When they did give the okay for everybody to come back to the area, there were a lot of people who could not come back because they had no place to come back to
Dallas, TX (Vocus) September 21, 2010
When the Category 3 winds finally died down and the floodwaters abated, those who had fled the wrath of Hurricane Rita in Southeast Texas in late September 2005 realized they were in for a long recovery. "When they did give the okay for everybody to come back to the area, there were a lot of people who could not come back because they had no place to come back to," said Houston businessman David Schaper.
The subsequent demand for apartment and home rentals sparked the spirit of entrepreneurship in Schaper. The result? OneStopRentals.com, an online apartment and home rental locator service that includes smaller communities often ignored by similar services. The story of how one of the worst hurricanes to hit the Gulf of Mexico could inspire an easier way for renters to find a place to live is told in the new spark360 "Social Business Television" profile, now available for viewing at http://www.spark360.tv.
spark360 host Renay San Miguel interviews Schaper, CEO of OneStopRentals.com, and company president Eric Conner. The two business partners own rental properties in the Houston area, so their phones were ringing off the hook as Rita's damage became clear. "We happened to have an ad in the Yellow Pages, and people were calling us wanting to know if we had anything to rent," Schaper said. "We would get 20 to 40 phone calls a week right after the hurricane and it became apparent that there was no central location for owners and renters to meet up with one another."
Conner noticed that many services listing Texas property rentals were skewed towards the big cities. "We found out as we were going through the research that it wasn't just southeast Texas, but a ton of smaller communities were underserved or not served at all, frankly, with any kind of locator service," he said. "So our desire when we put the website together was certainly to target the larger geographies, but to really go after those smaller ones, because they need places to rent too and they had no options of any kind of locator service - either physical locator service or the online locator service that we have."
Marketing manager Alicia Pyne gives San Miguel a tour of the website's features. Users can find information on Houston, Dallas and Austin apartments, as well as, homes for rent in those large cities. But they'll also see listings for League City, Lumberton and Wichita Falls.
Renters looking for places to live - homes, apartments, duplexes or town houses - can register for free at OneStopRentals.com. Users can narrow their search by city, property type and desired monthly rent. And if they do sign a lease based on their search, they can notify OneStopRentals.com and receive a $50 check. "They're already searching for an apartment, they're already searching for a rental home, so all they have to do is find it through OneStopRentals.com and we give them some extra cash," Pyne said.
Owners can also list as much information as they want about their properties for free on the site, and they get access to thousands of registered users. Property owners only pay a fee if they end up with new tenants thanks to OneStopRentals.com. "Being property owners ourselves, we wanted a place where we can list our property, list our amenities, what we have to offer to the renting public without it costing us a lot of money," Schaper said. "We also give owners versatility - lots of versatility on the information they can provide to the site, and also it's good for property management companies as well as individual owners."
The company hopes to add more content and services designed to make OneStopRentals.com a top online apartment locator and resource on houses for rent. Renters could fill out application forms from management companies and get links to other services such as storage and moving vans. And property owners might include virtual tours. "We want the feedback from renters and owners to make this site viable and useful to both sides," Schaper said.
spark360 Executive Producer Steven Swaim says, "In this fast paced environment we live in today, having this type of user friendly online interface to help find an apartment or home for rent is a savior. The fact that it is user friendly for both the renter and the property owner is great...a true win win!"
"Renters make up one-third of all people living in U.S. households," said San Miguel. "The current economic climate is just as stormy as the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, with many people unable to buy right now, so rentals are going to continue to see big business. Renters in smaller towns and cities need to be served too, and it's great to highlight a web-based entrepreneur offering up a solution."
spark360 is a Web-based business television program that celebrates the spark of entrepreneurship in America by featuring the unique stories of small and middle-market businesses.
spark360 also provides a credible and relevant outlet to get your story to a global marketplace through our exclusive 360 Distribution social media platform. spark360 delivers broadcast-quality, network news-style programs via a comprehensive SEO-optimized “full circle” distribution strategy that reaches every corner of the Internet.spark360 is a division of Splash Media, L.P. spark360.tv
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