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VOL. 126 | NO. 134 | Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rental Sites Fill Investment Property Need

SUSAN AGEE

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There are any number of online resources available for homebuyers, but services for renters are harder to find.

And what about services for landlords of rental properties, particularly homeowners who have turned into rental property investors?

Bill Kenner is a local real estate investor who’s asked this question, seen the need and found a way to fill it.

“I’ve been looking for a residential showing service for the 30 years that I’ve been a landlord in Memphis,” Kenner said. “Over the years, while managing my own portfolio, I wanted to outsource the task of finding qualified tenants for my properties. But the only options were to hire a full service property management firm or go it alone.”

Kenner did try using a property management service, but that distanced him from how his tenants’ payments were affecting his day-to-day cash flow. But the ongoing challenge of finding reliable tenants in a timely manner gave birth to Kenner’s newest business venture, irentforyou.com.

Kenner describes his business as the “JiffyLube of property management companies.” Where full-service property management firms offer a comprehensive range of services from screening tenants to collecting monthly rent, Kenner hones in on finding renters because this is one task that he feels drains an investor of time and money.

He saw the lack of this service to landlords as both an opportunity to offer real service to rental property owners, and as a business opportunity for himself. The latter was tested and proven true by doing a Google search for “residential showing service”; irentforyou.com came up on the first page without the aid of search engine optimization.

“I get lots of results, but I’m the only company that fits the ‘rental’ part of the search,” Kenner said. “The others are services that set up showings for properties that are listed for sale, not at all what I offer, which is completely unique as far as I know.”

Those other companies that come up under similar searches do offer services that reflect the changes that technology has brought to every industry.

Centralized Showing Service Inc. is a national company that has made scheduling home showings more efficient for realtors. CSS has operations offices in six cities that serve multiple markets and call centers that serve other cumulative regional areas, of which Memphis is included.

Real Showing.com offers marketing for property owners of all kinds and secures reservation leads, which are then forwarded to the owner or manager.

AccuShow.com is another national scheduling service that tweaks what CSS has done, offering more bells and whistles in the area of efficiency and information capture that aids the homeowner in managing showings in the present and marketing them in the future.

RentalResource.com is an umbrella site for a number of specialized sites serving renters and landlords in any imaginable rental situation: business, getaway, short-term, sublet,etc. The site offers listings from all over the world and appears to be comprehensive.

The Rental Resource is located in Memphis and offers services for both renters and landlords. The “landlord services” page states that the company does offer unlimited showings of properties, but other “tips” and “FAQs” pages appear to still be under construction.

So, though he does have at least one other entrepreneur attempting to nip at his heels, Kenner appears to be leading the pack in offering exclusive showing services for local property owners. His site, irentforyou.com, does the marketing and showing of the property and provides the rental contract for the owner when the right tenant is found, all for a flat fee.

Though the only advertising he has done has been through networking and choosing a business name that says it all, Kenner has already attracted clientele ranging from investors with multiple properties to homeowners finding themselves turned into landlords by way of a job transfer.

The next level has presented itself in the form of a call from a “major player” in the local market offering Kenner a handful of properties to fill.

“I expect to get all 250 of their properties once they see how this service actually saves them money by outsourcing the most time consuming and important aspect of the entire process,” Kenner said.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 86 182 13,079
MORTGAGES 135 267 17,025
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 15 36 3,336
BUILDING PERMITS 366 366 30,930
BANKRUPTCIES 69 135 12,478
BUSINESS LICENSES 23 43 4,532
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 182 328 19,221
MARRIAGE LICENSES 32 67 3,976

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