We’ve Been Wrapped!

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Wrap FactoryAs much as the Home Rental Services team travels all around our beautiful city, you may have missed us driving next to you. That’s going to change! We just picked up our cute, newly wrapped HRS vehicle this week, and we can’t wait for you to see it!

On the day it was available, we eagerly headed to Wrap Factory KC in Edwardsville. We were so excited to see the finished product. Aside from there not being a big red bow on it when we arrived, we found it beautifully wrapped and ready to go. We tried to coax Matt with Wrap Factory KC to come out and take a picture with us and his finished product, but he humbly answered,  “one hundred percent no.”

So we shook his hand, said a big thank you, and went out and took our own pics. What do you think?

Be on the lookout for our wrapped Prius. Let us know if you see us out and about!

Wrap Factory Wrap Factory

Home Rental Services at Pop Tab Pandemonium 2017!

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Pop Tab EventThis past weekend was the annual Pop Tab Pandemonium event supporting the efforts of the Ronald McDonald House. It was a beautiful day! We enjoyed spending time together supporting a great cause.

The Mission

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Kansas City keeps families with sick children close to each other and the care and resources they need. Their three houses are adjacent to Children’s Mercy Hospital. They create places of respite where families can rally around and support one another. While they’re physically located near Children’s Mercy downtown, they serve all pediatric hospitals in Kansas City.

The Event

Pop Tab EventPop Tab Pandemonium is an event where people bring aluminum pop tabs and old keys that they’ve collected as a donation for the Ronald McDonald house. Home Rental Services saves 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! This year, we had even more metal to donate because our locksmith gave us old padlocks, lock boxes and keys to take to the event. The box we used for that part of our donation was incredibly heavy.

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.

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.

Pop Tab Event

You have to spend money to make money.

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Author: Paul Branton

“You have to spend money to make money!”

Spend money to make moneySo, I know this probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard that phrase but let me quickly explain why it is extremely applicable and important when investing in rental property.

For starters, you have the initial purchase which requires a down payment, closing costs, inspections, etc. and those are simply to buy the property. Next, you will generally need to make some capital improvements in the way of new paint, flooring, lighting, countertops, etc. that will require more money. Last but not least, in addition to the capital improvements, there are typically repairs or deferred maintenance that also require your attention and money when you purchase a property.

ROIThe good thing about the capital improvements is that those will bring you a more immediate return in either increased rent, increased property value and/or reduced vacancy. (Hopefully, it gets you all three!)

While addressing the general repairs and deferred maintenance will not necessarily bring you a return, it will certainly help maintain the value of your investment as well as safeguard against potentially greater damages/costs in the future.

Vacancy is the enemy!

No VacancyWhen looking at spending money on improvements, you should not only ask the question “How much will that cost?” but also “How much can this potentially save me?” For example, If your property rents for $1800/month, every week of vacancy is costing you $450 and every day is eating up $60. So wouldn’t it be worth removing the dated wallpaper, and painting that room for $450 bucks, if it will get the home leased a week or two quicker?!

Why am I saying all of this?  Why am I telling you it can require a good deal of money when you invest in real estate?

Because it’s important. Because we want you to be prepared… and successful!

Portfolio growthAs we continue forward in this journey of real estate investing, while some of our secondary objectives may differ slightly, I am certain that the primary is the same: Making Money/Building Wealth. If that’s true, then I highly encourage you to remember this old adage when looking at your current portfolio as well as new opportunities… “You have to spend money to make money.”

Please reach out and let us know if we can provide any guidance on acquisitions or capital improvements for your portfolio.

Have a great week!

Please Welcome Oretta Croushore, our Assistant Property Manager

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OrettaOretta joined Home Rental Services in February 2017 as an Assistant Property Manager. Oretta focuses primarily on our renters. She makes sure that they are well taken care of and that any maintenance requests are h­andled in a timely manner.

Oretta handles all the move-in appointments with our renters. These are all done in our office so renters get to meet Oretta face-to-face. When a renter moves out, Oretta reviews the move-out inspections and sets up appropriate work orders to get the property ready for the next renter. Oretta works with our owners as well. Usually, these interactions involve coordination of updates to the properties and managing our trusted vendors as they do the work.

Oretta came to us from the optical industry. She had daily interaction with optical practice managers and helped them troubleshoot issues with their optical products. Oretta has an extensive background in both the retail and wholesale aspects of the industry.

Oretta is married and her husband’s name is Shawn. We laughed out loud when she told us that they can always be found where the “older” people are… they love playing Bingo, taking in shows at the dinner theater, and going to Branson, Missouri. Oretta has a daughter named Poppy. Oretta is a Girl Scout leader for her daughter’s troop as well as a Girl Scout recruiter for adult volunteers for the organization.

Oretta loves doing crafty things. She especially loves to crochet when it’s colder while watching Netflix. She also loves to cook and gets new recipes from Pinterest. One of her favorite things about cooking is finding really good food that is still healthy to eat. She cooks mostly from scratch!

When asked, Oretta said that the culture at Home Rental Services is what convinced her to take the job. She feels that everyone is invested in the company. She particularly likes that everyone’s ideas hold weight… it doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked at Home Rental Services… if you have a good idea, they want to hear it.

We love Oretta’s sense of humor. She’s hit the ground running and definitely adds spice and humor to our culture!

What is colorless, tasteless, odorless and the second highest cause of lung cancer?

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Author: Paul Branton

Paul BrantonHey there! I’ve got a riddle for you today.

What is colorless, tasteless, odorless and the second highest cause of lung cancer? What was that?! Did you say your mother-in-law’s cooking? Ok, well that’s both incorrect and a potential cause for couch sleeping; I won’t tell anyone you said that. For those of you who said radon gas, you are correct. Congratulations!

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is a gaseous radioactive element that has the symbol Rn and is derived from the radioactive decay of radium. Since it is created by radioactive decay in soil, rock and water, it naturally moves up into the air we breathe, often times through the foundation floor and walls of our homes.

Quick Stats About Radon:

  • #2 cause of lung cancer, second only to smoking
  • Approximately 1 in 15 homes have an elevated level of radon gas
  • Estimated to be closer to 1 in 4 homes in Kansas
  • Radon tests cost $85-$135 and radon systems cost $800-$1600 on average

If you’re excited to learn more about radon, here’s a great link to the EPA’s “Guide to radon”.

This pamphlet walks you through what the EPA recommends you do when taking possession of a home with regard to radon testing. In addition to the EPA’s pamphlet, here’s a great circular published by the Kansas Geological Survey that goes into much greater detail on radon, specifically in Kansas.

Keep CalmTesting is important!

This is the only way to determine the level of radon in a building and confirm if it’s above or below 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L).  If the test finds the radon levels above 4 pCi/L, that’s too high… and a mitigation system should be installed to lower the levels. In Kansas, radon contractors are required to be certified, so make sure when selecting a professional to work with, that they have the proper credentials.

If you already have a system installed in your home, make sure to check the levels on the pipe every so often to ensure it is still properly operating.

RadonShould the test come back with high levels of radon and a system needs to be installed, make sure that everyone is on the same page for what is considered an acceptable installation placement.

In the end, it’s important to be aware of radon and the effects it can have on those living in your home and to address any potential concerns.

Have a great week!

Thanks-A-Lot from Home Rental Services!

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Author: Sandy Fisher

Thanks-a-lot CookiesI’ve shared before that a fun and important part of my job is delivering little “pop-by” gifts to our referral friends who send potential business our way. For the month of March, I helped a cute little Girl Scout salesperson reach her sales goals and I purchased thirty boxes of the Thanks-A-Lot cookies.

Who doesn’t love a good Girl Scout cookie, right?

The twenty or so Realtor® friends I delivered them to throughout the month of March sure did! It’s such pleasure popping into real estate broker offices all over the city and surprising our Realtor friends with our gift of choice for that month. And, of course, saying thank you—which is why the Thanks-A-Lot cookies were perfect.

On each cookie package was a handy dandy label that read, “No matter how the cookie crumbles, you are the best part of our business.” And then I packaged two boxes of the Thanks-A-Lot cookies together with our signature green-colored ribbon and attached a personal note thanking the friend for their recent referral to Home Rental Services.

Thanks-a-lot CookiesSome of our Realtor friends are in the office when I deliver, but most are not. So here’s the extra fun part—if my gift recipient is not around for me to hand them the package in person, I take a fun little selfie with the gift while I am in their office. When I get back out to my car, I send the Realtor a text with the selfie pic and let them know a special treat/gift is waiting for them.  I always get a fun text back saying thanks, and it usually leads to a short text conversation quickly catching up.

You’ve heard the saying, “You get what you give,” right? Well, that’s the whole goal of these little “pop-by” gifts and visits. We want to give, give, give, and if we get a little back from that, well, that’s icing on the cake (or should I say cookie!)

5 Tips to Avoid Trouble with Your Security Deposits [VIDEO]

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Our landlord advice today is: Five tips for staying out of trouble with security deposits. You don’t want to violate security deposit law or find yourself in court because you made a mistake in the collecting, holding, or dispersing of the tenant’s deposit.

Know Your State Limits

Each state varies a little bit, and our services are in both Kansas and Missouri. In Missouri, you can charge up to two months of rent as a security deposit. In Kansas, it’s one month of rent, unless your renters have pets or the unit is furnished. So, know your state limits.

Charge the Same Amount

You need to charge the same security deposit amount, regardless of the number of people who are living in the property. It may be tempting to charge more when you have 10 people in the house. But, you must charge the same amount even if you’re expecting more wear and tear on your house with extra children and tenants.

Damage vs. Wear and Tear

Only use the security deposit for damage beyond normal wear and tear. If you Google this term, you’ll find about 100 different definitions. If you’re in doubt about whether something is damage or wear and tear, you should probably just let it go. The courts seem favorable to the renters right now, so err on the side of caution.

Know Your State Laws

Understand the time requirements involved in getting the security deposit returned to your tenant. Most states have a window of 30 days, but in some states, it’s 14 days, and some states you have to inform the tenants about the damages you’re charging for after a certain number of days. Just know what your law requires, because there will always be penalties for violating those time limits, even by just one day.

Keeping the Deposit

Don’t just keep the deposit if the renters break the lease. Investors try to do that all the time; it will get you in a lot of trouble with the courts. If tenants owe rent or late fees, or there are damages, you can pull from the deposit. But, you can’t just decide to keep the whole deposit.

These are five things that Overland Park landlords need to keep in mind when it comes to security deposits. If you have any questions about this topic, or anything pertaining to property management in Kansas City, please contact us at Home Rental Services.

Home Rental Services’ Breakfast of Champions – Have You Had Your Snickers Bar Today?

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Author: Sandy Fisher, Director of Business Development

Have you seen the Snickers bar commercial where a very tired and grumpy character played by Willem Dafoe is not having a very good acting scene? Someone then hands him a Snickers bar and he is magically transformed back into the radiant Marilyn Monroe who finishes the scene with ease. The Snickers’ slogan in that ad is “You’re not you when you’re hungry”, and there sure is some truth to that!

Breakfast of ChampionsYou might have seen the research that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You’ve probably also heard the tidbit that what you do with your first hour of your day is directly related to your productivity for the rest of that day. Well, we at Home Rental Services decided to put that information to work, order up some breakfast (and some Snickers bars too), and create a Breakfast Of Champions’ event with our valued vendor partners.

Why our vendor partners you might ask?
We work really hard to provide and do things for our owner clients, our renters, and our Realtor® friends, so we decided it was time to also provide for, and make even stronger connections with, our valued vendor partners. A year later, we’ve found that they agree.

We just hosted our fourth Breakfast of Champions event, and at the close of each one Kandy Meehan (Owner/President of HRS) and I put our heads together to go over what went well and what we can do better. We’ve also pushed the “what can we do better?” question out to our entire HRS staff. And after a few team brainstorming sessions, we ramped up our most recent event.

Breakfast of ChampionsWe added some fun take-home items for each vendor (and, yes, a Snickers bar was one of those things), a couple of door prize gifts, and we had Jason Terry with Blue Gurus enlighten our group with a LinkedIn 101 session, and he did an outstanding job.

When I talk with potential owners and investor clients, I love to share with them how we have a quality list of licensed and insured vendors who provide outstanding service to our clients. And then I really love to share that we also know our vendors well, and we work hard to strengthen those relationships by having breakfast with them and learning with and from them several times a year.

We’re so thankful our vendors and their willingness to attend our Breakfast of Champions events. It’s a great way to start the day, get to know our vendors even better and learn something useful from our presenters. (And it was fun having a Snickers bar for dessert!)

Breakfast of Champions

Who’s ready for the Madness!?!? Ready or not, it’s that time of year again.

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Author: Paul Branton

March MadnessIt’s the time of year we fill out brackets, “pool our money” and watch lots of basketball!

While that’s a ton of fun, did you know it’s also one of the best times to get under contract on investment property?

Spring is here and summer will arrive before we know it, and that means folks will be moving. Typically, when you acquire an investment property, it’s vacant, so it makes sense to have it available for occupancy during the time when more people are relocating. According to a report released by AMSA, the American Moving and Storage Association, the most popular months for moving were: May, June, July, August and September.

With that in mind, here is my suggested timeline for March Madness – Investor Style:

  • March-April: Locate your ideal property and get it under contract.
  • April-May: Close on the purchase, make improvements to maximize rental rate and lower vacancy
  • May-June: Market the property, screen and qualify tenants and sign the lease.
  • June-July: Tenants take possession, love the home and stay for multiple years!

Moving SeasonIn addition to capturing this “moving season” for new acquisitions, the team at Home Rental Services does their very best to negotiate leases so that they will end or renew in April, May, June or July.

So, who is your pick to win this year? Don’t forget to fill out your bracket!  The tournament starts on March 14th and ends on April 3rd.

Check out the new Home Rental Services logo!

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Home Rental Services LogoWe’re excited to announce that we’ve refreshed our look with a new version of our logo!

We recently did a full overhaul of our website at home4rent.com and mobile app, so it was time for a new look for the logo. We worked with the great people at logomyway.com to get new ideas and select our favorite new look. The winning designer did an excellent job staying true to who we are while giving us a more current look!

Over the next few weeks, you’ll start to see it appear on all of our pages like our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

We hope that you like our new updated look. Leave a comment and tell us what you think!