The Key to Success

Owners of Key Source Properties, Justin Reid and Jonathan Klunk.

By Remy Sisk

Photo by Tim Valentino

With the ever-rising popularity of Airbnb and other short-term rental outlets, the city is seeing more and more individuals decide to take on the challenge of listing their own home or another property they own at which out-of-towners may stay. However, what many of these folks don’t take into account is the multitude of processes that go along with this endeavor. In addition to preparing the property, there’s also the phone calls, booking inquiries and a host of other aspects that can pile up and make listing a property not entirely realistic. That’s where Key Source Properties, a business that specializes in the hospitality of short-term rentals, comes in.

It all started when Jonathan Klunk and his husband, Justin Reid, went on a vacation and stayed at an Airbnb. While away, they engaged the host on how lucrative hosting a property was and were convinced that they wanted to try their hand at the business. “We were satisfied that it was something that we should try, so three Derbys ago was our first guest,” relates Klunk. At the time, they lived on the first floor of a duplex and began renting out the upstairs. The pair saw so much success that soon, others were asking for their help in doing the same thing.

“We were very vocal about our success and how well we were doing so many people reached out to us and asked that we help them get started doing it themselves,” Klunk describes. “We created a consulting side of our business to help with everything from advising on furnishings and helping people to acquire those, all the way up to teaching them how to use the platform.”

What Klunk and Reid eventually realized was that many individuals who wanted to list properties simply did not have the time for the multifaceted job of being a host. “I think that a lot of these people quickly realized that they were in over their heads and they didn’t have the time or resources to commit to such a high-touch industry,” he explains. “So they invited us to manage it for them for a fee, and that’s how it got started—very organically. We did not set out to create this business; it was always just going to be for ourselves, but very quickly we saw the potential.”

Now, the pair behind Key Source Properties work not only with Airbnb but also other short-term rental platforms to coordinate stays, remain up-to-date on messages and ensure the properties enjoy a high visibility. “We are doing something that is not easy for the average person to do,” Klunk emphasizes. “If you’re managing your own property and have a full-time job, you’re lucky if you can do it well within Airbnb, let alone across six other platforms. It’s not really feasible for the average user to do what we’re doing for all of our clients. That’s a very important part that we want to communicate: we don’t just give you back your time but we’re actually doing a lot of things that you can’t do yourself.”

Looking ahead, Klunk and Reid anticipate continued significant growth, which is what they’ve already seen as the business has developed. Not only do they take care of getting guests into your property but they also maintain the highest level of quality across all of their listings, including featuring hotel-quality linens in the bedroom and bathroom. Clearly, its blend of dedication, professionalism and passion will see Key Source Properties continue to expand, making it easier for owners across the region to engage in the business of short-term rentals. VT




From 5 to 30 listings: Short-term rental management company experiencing rapid growth

Justin Reid, left, and Jonathan Klunk, owners of Key Source Properties

As the owners of Key Source Properties see it, the sky’s the limit for their less than one-year-old short-term rental property management firm.

“We really see ourselves creating a brand,” said Jonathan Klunk, chief executive of Key Source Properties. “All these individual properties we manage are like mini-hotels.”

The company manages the rental, maintenance, cleaning and other services related to running a successful short-term rental.

Klunk runs Key Source with his husband, Justin Reid, who is Key Source’s chief operating officer.

The business started with the pair renting out their own property on Airbnb, Reid said. Renting the property allowed them to buy a house in Boone, N.C., which they manage from afar. From there, word got out about their success with Airbnb, and people started asking them to manage their Airbnbs.

“Some people think of it as an additional income, but we try to take it to the next level …by being hands-on,” Reid said. “It is a passion that we have to give everyone the best experience.”

In just a few short months, Key Source went from managing five properties to 30, including the Howard Hardy House. Most are properties owned by others, but a few are owned by Klunk and Reid. They are located in neighborhoods, including Plainview, Prospect, NuLu, the Highlands, Old Louisville and downtown.

The properties rent from $99 and up on a week day to about $400 on a weekend. The Howard Hardy House, which can hold 22 people, runs $6,000 for an entire weekend.

The business has performed well enough that Klunk left his job as an account executive at a telecommunications company in July. Klunk said he noticed he was giving most of his attention to Key Source.

Once Klunk left his full-time job, “that is when our growth really went up exponentially,” Reid said.

The expansion has led Key Source to revise its original goal for 2017. Klunk and Reid now hope to manage 50 properties by year-end; their previous goal was 30.

“We are going for above-market-rate properties and properties that are in fantastic locations that are cared for by their owners,” Klunk said.

Key Source is “very high touch,” he noted. For instance, the company works with a team of cleaners to make sure rentals are spotless. In some cases, they also have furnished Airbnbs for property owner clients.

While the properties they manage will remain on Airbnb, Key Source also is moving toward being a more traditional vacation rental management company. Klunk said they are creating a platform for people to view their available rentals outside of Airbnb and other home rental websites.

A spacious, four-bedroom home in the Highlands, which is marketed as an executive rental or for families. | Courtesy Key Source Properties

Key Source also plans to start a 24-hour call center this week to accommodate any emergent client or renter needs.

The company also recently affiliated itself with Gant Hill & Associates, a real estate brokerage firm that works throughout Jefferson County and the surrounding areas.

The pair liked Hill, Klunk said, because he promotes entrepreneurship within his company. “That is what really attracted us to the organization.”

Gant Hill & Associates was already delving into property management, including Airbnb management, and has a maintenance team, but up until recently, it wasn’t an organized division within the company, said founder Gant Hill.

“It’s a strategic alliance,” Hill said about the affiliation with Key Source. “Our clients really require an unconventional approach to marketing or managing their assets.”

Gant Hill & Associate is Key Source’s broker, and Key Source offers a single entity for people to reach out to when they want to rent out a property short-term or they are looking for a short-term rental themselves. For example, Key Source has worked with real estate agents to offer clients a place to stay while they are trying to find a home.

Key Source also has rented to people coming to the city for job interviews. “They want to live like locals and get a sense of the neighborhood,” Klunk said.

Under their affiliation, the companies want to find a way, with the owner’s permission, to offer houses that are for sale as short-term rentals while they linger on the market. The city currently requires conditional use permits for houses that are short-term rentals and not owner-occupied, a process that could possibly take as long as it takes to sell a house.

“If a house looks happy and not distressed, it demands a better price,” Hill said. “We are trying to be innovative with Jonathan and Justin to uplift the asset when it’s going through transition.”

Klunk noted that the homeowners would earn money to help reduce the hardship of paying two mortgages while waiting for a house to sell.

Key Source may also get into estate management with Gant Hill & Associates, ensuring that the multiple homes of the real estate firm’s wealthy clients are cleaned, maintained and ready for when the owners return.

As short-term rentals through Airbnb and other services grow in popularity, Klunk said he hopes operators are included in conversations about tourism in the city and state.

“We pay the same taxes that hotels do,” he said, adding that short-term rentals supplement the hotel business. “Whenever we are all booked up, the hotels are all booked up.”

Klunk said that operating short-term rentals has given them a good perspective on why people come to the city: bourbon, bachelor and bachelorette parties, checking out the University of Louisville and job interviews.

Bright bedroom in Old Louisville Victorian apartment with views of Central Park. | Courtesy Key Source Properties