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DIY vs. Professional Property Management | How to Be an Effective Landlord in the Seattle Area

SJA Property Management is an industry leader in the Puget Sound area including Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland and Seattle.

Property owners often ask whether self-management is a good idea. There are a few important questions you need to ask yourself before you decide to pursue DIY property management. First, will you be in the general area? If you’re moving out of state, you should hire a management company. There are too many issues that can cost you money when you’re not in the same city or at least a neighboring city. If you are going to be in the area and you’re an active investor, it might work for you. You need to consider it a part time job, and to be effective and limit your risk, you need to consider a few things.


Why Real Estate Brokers Should Work with SJA Property Management

SJA Property Management values the relationships we have with local Real Estate brokers. We are a resource for brokers from all the major Real Estate companies in the area. We provide those brokers and their clients with property management services and advice.

Benefits to referring brokers include:

  • Referral Commission
  • You receive a referral commission when the home is successfully leased, all without having to do any of the property management work yourself!

  • Protection of Your Relationship with Your Client
  • SJA will proactively protect and promote your relationship with your client to eliminate the risk they will go elsewhere for real estate services at the end of the lease. Also, SJA will notify you three months prior to the lease expiration so you can contact your client to see if they are ready to list their home.

  • Comfort
  • You will feel comfort in knowing that you can refer your client to SJA with full confidence, knowing that we will not only meet but exceed their expectations.

  • Liaison Services
  • You are provided a liaison who knows the demands of being a real estate broker intimately. Our team can answer any questions you may have about SJA’s services, philosophy or the market in general.

    Benefits to a broker’s clients include:

  • Maximize their Return
  • SJA is committed to maximizing revenue and minimizing expenses for your client throughout the term of the lease. SJA property managers are trained to treat our clients’ properties as if they were their own.

  • Asset Preservation
  • SJA’s regular inspection and, if necessary, repair of the home, ensure that the value of your client’s real estate asset is preserved throughout the lease. Our goal is to return the property to your client in better condition than when we took over management.

  • Monthly Reporting
  • SJA provides regular, monthly reports to your clients so there are no surprises related to the management or finances of the home.

  • Communication
  • SJA’s property managers and staff are trained to “over-communicate” with our clients and tenants so the chance of misunderstanding or confusion is minimized. SJA’s communication policy allows us to solve problems before they even are problems.

    If you are a broker who has a need for a good property management resource, we’d love to talk to you. Together, we can help you provide a more comprehensive service offering for your clients, and keep those client relationships strong for years to come. Give us a call.

    How to Get the Best Tenant for Your Rental Property – Tenant Screening in Redmond, WA

     Finding the best tenants for your Redmond rental property will ensure you have a good experience as a landlord. The screening process starts before you even begin advertising. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you get a high quality tenant:

    Have a Rent Ready Property

    Get your property in excellent condition before it goes to market. You want it to show well and have good curb appeal. The lawn needs to be well-manicured and the bushes should be trimmed. Do a little mulching, and blow off the driveway. Then you want to make sure the interior is thoroughly cleaned. Have the carpets shampooed and apply new paint if necessary. Everything must also be working properly in the home. By spending a little time on this in advance, you will attract the best tenants. A property in great condition takes better pictures and always shows better. You really want to find the tenants who are interested in well-maintained properties because they are more willing to keep the property looking good.

    Screen Tenants Thoroughly

    Once you have a good number of tenants to choose from, make sure you screen thoroughly. Don’t take anyone at their word, and do a full background check. We recommend using a third party screening company. There are a couple available in the area. You can dictate what they screen for. We look at criminal history, including sex offender history. We ask for a credit score, current empHow to Get the Best Tenant for Your Rental Property  Tenant Screening in Redmond WAloyment, and we look at any debt to income ratio and rent to income ratio. It’s also important to screen for unlawful detainers or evictions. All of this background information generates a score. If it’s a passing score we know with certainty that it’s a good tenant and we shouldn’t have any lease enforcement issues or rent issues.

    If you take the simple steps of prepping the property, advertising it in as many places as possible, and doing a good quality screening, you have the best chances to find good tenants. Good tenants make happy landlords.

    If you have any questions about tenant screening in Redmond, please contact us at SJA Property Management.

    What Does a Professional Property Management Company Do in Redmond, WA?

    A lot of landlords and investors want to know what exactly a Redmond property management company does for the owners it works with. A good property management company will limit the owner’s liabilities and make sure the property is performing at its best. This is done in several different ways.

    Leasing the Property

    Property managers can provide you with a rental evaluation, letting you know what your property can rent for. They will put together the marketing, and show the property seven days a week, often multiple times per day to keep vacancy rates down and find a great tenant as soon as possible. Property managers execute leases on your behalf, and screen tenants thoroughly to make sure they are high quality. Many companies have resources and affiliations with relocation companies and relationships with tenant pools that an owner otherwise would not have access to. This allows them to rent your property faster and to a higher quality tenant than you may be able to do on your own.

    Ongoing Property Management

    Once leases are executed, property managers conduct move-in inspections and make sure the security deposit is collected and held in the proper trust account. On an ongoing basis, your manager is available for any lease enforcement issues. They represent you and interact with tenants. They also take care of all accounting that’s associated with your property and make sure rent is paid on time. Your manager will coordinate and respond to any maintenance issues that come up. You’ll get a 24-hour emergency service so that if the tenant is locked out in the middle of the night or a tree falls on your property, someone is there.

    Providing Peace of Mind

    The role of a professional property manager is really to take the stress out of owning rental properties. Find someone who is trusted in the industry and with whom you can have a good working relationship. If you do that, it’s worth the money to hire a good property management company instead of going it on your What Does a Professional Property Management Company Do in Redmond, WA?own. Often, they will take care of issues before they escalate, and they can keep you out of troublesome situations.

    Owning rental properties can be a wonderful investment when done correctly. If you have a solid property management company as a trusted resource, rental property investment can even be enjoyable.

    If you have any questions concerning anything related to property management in Redmond, please contact us at SJA Property Management.

    How Do I Protect My Redmond Rental Property? Property Management Maintenance Advice

    In today’s episode of Landlord’s Corner, we are explaining the importance of keeping your property well maintained in order to protect your investment. There are several different ways to do this.

    Keep Your Property in Rent Ready Condition

    First, make sure your property is in rent ready condition before someone moves in. This means it has to be properly cleaned, with the carpets and paint in good condition, and everything functioning properly. This will attract the best types of tenants who are more willing to keep the property in that type of excellent condition going forward.

    Conduct Thorough Tenant Screening

    The second thing you want to do is screen your tenants thoroughly. This is a crucial step in maintaining and protecting your property. Conduct a full background check including credit, criminal history, debt to income ratio and rent to income ratio. You also want to look for any previous unlawful detainers or evictions.

    Use a Strong Lease

    Execute your lease with precision once a tenant is approved. Make sure the lease is in your favor and that it is comprehensive enough to cover the situations that may come up. When the lease is signed, conduct a thorough move in inspection. Take lots of pictures and have the tenant write out and sign off on the property’s condition before moving in.

    Conduct Periodic Inspections

    Many owners don’t want to inspect their property while the tenant is living in the home, but it is very important that they do. We do that here at SJA, and it makes a big difference. This is an opportunity to catch any problem that comes up and address those issues before they spin out of control. It might be a water leak or a lease violation. We do a 40-point inspection, and we are always happy to share our form with property owners who would like a copy.

    Collect an Appropriate Security Deposit

    Make sure you have collected a security deposit that’s large enough to cover any potential damage. When you do your move out walk through, reference the pictures you took during the move in with your tenant’s signed document. You can charge for damage exceeding normal wear and tear.

    By following these simple steps and maintaining good communication with your tenants, you can keep your property well maintained. It’s an important part of using this rental property as a great investment vehicle now and in the future.

    If you have any questions about property maintenance in Redmond, please contact us at SJA Property Management. 

    What Does Professional Property Management Cost in Redmond, WA?

    On our version of Landlord’s Corner, we are talking about one question that we get asked most frequently, which is: how much does property management cost? There are a couple of ways to address this. First, we’ll talk about the landlord’s cost of property management in Redmond, and then we’ll discuss the costs associated with having an inexperienced or poor property manager.

    Property Management Costs: Leasing Fee

    Property management companies typically break their charges in two sections. They charge for finding and placing a tenant; that’s called the leasing fee. It covers your marketing, showing the property to prospective tenants, screening those tenants, and executing lease-related documents. Then, the property manager oversees the tenant move-in. This can be a flat fee or sometimes it’s a percentage of the first month’s rent. We have seen a percentage that’s 50 percent or even 100 percent of that first month’s rent, or a flat fees of around $500. It really depends on the manager’s experience, ability to find a good tenant quickly, the resources available to the management company, and how often the property is being shown.

    Property Management Costs: Management Fee

    The second part of the property management charges are the ongoing management fees. This is also a percentage of the rent in most cases. We have also seen flat fees, and some management companies charge as little as $99 per month. That usually comes with a limited number of services or when a company is trying to manage as many properties as possible with as few team members as possible. What you pay depends on the level of service you’re looking for. You might pay a percentage of the rent that’s between 8 percent and 10 percent in the Redmond area. This fee covers all the ongoing aspects of managing your property, such as rent collection, 24-hour emergency services, all of the accounting, troubleshooting, and lease enforcement. Really, a good property manager is taking your place so you don’t have to worry about these details.

    Property Management Costs: Inexperienced Property Managers

    It’s important to consider the costs you can suffer if you hire a property management company with limited experience or a lack of Costs of Property Managementinterest in doing a good job. You need a good company that will keep your vacancy rates down. Every month that your property sits empty on the market, you lose 8 percent of your revenue. A good property manager will keep your costs in check while maintaining your valuable asset. So make sure you’re working with someone who is proactive, who works towards reducing liability and taking care of problems before they escalate.

    These are the basic costs of property management. Do your due diligence and find a company that will help you receive as much rent as possible and maintain the property. If you have any questions about the cost of property management in Redmond, please contact us at SJA Property Management.

    Investing in Somerset Bellevue – Go Local!

    Understanding the neighborhood is a key part of making a great property investment, and here at SJA Property Management, we want to ensure that you have the tools to make the best investment you can. If you’re considering buying property in Bellevue, our Go Local! Series will introduce you to some of the pros and cons of the best and worst neighborhoods in the area. This week, we’re covering Somerset Bellevue, one of the neighborhoods with the best views and most scenic roads. But, is it a good place to invest?


    Meet Somerset Bellevue

    Somerset is nestled on Somerset Hill, which tops out at around 1,000 feet, offering stunning views of the Puget Sound area including Lake Washington, Seattle, and the Olympic Mountains. The neighborhood itself supports a population of just 7,659, or just 6% of the greater Bellevue area. Somerset is also one of the safest and best organized in the area, with a strong neighborhood association, multiple neighborhood community programs, and a neighborhood watch.

    Parks and Recreation

    Somerset is nearby to 22 different parks and even more trails, offering plenty to do for everyone who wants to get outside to explore the areas green hills, trees, and scenic views. Notable parks include the Eastgate Park, Forest Hill Neighborhood Park, Westwood Highlands Park, and Meadowood Park.


    Somerset is part of the Bellevue School District, meaning that residences have access to multiple local schools including the highly recommended Bellevue High School. Somerset Elementary School and Forest Ridge School are located right in Somerset, but students can attend Sammamish High School, Lake Hills Elementary School, and St. Louise Parish School, as well as any of the 25 private schools in the area. Somerset is also nearby to the Bellevue College campus.


    Somerset Bellevue is home to primarily middle to higher income couples and families who own their own home, do not rent, and who may or may not have kids. However, the high cost of living, combined with very low rates of crime, plus high educational standards in the area creates a draw for people who can afford those standards. Unfortunately, this is not the best location for property investment, because the majority of locals do not rent.

    Property Management in Somerset Bellevue

    Somerset Bellevue is primarily home to single-family residences which sell on the very high to high end for the region. This means that the area is less suitable for investing in single family homes, simply because you pay more per purchase than in other nearby areas. However, on the Eastside you can find some apartment and condo complex developments, which make more attractive investments. However, with very few of these developments currently underway, there is not a lot of room for low-capital investment in the area.

    What’s the good news for investors? With 9 major apartment developments in the area, there are definitely some opportunities for those who want to invest in a new building, or who want to purchase condos as a first investment.

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