For Andrew Barkis and his team at Hometown Property Management, the ultimate goal is a satisfied client. Sometimes, that’s a first time renter who is happy with Hometown’s service. Sometimes it’s a homeowner, thrilled with the professional and timely attention to their investment property. And sometimes, it’s a renter who becomes a homeowner and is ready to rent out their property. “We love it when a renter has a great experience with us and later contacts us when they buy a home,” says Barkis, owner of the longtime Olympia property management company. “They’ll call us and say, ‘We want you to rent out our house.’” Ultimately, it all comes down to the trust and confidence they have in Barkis and his staff.
That kind of full circle scenario does happen, especially when you’ve been in business for as long as Barkis has. Currently, the housing market is booming (for sellers), creating new opportunities for people with one or more properties to increase equity while paying down their mortgage – by renting, rather than selling, their homes. “The demand is so high for people wanting to rent,” he says. “Often, there isn’t the inventory that can meet that demand.”
At Hometown, the team works to educate homeowners on the advantages of renting vs. selling. “When you explain the tax benefit, most people get it,” says lease manager Donna Palecki. “When you rent, you can write off all your management fees and expenses, all while the bottom dollar is getting paid down.”
It’s important to check with your financial advisor before making any decisions, Barkis warns, because everyone’s situation is different. “The numbers have to be right, including how much they owe on the house and how much money they need to be able to pull out of it. We don’t give tax advice,” he cautions. Most clients, however, find that the prospect of maintaining an asset that will continue to appreciate while simultaneously providing cash flow, appealing. “It’s a key piece of having a diverse portfolio,” he says.
The term ‘diverse’ also applies to Hometown’s clients, who range from older clients looking to downsize to growing families looking for larger homes. “Seniors may want something smaller but not want to take the tax hit that comes from selling their home,” says Barkis. “This way they can continue to receive income while moving to something smaller.”
Younger clients who have outgrown their homes can keep them for an additional five years while they appreciate and then sell them at a profit. Recently, more clients have come from other regions. “A good portion of our portfolio is out-of-state owners,” says Barkis. “There’s a big military component. This is a hot market and there are plenty of people who are looking to invest in this area.”
Another category of clients are do-it-yourselfers who have accumulated three or four properties and are ready to relinquish the regular responsibility of running them. “They don’t want to have the hassle of day-to-day management,” Barkis explains. “Working with us allows them to retain those homes for a little longer and extend their retirement plan as opposed to having to sell because they’re tired of managing.” Every situation is different, he notes, but home owners have options – and property management is at the heart of them.
One of the biggest benefits of hiring a property manager is mitigating risk. “So many things can go wrong, particularly with maintenance,” says Barkis. “Instead, you can bring in someone with the expertise to make sure your asset is being protected.” Hometown has a robust inspection program and a commitment to preventative maintenance, which saves money in the long term. “A new furnace can cost upward of $10,000 but if you get it serviced and cleaned every year, you can prevent it from being such a big expense,” he explains.
Another important aspect of property management is tenant screening. “We have the expertise to find and place tenants in your home,” Barkis contends. “It can be scary to do it yourself. There are always some bad actors out there.” Hometown offers intensive screening and an industry-leading lease process that defines terms and protects both owner and tenant. “One bad tenant can cost thousands of dollars,” he notes. “Our tenant service is one of the biggest benefits for clients and it definitely offsets the cost that’s involved in management services.”
During the recession, Hometown was able to assist homeowners who were in danger of foreclosure. “At that time, their only option was to rent or take a huge loss,” says operations manager Tom O’Neill. “We helped a lot of people avoid potential bankruptcies or foreclosures. They were able to keep their homes.”
In the future, Barkis expects the market to maintain its current trend. “We anticipate that it will remain strong,” he says. “Hopefully we won’t see the kind of volatility we had before because of the safeguards that have been put in place. This area is poised to keep growing exponentially and housing is one of the key areas that will continue to expand. Having a rental makes great sense.”
To find out more about the services Hometown offers call 360-456-7368 or Hometown Property Managment online.