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.

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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RBC raises fixed-term mortgage rates

Royal Bank of Canada has increased the interest rates on its fixed-term mortgage products.

RBC’s mortgage rates were all boosted by 20 basis points, up to 2.54 per cent (two-year rate), while 2.64 per cent (three-year rate), and 2.84 per cent (five-year rate). Said rates are for products with amortization periods not exceeding 25 years.

The rise came amid rising bond yields and enduring expectations that Canada’s central bank will hike its benchmark interest rate, which currently stands at 0.5 per cent. Should the Bank of Canada push through with the increase on Wednesday (July 12), it will be the first such movement in 7 years.

Manulife Asset Management senior economist Frances Donald told CBC News that the move by RBC is “another signal that economic and market agents are preparing for a rate hike next Wednesday… It also opens the door to a Bank of Canada rate hike because it implies that the economy is already going to absorb higher interest rates via the banks themselves.”

“We import higher rates via our bond curve from the United States, and the more we see higher rates around the rest of the world, the more the costs are going to rise for Canadian banks as well,” she explained, alluding to the recent boost in the U.S. Federal Reserve’s rates. More hikes are anticipated to come this year.

“We are clearly in the beginnings of a tightening cycle and these are not just influences from the Bank of Canada but from global sources as well.”

Related stories:
Possibilities for consumers in the event of a BoC rate hike
Canadians are incapable of servicing higher mortgage costs – report

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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Qualifying rate to increase?

This is when one association is predicting the qualifying rate might jump.

A potential Bank of Canada benchmark rate increase has been the talk of the industry for the past few weeks, with many invested parties speculating on when the government will make the move.

For its part, the British Columbia Real Estate Association is predicting the Bank will hold off until 2018.

“While the likelihood of the Bank raising its target rate by the end of 2017 has certainly increased, we still expect the Bank to hold off until early 2018, particularly if oil prices remain low and inflation fails to pick up,” Cameron Muir, BCREA chief economist, wrote in his latest Mortgage Rate Forecast Report.

As a result, the association is also predicting the five-year qualifying rate will jump from 4.64%, as it stands today, to 4.74% in Q1 2018.

The average five-year mortgage rate, meanwhile — which sits around 2.61% — will jump to 2.79% by the end of Q3 2017, and then to 2.9% in Q4 and 3.05% in Q1 2018.

The qualifying rate is expected to hit 4.84% by Q4 2018 and the average five-year mortgage rate is predicted to reach 3.35%.

That’s the not-so-good news for those who plan to delaying buying a home until then. However, the rate increases will be the result of overall economic recovery.

“The Canadian economy has finally returned to good health following the rapid and dramatic decline of oil prices in late 2014 and the consequences of wildfires in Alberta last year. Since the third quarter of 2016, the Canadian economy has expanded at an average rate of 3.5 per cent, well above the Bank of Canada’s estimate of 1.7 per cent sustainable long-run growth,” Muir wrote. “After posting nearly 4 per cent growth in the first quarter of this year, we expect that real GDP growth will slow slightly to around 2.4 per cent in the second quarter with the economy ultimately growing 2.5 per cent this year and 2 per cent in 2018.

“If the economy continues to accelerate, and growth in real GDP is higher than currently expected by the Bank, slack in the economy could be eliminated by as early as the end of this year, which could push up the timetable for monetary tightening.”

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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Bank of Canada announcement

The Bank of Canada will maintain its target for the overnight rate at 1/2%.

“Inflation in Canada is evolving broadly as expected. Total CPI inflation remains near the bottom of the Bank’s target range as the disinflationary effects of economic slack and low consumer energy prices are only partially offset by the inflationary impact of the lower Canadian dollar on the prices of imported goods,” the Bank of Canada said in a release. “As all of these factors dissipate, the Bank expects inflation will rise to about 2 per cent by early 2017. Measures of core inflation should remain close to 2 per cent.”

The bank did acknowledge that commodities and oil prices continue to take a hit and negatively impact the economy. It suspects the economy stalled in Q4 2015. It also expects growth to be delayed.

“The Bank now expects the economy’s return to above-potential growth to be delayed until the second quarter of 2016,” the BoC said. “The protracted process of reorientation towards non-resource activity is underway, helped by stronger U.S. demand, the lower Canadian dollar, and accommodative monetary and financial conditions.”

On a bright now, however, employment and household spending remains strong.

“The Bank projects Canada’s economy will grow by about 1 1/2 per cent in 2016 and 2 1/2 per cent in 2017. The complex nature of the ongoing structural adjustment makes the outlook for demand and potential output highly uncertain,” the bank said. “The Bank’s current base case projection shows the output gap closing later than was anticipated in October, around the end of 2017. However, the Bank has not yet incorporated the positive impact of fiscal measures expected in the next federal budget.”

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

Investment Hot Spots:
Tsawwassen, Plymouth, Wymark, Saint-Bruno, Sainte-Hénédine

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The new biggest challenge for investors

Until recently, I always believed the toughest part of investing in real estate was finding the “right” income property (eg. good geographic metrics, under market rents, purpose built, good shape, good location, etc.). In the past, my ability to find “diamonds in the rough” is what made me an effective and successful investor. However, my opinion has now changed.

Looking back over my past few deals I realize that in today’s environment, putting the right financing in place for an investment property is now more difficult than finding a good investment property and dictates your ultimate success or failure.

Financing

Most novice investors just assume that the bank is going to use the purchase price when determining Loan-to-value. They look at how much money they have available and work backwards. If they have $300,000, they can use $250,000 for the down payment and $50,000 for closing costs. This means they can buy a property for $1 million and the bank will give them a mortgage of $750,000 based on a 75% LTV. However this couldn’t be further from the truth today.

How did this situation come about?

Historically low interest rates in Canada have been the catalyst leading to:

Cheap cost of funds
Market cap compression
Increased demand for real estate as alternative investments (Bonds, T-Bills, GIC’s) offer poor returns
Limited supply

As an investor looking to acquire an income property, you welcome low interest rates but cheap cost of funds is a double edged sword. On the one hand you want as low an interest rate as possible to minimize expenses. However, there is a direct correlation between cost of funds and market caps. Both move in sync which means as interest rates go down, market caps follow suit (which means the price goes up).

Why does this matter?

Market cap compression directly affects cash flow. For instance, most income properties on the market in Toronto, and in surrounding areas, are being listed with cap rates of 4% to 4.5% (and in prime Toronto locations sub-3% market caps). The problem is that there is a big disconnect between actual valuations dictated by the market and the criteria that banks use to value an income properties for financing purposes.

Just this week I approached two majors banks regarding an income property in a prime Toronto location and was told they use a cap rate of 6% to determine value. A 6% cap rate on a good income property in Toronto is like a unicorn — they just don’t exist.

The numbers

Most people, like myself, like to see the real math and numbers to truly understand a concept. So here it is.

Assume a property nets $40,000. Based on a 4% cap, a seller would list that property for $1,000,000. Bring that same property to the bank for financing and based on a 6% cap, that same property would be valued at $667,000. The bank will typically offer 75% LTV which would translate into a mortgage of $500,000. The purchaser would have to come up with the balance, or $500,000 in cash, to complete the transaction. One of the great benefits of investing in real estate historically has been the ability to leverage and borrow from the bank.

As if that wasn’t a big enough obstacle…

To make things even tougher, most banks have their own internal guidelines when determining a property’s cash flow and they differ significantly from what you see on the property’s fact sheet when it is for sale.

For example, most real estate agents will assign $400-$500 in annual repairs and maintenance per unit under expenses on the income statement. Banks and CMHC tend to use $800-$900 per unit. If you plan to manage the property yourself, it doesn’t matter, they will assign a 4% (of gross) management expense.

Capital expenditures warrant another 1.5% to 2% of gross. What does this mean? It means that if you apply these guidelines the cash flow gets even weaker making it tougher to get the financing you need.

Unless you are a REIT or have deep pockets, the erosion of leverage makes it almost impossible for the average investor to enter this market.

The solution?

That will be my next entry. Stay tuned…

Author: Paul Kondakos, BA, LL.B, MBA – Professional Real Estate Investor

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

Investment Hot Spots:
Burin, Hacketts Cove, Shubenacadie, Daysland, Athabasca County

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