First Rate Property Management Blog


Julie Tollifson - Friday, April 24, 2020


One of the unknown, inevitable, and scary parts of owning any property, not just an investment property, is unexpected expenses for repairs and replacements. Sometimes the expenses are small, but other times, they can be quite costly. 

Water heaters are an example of a costly expense for many owners. It is our job to help minimize the risk of these expenses. A brand-new water heater is expensive, but some find that replacing them before they go out is better than waiting until they go out. Unfortunately when a water heater goes out, it does not normally just stop making hot water, it starts leaking. Often times the water heater even continues to make hot water while leaking.   

To make matters worse, water heaters are usually found tucked away in a closet, garage, or even under a kitchen counter. While this may prevent a bit of an eye sore, it also can prevent residents from identifying the leak while it is minor. While putting in their lease and training our tenant during the move in walk through helps, tenants occasionally fail to notice and/or report leaks in a timely manner. As a result of the tenant-neglect or the fact that the water heater is out of sight out of mind, the leak can cause a great deal of damage that extends beyond the mere replacement of your water heater.  That is why some owners choose to proactively replace their water heaters. They would much rather sacrifice a few potential years of use with the existing water heater than pay the huge costs of cabinetry, drywall, or flooring. Another thing to keep in mind is that the potential flood/leak damage increases exponentially if the waters are on the second or third story.

Another cost to consider in this is lost rents. If your tenant doesn’t have access to hot water, this would constitute an uninhabitable property and would result in crediting prorated rent back to the tenants for the days in which it is considered uninhabitable.

Furthermore, many after-hours result in dispatching a vendor with “after hours billing” this is often much more inflated than normal business hour calls. It always seems like these water heaters never go out during regular business hours!

Most water heaters are sold with a 5-year warranty and are said to last about 10 years on average. 

But what if you have insurance? While having insurance is of the utmost importance to help mitigate your risk, most do not cover slow leaks. Most policies state they will only cover “sudden or immediate water losses”. 

So now you’re wondering, how can I minimize these seemingly inevitable costs? Here’s how:

  1. Make sure you know the limitations of your insurance policy, better to be proactive than reactive.
  2. Make sure you know where your water heater is located. First floor? Second floor? Garage? Is there a drain or pan underneath it? Is the pan plumbed to the outside of the building?
  3. Train your tenants on how to check for leaks and how often.
  4. Most of all, have a professional annually inspect and service your water heaters to ensure that they are functioning correctly. First Rate Property Management offers this service, among many others, annually in an effort to provide our clients with the opportunity to increase their profit margin by mitigating the risk of expensive repairs and replacements. 

Julie Tollifson, Leasing Team Leader

First Rate Property Management, Inc.
Boise, Idaho
Contact me for more information about this blog.

NARPM SW Idaho 1st Quarter Vacancy Report

Melissa Sharone - Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The 1st quarter vacancy survey from the SW Idaho Chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) was just released.  While majority of the quarter was unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic some of these results (mainly the average rental prices) were due to proactive measures taken (not raising rents and or lowing the vacant ones slightly) when the pandemic first hit by many property managers.  Good news is that vacancy is at 2.7% for Ada County, which includes Boise city and 2.8% for Canyon.  This is well below the national average which is at 6.8%.  FRPM maintained a vacancy under 1% the entire first quarter.  This is due to FRPM's internal processes limiting leases expiring in these  first three months of the year.   Overall rents are still increasing but at a slower rate than normal for this time of year.  As we head into the second quarter vacancies are expected to slightly increase and rents will likely plateau which is not usual for this time of year.  

How will COVID impact the 2nd quarter?  Vacancies are already trending upward, due to social distancing and stay-at-home orders.  There are less people moving, which has decreased demand.  While everyone in the nation is expecting non-payment of rent to be the big hit to Landlords, we actually think the increased vacancy and lower effective rent, may actually be the bigger number.  In order to maintain quality, vetted tenants and avoid a vacancy during these uncertain times, the FRPM team is recommending that investors not be aggressive on renewal rates. We anticipate the Boise market picking back up at its usual pace, but the question is when.

Read the full report here: SW Idaho Narpm Report

Melissa Sharone

President, FRPM

SW Idaho NARPM 3rd Quarter Vacancy Report

Melissa Sharone - Tuesday, October 29, 2019

                The 3rd quarter Narpm vacancy survey is out and it shows that vacancy dropped quite a bit from the 2nd quarter but that is to be expected. It is the time of year when things slow down for the rental industry. The vacancy for Ada County is at 1.53% and Canyon County is at 1.99%. First Rate’s vacancy is currently at .88% and will continue to decrease as the winter gets closer. Rents are still holding strong but any vacancies now, especially single family homes, will likely need a slightly lower rent or a move in special to get filled as the activity decreases. First Rate’s strategy for single family homes that are vacant now is to sign a shorter term lease and then look to get them back to market rent come spring or early summer.   We anticipate the 4th quarter to be pretty quiet and then things will start to pick up after the first of the year towards the end of the 1st quarter of 2020. 

Read full report here: 

Melissa Sharone

President, FRPM

NARPM 2nd Quarter Vacancy Survey

Melissa Sharone - Friday, July 19, 2019

The SW Idaho Chapter of Narpm just released its 2nd quarter vacancy survey.  The results are pretty typical for this time of year.  The vacancy overall went up a little but that is because this is the time of year where the rental activity is the highest.  Good news is that the rental rates continue to rise at a steady pace.  The trends prove that this market is still very strong. 

Read full report here: SW Idaho Narpm Q2 Vacancy Report

Melissa Sharone

President, First Rate Property Mgmt.

1st Quarter Vacancy Update!

Melissa Sharone - Monday, April 29, 2019

The SW Idaho Chapter of NARPM just released their 1st quarter vacancy report. It shows that vacancy overall is up from 3% to 3.4%. This is pretty typical for this time of year. The activity for rentals has definitely picked up in the last few months. The market is heating for single family homes with higher rents and lower vacancy then last quarter. FRPM still remains at about a 1% vacancy for both multifamily and single family rentals.  We expect to see rents continue to rise and the vacancy to stay low throughout the next quarter even with the increased rental activity. FRPM on average is renting properties within 15 days from the time notice is given.  Things still look promising for the Boise market.

Read full report here: SW Idaho Chapter of NARPM 1st quarter vacancy report 

Melissa Sharone, President 

First Rate Property Mgmt

Blog and Vacancy Update!!

Melissa Sharone - Wednesday, March 13, 2019

New Blog:

   We have moved our blog to a new site. Please click the link below to subscribe to our new blog. This link will take you to our new site and you will see the subscribe box on the right hand side of the page. Just type in your e-mail and hit subscribe. It will then verify your e-mail and you will be good to go. Please contact with any questions.

Vacancy Update:

  As the warm weather slowly approaches we are seeing an increase in activity with properties.  While there is an increase of people giving notice for various reasons FRPM vacancy still remains .88%. Our vacancy is outstanding compared to the National average which is sitting at about 6% and the Treasure Valley which is about 2.5%. As things heat up we are still able to push rents for both renewals and newly vacant units.  All early signs are indicating that the market is still strong and shall remain that way through summer.

Melissa Sharone, President 

First Rate Property Mgmt

Corvettes and Rents

Arica Elordi - Monday, February 11, 2019

Corvettes and Rents:

What in the world would the cost of a new Corvette have in common with Boise rents? Please bear with me with my comparison. In Boise, you can buy a 2019 Corvette ZR1 for $135,895. It would be incorrect to say, that cars in Boise cost $135K. It would be wrong to say the average new Corvette in Boise is about $135K, because you can buy a 2019 Corvette Stringray for about $60,000. And there are a lot more Corvette Stingrays sold than ZR1’s.  Even within the Stingray model, you have various trims and options to choose from that cause pricing differences.

Within the last week, there have been several news reports about Boise’s sky rocketing rents. One such story referenced a one-bedroom apartment, with approximately 650 square feet renting in the $1,300’s. Unfortunately, some investors read this and now expect higher rents on their one-bedroom units. Like the Corvette, there are a lot of factors that go into pricing, and $1,300 is certainly not the Boise average.

The rent prices here in the Treasure Valley are indeed rising, but there is a lot that goes into determining those numbers. When we set rents here at First Rate property Management, we don’t just pick a number out of a hat. A lot of research and time goes into determining that RENT amount. We look at the following:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Square Footage
  • Amenities
  • Demand
  • Finishes

The below graph is the 4th quarter vacancy and rent results posted by The SW Idaho Chapter of the National Association or Residential Managers. According to the Chapter, the average rent for one-bedroom multi-family units was $738. I agree, that sounds low, and certainly not what we’re seeing within our own portfolio. First, the purpose of the Chapter’s survey is to report vacancy and rental rate trends for buildings with 2-15 units. So, this survey excludes the large and high-end downtown apartments with generous amenities. If you have a larger complex or a downtown apartment, there are other sources that we refer to on setting a rent price, which are generally much higher.

Currently FRPM’s one-bedrooms range from $750 to $925 per month. In fact, if you are looking for a one-bedroom apartment, we actually have a couple that are in a great location too. Click here. Boise is growing. Rents are increasing. And we’re seeing new product and markets open up, to include some down town and lavish apartments along with one or two Corvette ZR1s.

Arica Elordi, Leasing Team Member

First Rate Property Management, Inc.
Boise, Idaho
Contact me for more information about this blog.

4th Quarter SW Idaho Narpm Vacancy Update

Melissa Sharone - Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The SW Idaho Narpm chapter just released the 4th quarter vacancy results.  The results are pretty standard for this time of year, with vacancy up a little.  At this time of year, we find that renters don't like to move due to the holidays and cold weather.  Even in the slower time, First Rate has kept a vacancy of under 1% for the last quarter.  Getting rentals filled this time of year can be challenging so it takes some creativity with move-in specials and sometimes shorter leases.  The average rents overall are still strong for this time of year and with spring renewals we see opportunity to increase rents

Read full report here: SW Idaho Narpm Vacancy Survey

Melissa Sharone

Melissa Sharone, President 

First Rate Property Management, Inc.
Boise, Idaho
Contact me for more information about this blog.

3rd Quarter NAPRM Vacancy Results

Melissa Sharone - Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The 3rd quarter NARPM survey results are out.  Overall things still look good for this time of year.  You will notice that the vacancy for single family homes is up right now.  FRPM has found over the last month that single family home rentals are slower to get rented then the multifamily.  As the winter approaches and the Holidays get closer we anticipate the single family rentals to remain slow.   Rents overall are strong and still increasing some.  It will be interesting to see what the market does once we get through the winter months and past the holidays.

Read full report here:  3rd Quarter NARPM Survey 

Melissa Sharone, President
First Rate Property Management, Inc.
Boise, Idaho
Contact me for more information about the Rental markets in Boise and Idaho.

2nd Quarter SW Idaho NARPM Vacancy Trends

Julie Tollifson - Thursday, September 20, 2018

   The National Association of Residential Property Managers published a recent survey conducted by the SW Idaho chapter of NARPM during the month of June 2018. The survey took 7,091 total homes into account. These multi-family and single-family homes are spread across both Ada and Canyon county. 

The market is trending down heading into the winter months. According to these statistics dating back to 2014, the vacancy percentage is the lowest it’s been in quite some time considering the seasonality of this business.

First Rate Property Management’s vacancy rate in June 2018 was 0.72%. This is quite the improvement compared to last year’s 1.83%. First Rate manages a portfolio of apartment buildings, duplexes, and single family homes.

Of the 7,091 homes that were surveyed in June 2018, 2.03% were vacant. This is an opportunity for property management companies to capitalize on the market and really differentiate themselves among their competitors not only in the SW Idaho Chapter but even nationally.


The data shows vacancy rates to have decreased from 3.6% in Q1 to 2.0% in Q2. The rental rates in Ada County single family homes increased $149 per month per unit. We saw an increase of $6 per mont, per unit in single family homes just since the previous quarter. Assuming these trends continue, we can anticipate higher rents and lower vacancies than we’ve seen in half a decade.

You can find out more about Idaho’s premier organization of residential property management professionals at

Julie Tollifson, Leasing Team Lead
First Rate Property Management, Inc.
Boise, Idaho
Contact me for more information about this blog.