Hometown Property Changes Bring Greater Convenience for Clients


Once upon a time, when renters moved out of a home, it took at least two weeks for Hometown Property Management to find new tenants.

With the advent of technology, those days are long gone. Now, most rentals remain on the market for just one day. “Homes are being rented extremely quickly,” says operations manager Tom O’Neill.  “Based on feedback from owners and tenants, we have made many changes and improvements in our operation”

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Rob Rothwell is an accounts manager at Hometown Property Managment and is excited about their new tool, Appfolio. Photo courtesy: Hometown Property Management.

One of those changes is a new mobile-friendly app called Appfolio that allows property managers to automate the process, making it simpler and more convenient for everyone involved.  “For the last year we’ve been looking into improving systems for how we manage properties,” says accounts manager Rob Rothwell. “The new platform went into effect on January first and it allows us to better care for our owners and tenants.”

Rothwell is involved in another significant change. While he retains his role in accounting, he recently became a minority owner in the company, joining Andrew Barkis and Dani Anderson. “I was really surprised and honored to be offered this opportunity by Andrew and Dani,” he says. “I’ve been here for six years and have been continually impressed with their leadership and how they treat both their customers and their employees. I’ve always been interested in business ownership and this is a chance to expand into that.”

The shift means that Barkis’ role has changed, says Rothwell. “He’s taking more of an oversight role. Before, he was really involved in the day to day operations. We’ve put a new management team in place that really allows Andrew to do what he’s doing while the company continues to provide consistent service to owners and tenants.”

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Andrew Barkis is not only one of owners of Hometown Property Management but also serves as a State Representative to the 2nd Legislative District. Photo courtesy: Andrew Barkis

Barkis has spent decades in the industry, purchasing the company in 2005 after managing multi-family and commercial buildings in Spokane and the South Sound. He began with a portfolio of approximately 40 properties. Since then, it has grown to over 1,200, with offices in both Olympia and Yelm. Hometown holds a Certified Residential Manager Company (CRMC) designation, considered the industry gold standard. Barkis also serves as a State Representative serving the 2nd Legislative District.

Rothwell’s position has given him a different perspective on the organization. “I’ve been more involved with handling concerns than I was in the past,” he says. “I’m helping property managers sort out situations and decide how to handle them. It’s given me a good appreciation for our employees and their level of knowledge and skill. When there’s an issue, they always have answers and suggestions. I’ve gotten to see a different aspect of the business.”

The app, meanwhile, offers benefits for everyone – owners, tenants, and staff. Home inspections can now be uploaded online through the system so that the information can be shared with tenants and owners, with images embedded directly in the report. Statements are more concise and to the point, which owners appreciate. “Probably right off the bat that’s the biggest change they see,” says Rothwell. “It’s been a good improvement.”

Hometown Property
Tom O’Neil knows that providing better technology benefits tenants and property owners alike. Photo courtesy: Tom O’Neil

Tenants can now make rent payments online and use electronic checks, a process which does away with the need to come into the office to sign leases. “Everything is done electronically,” says O’Neill. “It’s much more convenient.” At the same time, the shortened window during which rentals are on the market can prove a challenge from the renter side. “Our homes rent so fast, prospective tenants need to be ready to act fast.” As operations manager, O’Neill is directly involved with any concerns that arise and implementing the team’s suggestions for improvements, so he has played a key role in this transition.

The Hometown Property staff has also seen the benefits of the app. “Everyone is liking it,” says Rothwell. “It’s user-friendly for employees. They’re able to scan more information into the system than we were able to before and they generally have better access to what they need.” O’Neill says it’s part of the company’s commitment to staying current with new trends. “We’re making sure we’re on top of changes in technology and the market so we’re ahead of the game.”

As the year progresses, the team plans to continue working to improve processes. “We’re excited about Appfolio and the opportunity it affords to provide the best service we can,” says Rothwell. “We’ll continually look at what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”

For his part, O’Neill is impressed with how the staff has handled the transitions, both in personnel and technology. “Any time you make a change, you worry about it a little bit,” he says. “This one has gone very smoothly.”

To find out more about the services Hometown offers  visit their website or call 360-456-7368.


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