Toronto Income Property Newsletter: September 2009

Not surprisingly, the Toronto income property market continued to soar throughout the month of August. With July numbers spiking up, the sales continued well into August and when the warm weather finally broke, even higher price levels were being attained. Contrast this to a year ago, when we were at the crest of what looked like a down market for a long time to come. In the first two weeks of August, The Toronto Real Estate Board reported 3,832 sales – up 27 per cent compared to the first two weeks of August 2008. The average price for these transactions was up three per cent year-over-year to $383,796.

“The results for the first half of August indicate that many households in the GTA remain confident in their ability to purchase and pay for a home over the long term,” said TREB President Tom Lebour. I agree that with continued low interest rates, this market (and especially for the demand duplexes and triplexes) will continue to be strong for the rest of the year.

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Why Invest in Income Properties in Toronto?

The fundamental benefit of investing in income producing real estate is the opportunity to own a tangible asset that has the ability to both grow in value and generate income. In addition, consider the advantages of owning an asset where the bank may be willing to finance up to 90% of the purchase, the tenants help pay the monthly mortgage, yet you reap all of the benefits, such as a growing income stream, future appreciation, and potential tax advantages. As for risk, while it is certainly present in the short run, an owner’s risk tends to diminish systematically over time as the mortgage balance is paid down, rents are raised annually, and property values increase over the long term.

Investing in income property also allows you to take full advantage of the extremely powerful investment tool known as “financial leverage”. What is financial leverage? It’s simply the ability to purchase an asset of much greater value than the initial amount invested. Why is this so important? Let’s do the math. If you were to invest $250,000 in a stock or mutual fund and that investment appreciated by 10%, your gain would be $25,000. If you were to take that same $250,000, apply it as a down payment on a $1,000,000 apartment building, and it appreciated by the same 10%, your gain would be $100,000, or four times greater! Probably more than any other single factor, the opportunity to apply the fundamentals of financial leverage is why real estate has always been such an attractive investment alternative for investors.

I would suggest that there is never a bad time to invest in real estate for the long term investor and that now is as good a time as any. And, as you should always do before committing your hard earned dollars to anything, we recommend that you do your homework and seek good counsel . . . preferably from a Plex Realty sales agent.

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How do you go about buying a rental property in Toronto? We have many tips and tricks on at www.plex.ca that will enhance your chances for success:

Here’s a list that that I think is a very comprehensive checklist for all buyers.

1.Assess your financial requirements and goals. Do you need a steady stream of income from your rental or do you plan on selling it for a profit in a couple of years? If it’s the latter, look for lower priced property that you can fix up as you rent it out.

2. Consider being a resident landlord by purchasing a multiunit property and living in one apartment. In many cases, the income from the other unit(s) will cover your mortgage payment, allowing you to effectively live for free. Being on-site has other advantages, including ensuring that the property is well-maintained.

3. Decide if you want to do maintenance yourself. If you have the skills, equipment and temperament to deal with upset tenants and a backed up toilet at 2 a.m., fine. If you plan on hiring a property manager, add about 5 percent of gross income into your calculations.

4. Choose the kind of property you want. Single-family houses are generally less expensive than multiplexes because of pure size, but generate less income. Apartments, on the other hand, can require more upkeep.

5. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Investment property is different from residential property in that it may require a larger down payment.

6. Start shopping: Check out classified ads in the newspaper and online. Find a real estate agent who specializes in commercial or income-generating properties. I have over ten years experience trading these kinds of properties so my clients always feel secure with that knowledge.

7. Choose property where people want to live, close to shops, parks and decent schools, and in a well-kept neighborhood. Also, check out any restrictions on renting with the home owners association, which, if there is one, can have a say in any rental agreements.

8. Consider what improvements, if any, you may be willing to make. Buying a fixer-upper will be less expensive than a property in pristine condition, but you can go broke bringing a property up to rentable condition. Before you buy, get cost estimates for all necessary fixes.

9. Have the property inspected. You may also want to order an appraisal to get a fair market value.

10. Search past records for vacancy rates over the last five to ten years as well as at present. If the building is occupied, find out how long the tenants have lived at the property. Long-term residents are valuable, but may also have been signed on at a lower rental rate.

11. Plan on spending time and money advertising for and interviewing potential renters. Have a contingency plan in place if a unit remains vacant for a few months.

12. Determine what a competitive rental rate is for your property by asking rental agents what they would expect to charge, by reviewing area apartment listings, and by personally visiting units available in the neighborhood.

13. Run the numbers. Make certain that whatever income you derive covers your costs of owning the property, plus a profit.

14. Work with an attorney to draw up and review any necessary papers relevant to the purchase.

15. Negotiate the terms of the sale. Some sellers may be willing to pick up a share of closing costs and other expenses. The eventual price will also be affected by prevailing market conditions–keep these in mind when negotiating.

P.A.

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