Current Buyers Market

As we go into winter and the real-estate/rental market takes a deep breathe, I feel it is healthy to step back assess and move forward cautiously optimistic. Although real estate values and rentals rates may not climb as quickly as the past few years- there are reasons why the values will hold. The cost of labor, materials, and loans continues to make building homes difficult.  The amount of people moving here continues, the attractive quality of life, economic factors and political environment remain strong attractions. The City of Meridian is still growing faster than any other city per capita in the United States.


Monthly Owner Update

Happy Thanksgiving and we hope you enjoy the long weekend. The last month has been action packed at our new office. We held a Charity Mixer atThe Flats 16 Restaurant and Event Center in support of the Star Outreach, a local food bank and assistance office. The response and space was great, donations were plentiful and we were able to provide essential goods to those in need, heading into the Thanksgiving Holiday. This month we also held our ribbon cutting at the new office with the Star Chamber of Commerce. It has been fantastic to be welcomed into this Treasure Valley City and meet the various civic and community leaders.

Our next event is a Toy Drive and Ugly Sweater Christmas Party to be held at Helina Maries Wine Bar in Star, ID. We will be accepting toys at our office up to and at the event. This get together will be on December 13th and is an RSVP only due to space and food/drink capabilities. If you would like to attend please email Bryce or myself. If you would like a list of the items needed by the Star Outreach Children please let us know.

Last night our new project Amazon Falls received Phase II approval for annexation and mixed use zoning. I was able to entitle approximately 20 acres with 132 Residential Units and 14 acres of flexible commercial space.  This will be an exciting integrated project with great prospects for commercial development. Next door to our project, Ameritel Inns purchased 80 acres. They are not going to be breaking ground on Hotel soon but are not against it and are trying to entice some large commercial and big box users to the area. The future is bright for this city and immediate area. I also volunteered to help the City Council with their Master Transportation and Economic Corridor Plan.

For those of you not liking the Amazon Falls name. It is a working name but stuck when Amazon – the trillion dollar online company recently gained approval for 1 million sq ft of industrial space. The details and people involved are tight lipped. This project is due to go in west of Star Rd at Franklin in Nampa.  So even though we go through market ups and downs- the Treasure Valley still remains a target for individuals and companies for generations to come.

We wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and hope you get to enjoy some great times with Family or Friends!


Chris Todd

Just Listed

10970 W Garverdale Ln
Boise, ID 83713
MLS# 98712654

Location, Renovations, Zero Maintenance Living! Close to the Village in Meridian this 3BD condo has been fully remodeled. New Wood Floors, Carpet, Paint, Fixtures, New Stainless Kitchen Appliance, New Paint. Property is turn key and ready for your buyers. Buyers will love the new upgraded appliances, granite counters and check out the floors! Front door opens up to private grass and landscaped area. Small screened patio off dining area with storage. Great central location in small community.

Resident Update

As we enter winter there are a few things you as a renter can do to ensure your home is safe and comfortable. Make sure that all smoke detectors and CO2 detectors are mounted and working. It could make a life and death difference in a worst case scenario. Use the bath fans to get all of that wet air out of your home during a hot shower.Close all of the windows completely and if you notice condensation on windows or walls, give it a quick wipe to dry it and avoid mildew. If your residence is equipped with hose bibs, be sure to disconnect those and make sure they are completely turned off and not dripping. Electric space heaters can add comfort without turning up the thermostat. Be sure those are plugged directly into the wall and not an extension cord or power strip, as that can quickly become a fire hazard.

Twelve Practical Steps to Protect Your Investment

1 – Support Fair Housing
This is crucial to successful property management. This covers a vast area such as advertising, showings, tenant selection, equal opportunity practices for the handicapped, and much more. We always work to avoid Fair Housing complaints but should they occur, we move to settle them swiftly and efficiently.

2 – Select good tenancy
We continually strive to improve screening practices. Choosing the right tenant is more cost effective than quickly renting to someone who will become a problem tenant, even if it means a longer vacancy.

3 – Provide reliable documentation
Another key area to reduce risk and keep tenant problems at bay is by using comprehensive documents. This encompasses leases, addendums, property notices, communications, etc. Setting up the right agreements in the beginning can help prevent future disputes.

4 – Maintain the physical property
We continually work to use competent vendors to maintain your property. We probably sound like a broken record on this subject but preventative maintenance is a big key for reducing many maintenance issues. Whether small or large, it always pays to address a problem as soon as possible and resolve them before they escalate.

5 – Tackle mold issues
Ignoring mold issues has produced some of the largest settlements against investors in the United States. We may discover that it is not toxic mold but it is better to clean up any mold before it can become a legal battle.

6 – Take tenant safety seriously
Addressing anything that could endanger tenant safety is an absolute necessity. The courts have zero tolerance for a property owner who ignores maintenance that endangers a resident. This can include unsafe electrical, flooring, plumbing, door locks, walkways, lighting, landscape, and more.

7 – Respect your tenant’s privacy
The Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act (URLTA) provides for a tenant’s right to privacy. Therefore, we contact tenants in advance and serve the proper notices when necessary if we want to enter their residence. You may own the property but it is the tenant’s home and most states have specific laws to address the “right to enter.”

8 – Encourage tenant retention
For obvious reasons, it can increase the return on investment (ROI) to keep a good tenant. There are many ways to encourage tenant retention and it pays to show residents that we appreciate them.

9 – Address security deposit issues
Tenants do move and when they do, the security deposit can become a battleground. Although we try to avoid this, a dispute can arise. We endeavor to settle any deposit issue as quickly as possible.

10 – Provide accurate bookkeeping records
It is important to provide you with an accurate accounting of funds for your property at all times. When you have questions on bookkeeping, we strive to provide the answers.

11 – Update on new or pending legislation
We cannot provide the best service if we do not keep up with legislation or rulings that affect management of your property. There are many ways to do this throughout the year, such as reading publications, attending seminars, workshops, and conferences.

12 – Continue to keep our clients informed
Keeping you informed on what is happening with your investment is always important. We use various means to do this such as email, telephone calls, letters, bookkeeping reports, website, etc. This newsletter is a vehicle for sharing our property management knowledge and we hope you find this information useful.

Call us if you have any questions. As your management company, we are here to protect your investment and help you when you need assistance.

US existing home sales in October rise to highest level of 2014

Here come the home buyers.

Sales of previously owned homes climbed to their highest level in more than a year last month, as the unsteady housing recovery showed signs of stabilizing.

Existing U.S. home sales rose 2.5 percent from October 2013, the first 12-month increase in a year, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. Compared to September, sales increased 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.26 million, the highest level since September 2013.

The positive report beat the expectations of analysts who forecast existing sales to drop from September.

Low mortgage rates, slowing price appreciation and an improving job market drove more Americans to purchase a house in October, said Lawrence Yun, the association’s chief economist.

Sales increased in every region except the West. There, sales fell 5 percent from September and 3.4 percent from October 2013.

Los Angeles TimesNovember 20, 2014

Read more here:

Convenience of Online Portals

The old days of writing and mailing rent checks are over! With Apple iPhone’s new release of wallet pay just goes to show that people like the online payment convenience factor. First Service Group Property Management provides all tenants that have online access a private tenant and applicant portal. With this option, we are able to offer tenants an easy-to-use portal for doing everything from applying to rent, paying their rent to making maintenance requests. All of this can be done online anytime, 24/7 and 365 days per year.

One of the most important ways to maintain a good relationship with our tenants and even encourage the loyalty of quality tenants is to maintain proper communication. An online tenant portal allows you to do precisely that. Regular email is typically not a secure or reliable method for communicating with tenants, especially regarding sensitive topics. With our online portal, we gain the ability to communicate with our in-built messaging system.

Online portals are not only beneficial for use with tenants, but they can also be helpful for use with applicants, as well. As you probably already know, it can be time-consuming and challenging to keep up with multiple rental applications. Add in tenant checks and background checks and it can become even more burdensome to keep track of everything. Our online tenant portal gives us the ability to maintain records in a much more organized and efficient manner while ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks. We can share documents with our residents through the portal such as lease documents and utility bills. Residents can submit a notice to vacate and schedule their move out inspection right online.

The value of this system is unparalleled to the old ways of doing property management. Our residents save time, reduce paper waste and eliminate unnecessary headaches by us offering 24/7 access to powerful self-service tools. By offering tools like these, we have created meaningful relationships that will retain customers year after year.

End of Year Reporting Tips

The end of the year is fast approaching and so are the ever-dreaded tax deadlines. The average person is not overly fond of bookkeeping. When you have real estate income your need to offset, accounting becomes even more vital. Although keeping a box receipts and handing it over to your accountant at the end of the year might sound appealing, it can also be dangerous. Proper rental property accounting can help you to ensure you know where you stand with your business at all times.

At the very least, you should maintain a basic record of your rental property income and expenses. Keep in mind that most of your rental property expenses are tax deductible, which is one more reason why it is important to keepup with your records. Most of the income that your business receives will be in the form of rent. With that said, you may also have other income that you need to make certain that you document. For instance, if you ever need to file an insurance claim, you may receive money from the claim.

You also need to ensure that you properly document expenses. Throughout the course of the year, there will likely be many expenses that your business will incur. Maintaining good records will give you the ability to review those expenses and determine where you may be able to save money. Potential expenses that your business may incur include:

  • Maintenance and repairsimages-3
  • Mortgage interest
  • Property taxes
  • Trash pickup
  • Insurance
  • Utilities
  • HOA fees
  • Advertising
  • Landscaping
  • Management fees

Having your records and accounting streamline is essential to having a successful real estate portfolio. As part of that process, you need to ensure that your income and expenses are organized. One option would be to keep a folder and handle it the old-fashioned way, but there are many disadvantages to this option. For instance, there is always the risk that receipts could become lost. You may find that an online property management solution can be a good fit for your business needs by allowing you to add income, track expenses and even flag certain transactions for follow-up.

At First Service Group Property Management we offer 24/7 online accounting access when you sign up for our property management services. You can login online to your owner portal anytime and instantly can see when a tenant makes an online payment or when an invoice is paid. We find this type of solution is also excellent for allowing you know what activity is going on at your property. You can even customize your accounts so that you can keep tabs on what is going out versus what is coming in. Thanks to our online owner portfolio, you can also track everything on the go whenever you want.





How we find the “Qualified” Renter

Finding a respectable, trustworthy tenant for a rental property is not an easy feat. As a landlord, we are vigilant in researching the backgrounds of our prospective applicants. With evolving technology, completing background and credit checks are so easily accessible there is no excuse for any landlord not to screen tenants before move in. The Stone Age of verifying a resident’s identity is long gone. We use a tenant screening company as a supplemental reference guide. They investigate a persons credit, criminal, rental history and more. Sometimes a credit check doesn’t tell you everything. This supplement can make sure any criminal background that may have been pending or not obvious does not fall through the cracks. These references go back furthBusinesswoman standing on a ladder looking through binocularser than the resident’s rental history, they cross reference all registered mailing addresses associated with the persons credit file.

As a management company, we have been around through the ups and downs of the market and watched many types of applicants walk through our doors. We have seen applicant’s belatedly lie on applications, give false references and even give a fake phone number for a fake employer. As licensed Realtors®, we have access to what most property managers don’t; tax records and title information. We use these tools to complete cross-references on applications as well.

We also conduct an online search on each tenant. We look specifically for social networking profiles, blogs and websites in the tenant’s name. If we find any public information, we review it to confirm any items on the application. As well as our supplemental tenant screening company preforming a background check, we also conduct your own background check by contacting the local police department and court system where the tenant currently resides to find information about past arrests, criminal charges and other activities. This does take substantially more time but is well worth the investigation.

Verifying each prospective tenant’s income and employment is essential. Not just determining if they are employed, but that they can afford they rent payment each month. We ask the tenant for a copy of his last three pay stubs, and last Form W-2 or 1099 to determine how much income they earn and how often they receive pay. We contact the tenant’s current employer to verify his employment and how long he has worked there. We then review what lines of credit are open and revolving and what the debt to income ratio is to determine financial ability. We look for income to be three times the monthly rent. We request each tenant give three personal references. We contact them and conduct a short telephone interview with each reference and ask questions about the tenant’s personality, character and reliability.

Before finalizing our approval of an applicant we make sure to invite each prospective tenant to an in-person interview. Sometimes this is done under the guise of a property tour, which may give you even more insight into each applicant’s background. During the tour/interview, we ask questions about why the tenant wants to move, why they chose your property and why she wants to move in.

The bottom line is, while talking to previous landlords is much encouraged, it should not be depended on as the primary or the only system utilized to verify information about a prospective resident. By combining tools, we have a comprehensive verification of a tenant’s background. This is just another way we provide a extra layer of protection to our clients.


Importance of Routine Safe and Clean Inspections

fda-inspection  Currently First Service Group Property Management is preforming our fall property inspections for our clients. We conduct this inspection twice a year in order to identify preventative maintenance heading into the two extreme seasons in Idaho, winter and summer. This inspection is to check the vital aspects of the property and review any items that we noted on our maintenance watch list from the spring inspection.

We do a thorough inspection of the heating and cooling system to ensure that the system is ready for the winter months. This incudes servicing the furnace and changing the furnace filters. Other items that are checked are: interior plumbing, crawl spaces, attics, exterior faucets, exterior siding/fascia, gutters, roofs, vents, yards, garages and water heaters. When we conduct this inspection we are looking for any issues even those, which the tenant may have caused. Anything from a tenant who accidentally pulled a door off its hinges, to items you are responsible for such as a leaking faucet.

This inspection report is documented, supported by pictures, with recommendations of any repairs that may be needed and provided to our clients with their monthly operating statement. If there are any issues, we will set up a follow-up inspection to verify the tenant has corrected the issues they are responsible for.  Although we cannot predict what will happen during the winter months, these inspections are valuable in assessing the proper functions in the home. And being able to perform some easy preventative maintenance before a problem area can escalate and cause major capitol expense. This is just another layer of protection we provide to our clients investments.