House Cleaning made simple

At turnover, when a tenant serves notice to vacate, it is customary for the unit to be cleaned between tenants.  It’s like the Holiday Inn — no one wants to check into a dirty room.  Well, no one wants to rent a dirty home.  But as surprising as it sounds, it is difficult to find a good house cleaner.  Fortunately for us, we found one!

We sat down with Briana Norde, President of Caliber Cleaning in Lynnwood to learn a little more about what separates the wheat from the chaff in the world of cleaning.

FSPM: How long does it typically take to clean a 2/1 unit?

Briana: In a unit with normal build up (i.e. not excessively dirty or extremely clean) it typically takes 6 hours to clean a 2 bed/1 bath unit

FSPM: What things do other cleaners miss that you guys clean?

Briana: The top 3 things I have seen missed by other cleaners, that are included on our standard Turn Over Clean checklist are: cleaning under the refrigerator and under the stove, taking down light fixtures to clean them instead of just dusting them and cleaning both the interior and exterior window tracks.

FSPM: What success practices make your job easier?  i.e. What can landlords do to make your job easier?

Briana: The #1 thing landlords can do to make our job easier is ensure their properties our completely vacant when we go in to clean. Sometimes there are still items left behind and it becomes time consuming trying to decipher what to leave in the home vs. what might be garbage.

FSPM: What is the difference between a professional cleaner like Caliber versus an amateur cleaner like a landlord?  Can’t anyone clean?  (I know the answer, but I’d like you to answer it.)

Briana: Anyone can definitely clean, the difference is the standard and level of clean that is expected. If a landlord expects their property to be maintained and returned to them in a clean manner they need to set the standard high when presenting a new tenant with the property. Having a professional cleaner with experience in Turn Over cleans is very valuable in ensuring that standard is set high. Most tenants will clean the visible items. For example, they’ll run the vacuum, clean the tub/countertops in the Bathroom, and wipe down the counters in the Kitchen. However many won’t think to hand wipe the baseboards, or clean the interior appliances, interior cabinets/drawers, wipe down all the woodwork around the doors, etc.

FSPM: How have you been able to succeed?

Briana: We have been able to succeed with our company in the Turn Over Clean business by creating a proprietary 5 page checklist that we use during every single Turn Over Clean that we complete. In addition to that we have Quality Inspection Managers that come and check the cleaning jobs to ensure nothing was missed. Completing a Turn Clean is very different from cleaning an occupied house and we understand that. We have a training manual dedicated to these types of cleanings and train our crews very thoroughly. This is how we have been able to establish ourselves as one of the premier Turn Over Clean companies in the Pacific Northwest.

We feel both privileged and lucky to have Caliber Cleaning on our side.  It takes such a burden off this process of a rental turnover.

‘Pay It Forward’ Charity Event Announced


Real Estate Co. “Pays it Forward”

April 15, 2016                                                                                      Contact: Peter Nelson

Phone: (206) 992-6637


 Seattle, WA – A Seattle-based property management firm is hoping the goodwill from an upcoming event will inspire other companies to follow suit.  Based on the 2000 movie of the same name, Full Service Property Management announced today the launching of its 2016 “Pay it Forward” charity event.

On Saturday, Aug. 13, employees of this small, family-owned company located in South Seattle will descend on the residence of a local homeowner in the Rainier Valley.  The mission: to clean up the landscaping and make repairs around the exterior of the home.

“We were in a company meeting and one of our team members expressed an interest in getting the company involved in meaningful charity work.  So we came up with this idea!”, said Peter Nelson, President of Full Service Property Management.  “We’ve asked our tenants and a couple of churches in the area if they have anyone they can nominate.  We were looking for someone elderly, handicapped, indigent, or otherwise unable to do the work themselves.”, Nelson added.

The idea emanated from the movie of the same name where the beneficiary of a good deed repays it to others rather than the original beneficiary.  “We have been extremely blessed by this community and we want to give something back”, Nelson said.

The project will involve the company’s employees, friends, and family bringing landscaping tools and supplies to a local homeowner and cleaning up the landscaping around the house and repairing anything broken outside.  All of this will be done for the homeowner free of charge.

“It’s our way of giving back to the community – to Pay it Forward”, Nelson said.  He hopes other people and companies will be inspired to help out or follow suit and have their own ‘Pay it Forward’ day.  Interested parties are encouraged to contact Full Service Property Management directly at (206) 992-6637 or

How to Shop for a Property Manager

It’s scary, really. Here you are ready to give over one of the biggest assets in your financial empire to a total stranger! How do you pick the good from the bad from the ugly? Here are a few tips.butler_vector1

  1. Website. Go to their website. Is it rich with content? Does it read like an open book? Basically you want to ask the question “Are they good communicators?” If their website isn’t doing a good job of communicating key points then likely their staff won’t either.
  2. Screening process. Far and away this is the one single task property managers do that separate the good from the bad. THE one question every property owner should be asking prospective property managers – “What is your tenant screening process?” You should go into detail on their process and compare.
  3. Communication. 4 of the top 5 complaints of property management companies deal with poor communication. Look for multiple, parallel communication channels. Email. Phone. Text. What about an owner portal? Will you receive email alerts on activity on your account? Property updates? Inspections? Market updates? Find out how they communicate.
  4. Referrals. No company in their right mind would give you the name and number to a bad referral. Nevertheless, information can be gained by calling referrals. That is why people ask for them. Sometimes you get lucky and learn nuggets that can help your decision.
  5. Maintenance. Is it done in-house or with vendors? What kind of rates do they charge? More importantly, try to find out the quality of work. In-house maintenance is preferred because there is accountability and they can control the quality. Vending it out tends to be more “open season”.

These are some of the more important points. You may have other “hot spots” you want addressed. You will notice that Fees is NOT one of the tips. Why? You’ll have to read our next blog for that! 🙂

For more information on Full Service Property Management, visit our website.

Why property management fees don’t matter

A lot of us make buying decision on price.  It only makes sense.  Not so when shopping for a property management company.  Here’s why.

Most property management companies charge a percentage of rent — somewhere in the range of 7-12% of the rental price.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that an 8% management fee is better than a 10% management fee.  But there is a LOT more at stake here than just the management fee.

What if the management company does a lousy job of screening tenants and allows some “deadbeat” tenants to move in?  Now you are at risk for: 1) unpaid rents; 2) property damage; 3) legal fees from eviction, and/or; 4) any combination of the above.  The cost to an owner from lousy tenants can easily escalate to $5-10,000 or more.

Now consider the cost of the 8% PM company vs the 10% PM company.  On a $2,000/mo. rental that difference is $40/mo., or $500/year.  Beginning to see the logic?

The management fees a PM company charge an owner are dwarfed by the potential financial risk that same PM company puts the owner into.

So what is the solution?

Shop management companies NOT on fee or price but rather on their success at finding good tenants.  Ask them the following questions:  How many evictions have they had in the past 3 years?  What is their tenant screening process?  Is that policy posted on their website or somewhere where you and applicants can see it?  How do they handle late pays?  How do they handle bad tenants?  Do they inspect property?  How often?

Tenant screening is THE most important task a property management company (and landlord) does.  There is not second!  It is that important.  Do your homework up front and you (and us!) can save thousands on the back end.

Peter Nelson is President of Full Service Property Management company in Seattle, WA.  He has been managing his own rentals and those of other landlords for over 30 years.  He can be reached through the company’s website at