Meet JMW Group Agent Rebecca Farmer

Rebecca Farmer JMW Group Windermere Property Management Headshot


Get to know JMW Group Agent Rebecca Farmer:


How long have you been in property management? How long have you been with JMW Group?

I’ve been at JMW Group for 12 years, I started as office admin. After 4 years here, I started working as a leasing agent and property manager.


What’s the best part about working in Property Management?

The best part of property management is by far that I get to make my own schedule. I work with my clients and the tenants to make sure everyone’s schedules are taken into account, but I get to say when I start and when I end, making it easy to include personal time with friends and families.

I also love move-in days. I love working with excited new tenants to get them into their new homes.


What’s the best part about working with JMW Group?

Michael, our owner/designated broker; he trusts us to do our job and is always there for support from the biggest to the smallest issues.


What’s a question you get asked all the time about what you do?

What is the craziest thing you have seen on the job?


How do you answer that question?

There is always a new answer to give on that one!


What’s the advice you give all your clients?  

Vet everyone -it’s all about the screening. Using applications to screen your tenants and make sure they are well qualified is an important step that reduces the risk when renting out your home.


What do you wish property investors knew before they talk to you?

You get what you pay for; real estate is most likely the largest investment you will ever make, so why bargain shop for its keeper? Working with a property manager is, I think, one of the most important parts of owning an investment property that helps reduce vacancy and risk.


In what neighborhoods do you mostly work?

I typically work from Federal Way to Everett. I’d say most of my properties are in North Capitol Hill to North Seattle right now.


What’s your favorite thing(s) about those neighborhoods?

It’s where I live, it’s where I go for entertainment and fun, and where I have the most personal connections. I find it’s easy for me to learn about the area in which I live, meaning I can better help my clients and potential tenants better understand the area and what to expect.


When you have free time, how do you spend it?

Away from my phone and hopefully in my garden!


If someone wants to work with you, what’s the best way to get a hold of you?

I prefer email:

Or you can call me at the office, and they’ll be able to find me if I’m at the office or in the field: (206) 621-2037.

Posted on October 4, 2019 at 8:00 am
JMW Group | Posted in Agent Profile, Featured, Manage Like Michael |

How to Hire the Right Vendor

Need a good handyman or Sub-contractor?

Use these questions to start your interview with a potential vendor. They will help you protect your investment property, both structurally and financially.

Having a vendor list you can trust is crucial for maintaining your investment property while staying within your budget. If you know they’re going to get it done right, sometimes it’s worth the extra $50-$100 at the beginning, rather than the expensive 2nd fix that may be required if you use a disreputable vendor.

Sites like HomeAdvisor help connect property owners with contractors and subcontractors who can pretty much do any job! From painting to plumbing to electrical to hot water, it’s a great resource for people who don’t have a verified vendor list.

Another option is Keepe, an app that works like the Uber for handymen. It connects you to a handyman who can do the job.  Using photos you send, they can estimate the costs of labor and materials, and then they schedule with your tenant.

If you’re looking for someone directly though, how do you verify that they’re the real deal? Here are some tips on how to vet your vendor:

Are they licensed, insured, and (for larger jobs) bonded?

Always ask to see proof of their license and insurance. This is a critical step, and anyone who is a decent contractor for any type of job will understand and willingly provide you with these documents. They will also likely have them handy or have someone in their office send you a copy.

What are the payment terms?

Do they require an upfront deposit?

If they estimate that the job is going to be $100 or $200 but still need funds up front, that’s a red flag.  For larger jobs, asking for ½ of the bid or estimated price up front for materials is normal.  It’s not ever normal to pre-pay the entire projected cost.

Time & Materials vs Firm Bid

Is their estimate based on how long it will take them and what the materials will likely cost, or do they have a firm bid? Most likely a firm bid will come out to be more expensive because the contractor has to accept the risk of having estimated the job wrong, so… the risk is a factor in their bid price.  If you agree to pay for time & materials, the contractor has no risk, as they’ll be paid for whatever the job costs them so no risk buffer needs to be built into the price.  That said- they also lose some incentive to work as efficiently, and the owner then has the risk of the estimate having been too low.

Net 30

You’re waiting for the tenants to pay rent next month so you can pay this vendor – make sure ahead of time that they’re willing to extend 15 or 30 days time for payment.  Many small contractors operate on a thin margin and have to pay their labor weekly or bi-weekly.  Making them finance the job doesn’t usually make sense for anyone.

Who recommended them to you?

The internet

What do other people say about them? Do they have a good rating? What do 1-star ratings say about them and when were they posted? Remember that people only review when they’re either ecstatically happy or severely disappointed.

A friend

Ask what kind of job they did. Hopefully your friend has before and after pics. Or they might have a good story about them that will help you understand who they are and how they work. It’s important to be able to trust the person in your home, even if it’s not your stuff in that house.

It’s also a good idea to be able to trust that vendor with the tenants:  It’s never fun trying to calm the tenants down if the vendor prematurely tells them something like they might have asbestos or lead or mold in their home.

Posted on September 20, 2019 at 8:00 am
JMW Group | Posted in Featured, Manage Like Michael |

How to Select the Right Property Manager


Looking for a Property Manager to manage your investment property? These tips will help guide your search for the right agent to manage your investment. 


Carefully selecting the right property manager is one of, if not the, most important step of owning and success an investment property.  Having the right property manager will impact profitability, risk, and enjoyment of the venture like few other decisions an owner will make.  This is true even for owners that decide to self-manage, as landlords, owners should still evaluate that choice as though they are one of the agents competing for the job of property manager.




The job of property manager varies somewhat depending on the type of property being managed (so of course one consideration is a Property Manager’s experience with a particular type of property), but there are some considerations that apply to selecting a Property Manager for all rental types.  


Below are some elements to consider, with thoughts on each.  They’re in no particular order, and I believe they should all play a role in making the correct choice.


As in all professions, there is a learning curve.  A primary reason for hiring a professional is to not start at the beginning of that curve.  There are perhaps 100 issues that routinely arise in the course of managing property and choosing an agent that has been around to have seen, and learned how to respond to, the majority of them will pay dividends.  That said, I wouldn’t necessarily automatically rule out a newer agent (with off-setting strengths), but I would then more carefully assess the team and support such an agent would have to rely on.



Another key reason people hire managers is the convenience of having someone else track all of the details involved in managing property.  If an agent doesn’t stick around, that loss of continuity usually results in details (sometimes important ones) being dropped and an owner’s time being wasted.  Therefore, I’d suggest looking for signs that the agent (and company) you choose is likely to still be in the business 5 to 10 years down the road.



Finding an agent who will reliably give honest answers, even when it’s not in their immediate self-interest, is crucial. Sometimes the answer to an owner’s question isn’t one they want to hear.  [i.e.: “How much can I rent this property for?”  Too often, the Agent that answers this question with the highest number is simply not telling the truth.]  Use an agent who is candid and follows through with their word.



One agent can only handle so many properties well.  That number varies depending on the type of properties, type of leases, and management structures they employ, and on the particular agent; but there’s always still a number at which an agent is maxed out, and over which the quality of the service they’re providing will diminish.  So, while experience matters (a lot), picking an agent that’s going to be too busy to adequately focus on your property isn’t good either.  Ask ‘How many accounts they manage?’, ‘How many they managed two years ago?’,  ‘How many more they would take on before considering their portfolio to be full?’.



The job of property manager isn’t that of a salesman, nor of an attorney, nor accountant, nor economist, nor psychologist… but it has elements of all those professions.  A good manager has skills in all these areas so that disputes are avoided.  Then, when disputes inevitably arise anyway, they’re excellent at disputed resolution.  Look for someone who is not volatile but is good at thinking long-term and is results oriented; someone that sees the value of having all parties go away satisfied rather than one that will engage in and try to ‘win’ every argument.



As you’re looking for stability, look for someone that you will enjoy working with over the course of years.  Some personalities just don’t mesh, regardless of all the other factors.  Recognizing and respecting when that’s the case will make life easier.



Artists don’t necessarily need to be organized.  Property managers necessarily do.  Look for signs.  Do they have systems in place to ensure that all details are always covered?  Do they show up on time and well prepared?



A property manager is going to be speaking (and writing) for you.  Their communication is therefore a reflection of you, and the devil is in the details.  In most cases, you’ll be giving your property manager a limited power of attorney to execute written agreements for you.  Make sure they can communicate carefully and accurately.  Well-written agreements (and clearly enunciated conversations) will greatly minimize future disputes.



Like all services you buy, price is a consideration, so that’s not a point I need to make here.  My point on price is:  I see a lot of people comparing the price of property managers without comparing the other attributes those property managers have.  They don’t do this with properties, they don’t do it with cars, or clothes, but… they often tend to assume property management is a commodity.


What most investors care about is profitability.  Profitability is primarily impacted by minimizing vacancy and litigation while maximizing rental rates through proper maintenance and marketing.  So, while the fees paid to a property manager are on the balance sheet too, keep in mind the other balance sheet factors that a property manager influences.  They’re much more impactful on the overall profitability of an investment.


Compensation structure

I’d look for structures that align an owner’s interest with the property manager’s.



A long property management agreement isn’t an enjoyable read for owners any more than a long lease is for tenants. But a stitch in time saves nine.  By taking the time to properly address all the pertinent issues covered in these long documents, a good property manager is diligently communicating so that future conflicts are avoided.  Beware a 1- or 2-page agreement that leaves unknowns out there.  If that’s the level of attention being paid to details… that’s not good.



Technology is rapidly advancing.  Look for an agent that is incorporating new tools to maximize benefits for their clients.


Accounting and Administrative Support

Consider the level of support their team will be providing and the type of software they’ve invested in. What kind of access will you have to conveniently track your portfolio and that your tenants will have to pay rent.



Choosing a firm with a good local presence associates your property with that reputation.  When potential renters see a reputable brand, they infer that their relationship with such a landlord will be transacted in accordance with the business standards associated with that brand.  Many will find value in that level of comfort, and such considerations will help your property achieve its highest market value.


Meet in person with your potential Property Manager to get a feel for the way they work and how you will work together. If you’re interested in talking with our agents, check out our team and give us a call!

Posted on September 5, 2019 at 8:00 am
JMW Group | Posted in Featured, Manage Like Michael |

Service Animals in Rentals

Is it a pet or service animal? There’s a difference!


If your recent tenant applicant told you they have a service animal, you’d likely looked into what that means, especially if they didn’t have an obvious need.

According to HUD, Service animals and Emotional Support Animals (E.S.A.’s) are not pets, they are working animals who have a purpose with their human owner.  Tenants who have them are protected by these HUD laws. Much like you wouldn’t ask someone what their prescription is for, you can’t ask the tenant what they suffer from that requires an animal. Here’s how to handle service animals versus pets:








Service animals don’t need to be certified.

But there should be some other form of proof like a note from a doctor. However, if the disability is obvious then that’s all the proof you need; i.e. If they are blind and have a seeing eye dog, this shouldn’t even be a conversation. However, if the disability isn’t obvious you may ask for documentation.

If they don’t have verification of the animal’s status, then it is considered a pet, and you can charge a pet deposit and pet rent. But with a note or certification you cannot charge anything for the animal


Service animals come in all shapes and sizes.

You might have heard about the United Airlines scandal when they didn’t let a Service Peacock on the plane – That was a violation of the A.D.A. laws.  Keep this in mind when someone says their snake is a service animal. Also, keep it in mind when they say their Pit Bull is a service animal. You cannot judge for yourself whether an animal is or isn’t qualified, but you must instead rely upon the documentation.


What you can do:

As landlords, you are able to ask for documentation in a professional manner. Something along the lines of “Please include the certification of your service animal or E.S.A. with your application,” is an appropriate way to ask the tenants to prove the need for the animal. This certification might also come in the form of a letter from their doctor or therapist as a prescription. This is another acceptable document that you can use to prove the need for the animal without asking the tenant what they need the animal for, which is prohibited.

Now, this begs the question: what if their animal causes damage at the rental property or a nuisance?

The answer: you may hold the tenant liable per the terms of their lease. Use the tenant’s security deposit to fix any damage to the unit as you would with any other tenant.


Always work according to your local and state laws regarding discrimination. We are a firm based in King & Snohomish Counties of Washington State and are constantly watching the pertinent laws in our market to better understand how to work with people with disabilities, and how to keep landlords in compliance.

Posted on August 22, 2019 at 3:32 pm
JMW Group | Posted in Featured, Manage Like Michael |

Meet JMW Group Agent Alan Bonaci

A Q&A with our agent, Alan Bonaci.

How long have you been in property management? How long have you been with JMW Group?

Almost 20 years now and with JMW Group for 12! 

What’s the best part about working in Property Management?

I enjoy the lifestyle it affords me. I have financial freedom, as well as the freedom to set my own schedule. 


What’s a question you get asked all the time about what you do?

I get asked a lot about the laws and new regulations that are coming up in the news, I’m lucky enough to have the support from my office to keep updated with all the news in the industry. 


How do you answer that question?

Like I said, I am lucky to have support so that I can stay updated on the laws and regulations so I’m usually able to talk to the laws and their specific situation.


What’s the advice you give all your clients?

Easy – Buy low, sell high.


What do you wish property investors knew before they talk to you?

The Seattle market is really expensive and doesn’t typically work well as an investment property. I advise potential clients to search north or south of Seattle for affordable investments in real estate.


In what neighborhoods do you mostly work?

I mostly work in Seattle as well as South Puget Sound up to Federal Way.


When you have free time, how do you spend it?

My hobbies include tasting whiskey and I like to smoke a cigar on occasion. 

Posted on August 8, 2019 at 8:00 am
JMW Group | Posted in Agent Profile, Manage Like Michael |

An Opportunity for Landlords: ADU’s

Seattle City Council’s recent vote gives homeowners more flexibility to rent their Additional Dwelling Units (ADU’s) or Detached Additional Dwelling Units (DADU’s) and less barriers to build new ADU’s.


Here’s what the legislation does:

  • Increases the number of dwelling units allowed per lot from 1 to 2 units.
    • Either 2 Attached ADU’s or 1 ADU and 1 DADU
    • Think: Main house, 2 basement studios OR Main house, Basement Studio, and Apartment above the detached Garage
  • Takes away the off-street parking requirement that was a major barrier for a lot of homeowners who wanted to add an ADU before this legislation.
  • ADU’s maximum size is raised from 800 sq ft to 1,000 sq ft
  • Most importantly: homeowners do not need to live on the property in order to rent out the ADU(s). This means, if the property has multiple dwelling units on the property the owner could rent all three of those units at the same time.


Why ADU’s?

This legislation is one of the recommendations from the Housing Affordability and Livability committee (HALA) in 2015. These changes will keep the look and feel of the single-family neighborhoods while making them more accessible and allowing more flexibility for homeowners.

City Councilman Mike O’Brien wrote in an emailed statement: “This legislation creates modest but meaningful changes to provide flexible, affordable housing options for families, homeowners, and renters while still preserving the look and feel of single-family neighborhoods.”


An Opportunity for Landlords

This is great news for homeowners who felt stuck by their tenant in their basement, as this new legislation allows them to move more freely and rent out both spaces if they want to move. For investors who want to maximize their rental property, this allows for multiple opportunities to earn income on one property.

Opposing organizations fear investors will take over single-family homes, and large Wall Street Investors will ruin Seattle’s single-family neighborhoods. Windermere Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, spoke on that in an interview with Crosscut saying that’s not likely to happen.

Also mentioned in that interview – costs of building a basement unit or backyard cottage can get to $100,000 and $250,000 respectively. This isn’t something big investment builders are willing to do on a perfectly good single-family home. But, for homeowners who already have half of it all set up, costs could be more affordable, not to mention when the investment dollars are coming right back in rental income, it makes more sense for the “mom and pop” shops to take advantage of the legislation. These are likely people who care about the look and feel of the neighborhood, so they aren’t going to go out and change the whole face of their home, rather, they’ll follow the vibe of the neighborhood.


Is this right for you? 

If adding a tenant to your current ADU or adding an ADU to your property are things you’re interested in learning more about, contact a JMW agent today to chat about your options.

Talk to a Property Manager today: 206-621-2037

Posted on July 25, 2019 at 8:00 am
JMW Group | Posted in Featured, Manage Like Michael |

Installing ESVE at Your Rental Property

Electric vehicles are the future, there’s no escaping it. It seems there are more electric and hybrid vehicles on the road every day. There have been more than 800,000 electric vehicles purchased in the last few years, and more each day. Though a barrier to an electric car for some tenants is that they can’t charge their car at home.

Maybe you’ve had a tenant ask for you to install a charger in the garage or near their parking spot, or maybe you’ve noticed that it’s harder to find and retain tenants who are becoming environmentally conscious. Or, if you’re like me, you’re trying to stay ahead of the curve, and you’re thinking of installing Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (ESVE) in your rental property to compete with other listings in your area. Before you commit, here are a few considerations to make:



The return on our investment drives our every decision with our rental properties, so when we think of adding something that’s likely going to be costly, we wonder what the ROI will be.

Looking into the market, and there isn’t much out there, but I would argue that having ESVE in the home would likely add $20 a month to the rent price. Depending on your property’s situation and what it can handle, installing ESVE or upgrading your current power grid could help you see return fairly quickly.

Say the parts and install costs you $500, with $20 more a month from rent, you would see profit in 2 years.


What Level of Charging is Right for Your Rental?

There are 2 “Levels” to ESVE: Level 1 and Level 2.

Level 1 charging allows cars to plug into a three-pronged plug. Most electric cars come with a Level 1 charger that plug into a “standard” plug. These are slow to charge a car with only 120V output.

Adding a “standard” plug near the parking at your rental likely requires the least work. The essential thing here to prevent outages is to make sure the plug isn’t on the same breaker as important and demanding appliances, like the fridge or washer/dryer.

Level 2 chargers plug into plugs that offer 240 volts, making for a quicker charge, but is a more involved process to install. Just like installing a plug for an appliance, adding a level 2 charger will require a professional who knows not only how to install the equipment, but also any codes and permits required.


How to Market Your Rental with ESVE

When listing your rental online it’s important to outline the major amenities your rental offers, and considering this is a pretty novel thing to have, we suggest mentioning it in the very beginning of the description.

Make sure you understand the logistics and details of ESVE so you can effectively explain what it is you’re offering. If you have a plug that sends 120V, explain that to the tenants so they know that they can plug their car in overnight to charge. If you decide to install a 240V plug, mention that this is for quick charging that goes above and beyond the charger they got with their car.

Know your audience here, as some tenants might want an electric car but have felt like they couldn’t get one because they couldn’t charge it at their rental home. While those who already own a car might know what you’re talking about, you may have to do a little convincing to potential tenants who don’t have an electric vehicle yet.

Posted on July 11, 2019 at 8:00 am
JMW Group | Posted in Featured, Manage Like Michael |

Meet JMW Group Agent David Steinmetz

A Q&A with our agent, David Steinmetz.

How long have you been in property management?

19 years total, I’ve been at JMW for 13 years, since it started.


What’s the best part about working in Property Management?

I’d have to say, the best part is the wide range of people you meet in this job. From clients to tenants, you meet people from all walks of life.


What’s the best part about working with JMW Group?

Definitely the support from the office and Mike [our designated broker]. Always there for my questions and concerns. We work together to proactively work on processes for the whole office to be better at what we do.


What’s a question you get asked all the time about what you do?

People tend to ask me, “Is it hard?” [laughs].


How do you answer that question?

[laughing] I tell them, “it’s a commitment.” Which it is.


What’s the advice you give all your clients?

My advice is, rarely do major problems occur with tenants.


What do you wish property investors knew before they talk to you?

Landlord tenant laws.


In what neighborhoods do you mostly work?

I work in North Seattle. I live in North Seattle, so it’s easy to get to my meetings and the properties when things arise.


What’s your favorite thing(s) about those neighborhoods?

Really that it’s close to me, but for tenants and clients, I’d say the best part is the convenience to downtown. It’s a lot closer than you’d think with the express lanes and public transit options.


When you have free time, how do you spend it?



Want to work with David? Visit his website:


Posted on June 13, 2019 at 8:00 am
JMW Group | Posted in Agent Profile, Manage Like Michael |

Prevent Major Damage with These Devices

Prevent Major Damage with these $30 Devices

4 devices around $30 that protect your rental from maintenance issues

Normal wear and tear happens to all rentals, but the major disasters, like leaks and frozen pipes, those are the ones that Landlords and Tenants are all trying to avoid.

We searched the web for those devices that do more than repair, but prevent the common, and costly, issues in your rental.

Some of these are smart gadgets that connect to your phone, others you can turn on, and forget. At around $30, these devices are a great investment in the protection of your rental, whether you’re the Landlord or the Tenant.   


Leak Detector

Source: Amazon

Shop Here

This leak detector is small enough to fit under your fridge or washer machine and sensitive enough to notify you of any water it touches.

It uses a battery, which you can monitor from your iPhone or Android via WiFi connection.








Humidity Gauge & Room Thermometer

Source: Amazon

Shop Here

If you’re worried about mold in the home – whether you just fixed a leak or have sensitivities, this humidity detector is an early warning to possible growth.

Mold needs cold moisture to breed. Watching the moisture and humidity in your house, along with the temperature, is a great way to prevent mold growth.  







Pipe Heating Cable

Source: Amazon

Shop Here

Do your pipes always freeze? What a pain, especially for tenants who have to keep an eye on them all winter. Preventative tips like dribble your water constantly and keep a space heater nearby just in case, just don’t cut it for those of us busy enjoying the winter weather.

This cable wraps around your pipes and keeps them just above freezing.

It comes I all lengths, and plugs into the wall, using cheap electricity. So you can set it and forget it, keeping your peace of mind while you’re on the slopes.  







Fire Alarm/CO Detector That Can Connect to Your Smart Phone

Source: Amazon

Shop Here

“What good is your fire alarm if no one is there to hear it?” That’s what one reviewer mentioned, and what a great point.

When they were alerted on their phone of smoke in their home, they called the fire department who removed a smoldering object.

Besides the smoke damage, the home is unharmed thanks to this little Z-Wave connected Fire Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detector.


Posted on May 30, 2019 at 9:00 am
JMW Group | Posted in Manage Like Michael |

Timing the Rental Market

Timing the Rental Market


Knowing when to market your property is half the battle.

Timing is a large part of profitably managing Investment Property. Vacancy is a landlord’s potentially largest variable expense. We say ‘potential’ because ideally, the vacancy rate is as close to zero as possible.

By pricing a property correctly and understanding both the monthly and yearly rental cycles, you have your best chance to reduce your vacancy and increase profits.






Tenants rarely move out until they have somewhere to move-in. Depending on where your investment is, this cycle will shift, but you can expect tenants to be looking for a new place right before they must give notice to their current landlord.

For example:

In the Seattle market, tenants that are leaving a month-to-month rental are required to give notice to their landlord 20 days before the end of the lease term, this is usually around the 10th of a month. This means there is a predictable drop-off of leasing activity each month around the 10th.

For instance, if a property were to be available July 1st, tenants wanting that move-in date will start looking around May 20th. They will be making most of their offers between May 25th and June 5th. Activity will quickly die down after June 10th. Landlord’s should therefore try and have their property listed on the market, in as many places as possible, by May 15th(asking the upper-end of the realistic rental rate initially), and they should adjust price based on results to find the market by June 10th at the latest.


The summer months are typically the “hot market” when investors can see an average 10% higher rent price than rentals in the cooler months.

September 1st is normally the busiest move-in date of the year. But then the market dramatically slows in the fall.

If you priced too high in May and didn’t get it rented, the market may come up to that price in June. But if you priced too high in September, you might benefit from dropping the price quickly to get ahead of the downward curve that’s coming during the fall months.


Timing the Term End Date

Use the start time as a way to schedule your end date. Set your leases to end in May, June, or July (regardless of whether that means a 6, 9, or, 18-month initial term to get on a summer rental cycle).

This sets you up for rent increases for current tenants who renew, and for higher prices for a new tenant.

Posted on May 20, 2019 at 5:10 am
JMW Group | Posted in Featured, Manage Like Michael |