First Rate Property Management Blog

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

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

Metric Trends

Tony Drost - Thursday, March 7, 2019

We continue to see Ada County 4 plex values increasing at a steady rate.  The good news is that rents have been increasing as well.  According to the financial information on the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service and financials provided by listing agents, February's Gross Rent Multiplier (GRM)  dropped to 143 from 149 in January.  Compared to sales price, rents have increased.  The trailing 6-month average for GRM still remains at about 150.  With the higher rents, February's Cap rate also increased to 5.36 with a trailing 6-month average of 5.29%, which indicates Buyer's Net Operating Income has increased when compared to sales price.

Tony A Drost , MPM® RMP®

Blog I Income Property Sales I Rentals

Chairman, First Rate Property Management, Inc

A Certified Residential Management Company

Associate Broker, Swope Investment Properties


Set and Stagger Leases

Kristen Curtis - Monday, March 4, 2019

Over the years we at FRPM have consistently preached the importance of scheduling lease termination dates. We'd like to touch on this for only a moment, but then also discuss the importance of also staggering lease termination dates.

Its our experience and recommendation not to have leases expire in the late fall and winter months.  In talking with property managers across the nation, this is not always the case.  However, it appears to be a standard for areas like Boise with four TRUE seasons.  We consider summer time, the “prime time”; or the months of June, July, and August.  We throw May into that mix because those tenants who give notice in May vacate in June, which is a good time of the year to maximize rents and minimize vacancy.

Single family homes are a little different.  What we found is that a landlord can sneak those dates up to as early as March/April.  We may not be able to get maximum rents in March, but a March renewal rate seems to increase the chances a tenant will renew their lease.  The tenants don’t want to move within the school year, so they are more apt to renew.

Over this winter, there were a number of newly constructed multi-family rental units come on the rental market.  These managers signed one year leases.  So, guess what, next winter,  not only are all of the leases expiring outside the prime time, but all of the leases are coming up at the same time.  This leaves the Landlord a bit vulnerable.  What if the rental market is soft?  Do you really want vacancy and turnover costs all at one time?  The larger the multi-family  complex the more important it becomes to stagger lease termination dates.

For example, lets use a four plex that was constructed this winter.  The property manager fills all four and signs one year leases all expiring in January.  Again, the lease is expiring outside of the prime time and Landlord potentially has more vacancy and expenses all at the same time.  Instead, wouldn’t it make more sense to have one unit expire in May, another in June, then July, and the last one expire in August?  We think so.

Rentals within the Boise State University area are the exception.  In this case, we recommend having all leases expire at the end of July.  This is far enough outside of the end of school, that a fair amount of tenants will renew.  However for those tenants who do not renew, they will vacate and the rental unit will be ready for students starting in the fall semester.  It works like a dream.

Lastly, some may ask, “If this is common knowledge, then why in the world are there property managers who simply sign one-year leases regardless of the end date”?  They do it to spread their workload over the year.  So, its not for the investor’s benefit , but for their own.  Most larger apartment complexes do stagger lease termination dates throughout the year to purposely spread out the work.  Makes sense, with the exception of the winter months.  “OK, I see why the apartment complexes do it, but why are there property managers managing large 4 plex communities signing one-year leases with perhaps all 80 units expiring in the winter months?”  Beats me.

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

Search Engine Optimization and How it Impacts Your Property Management Company

Julie Tollifson - Friday, February 22, 2019

As technology continues to grow at an exponential and unprecedented rate businesses across the globe are thrown into unchartered territory attempting to navigate the implications and effects this growth will have on their business, brand, and reputation.

The platforms in which prospective clients will research when deciding to use your product or service are extensive. Your online presence cannot be avoided or ignored. It is everywhere. Blogs and social media give your business a great platform to share positive experiences to help build your brand while maintaining a positive reputation.

Why this is important for Property Management Company’s specifically?

Brand & reputation are two of the hardest things to develop and maintain especially for property management companies. We are the middle-men between capitalizing an owner’s investment and communicating effectively with our tenants, yet what demographic do our ads reach first? Tenants.

While it is our job to provide quality service to our clients, who are our investors, it is critical that we maintain positive relationships with our tenants and vendors as well. Their perception of our company is the number one way to increase our Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For owners, the improved SEO will attract greater traffic onto our website so prospective tenants can see which of our owners’ investments best fits their needs.

First Rate Property Management (FRPM) works hard to build SEO and positive reviews all over the World Wide Web. We go to great lengths to ensure we are advocating in the owners’ favor to capitalize on their investments, provide excellent customer service to our tenants and prospective tenants, and to develop and maintain positive relationships with our vendors.

If you get a chance, please take this time to improve our search engine optimization to help create an opportunity for excessive traffic onto our website to fill your vacancy rate! Click the link below to provide a positive Google review!

Click Here to Leave FRPM A Review!

Julie Tollifson, Leasing Team leader

 First Rate Property Management, Inc.

 Boise, Idaho

 Contact me for more information about this blog.

Finding Value Despite Shrinking Margins

Tony Drost - Monday, February 18, 2019

Originally posted 3/5/2018

Swope Investment Properties regularly sends out a newsletter that includes good articles and listing information.  In the most recent article, realtor Eric Uhlenhoff shared his perspective to rising prices.  

Finding Value Despite Shrinking Margins

In Shane's article in the Nov 17 newsletter, he described the buyer challenges in

the current market. Not much has changed since then, but we are seeing a bit more

inventory in the residential income space. Yes, margins and cap rates continue to

decline, and we've seen some rising interest rates too, which isn't helping our

Buyers! So, is this another bubble or what?

Back in 2007, when evaluating income properties in the Treasure Valley, using a

sensible downpayment, finding a property with a positive cashflow was like

searching for unicorns. Rents didn't support the values and yet many

buyers willingly accepted negative cashflow in hopes of feasting upon rising prices in

the future. However, in today's market, we're still seeing discerning buyers insist on

cash-on-cash returns. And of course financing with nothing down is not a thing

the way it was back in 2007, so fundamentally, this market is way different


So, where's the value for a buyer? Well, several things haven't changed. Financing

a residential income property (4 units or less) can still be done on a 30-year fixed

loan (thumbs up!) and the tax laws governing depreciation and other tax benefits

are all still in place and may have gotten better depending on individual

circumstances (two thumbs up!).

No question, the sale prices have come up, but so too have the rents. Consider

also that overall vacancy rates are historically low and with rising interest rates this

is likely to keep that vacancy low. All these changing conditions should force

change in our analysis and in this market, we should always take a solid look at

the achievable rents when doing your evaluation as many sellers are not keeping up

with the market.

Continuing to look at cash-on-cash returns and/or cap rate is still okay (and

important!). However, in this market, add in the principle pay-down and the tax

benefits, and compare these combined returns against the risks associated with a

very high stock market and rising inflation. This is both smart and necessary.

My crystal ball is far from clear when looking out beyond what I am having for

lunch. Real estate investing should be for the long term and when time permits,

allow the Swope Team to help analyze and advise a strategy... cuz there's value out


Eric Uhlenhoff

Subscribe to Swope Investment properties newsletters - 

Tony Drost, Chairman
First Rate Property Management, Inc.
Boise, Idaho
Contact me for more information about the Investment Real Estate and Property Rental markets in Boise and Idaho.

Investor Newsletter

Tony Drost - Thursday, February 14, 2019

Swope Investment Properties publishes a newsletter like this one This quarter’s newsletter discusses property inspections, maintenance tips, hazard insurance, supporting a local charity, and provides some listing information.  Please contact Shane Brown at to be added to their electronic distribution list.

Swope Investment Properties is the leader in Boise investment properties, and surrounding areas.  Their agents specialize in residential income properties.  Established in 2003 by Mike Swope, the. brokerage provides a higher level of client services and satisfaction by using a consultant/advisor based approached, over getting the sale.  Swope agents understand that honesty and integrity are the keys to helping clients maximize their investment dollars, which often means advising clients not to buy certain properties to protect their financial interest. 

While most Boise real estate brokerages concentrate on residential housing, these agents are trained in the specific niche of investment properties.  The Swope team has broad-based market  knowledge in areas such as investing, cash flow, return on investment, analysis, property management, and tax implications.  All of their agents are real estate investors themselves, which provides them with invaluable experience, especially when it comes to investing in rentals.

It’s New, Why Inspect?

We always recommend an independent home inspection
regardless if its a home or multi-unit development that is being
purchased. What if it’s new construction? What if it’s a premier
builder? It’s not only my opinion, but its been my experience that
you absolutely should. With the shortage of multi-family housing,
some are rushing construction to completion and there is a lot being
missed. The punch lists can be significant.
A home inspection gives the Buyer detailed information about
the overall condition of the property prior to purchase. A property
inspection should provide an in-depth and unbiased evaluation of
the physical condition, structure, construction, and mechanical
systems, as well as identify items that need to be repaired or
replaced. Additionally, the inspector should be able to estimate the
remaining useful life of the major systems and equipment.
Inspectors will also check the attic and crawlspace to ensure there
aren’t problems that are not always apparent.
Make an independent home inspection part of your due
diligence, regardless of the property type or age. Our agents have
worked with a handful of professional home inspectors and are
happy to assist you.

By: Tony Drost

Feb. Maintenance Tips
1. Spiff up some paint - Freshen
up interior paint on walls, cabinets,
doors and trim. If you want to
hire a pro, call before spring and
you might get a discount.
2. Clean out dryer vents - Clean the
duct that connects the back of the
dryer to the outside vent. If you
don’t, lint and other debris could
decrease your dryers efficiency,
increase energy bills and even
cause fires.
3. Clean refrigerator coils- To keep
your refrigerator in tiptop shape
and save energy, clean the
refrigerator condenser coils
located in the back or on the
bottom of the appliance.
4. Give your mattress some love-
Vacuum box springs and the
mattress top and bottom. Rotate
or flip the mattress.
5. Clean windows- Clean up the
insides of the windows and let
some extra vitamin D in. While
you are cleaning you can ensure
the weather seals haven’t been
compromised and there is no
condensation forming. Also check
the caulking and weather stripping.

In Case of Emergency, Are you Covered?

Homeowner’s insurance provides a benefit to investing in real estate
that uninsurable assets don’t share. I truly valued the information
provided by Renae Goodwin of Payne West Insurance as a reminder
how to get the most from an insurance policy.
Goodwin addressed common mistakes made by real estate investors,
and shared these insights and others at a meeting of AVID Investor’s
• If your property is in an LLC, adding your LLC as an additionally
named insured is a commonly missed detail.
• Have your insurance agent run your property through the
replacement cost estimator every few years. If you haven’t
updated your coverage amounts or rent amounts, you may be
• Include personal property in a landlord policy – that covers the
range, fridge, window treatments and faucets. The dishwasher is
“built in” and already would be covered.
• Get a personal umbrella policy if you don’t already have one.
• Renae Goodwin of Payne West recommends using zip ties to add
red water shut off tags to the water shut off valves under sinks,
near toilets and for the main line of the house, so tenants may
help themselves in case of a late-night water leak.
• Understand what would fall under a separate endorsement a
separate policy. An extra catastrophe policy may be required to
cover floods, earthquakes or landslides.
• Ensure your lease or your property manager requires that tenants
carry renter’s insurance.
More information like this can by gained by taking advantage of your
invitation to an upcoming meeting of AVID Investor’s Club on
February 20th or March 20th.
AVID meets on the third Wednesday of every month except August
and December.
StacyA McBain

Swope Gives Back
Every year our office votes on a local
charity/non-profit to donate a portion
of our commission checks to. This
year we decided on Camp Rainbow
Gold and in January we dropped of a
check for $2,800! Thank you to
everyone who allowed us to represent
you and allow us to make a difference
in our local community!

What Do Rising Mortgage Rates Mean?

Jim Sharone - Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Originally posted 2018

Mortgage rates are on the rise and experts are expecting them to continue to rise! So what does that mean for our investors? 

Buying and Selling:

Single Family and Multi-family sale prices should continue to rise. When mortgage rates increase, the housing supply will decrease. Many people to do not want to downsize/upsize when they will be jumping over a percentage point on their mortgage rate. As a result, it is expected that fewer homes will be put on the market.

Rental Market:

Rents should also continue to rise. As homes become less and less affordable, more people will turn to renting which could mean great things for landlords in the near future.

You can read the original article below or by clicking the link:

Mortgage rates jump to the highest point in 4 years, an ominous sign for spring housing               

Diana Olick | @DianaOlick

Published 11:15 AM ET Mon, 29 Jan 2018  Updated 23 Hours Ago

A huge sell-off in the bond market is about to make buying a home more expensive. Mortgage rates, which loosely follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury, have been rising for the past few weeks, but are seeing their biggest move higher Monday.

"Bottom line, rate sheets are going to be ugly this morning," wrote Matthew Graham, chief operating officer of Mortgage News Daily. "Some lenders will be at 4.5 percent on their best-case-scenario 30-year fixed quotes."

That is the highest rate since 2014.

The average rate on the popular 30-year fixed started the year right around 4 percent but then began to climb on positive news in the U.S. economy, solid company earnings reports and a shift in foreign central bank policies which appear to now be following the Federal Reserve's tightening of monetary policy. The rate was at 4.28 percent by the end of last week.

"Apart from central banks, there's a ton of bond market supply coming down the pike due to infrastructure and tax bill spending," Graham said. That new supply will send yields and, consequently, mortgage rates higher.

 December new home sales fall to 625,000 annual rate   December new home sales fall to 625,000 annual rate 

While mortgage rates are still historically low, they were even lower in the years following the financial crisis. That not only helped juice the sharp increase in home prices, but it has also given borrowers a new sense of normal. Both will hurt affordability this spring on several fronts.

"Today is one more reason for Realtors and buyers to move up their spring schedule," said Chris Kopec, a mortgage loan consultant at Chicago-based Lakeside Bank.

The housing market is already facing a supply crisis, with demand substantially higher than the supply of homes for sale. Higher mortgage rates will exacerbate that problem because most current homeowners have likely refinanced to rates in the 3 percent range over the past few years and will be reluctant to give those rates up, either to downsize or upsize to a new home. Hence, fewer new listings.

For first-time buyers, even a quarter point difference in mortgage rates could price them out of the type of home they're looking to buy. Today's buyers are saving less, due to high levels of student debt and high rent rates. Confidence in the current economy is driving spending even higher and savings even lower.

"With spending rising faster, what also drove spending was credit card debt as the US savings rate is down to just 2.4 percent in December from 2.5 percent in November and 3 percent in October. September 2005 was the last time it was this low," Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer with Bleakley Advisory Group, wrote in a note to clients. "Lower taxes and higher wages couldn't have come at a better time for the average consumer, but some of that will likely go towards paying down some of the accumulated debt."

Wages may be growing, but the rate is nowhere near the now-nearly 7 percent annual home price growth. Price gains are highest on the lower end of the housing market, where demand is highest and supply is lowest. That is also where buyers are most sensitive to mortgage rates because they are already squeezing to make the monthly payment.

Jim Sharone, Vice President
First Rate Property Management, Inc.
Boise, Idaho
Contact me for more information about the Investment Real Estate and Property Rental markets in Boise and Idaho.

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