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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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Our Staff Weighs In – Top 5 BBQ Joints in Kansas City!

We asked our staff the question, “What is your favorite BBQ joint in Kansas City?”  It was interesting to find that this wasn’t necessarily the easiest question to answer.  Many struggled with naming one specific place.  They like the ribs at one place, the sides at another, and the pulled pork at a completely different place.  It’s obviously a good question because it sparked some real debate.

For those that enjoy BBQ, there are plenty of great option in Kansas City.

Top 5 BBQ Joints in Kansas City

  1. Joe’s KC (formerly Oklahoma Joe’s)
  2. Arthur Bryant’s
  3. Jack Stack
  4. Haywards Pit BBQ
  5. Q39 (fairly new, but really good.  Near KU Med.)

Joes-KC-BBQThe winner: Joe’s Kansas City.

For those of you that don’t know, Joe’s KC was formerly called Oklahoma Joe’s.  Their first restaurant was in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  But that location is closed.  And the owners moved and opened multiple locations in Kansas City.  The re-branding was done in an effort to better represent their location in the country.  There’s a great article in the KC Business Journal about this re-branding effort and why it was potentially risky.

What’s your favorite BBQ place to eat at in Kansas City?

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Our website is going to have a new look!

HRS-Coming-SoonWe are pleased to announce the upcoming release of our redesigned website! It’s not live yet, but it will be soon.  We wanted to give you a heads up before it happens so that you aren’t surprised when you see the new look!

We’ve spent many months working with our website team to create the new site. We hope that you will find the design easy to use, informative and helpful!  Once it launches we will be spending even more time improving the content we provide on our subpages as well.

In the next few weeks you will see the changes go live.  If you have any problems using the new site, please do not hesitate to let us know!

One of the main goals of our redesign was ensuring that you can find what you need quickly and at the click of a button.  Our home page will provide even better shortcuts to get you where you need to go.  We’ve tried to make our new site a great tool for information regarding the rental market in Kansas City.

We wanted to share this exciting news with all of our clients and friends first.  Thank you for your continued business.  We look forward to sharing our new look with you very soon!

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Home Rental Services Featured in 25 Smart Companies to Watch Magazine!

Thinking Bigger Business LogoThinking Bigger Business Media produces a list of 25 Smart Companies to Watch annually, and we were excited to be featured in the 2015 edition.  Our story is on page 6 of the digital edition.

Click on this link to open the digital edition of the 25 Smart Companies to Watch and navigate to page 6 to see the full story.

Here is the full list of companies featured in the 2015 edition:

Ecco Select
Home Rental Services, Inc.
InStore Design Display
Richardson Communications Group
Square One Interiors

Alight Analytics
AnswerPro Limited
City Gym KC
Commenco
Duracomm
EAG Advertising & Marketing
Emfluence
Express Scale Parts & Manufacturing
Grantham University
HSMC Orizon LLC
Infinite Energy Construction
Lauren’s Hope Medical ID Jewelry
LeverI
Maggie’s Farm Ltd.
Notes to Self LLC
On Call Surgical
Russell-Hampton Co.
SafeDefend
Sphere3
Springboard Creative
Staffing Kansas City
Team Drive-Away
The DVS Group
Think Viral
Twin Financial

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New Energy Efficiency Laws Could Make Your Next Water Heater Cost 25% More

2015-02-05-Water-Heater-001We wanted to make you aware of upcoming changes in regulations that could affect the cost of your next water heater replacement.

We were recently made aware of the U.S. Department of Energy requirement for improved energy efficiency for water heaters law that goes into effect as of April 16, 2015. This change will have a substantial impact on the cost of new water heaters AND even more importantly the installation.

The water heaters will likely be taller AND wider than current models in order to achieve the required energy efficiency. Some manufacturers are suggesting that the retail price could increase upwards of 25%.

This is especially important for older, smaller homes with limited space in the utility closet where the water heater is located. The new tank designs may require structural changes during installation.

You can read more about the new regulations here:
U.S. Department of Energy – Standards for Residential Water Heaters

If you know your water heater is getting old, or it’s located in a confined space, it might be a good time to replace it!

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Tuesday Meetings and Treat Fridays. This stuff matters.

Tuesday Meetings

Did you know that our staff gets together every Tuesday morning for an hour to connect and focus on ways to improve? We’ve been doing this for a long time and it’s become an integral part of our company culture.

We start off the meeting with conversation that is “positive, happy news.”  We learn more about each other personally and professionally.  Today, one of our team talked about a renewed commitment to exercise with a personal trainer for 13 weeks.  We heard from someone else about a couple of recent wins in the business.

These conversations are a great way to strengthen relationships between the people that work together every day.

Next, we move into an open discussion about what is working and what needs improvement.  Businesses have new challenges to face every week, and our Tuesday Meetings are a good time to bring up things that we really need to work on.  The entire staff is present, so we get lots of great feedback from people in different areas of the company that have fresh insight or ideas.  It’s also a great way for everyone to learn about and appreciate the work done in each functional area of the company.

Consistent, open communication is an important part of our company culture.

2015-01-27-CompanyCulture002Web

Treat Fridays

2015-01-27-CompanyCulture001WebAnother fun way we come together as a team is the practice of “Treat Fridays”.  Credit goes to Paul for starting this tradition a few years ago.  There is a signup sheet in the kitchen for people to bring in treats on Fridays.  It’s a great way to start the day together.  And it’s definitely missed when things get a little hectic and we miss a few Fridays.

The funny thing is that Paul keeps us in line.  See the picture to the right… we missed a few Fridays recently and Paul put “sad” faces on the missed days on the calendar.  It came up in our staff meeting this morning and Joshua signed up for next Friday to get us back on track.

What Are You Doing With Your Team?

Tuesday meetings and Treat Fridays are a couple of ways for us to impact the company culture.  Are you doing anything with your team to improve communication and have fun?  We would love to hear your ideas and best practices!

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