First Rate Property Management Blog

Got A Minute To Consider Interest Rates?????

Melissa Sharone - Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Below is a brief article from Jack Harty on interest rates. 

On 5-22-19 the Fed released minutes from its most recent meeting that concluded on May 1 with no increase in short-term interest rate.

The Fed minutes suggest it will take a “patient approach” in determining whether rates should be raised at future meetings.  The CNBC report below summarizes:

CNBC 5-22-19

Fed minutes: No rate moves are coming ‘for some time’ even if the economy improves

“Members observed that a patient approach to determining future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate would likely remain appropriate for some time, especially in an environment of moderate economic growth and muted inflation pressures, even if global economic and financial conditions continued to improve,” the meeting summary stated.


“…[S]ources of uncertainty remained. In light of global economic and financial developments as well as muted inflation pressures, participants generally agreed that a patient approach to determining future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate remained appropriate.”

Image result for photo punch bowl

It is fair to say that the Fed has no current intention to take the punch bowl (read: low interest rates) away from the party (read: economy) in the short-term.

Over the past seven months (since November 2018) the 10 Yr Treasury bond yield has fallen almost 100 basis points.

As of 5-23-19 the entire Yield Curve is inverted, i.e., Short-Term Treasury bond rates are higher than the 10 Yr Treasury Bond rate (2.31%).  Surely some thanks should be given to Brexit and the Trade War with China.

Some market watchers consider an inverted yield curve to be a harbinger of recession - stay tuned.  In the meantime, enjoy the ride on the low-interest-rate train.

Image result for photo thomas the train

Jack Harty


950 W. Bannock St - Ste 402

Boise ID 83702

Main:   208 344 4141


Melissa Sharone

President, First Rate Property Mgmt

Beware of Rental Scams

Melissa Sharone - Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Now that summer is here and the rental activity has increased, so has the amount of rental scams posted on craigslist.   We can’t stress enough how important it is for a renter to do their research when looking and applying for a property.  Below are some guidelines to follow along with some red flags which may indicate a scam

  1. Look for pictures that are watermarked in the advertisement.  The watermark usually has the company name so it's best practice to get in touch with the company directly to verify the property is in fact, for rent.  Once you verify the property is available, then go through the company to apply.  Scammers even go as far to say they are helping the said company, so verify they are an employee by going to that company’s website to see if they have staff listed or see if their e-mail matches with the company name.
  2. When inquiring about a property pay attention to the questions that are asked about you as a renter.  The red flag here is if you are asked any discriminatory questions in regards to a protected class.
  3. Ask to see and read through the entire lease prior to signing or paying anything.  In fact, asking for the lease prior to even applying is not a bad idea.
  4. Be cautious about paying anything even the application fee prior to viewing the property first. 
  5. If the add states they are a private owner- verify the owners name on the county's assessor page. 
  6. Most landlords do some sort of screening, so if you inquire about a place and they offer to let you move in without applying or any type of screening, then it is likely a scam.
  7. Be cautious when they are pushy with time limits especially with accessing the property through a self showing box.  Scammers tend to target the properties with a self showing option. 
  8. Also be aware of those that will only text or e-mail.  Do what you can to verify the phone number and attempt to call them.
  9. Scams usually have spelling, punctuation and grammar errors.
  10. Last but certainly not least, if it seems too good to be true it probably is.

We know moving can be a stressful but please take the time to do your homework.  Taking 30 minutes to research all of the things listed above will be worth it when you save your self thousands of dollars that could end up in the hands of a scammer.

Melissa Sharone


Pros and Cons of Airbnb

Jim Sharone - Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Recently the Idaho Statesman published an article, How Airbnb hurts Boise's affordable housing:  'It has driven up rental prices', which spiked some interest from our rental property owners.  The gist is that much of the affordable housing is being converting to Airbnb.  The number of short-term rentals in Boise has increased from 336 to 1,183, according to the article.  First Rate Property Management is in the business of long-term rentals, not short term, and our knowledge of Airbnb is only from what we have read and heard, but we think the root of increasing rents is simply supply and demand.  It's pretty hard not to drive around and see multi-family properties being built everywhere, yet this new construction can't seem to keep up with the constant stream of new Boise area residents.

We have some clients with Airbnb's and they state they are performing a little better than when they were long term rentals.  But they admit, the short term rentals take up a lot more of their time and question if the extra time to manage, is worth the little extra money.  We also have a client who had an apartment complex that was completely short term rentals and he hired us to convert to long-term rentals.  His motivation; to simplify his life.  As short term rentals, he had constant turnover which required onsite staffing and a lot of his own time.  Now as long-term rentals, the rents are lower, but there is very little tenant turnover and maintenance costs have gone down.  We'll see, but we're guessing that after a full year with long-term leases, the investor will actually see a higher bottom line.

Let’s examine the pros and cons of both:

Air BNB’s tend to fetch higher rents on a daily basis, but have a much higher overhead. You are looking at a huge increase in vacancy, turnover costs, management fees, advertising fees, insurance, and costs to furnish & inventory the units. Tenants come and go frequently and usually do not form any kind of ties to the neighborhood or community.  With Airbnb's, you can charge top market rent and be flexible as market conditions change. A general rule of thumb is to be a good amount cheaper than neighboring hotels. From what I can find online concerning Air BNB occupancy rates, is that they appear to run right around 50%. Some HOA’s do not allow short term rentals.

Full Time rentals - tend to have lower overhead as they take less time to manage. You typically know what to expect with days vacant. You will pay a lower management fee. Rent rates are restricted and can only be changed at lease expirations. Renewals are usually done at about $50 a month under peak market value due to the fact that the unit will not be freshly turned over. Long term rentals can be more effected by market dips.  We're also told that long term rentals have more tax benefits than Air BNB’s.

Jim Sharone, Vice 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

Boise Rents Support High Prices

Tony Drost - Monday, April 15, 2019

Monthly, I calculate some key performance indicators to get an idea of where the market is trending within Ada County (Boise area).   In my opinion, the market remains strong with no flags of trouble.


On average, we're seeing 4 plexes sale at about $140,000 per door.  However, two  4 plexes built over 10 years ago just listed at $610,000.  Any new four plexes listed in the Boise and Meridian areas will likely we be well over $150,000 per door.  As you can see on the below graph, we've been trending upward.  So prices are going up.  However, as I explain below, rents are supporting the higher prices.


Base on Capitalization rates (Cap)  and Gross Rent Multiplier (GRM), rents are supporting these higher prices.  The trailing 6 month GRM average has been holding that $150 line fairly consistently.  The consistency, not necessarily the number adds confidence to me.  Also, Cap rates have been fairly consistent around the 5.25% range.  A  downward trend would concern me.

Days-On-Market (DOM):
 Last month my reported average DOM were incorrect due to a formula error on my graphs.  The below graph is correct.  Four plexes are not staying on market very long at all.

Tony Drost, Chairman

First Rate Property Management

Please contact me with any questions 

FRPMs Operations Manager Receiving Residential Property Manager Certification!

Julie Tollifson - Friday, April 12, 2019

FRPMs very own Operations Manager, Jim Sharone, received his Residential Property Manager (RMP®) Certification awarded to him by the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM®), Southwest Idaho chapter! We are proud to have such an experienced, professional and now certified member of our leadership team! 

First Rate Metric Update

Melissa Sharone - Tuesday, April 9, 2019

We wanted to take a moment to update you on some metrics that First Rate tracks to help keep you updated on the market and any new trends that are headed our way. With the first quarter completed for 2019, things are looking great!

Vacancy – 1.85%- 

It happens to be turnover week which is why this may seem higher than the last time we posted. Out of 20 current vacancies 14 of them are rented and tenants will move in later this week. We anticipate our vacancy rate to be back under 1% by next week. Low vacancy is a great indicator that the market is strong and that we can continue to push rents.

Average days on market- 16.5 days

This tells us that there is a lot of activity in this market and that there is a high demand for rentals. FRPM starts advertising as soon as the tenants give notice and this metric tells you that on average the property is rented in 16 days. This means that the property is usually rented prior to the old tenant even moving out!

Turnover days – 4.87 days

This is a metric that we track to help show owners that we are committed to making sure that their investments are occupied as much as possible. Our maintenance team works hard to get the turn over inspection done the same day we receive keys and then the work is scheduled to be completed, usually in 3-5 business days, depending on condition. Our average of 4.87 days is a great turnover time and under the goal of 5 days that strive for day in and day out! We hope to keep on this pace as our leasing activity picks up into the summer.

Stay tuned for another metric update in a few weeks.  We are currently working on publishing a metric page that will be on our website and updated frequently.

Melissa Sharone, President 

contact me with further questions - 

Virtual Tours with 360 Cameras

Jim Sharone - Tuesday, April 2, 2019

We recently made an investment to improve our marketing for upcoming rental units. While this will supplement our current marketing plan, we feel that this new technology will add a great deal of value to our prospective tenants and property owners, while injecting a little fun!

Prospective tenants can tour a rental from the comfort of their own home and mobile devices. While we still feel that it is important to physically show a property, this new technology allows renters to get a good feel for the rental unit. This can be especially important for people who live out of state and are basically renting a property sight unseen or people who are too busy to physically see a property. Additionally, we pre-lease a majority of our rentals, so this added feature becomes even more of a benefit.

We think that this new technology gives the property an added marketing lift. The technology gives a high-quality, 360-degree view of every room of our available rentals and allows the user to navigate the entire property. This definitely sets us apart from other properties and/or companies and should reduce the number of days a rental is on the market.

Like marketing photos, it’s important to create the virtual tours when the property is vacant and rent ready. As we mentioned earlier, we do pre-lease most of our properties, meaning we have a new tenant in place before the current tenant vacates. And generally, the tenant wants to move in the moment the cleaners are finished. We don’t want our owners to lose a day of rent so that we can go take new photos and a virtual tour, so it’s understandable that we may not get the opportunity to shoot new photos and a create a virtual tour for every property right away.

Do you remember the classic search books “Where’s Waldo”?! Well we thought we would add an element of fun to the new technology by hiding a miniature Waldo somewhere in every virtual tour. We are hoping that this will increase the amount of prospective tenants taking the virtual tours, improve our SEO (search engine optimization), and increase the fun!

Isn’t technology great?!

Can you find Waldo?!

Jim Sharone, Vice President

Your Gift Horse Has Been Delivered!

System - Friday, March 29, 2019

On 3/22/19 the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee, which sets short-term interest rates, declined to raise rates.  Further, it appears the Fed’s current disposition is to not raise rates in the near-term.  

NYT 3/20/19:Forecasts released at the end of the two-day meeting show the typical member of the Federal Open Market Committee now expects not to raise rates at all this year, an abrupt halt to what had been five consecutive quarters of rate increases to the current range of 2.25 to 2.5 percent. Most officials now expect a single rate increase in 2020 and none in 2021. In December, when forecasts were last released, Fed officials said they expected two rate increases this year and another in 2020.

Long-term rates are influenced by, but not directly set by, the Fed.  That influence is currently weak.  The Yield Curve (US bonds with maturities of 12 months or less vs bonds with long maturities, e.g. 10 yrs) is Inverted, i.e., Yields on short Treasury bonds are higher than Yields on the 10 Yr Treasury bond.  While an Inverted Yield Curve is seen by many as a harbinger of recession, one can live in the moment and enjoy the benefits of low long-term interest rates.

Last November the 10 Yr Treasury bond yield hit a six year high of 3.24%.  Since then it has declined 80 basis points to 2.44% on 3/22/19.  See chart below.  

The Value of Employee Development

Julie Tollifson - Monday, March 18, 2019

As a successful property management company not only in the Boise area but among many property managers in the nation, First Rate Property Management understands the importance of continuous improvement. In fact, our company's vision statement is, "Maintain recognition as the most reputable property management company within our industry through continuous improvement".  In any business the value of continuous growth is crucial in its success. When you first think of continuous improvement, the first thoughts that come to mind are process, product/service, and people.

I’d like to narrow the focus of continuous improvement to our employees. We work hard to provide our employees the opportunity to develop professionally. Through the National Association of Residential Property Management our employees are able to network among the best, gain creative ideas, and acquire education designations. These designations include Residential Management Professional (RMP®), Master Property Manager (MPM®), & the widely respected Certified Residential Management Company (CRMC®). These opportunities allow for innovative growth in the company, industry, and leadership ability of each of our team members.


First Rate Property Management is extremely proud to be the only property management company in Idaho to have 2 MPMs on staff and  we also have the most RMPs on staff totaling 4. We are also 1 of 3 in all of Idaho that holds our CRMC® designation. 

Tony Drost MPM® RMP®

Melissa Sharone MPM® RMP®

Kristen Curtis RMP®

Jim Sharone RMP®

The development and education of our team members enables a positive work environment, streamlined communication internally and externally, and forms a company prepared for growth to come organically.

Julie Tollifson

Leasing Team Leader

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