for the past few months, creating even less available inventory for people relocating from out of town

We would love to manage your rental property!  Please give us a call at (913) 469-6633 to discuss how we can help you take advantage of the strong rental market that favors you, the owner!

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

Every 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 10th, 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.

First picture from left to right: Derek holding baby Liam, Caitlin, Ronald McDonald, Melissa and Joshua

Home Rental Services - Pop Tab Pandemonium Home Rental Services - Pop Tab Pandemonium

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.

The Ronald McDonald Houses are a “Home Away From Home” for thousands of families every year who must travel to the Kansas City area to receive medical treatment for a sick or injured child. Together, the two Ronald McDonald Houses (Cherry Street House & Longfellow House) provide temporary lodging to as many as 60 families each night while their children undergo vital medical care. The family suites inside the Longfellow House, allow them to serve immuno-suppressed children and their families (i.e. organ transplants and bone marrow transplants). Both Houses offer a warm and welcoming place to sleep, as well as full kitchen facilities, laundry facilities, living rooms and recreation areas to provide a homey environment where families may relax away from the stresses of the hospital and meet other families experiencing similar crises.

Activities included:
Ronald McDonald, House tours, Refreshments & Lunch, KCMO Fire Truck, KCMO Police SWAT Team, Face painting, Magician, Jugglers & Animal Balloons

Caitlin and Melissa dressed up in the SWAT Team gear… hilarious!

Home Rental Services - Pop Tab Pandemonium Home Rental Services - Pop Tab Pandemonium Home Rental Services - Pop Tab Pandemonium

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