Issaquah Property Management


Latest Blog Posts


It's time for Spring cleaning.

It's that time of the year again, spring cleaning. Even though it's one of our least favorite things to do it essential for keeping the home in good, clean condition. I've listed items below that usually don't get done in the usual cleaning routine. A lot of the dirt in your home you just take for granted, but cause your so use to see it. Like the dark area on the inside of doors, usually near the know. That not normal wear and tear, that's dirt.

  • Dust lighting fixtures and clean lamp shades.
  • Wash walls and baseboards. The kitchen walls are always the worst and all that is needed is a little spray cleaner to freshen them up. Baseboard collect dirt / dust on top, a wipe with a damp rag does the trick.
  • Wash doors, Door trim, knobs and switch plates. These items get touched with dirty hands daily, if not hourly.
  • Empty closets. Donate or chuck the stuff you don't need and clean the floor/carpet.
  • Dust / clean the furniture. We have small kids at home, so we need to do this quarterly, otherwise small plant start to grow up between the cushions.
  • For each drawer both kitchen and bedroom: remove items and washer the inside. Also wash the face of the cabinet or drawer.
  • Move Bed. Sort and put away anything that was under bed. Sweep or vacuum under bed.
  • Wash windows and window sills. Take out and wash window screens. Wash the blinds or curtains.
  • Wash floor registers and other vent covers. I>
  • Remove toilet seat and clean around seat bolts.
  • Re-caulk if needed around toilets, sinks and tubs.
  • Washing inside of washing machine and dyer.

By Comble PM - March 18, 2016



Don't burn down the house.

Several years ago we got a call at 4 am from the answering service. My wife answers, says ok, ok, then yells "Oh my god", then hands over the phone saying it's for me. Yes one of our managed properties was burning the ground. Thankfully all the smoke detectors where working and no one was hurt. But the house was a total loss. Two fire inspectors came out, one from the city and from the insurance company. I couldn't have been less impressed with the city guy who reminded me of a young Mr. Magoo. But the insurance guy was a retired fire inspector and obviously new his stuff inside and out. Of course the city guy didn't have a clue as to the cause, but the insurance guy actually spoke to the tenants, one of which mentioned that she discarded her cigarettes in the area the they thought the fire started. Although they didn't have a definitive cause the assumption was that it was due to an improperly discarded cigarette. So if you every encounter this issue make sure you call the insurance company ASAP.

According to National Underwriter Property & Casualty these are the leading causes of house fires:


Candles

From 2007-2011, the NFPA says there were an average of 10,630 fires in the U.S. that were started by candles, causing 115 deaths, 903 injuries and approximately $418 million in property damage. That is an average of 29 candle fires per day. About one-third of these fires started in bedrooms, causing 39% of the associated deaths and 45% of the associated injuries. More than half of all candle fires start because of candles that were left too close to flammable items. They should always be kept at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.

Safety tips:

  • Never leave a candle burning near flammable items..
  • Never leave a candle burning in a child's or an unoccupied room.
  • Make sure candles fit securing into candle holders so they won't tip over.
  • Blow out any candles before leaving a room or going to sleep.


Smoking

While the number of fires caused by smoking is trending downward, the NFPA found that there were still an average of 17,600 related fires per year resulting in 490 deaths and more than $516 million in property damage.

Safety tips:

  • If you smoke, consider smoking outside.
  • Use wide, sturdy ashtrays to catch butts and ashes.
  • Look for cigarette butts under furniture and between seat cushions to make sure no lit butts have fallen someplace where they can't be seen.
  • Don't smoke in bed, when you're tired or around medical oxygen.


Clothes dryers

Clothes dryer fires happen more often than one might think, accounting for 16,800 home structure fires in 2010 and doing more than $236 million in property damage. The most frequent causes of fires in dryers are lint/dust (29%) and clothing (28%). In washers, they are wire or cable insulation (26%), the appliance housing (21%) or the drive belt (15%). Dryers were involved in 92% of these appliance fires and the risk of fire was basically the same for both gas and electric-powered dryers.

Safety tips:

  • Clean the lint screen frequently and don't run the dryer without it.
  • For gas and propane dryers, make sure there aren't any leaks in the lines.
  • Vent the dryer to the outside of the house and ensure nothing blocks the vent pipe.
  • Clean the vent pipe and the area where the screen is housed.
  • Keep the area around the dryer free of combustible materials.

By Comble PM - Feb 23, 2016



Determining a rental rate.

So you have a house or condo that you want to lease out. You would like to cover your bills and hopefully make a little money. How do you find the right rental rate? If your rents too high you're not going to attract a good tenant, yet you don't want to price it too low and leave a bunch of money on the table.


You need to compare you property to like/same properties that have recently rented (best) or that are currently on the market. My like/same I mean that if you have a single family home using other single family homes as comps. Items to compare are:

  • Type of property - house, apartment, high-rise building, townhouse, gated community.
  • Within one mile of your home or less. This can vary greatly depending on how spread out or tightly built your town is. In more rural areas like East King county your comp zone could be 5 miles or more .
  • Number of bedrooms and baths.
  • Same or similar square footage.
  • Same age of home + updates like renovated kitchen, stainless steel appliances, etc.
  • Unfurnished or furnished.
  • Type of parking (street vs. covered, security garage, number of spots, assigned or not).
  • Whether pets are allowed.
  • Whether utilities are included and which ones.


The best place for comps in the NWMLS, which will let you know what the property rented for, as opposed to its advertised rate. But only real estate professionals can access the NWMLS, which doesn't do most landlords any good.


Zillow has something called a Rent Zesimate, which has gotten a lot better over the last year. Zillow collects data from both the NWMLS and on line ads thru Zillow, Postletes, Hotpads and a bunch of other sites. When Zillow first started with Rent Zestimates they weren't very good and seemed to inflate the rent a lot. Since they acquired Postlets however they have gotten much better.


When comping a rental from properties that are actively listed I will collect a list of properties most similar to mine then throw out the most and least expensive. Then with the remaining properties I average the price by adding all the rents together and divide by the number of properties. This number will be will be the average and most likely your rental amount, or should be close to it. Sales brokers do something similar for their clients only they use the square footage, which is very effective. Unfortunately a lot of rental ads don't list the square footage.


Now you might be wondering why not list the rental at the high end of the comps? You could and you might get it. But in my experience the best tenants don't pay the most in rent. They start looking early (5 to 6 weeks) before their move in date. If they are looking at your home and a similar one down the street that's for less, they are going to rent the home down the street. One of the best way to compete for the best tenants is to have a competitive rent.

By Comble PM - Feb 14, 2016



Garbage disposal repair and care.

We receive maintenance requests from our tenants every day and one of the most common issues tenants have is with their garbage disposal. Most disposal repairs are quite simple and just about anyone can turn a stuck disposal into a functioning one. We're always happy to come out and repair issues, but disposals tend to break down due to misuse and putting inappropriate material in them. If you follow the steps below, you can probably avoid disposal breakdowns altogether. I've also listed some simple steps to repair it yourself, so you can get your kitchen back in action quickly.


Hard items bind and clog the disposal and will always cause problems. First of all if you can't eat it don't but it down the disposal. Here is a small list of items to keep out:

  • Seeds
  • Bones
  • Fruit pits/avocado pits
  • Shrimp and seafood shells
  • Anything hard and never put inorganic material in the disposal
  • Fruit peels
  • Onion peels
  • Potato peels
  • Coffee grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Corn cobs and corn husks
  • Grease


To clean your disposal:

  • Wipe the understand of the rubber flange of the disposal (while it is off). This is where odors can often come from.
  • Running ice through the disposal once a month or so helps to keep it smelling clean and free of debris. You can also make ice cubes with vinegar and this works well.
  • If you have a really stinky disposal running it while pouring a small amount of dish soap works well.


Does your disposal sound like a handful of quarters is stuck inside of it?

  1. Make sure all your circuit breakers are turned on.
  2. There is a red reset button on the bottom of the disposal. Press it.
  3. Insert an allen wrench in the bottom of the disposal and turn until it spins freely.
  4. If you are still having problems, call your property manager.


Is your disposal backed up?

  1. Don't plunge it, this will damage the disposal and almost never clear it.
  2. Don't pour and drain cleaner into. It's toxic and doesn't work.
  3. To clean a blockage you'll need to take apart the drain pipes, which can usually be done without any tools.
  4. If needed call your property manager.


Here is a short video that does a good job of discribing how to get your disposal unclogged and up and running:


By Comble PM - Jan 31, 2016



Setting the stage for a positive tenancy.

One of the keys of successfully managing a Sammamish property is starting off on the right foot with a tenant. A tenant wants to walk into their new property and have it reasonable clean and in good repair. If it's not the poor first impression will most likely cause issues with the tenant for the entire term of the lease.


Make sure to send the tenant all the need contact info for the utility companies. They should have the utilities transferred into their names before they take possession, having the contact information makes this a lot easier. In Washington State the water and sewer companies require the owner to contract them to have the tenants name placed on the account, so make sure to do this before the tenant takes over.


If there is an HOA or COA be sure to inquire of them what is needed. Most times they'll want tenant contact info and some other info, like car make and model. Also there will most likely be rules and regulations that you'll need to provide the tenant. Your lease should have a clause that states that the community rules and regulations are part of the lease and that your Sammamish property tenant is responsible for any and all fines for violations.


Before move-in inspect the property for repair items and get them fixed. Items that are often overlooked and almost always in need to attention are: burned out bulbs, loose towel bars and clogged drains. Also be sure to install smoke and CO detectors to your local code, or be sure to change the batteries if they are already installed.


Make sure all the keys and remotes work. As a professional Sammamish Property Management company we pride ourselves on our locks working correctly, which means getting copies from a professional locksmith. Home centers to often miss cut keys, causing the tenant to have to jiggle it to unlock the door. A trick we like to do with a door that has a dead bolt and a keyed knob is to replace the keyed knob with closet knob, or a knob that doesn't have a lock on it. I don't think any locking knob ever kept out an intruder, but it has locked out plenty of tenants. If your Sammamish property has a locking mailbox give the tenant one key and keep the other for yourself. If the tenant loses their key then just buy a new lock, they are cheap a super easy to install. Even locksmiths miss-cut the mailbox keys when making copies, so our Sammamish property management company doesn't even bother, we just replace.


Confirm your parking spot, storage and mailbox numbers. If you're not sure ask you HOA/COA they should be able to provide this to you. It's also a good idea to inspect these before move-in day, if for no other reason than you know where to go when you show them to the tenant.


Our Sammaish Property Managers always make sure everything is removed from the property before the tenant takes over. Even if you think the tenant can use is, like dish soap, or a rake. The property always presents itself better when it's absolutely vacant. This also sets the expectation that your Sammamish property should be completely vacant at move out.


Can I hold my tenant to the lease in a firm yet courteous manner? Most lease issues start with late rent, so you'll need to be firm and charge the late fee. If you continue to allow the tenant to pay late with no consequences you may notice that the rent gets paid later and later. You also need to be courteous, acting angrily toward your tenant, or anyone, only makes things worst.


Don't forget the outside, lawn mow and debris cleanup go a long way toward curb appeal. It also sets the expectation that when your tenant vacates the lawn should be neat and tidy.

By Comble PM - Jan 28, 2016



Considering Self-Managing You Rental Property? - Redmond WA property management tips.

Managing a Redmond rental property yourself can be difficult, especially if you're doing it part time and have a demanding regular job and home life. There are benefits, the most obvious is the money you save. Also there can be a certain amount of pride in knowing your tenants and seeing them happily living in your property.


Managing a rental property yourself can be difficult, especially if you're doing it part time and have a demanding regular job and home life. There are benefits, the most obvious is the money you save. Also there can be a certain amount of pride in knowing your tenants and seeing them happily living in your property.


Here are some questions you should be ask yourself before managing your Redmond WA property (or anywhere else):


Do I have the time and discipline to manage repairs? There is no good time for things to break down, and as the landlord you have a reasonability under the law (at least in Washington State) to make timely repairs. Which means when the tenant tells you the heater failed you'll need to get right on it, waiting for several days before you call a repair company just won't cut it. You'll also need the discipline to pay for the repairs.


Can I effectively screen perspective tenants? There is nothing worse for a landlord than a bad tenant, tenant screening is all important. You'll need a good clear criteria in place for accepting an application. You also need to be able to say no to a perspective tenant that doesn't meet your criteria, something that if very difficult for most people to do.


How can I manage my Redmond property while I'm on away? Do you have someone that can help you when you are away?


Is my lease adequate? You'll need a good lease that covers all the bases in a way that doesn't violate the landlord/tenant laws.


Can I hold my tenant to the lease in a firm yet courteous manner? Most lease issues start with late rent, so you'll need to be firm and charge the late fee. If you continue to allow the tenant to pay late with no consequences you may notice that the rent gets paid later and later. You also need to be courteous, acting angrily toward your tenant, or anyone, only makes things worst.


Basically you can sum up everything by asking yourself "Do I know what I'm doing"? If you answer is no and you still want to manage it then consider hiring a Redmond Property Management company to find a tenant and help with some advice. A lot of sale agents will offer their services in finding a tenant, but you're better off with a Redmond property manager that is familiar with the whole process from screening to move out. You'll also want to find a Redmond property manager that is willing to give a little advice during tenancy if an issue does arise.

By Comble PM - Dec 15, 2016