Why researching your rent-to-own company is important

While rent-to-own purchases are becoming more popular, it’s important to know who you’re dealing with, and to balance the risks and rewards.

According to Bob Aaron, a real estate lawyer with Aaron & Aaron, rent-to-owns typically surge in popularity during market downturns, and they’re also one of the few options people with bad credit have available to them. However, Aaron also says that it’s his preference to advise clients against entering such arrangements.

One way in which buyers get short-shrifted is by paying above-market rental prices than they would for a similar house, which, if the buyer chooses not to purchase the home, cannot be recovered.

“Rent-to-own helps when the seller can’t sell and when buyers can’t get approved for mortgages, but the way it often works is the seller gets the lump sum from the buyer/tenant which is used to underwrite the down payment,” said Aaron. “So if the buyer decides not to close, or can’t close, or can’t get a mortgage, all that money they paid up front and along the way is down the drain.”

He also says another problem with rent-to-owns is there aren’t any industry standard forms.

The buyer/tenant isn’t the only party at risk, though.

“A defaulting owner can stick the landlord-/investor with all kinds of arrears, mortgage taxes, utilities, and damages to the house, and the landlord/owner/seller is going to be stuck with those arrears and damages,” said Aaron, adding the courts don’t recognize rent-to-owns under the tenancy act.

“If the buyer- occupant is in default, it’s very difficult to get rid of them.”

There have been stories of unscrupulous rent-to-own companies in the media, but one in particular has taken a unique approach to the rent-to-own model, and has a 100% success rate of turning its renters into homeowners.

Dale Monette, CEO of Homeowners Now, explained to CREW that by empowering renters with everything they need to improve their credit scores, save money, and eventually own their homes, the rent-to-own model can become an exceptionally successful way to help families achieve homeownership.

Homeowners Now endeavors to get their clients both financially- and emotionally- invested in their future homes. by holding tenants’ down payments in trust. The company a client-first approach, which entails allowing the client to choose the home they want to live in and purchasing it for them.

“Some rent-to-own companies do a $0 down payment, but we want to get them financially invested by an initial down payment, typically 3% of the purchase price, and holding it in trust for them,” said Monette. “Based on our research, $0 down programs have a higher likelihood of the client walking away from the property, because they weren’t financially invested.”

Homeowners Now made the internal decision to return down payments should their clients default, but with a 100% success rate that’s never happened. One reason is the company does everything in its power to make sure its tenants have everything they need at their disposal.

“We actually pay for home inspection reports and appraisal reports, as well as the closing costs for our clients,” he said. “They don’t have to give us any more money for closing costs or legal fees – they just provide the down payment and monthly rent. We take care of the rest. When working with us, essentially our clients are working with a team of self-employed entrepreneurs, like realtors and mortgage brokers, so they stay directly in touch. We even help our clients with grants when they experience hardship, which ultimately helps them become successful in the rent-to-own transaction.”

As Aaron says, it’s important to have all documents perused by a lawyer. Equally as important is selecting a company that invests in its clients as much as it does in properties.

Are you looking to invest in property? If you like, we can get one of our mortgage experts to tell you exactly how much you can afford to borrow, which is the best mortgage for you or how much they could save you right now if you have an existing mortgage. Click here to get help choosing the best mortgage rate

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Kelowna to become multi-family housing hub?

In its latest study, real estate team HM Commercial Group found that Kelowna is poised to distinguish itself in the B.C. housing market through its accelerated pace of building in the residential segment.

“Demand for all forms of housing remains exceptionally strong and the City of Kelowna favours a policy towards densification in the urban town centres, which also bodes well for more affordable forms of multi-family development,” according to the Fall 2017 HM Commercial Report.

Most notably, “the Downtown Core is experiencing a boom of high density development, with projects like the 21-storey tower at 1151 Sunset Drive (now 85% pre-sold before occupancy in Spring/Summer 2018),” the report added. “New projects like One Water Street and Live at Ella are anticipated to achieve average sales of more than $600 per square foot with the upper floors expected to reach more than $900 per square foot.”

As of the third quarter of this year, the value of multi-family building permits in Kelowna totalled $95.5M, compared to the $76.9M for the whole of 2016.

The study results indicated that up to 95% of condo buyers in Kelowna will be occupying their purchases instead of using these for investment purposes—a much different situation from 10 years ago, “when up to 70% were speculative investors.”

“[This] is an excellent sign of continued strength in the market and means more people living in the urban centres and increased vibrancy,” the report stated.

The city will also benefit from an influx of wealthy elderly Canadians, HM Commercial predicted.

“As baby boomers retire, they continue to look to the Okanagan. With fewer properties available in Vancouver, Kelowna and Victoria are benefiting,” the report said, adding that the demographic shift will also be apparent in the younger generations.

“The overflow from Vancouver, combined with all of the things Kelowna has to offer, is bringing a significantly younger demographic to the City, one that is fuelling a $1.3 Billion tech sector. 262 tech companies call Kelowna home and this number is growing every day.”

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How housing policy is impacting one hot market

The Hamilton market is showing some signs being impacted by Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan, according to recently released statistics.

There were 1,638 residential home listings in August, up 6% year-over-year from 2016’s mark of 1,546. Those listings are 4.2% higher than the 10-year average. Sales, meanwhile, were down 18.2% with a total of 1,086 last month.

That didn’t stop price growth, though, with the median residential home selling for $485,450 – up 14% year-over-year from $426,000.

All of these stats together point to a balanced market, according to the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington.

“The tendency toward a more balanced market that we have seen over the last few months has continued into August,” RAHB CEO George O’Neill said. “The sales to new listings ratio is at just over 65 per cent, which is still in the low end of a seller’s market, but much closer to balance than earlier this year.”

The median freehold home price jumped 13.2% year-over-year and the median condo home price increased 20.9%.

“The median and average prices continued to rise,” O’Neill said. “There had been speculation that with more listings on the market and fewer sales, prices would decrease as a result. That is not the experience in our market area – at least not so far.”

The average days on market increased to 33 days from 27 days for freehold homes and to 29 days from 27 days for condos.

Source: RAHB

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Retiring early with real estate

Let your portfolio work for you: One investor gives his tips to become completely financially independent at any age.

By Sve Pavic, fulltime investor

Millennials have it tough financially- we’ve been told if we go to a respected University, study hard and get good grades we will land a great paying job. The reality? You graduate with loads of debt with no assistance or prospects of getting a great job and you return for more schooling thinking it will solve the problem. To add salt to the wound, house prices and rent keep increasing beyond reasonable affordability. As a millennial, I’m here to tell you that you can create your own financial freedom and you don’t need to settle and live in your parent’s basement into your 30s. In fact, I’m here to show you how we purchased our first house at 24, live for free by “house-hacking” and create passive cash flow for life.

What is house-hacking? The concept is simple yet powerful: purchase a house, create an income suite (e.g. basement apartment) and rent it out for passive income. The rental income from the apartment can either pay for the majority of your mortgage and living expenses, or you could even get paid to live for free. If you live in the main/ upstairs unit and rent out the basement, you can have the majority of your mortgage covered. If you go one step further and live in the basement/lower unit, you could not only live mortgage free but you could also have profit leftover in your pocket.

The first hurdle millennials and most people have to overcome is coming up with the downpayment. In our case, we lived below our means in order to save for a 5% downpayment. Another strategy is to borrow money from family, friends or private lenders. If required for financing, you could also ask them to act as a guarantor / co-signer.

Once we had the downpayment and financing confirmed, we purchased a detached fixer upper bungalow in the GTA which met all of the requirements for a potential basement apartment (e.g. ceiling height, separate entrance, zoning, parking, etc.). The house walkouts to a large backyard and backs on to ravine which is a major selling point for tenants. We built an open-concept legal 2 bedroom basement apartment with high-end looking finishes. We ensured we made the space look modern, bright and open so that it didn’t feel like a typical, dungy basement apartment. We started off by charging $1,250/mo (non-inclusive) with many applicants. Now we rent the unit for $1,450/mo (non-inclusive) and live mortgage-free.

Since then, we have refinanced the house based on the built-in equity and purchased another property which will be converted into a duplex. We are using this same strategy, except creating a 3-bedroom basement apartment and renting both units individually by room. The property is expected to cash flow more than $1,000/mo after all expenses. Once this duplex is complete, we will be refinancing and finding another property to expand our portfolio.

Rinse and Repeat until you reach your goals of financial freedom.

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Building equity for multiple properties

by Haripal Pannu, real estate broker and investor

One real estate agent looks at pre-build investments for the first-time investor.

It’s always challenging to buy the first investment property because there is a lot that must be learned. There is a little bit of difference when it comes to buying real estate as your primary residence compared to buying it as your investment property.

If you are buying real estate as your primary residence you can get financing even with 5% down
(as long as you qualify) but for investment properties you typically need 20% down in some cases even 25% or more.

Some “A“ lenders (big banks) don’t finance an investment property after a certain number of properties; for investment properties there are other costs associated too if you are also buying a primary residence you get certain rebates and you can even buy under first-time home buyers plan while in case of investment property it is not possible. If you are buying a brand new investment it is very likely you are going to pay HST on top of purchase price (if you fulfil the conditions the HST you pay you will get it back one condition is that you cannot sell the property before one year period).

Let us look at where and what kind of investment property one should buy so that equity can build up fast and that equity can be used in future to buy more properties.

One thing which matters most in real estate is the location; excellent location makes all the difference where your property is located location is always the key. Do not buy a property in an area where you do not want to live. Good location must have public transit system accessible to everyone, good walk score and should be close to all amenities.

Check the vacancy rate in the area. A low vacancy rate in the area is an indicator that your property will be rented out quickly and more chances are that rent will increase in the near future.

Check employment rates in that area. Property prices are increasing at a very fast rate not only in the GTA but all over in Central and Southern Ontario and, as a result, more and more people are being forced to rent instead of owning.

Let us look at an example of a $400,000 pre-build condo property. We’ll assume it will be ready in 2-three years. By the time you take ownership of the condo you will see that property already has already appreciated by 3-4 % or approximately $50,000. If it is in a desirable location you will have no problem renting it out and in another 2-3 years you should have paid already approximately $15-20k of your mortgage and also at the same time your property is further appreciated by another approx. $30 – 40K. Now it is time to talk to your bank or your lender so that you can take money out and on your way to buy another property and in another 2-3 years next property and so on.

The more properties you own, the more cash flow you will generate. In times of inflation real estate creates hedge against inflation. One can reap the rewards of equity build up, not to forget many tax advantages of owning real estate and advantages of appreciation real estate enjoys.

Word of caution before you buy a rental property: it is very important you do your due diligence.
Make sure numbers work out for you and seek help from a real estate expert. Owning your real estate is owning your own business and you are your own boss.

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A hands-off investment that will diversify your portfolio

Being a landlord is time consuming and, at times, frustrating. One professional has an alternative real estate investment idea that some landlords may want to add to their assets.

Why would a residential real estate investor be tempted to add REITs (real estate investment trusts) to their portfolio?

We asked an expert in the field that very question.

“Diversification. Depending on the amount of wealth you have, how many investments are you going to have in your portfolio of homes – is it two, three, four? Are they in different geographies and sub-markets? Are they subject to different macro-environment risks that could impact value in one way or another?” Corrado Russo managing director, investments and global head of securities at Timbercreek Asset Management, told CREW. “Certainly buying REITs gives you A: Diversification across broader spectrum of markets and it also gives you broader spectrum of commercial real estate. There are different dynamics and growth prospects and risks when it comes to retail, office, industrial, storage, healthcare, data centres, that can all have different demands and characteristics.”

Investing in REITs allows investors to own assets in various markets and take advantage of the varying levels of risk and reward afforded in each, according to Russo.

So what is a REIT, for the uninitiated?

It’s a company that owns and, in many cases, operates income-producing real estate. They own commercial real estate properties and investors can become shareholders.

They allow a more hands-off approach to real estate investing.

“The other one is management intensity. If you’re buying these and managing them on your own what are the headaches involved? How are you managing them?” Russo said. “If you’re doing it yourself, how time consuming is that? Are you following best practices if you’re doing it yourself or if you have a small local person that’s doing it?”

REITs may not be for everyone; but for the real estate investor looking to diversify – or add a more hands-off asset to their portfolio – they may be worth a look.

Are you looking to invest in property? If you like, we can get one of our mortgage experts to tell you exactly how much you can afford to borrow, which is the best mortgage for you or how much they could save you right now if you have an existing mortgage. Click here to get help choosing the best mortgage rate

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The 5 priciest homes in one of the country’s hottest markets

Take a look at some of the country’s most luxurious homes currently for sale.

These are the most expensive homes currently for sale in and around the country’s hottest housing market.

As someone who covers housing for a living, there’s nothing quite like perusing some good old fashioned real estate porn. I’m sure you faithful readers can agree.

While modern builds with their sky-high windows or hard lofts with their sprawling floorplans are always fun to explore, there’s nothing quite like gandering at some of the country’s priciest homes.

And there seems to be a few more than usual currently on the market.

Pont2Homes, an online agency, rounded up the 10 most expensive homes currently for sale in and around Toronto. Check them out below.

1. A Yorkville Penthouse

Yorkville is one of the most sought-after neighbourhoods in Toronto (there are even rumours that Mike Babcock, current coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, chose to coach in Toronto over Buffalo due to his wife’s desire to live in the posh ‘hood).

It’s home to some extravagant shopping spots and swanky restaurants; and also to the province’s current most expensive home.

Listed at a cool $36,000,00, this beauty is located at the top of the Four Seasons Hotel.

2. A Bridle Path mansion

“Millionaire’s row” is home to this 10 bedroom behemoth befit for Batman himself.

For a cool $35,000,000, this home includes a 5,000 square foot pavilion, a tennis court, a 50 foot indoor pool, and a hand-carved Louis XV fireplace.

3. A multi-million dollar country home

If city living isn’t your thing, this $24,950,000 equestrian estate in King City may be just what you’re looking for.

The rugged and rich outdoorsman (or outdoorswoman) will surely be drawn to the 80 acre property that is home to a pond and waterfall, skating hut, walnut grove, and groomed hiking trails.

4. A lakefront compound

If one home isn’t enough, this estate in Oro-Medonte is situated on a 17 acre lot with a 525 foot private beach on Lake Simcoe.

The lot is also home to two 12,500 square foot homes.

5. 10 bedrooms in Bridle Path

This estate has its own ballroom, a spa, a salon, and in in-home theatre.

All for the reasonable price of $19,380,000.

To see the bottom-half of the province’s top-ten, click here.

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Investor: Buyers, investors would be ‘foolish’ not to use home inspections

In red hot markets, many are foregoing home inspections in a bid to quickly close on competitive properties. Do you make sure to use inspections?

Let us know in our poll today

.

In red hot markets, many are foregoing home inspections in a bid to quickly close on competitive properties. One investor says that’s a mistake.

“Somebody who buys a home without a home inspection, that’s a foolish decision to make. You’re spending $500,000a t least on a piece of property; spending $500 on an inspection makes sense,” BC-based investor Hans McFarlane, told Canadian Real Estate Wealth. “People are skipping home inspections quite a bit, but no realtor, no professional is ever going to put their name on any document that says I recommend you skip an inspection.

“For a new investor, for someone who doesn’t have the resources to deal with the problems that need to be dealt with, it’s foolish to not get it done.”

In markets such as Toronto, many are skipping the home inspection in a bid to win bidding wars.

But that can be a costly mistake, according to mortgage broker and investment author Enza Venuto, who says a few hundred dollars can often save thousands in the long-run.

“If a person does not use a home inspector, they’re doing the wrong thing. They’re a must in today’s environment. Even on new properties, not just old properties, new construction require it as well. I know there’s Tarion, but sometimes issues arise and we recommend clients use a home inspector on homes and on condos,” she said.

And investors will have an easier time securing financing when they have the home inspected, according to Venuto.

“Even seasoned investors … if we don’t use an inspector, the lenders may want to know more details about the property,” she said.

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Are you looking to invest in property? If you like, we can get one of our mortgage experts to tell you exactly how much you can afford to borrow, which is the best mortgage for you or how much they could save you right now if you have an existing mortgage. Click here to get help choosing the best mortgage rate

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Mortgage rule change effects extend to small market

Last year’s mortgage rule changes are being blamed for dwindling activity outside the areas they were intended to target, according to a recent report.

“The impact of the new mortgage stress test is impossible to ignore. It has effectively caused a knee-jerk reaction in (Winnipeg), impacting activity and contributing to declining house prices,” Michael Froese, managing partner, Royal LePage Prime Realty, said. “However, given that our region is home to a very stable, diverse economy, which has helped insulate the housing market from significant downward price adjustments over the long term, we expect to see market factors bounce back as the year progresses.”

According to Royal LePage’s Q1 housing report, the aggregate home price in Winnipeg dropped 0.9% year-over-year to $274,844.

Still, the brokerage remains optimistic about the market’s future.

“Winnipeg is the most affordable major city centre in Canada, offering prospective homeowners – particularly first-time buyers – a great deal of value for their dollar,” said Michael Froese, managing partner, Royal LePage Prime Realty. “The region’s real estate market is coming off its best year on record. Although home values dipped slightly in January and February, March saw a surge of activity, helping to buoy prices in Winnipeg. Sales in the first quarter of 2017 also remain consistent with the same time last year, and are above the 10-year average for the quarter.”

Last October, the federal government released a suite of mortgage rule changes – which included tougher qualification requirements – that were widely regarded as a move to address affordability in major markets such as Toronto and Vancouver.

However, the spill over effect has been felt in smaller markets, such as Winnipeg.

And just six months later, the industry and politicians remain concerned about the Toronto and Vancouver markets.

“The overall Canadian market is healthier in 2017 than it has been in years, yet the downside risks are greater too,” concluded Soper. “Our economy, which has recovered nicely from the 2014 oil crisis, is sadly dependent on moves by an unpredictable U.S. federal government and can be swayed by unforeseen global events, such as fallout from Europe’s restructuring. Still, housing activity is strong and prices are rising at a healthy mid-single-digit rate across the land. The trend in Alberta, Quebec and Atlantic Canada is particularly encouraging. Our concerns with the state of Canadian real estate begin and end in Toronto and Vancouver.”

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Big bank calls for real estate policy action

CEO calls on entire industry, as well as government officials, to come together to determine solutions.

“Longer term, I believe all parties need to come together — governments, developers, realtors, banks, community groups and others — to accelerate our progress in finding policies and solutions for this issue,” said RBC CEO Dave McKay.

McKay spoke Thursday at a shareholder meeting about his “increasing” concern about Toronto and Vancouver’s housing markets.

He is in favour of government intervention, saying increased housing prices are the result of an unhealthy combination of factors and that “all of these factors are mixing to push prices up to unsustainable levels, stressing household balance sheets and locking many people out of the housing market.”

The comments follow the latest housing stats releases from Toronto and Vancouver.

The average home price in Toronto jumped 33.2% year-over-year to $916,567. Vancouver’s prices, despite prices dampening over the past few months, still sit at an average of $919,000.

While it would be admirable to see all interested parties mentioned by McKay work together to find a solution, chances of that happening are likely slim.

Government officials seem intent on implementing taxes to curb real estate speculation and foreign investment; real estate boards, meanwhile, have vehemently opposed those ideas, instead arguing in favour of increasing housing demand.

It remains to be see what, if anything, the government will do to further address affordability in Vancouver and Toronto.

Are you looking to invest in property? If you like, we can get one of our mortgage experts to tell you exactly how much you can afford to borrow, which is the best mortgage for you or how much they could save you right now if you have an existing mortgage. Click here to get help choosing the best mortgage rate

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