Social Media Picture Day!

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In 2010, we began working hard on our social media presence.  Now that we have LinkedIn profiles and a Facebook Fan Page, we realized that we needed professional social media pictures to complement the professional nature of our business.  For professional photography, we hired Becky Alfred to take our social media “headshots” and Becky came to our office on February 15th to capture our smiling faces.  For makeup, we hired Staci Broski, owner of 7th Row to make sure our faces looked just right!

As with most things, taking pictures is a process.  We have beautiful large windows on the 9th floor of our building and as luck would have it, it was a gray, overcast day.  Thankfully, Becky has all the right equipment including backdrops, and professional cameras.  Making sure the staff was all available and dressed appropriately took some planning as well.  We scheduled our team for a mandatory staff meeting a month before the photo shoot and reminded everyone a few days before the actual day.  We recommend that you give some guidelines around what to wear so that there is some consistency across the pictures.  We simply asked everyone to wear appropriate business attire and everyone looked great.

As you can see in the pictures below, we crammed into Kandy’s office where the light was best.  It was a social media picture assembly line!  The entire process took less than 2 hours and the end result is fantastic.  Some of our team members could not believe how well the pictures turned out.  A side benefit is that it was a team building experience as well.  Everyone had a great time!

We Appreciate Your Referrals – Cash and Candy!

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We appreciate the referrals that we get on a daily basis!  We track each referral that we receive and have a Referral Reward Program (for Kansas homes only).

There are two types of people that you could refer to us:
1) Owner – Someone that owns a home that they want to rent
2) Renter – Someone that wants to rent a home

If you refer a prospective Owner or Renter to Home Rental Services that turns into a signed contract, we pay you $100!  We deliver the referral reward to you, and it is not just a check… there is candy too!  As you can see in the picture below, we are delivering 8 referral gifts today for rentals that happened in the last week!  We work hard to make sure that your referrals are taken care of.

If you know someone that is looking to rent a home or someone that owns a home that they are considering renting, we would love to hear from you!

Snowpocalypse – Caring for your Vacant Property in the Winter

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Kansas City is expecting a major blizzard today!  A important part of our success is proactive maintenance for the homes that we manage.  We currently have more than a dozen homes for rent that are vacant and in the process of being shown.  We take care of ordering snow removal services for these vacant homes so that prospective renters can get into the homes more easily.  We recommend Beautiful Outdoors of Kansas City (913-406-8557) and use them regularly for lawn mowing and snow clearing.

Paul Branton is one of our Property Managers and offered some great tips for winterizing your vacant home:

  • Leave the heat on very low.  A minimal heating bill will be less expensive than the cost of potential repairs if everything were to freeze up.  Setting the thermostat to 62 degrees is recommended.
  • If you decide to turn off the water, it is a good idea to know if your house was plumbed on a downgrade so you can drain all pipes completely and eliminate the chance of water freezing and expanding, eventually breaking the pipes.
  • If you aren’t sure about drainage, it usually is advisable to leave some water running through the pipes by turning on the fixture closest to where water enters the house and at the farthest point indoors, say in an upstairs bathroom. It needs to trickle constantly to keep water flowing and prevent freezing.
  • It is a good idea to wrap insulation around the water heater, the pipes leading to and from it.
  • Insulate any pipes exposed outdoors, in a crawl space under the house, etc.
  • It is not a bad idea to put some anti-freeze in both the tank and the bowl of each toilet. If the heat goes out and water inside the toilets freezes, it could crack the fixtures.
  • If you want professional help winterizing your home, contact the Neighborhood Handyman at 913-498-1160

Be safe out there today!

It’s Just a Rental… Not So Fast! – Kandy Teaching at KCRAR

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There is a disturbing trend in the world of residential real estate.  As home prices remain depressed, agents are recommending that homeowners lease their homes (with the agent) until the market rebounds.  The attitude is often that “it is just a rental” and that the agent can take care of finding a renter for them.  There are so many differences between selling a home and leasing a home, and the laws governing the process are vastly different as well.  Without appropriate training and experience, there are just too many risks and liabilities involved in renting your home yourself or through an agent with limited leasing experience.

Kandy Meehan has been invited to teach a three hour class at the Kansas City Regional Association of REALTORS® to try to raise awareness for agents of all that leasing a home entails.  This class will be a three hour course for Continuing Education credit.  For more information on getting enrolled in this class, please contact KCRAR.

The bottom line is that hiring a professional property management company to lease  your home transfers much of the burden of compliance and liability to the management company instead of the owner or a potentially inexperienced agent.  It also reduces many of the headaches associated with the monthly process of leasing your home.

For example, you could have a prospective renter with service animals.  You have an owner that doesn’t want any pets in their property.  Fair Housing Law says that the renter cannot be charged any pet rent or pet deposit for any service animals.  The owner cannot decline the renter based on pets because Fair Housing Law says that service animals are not pets.  Mishandling this situation exposes the owner to a Fair Housing lawsuit.

Here are just a few of the topics that will be covered in her class:

– There are both personal liability issues and liability issues to third parties when leasing a property.
– Many aspects of the Fair Credit Reporting Act applies to the screening process needed to screen potential renters
– Having clear written procedures for handling keys and garage door codes is necessary to insure the safety of people and property
– Complying with Fair Housing Laws is much more involved when you are renting a property vs when you are selling a property
– New federal laws regarding lead based paint carry hefty fines if the laws are violated
– Property managers need to know state laws governing the security deposit limits, premises inventory requirements, returning the deposit to the renter and if state law dictates how interest is to be handled
– Being able to document all non-emergency maintenance requests will help support your defense if renter claims work not being done in a timely manner

Group O’Dell – A Trusted Partner

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Home Rental Services’ success, like most small businesses, depends on word-of-mouth referrals.  We are so thankful for the many companies that we have strong referral relationships with.  One company that we have been working with for years is the team over at Group O’Dell.

Dan O’Dell and Maria O’Dell are the leading force behind the success that their company has seen year after year.  They are regularly honored as a top residential real estate company that does business with strong moral and ethical values.  We receive a referral just about every week from their team.  (Thanks guys, we appreciate it so much!)

Our Referral Program (Applies to Kansas homes only)
We understand the importance of the referrals that we receive and we have a great referral program.  If you refer a prospective owner or renter to Home Rental Services that turns into a signed contract, we pay you $100.  It’s that easy.  With the interesting real estate market, many more people are turning to renting their homes instead of buying.  If you know someone that is looking to rent a home or someone that owns a home that they would prefer to rent instead of sell right now, we would love to hear from you!

Home Rental Services – Renter Portal

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In 2010, we adopted a new property management software called AppFolio that we use to manage many aspects of our business.  The software is web based, and as a result we are able to offer our renters the ability to log in to an online portal.  The renter can see past payments, make payments online, sign up for email alerts when their monthly rent is due and sign up for auto-pay so that they don’t have to worry about missing a future payment!  It is another great way that we keep the lines of communication open so that there are no surprises.

The portal is located at https://homerentals.appfolio.com/connect.  We need to set up each renter before they are able to access the portal for the first time.  If you are a current renter of ours and want to be set up for portal access, simply contact us at (913) 469-6633 and we will get you set up.

eFax – Another Step Towards a Paperless Office

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At Home Rental Services, we really try to be environmentally friendly.  One of our recent wins has been the switch to eFax for all of our faxing needs.  As a property management company, we send and receive a large volume of faxed documents.  We have been feeding our fax machine reams of paper for many years and it was time to do something different.  eFax is the answer for us and has had interesting additional benefits.

Hooking up eFax was fairly straightforward.  We created an eFax account, configured incoming and outgoing options, tested to make sure things were working right and then forwarded our primary fax number to our new eFax number.  The entire process took less than 4 hours, including the training of our staff.

Here are some of the benefits that we have gotten from switching to eFax:
– No more paper.  Incoming faxes come to us as PDF attachments in emails.
– Faxing without having to leave your desk.  Up to 5 people per account are allowed to send faxes directly from their desktop via eFax without leaving their desks.
– No more need for a dedicated, physical fax machine.  This is going to allow us to exclude the expensive fax card on our next copier purchase as well as free up space in our office related to faxing activites.
– No more missing incoming faxes.  Now that they are delivered via email, everyone that needs to see a fax will be sure to see it.

We are always looking at new ways to use technology to be more efficient, environmentally friendly and provide better service to our customers.  eFax is definitely a winner in our book!

reStart, Inc. – Giving back to the community

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We believe in supporting our local community and do so throughout the year.  Recently, our very own Amy Evans organized a youth outing to help stuff Christmas stockings for adult men and women to benefit reStart, Inc. Amy’s group was able to stuff 350 stockings!  Each stocking received a piece of fruit, a few pieces of candy, scarf, hat, gloves, and gift wrapped socks (all new and all donated).  We believe in supporting our local community and do so often.

More on reStart Inc.
reStart Inc. is an interfaith ministry with homeless persons, is committed to providing shelter and supportive services to homeless men, women, youth and families with the goals of helping persons move toward independence and self-sufficiency and ending homelessness in our community.

Happy Holidays from our team to yours!

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Happy Holidays from our team to yours!
http://ow.ly/3sEqE

Staff goes Caroling

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We went caroling this morning and here is a video of We Wish You a Merry Christmas! http://ow.ly/3qj8Q