The last few years have been tough on the residential real estate market. And for people forced to move quickly, selling their home can prove especially challenging.
Kandy Meehan said her Overland Park-based Home Rental Services is up to the challenge. Home Rental Services is a full-service residential property management, listing and leasing company with offices along Johnson County’s College Boulevard.
Meehan formed the company in 1989, when she was in charge of the rental division in one of Coldwell Banker’s Kansas City offices.
“The corporation was getting ready to sell off its Kansas City ancillary services and came and said, ‘You have 30 days,’ ” recalled Meehan, who was 39 at the time. “I could go on unemployment or start something new. I had no vision of being a business owner. But I had one and a half employees and asked if they were willing to stay with me, and they said yes.”
She opened the doors to Home Rental Services and hasn’t looked back.
Meehan knew the residential rental industry, but she lacked other experience.
“What was missing was how to run a business,” she said. “I got an accountant, an attorney and a payroll service, and I got rolling.”
Today, Meehan has 10 employees who work with clients who own homes in the Kansas City area but live elsewhere — some as far away as London, Rome, Zurich and Paris.
“We find the renter for you,” Meehan said. “The majority are corporate transfers.… We have people who have rented a house from us, they get married and later get transferred and come back to us as owners needing to rent out their home. We have people who are owners and renters at the same time.”
After the rental arrangement is approved, the renters pay her company directly. Home Rental Services deposits the rent in each owner’s account and handles any payment problems. The company takes care of property management, home maintenance and repairs. It rents only single-family homes, and most of its properties are in or near Johnson County.
The company manages about 450 properties with 25 to 50 for rent at any given time.
“The demand for single family residential property has gone up 37 percent,” she said. “We’ve doubled our size.”
The company’s fee is based on a combination of the length of the lease and the gross rent.
Q: How do you market your service?
“We work cooperatively with 4,000 agents in Kansas City,” Meehan said. “We have fliers that we print up and put a Hershey kiss on them and deliver those to the agents’ office monthly. Everyone looks for the Hershey kiss.”
She also markets through the Internet.
“We also have corporations who put us on their preferred vendor list,” she said.
Q: What are the benefits to renting a home?
“They can continue to pay off on the principle and get a tax write-off,” she said. “For the renter, they get to live in a house like the one they left … and it gives them time to get used to a town they’ve just moved to.”
Meehan said renting out a home also allows the owner to get out quickly.
“They don’t have to worry about selling, and they don’t have to sell it and take a loss or be forced to let it sit vacant,” she said.
Q: How did you weather the recent recession?
“It has played into what we do,” Meehan said. It gives a homeowner flexibility to earn some money on a property that wasn’t selling in a down market, she said. And renters could get into a property they otherwise couldn’t afford.
Q: What’s your competition ?
“The real serious competitor is fear about renting — what they’re going to do with my beautiful home,” Meehan said. “Once the home is rented, they get over that fear.
Her company has come a long way since its beginning 24 years ago. Meehan has watched her company grow but is always looking forward for new ideas.
“I’d like to continue to go and refine who our clients are,” she said. I would also like to have more investors to buy properties and then rent them.… I love growing, talking to new people. I can’t envision doing anything else.”