The area’s largest real estate firm is getting into the business of managing rental homes.
J.P. Weigand & Sons officials said Wednesday that it is creating Weigand Residential Rentals and Management, a division of the company that will initially oversee an inventory of 200 homes.
The division will be led by Tyson Bean, a principal in Wichita Rentals, a residential property management company.
“I saw it as the No. 1 property management company merging with the No. 1 real estate company, doing something that nobody else is doing,” Bean said.
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Dawn Truman, J.P. Weigand president, and Gary Walker, vice president and general manager of the company’s residential division, said rapid growth in the rental market locally and nationally, a less-than-robust home sales market and changing attitudes among younger, first-time homebuyers prompted the company to get into the business.
“We think it’s a very needed venue for us to be full service,” Truman said.
The residential property management division is one of several Weigand has added in the past few years, including a new homes division and an REO and short sale division that handles distressed properties.
Company officials expect to add more rental housing inventory going forward, though none of the houses it will manage will be owned by Weigand.
Truman and Walker said the idea for adding the division came from other real estate brokerages that had successfully added that type of business, primarily to counteract a sluggish home sales environment in the past few years.
Walker said one brokerage executive from Florida told him that if they hadn’t added a residential property management division, “they would have struggled keeping their doors open.”
“There’s just a whole lot more statistics nationally about first-time buyers delaying purchasing and renting longer,” he said.
Walker said the division’s rental homes will be listed on the Multiple Listing Service.
Agents from real estate firms other than Weigand will be extended what Walker calls “client protection.” That is, Weigand won’t try to steal the client the competing agent refers to one of the rental properties when that client is ready to buy a house. “We plan on fully cooperating with other companies and working with them,” Walker said. “It’s not just going to be for Weigand’s benefit.”
Bean added that his division will not steal a listing if a house being rented goes back on the sale market.
Real estate agents from Weigand and competing firms will also receive commissions from referrals.
“The big advantage to the other agents is the fact that they now have a database they can search for rental properties,” he said. “And maybe they at least have the opportunity to recapture some of their expenses” providing service to clients who aren’t yet ready to buy a house.
But, Walker said, the new division does allow its agents to establish relationships early on with future homebuyers.
Truman said not only does the new division complete Weigand as a full-service agency, it also fulfills a demand for something the firm hadn’t had before.
“We were getting numerous calls asking, ‘Do you have any residential rentals?’ ” she said.