Category Archives: flipping real estate

Court orders developer to reveal condo-flipper info

THE CANADIAN PRESS

A Federal Court judge has approved at least one court order that will require a British Columbia developer to turn over information to tax officials about people who bought and flipped condo units before or during construction.

And several similar applications are under way, reflecting the federal government’s efforts to crack down on potential tax cheating in the presale market.

A July 25 Federal Court order requires the developers of the Residences at West, a Vancouver condo project at 1738 Manitoba St., to provide the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) with documents related to presale flips, also known as assignments, in the building, including proof of payments and correspondence between the developers and people who buy the assignments.

That order followed a June 29 application from the federal government.

In September, the Minister of National Revenue applied for court orders related to One Pacific, a Concord Pacific project, and Telus Gardens, a downtown project developed by Westbank Corp.

Both developers said they would comply with the request for documents.

“Customer information is protected by privacy laws and is not at the developer’s liberty to disclose unless ordered by the Court,” Matt Meehan, senior vice-president of planning at Concord Pacific Developments Inc., said in an e-mail.

“To protect our customers’ information and ensure any release will be compliant with the law, we have asked CRA to obtain a court order, which we will adhere to.”

In an e-mailed statement, Westbank said it would comply with the minister’s application.

The CRA is investigating potential tax cheating in the presale market.

Developers presell units in projects to obtain bank financing. Those sales agreements can be “assigned,” or flipped, to somebody else before the building is finished.

A unit may be flipped several times before a project is completed. But only the transfer of legal title from the developer to the final purchaser is registered with the B.C. land title office.

That means the CRA does not know the identities of any buyer but the final one, and has no way to check whether the others have paid applicable taxes on those transactions.

The provincial government last May announced new regulations designed to limit assigning: Sellers have to consent to the transfer of the contracts, and any resulting profit must go to the original seller. But those new rules apply to single-family homes, not condo presales.

As the CRA heads to court to obtain data on presale buyers and sellers, some observers say the provincial government could cool speculation in the presale market – and support federal tax-enforcement efforts – by changing reporting requirements.

Presale purchasers may include people who are not Canadian residents and whose profit from flipping a presale contract would be subject to a federal withholding tax, said Richard Kurland, a Vancouver immigration lawyer.

He used the example of a person from Iran who buys a presale contract for $100,000 and sells it for $125,000 a month later. Under the Income Tax Act, that profit – because it went to someone who is not a tax resident of Canada – would likely be subject to a 25 per cent withholding tax, he said.

“If nobody knows that you’re from Iran and not a tax resident, and nobody withholds the money, you just walked off with $6,000 tax-free,” he said.

If information on buyers’ identities were routinely provided, the agency could more readily check to determine if, for example, anyone was claiming the principal-residence exemption on more than one property, Mr. Kurland said.

Asked if the CRA would like the province to make changes such as requiring routine disclosure of the identities of presale buyers, agency spokesman Bradley Alvarez said in an e-mail that, “any additional information, including that obtained from other governments and third parties, enhances the CRA’s ability to detect non-compliance.”

The CRA has found some flips are reported incorrectly or not at all and “the CRA welcomes any endeavours to obtain any information that can assist the Agency in detecting non-compliance.”

Developers support the CRA’s goals, but have to take privacy regulations into account, said Anne McMullin, president of the Urban Development Institute.

“It’s not the developers not wanting to hand over information, it’s, ‘Let’s do this safely,’ because of privacy laws,” Ms. McMullin said.

The NDP, which came to power after the May election, had said while in opposition that the Liberals were not doing enough to curb speculation in B.C. real estate.

In its election campaign platform, the NDP promised to set up a multi-agency task force to fight tax fraud and money laundering in the B.C. real estate marketplace.

Finance Minister Carole James was not available for an interview.

In a statement, her office said the province is monitoring the federal government’s court action, and tax fraud is “something that is taken very seriously.”

The B.C. government is working on a comprehensive housing strategy, and any policy or legislative changes will be made public once that strategy is developed, the statement added.

 

Source: The Globe and Mail –  AND 

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Ontario to place 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers to cool GTA housing market: Sources

Ontario to place 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers to cool GTA housing market: Sources

The Canadian Press has learned that the Ontario government will place a 15-per-cent tax on non-resident foreign buyers as part of a much-anticipated package of housing measures to be unveiled today.

The measures are aimed at cooling down a red-hot real estate market in the Greater Toronto Area, where the average price of detached houses rose to $1.21 million last month, up 33.4 per cent from a year ago.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa have said the measures will target speculators, expedite more housing supply, tackle rental affordability and look at realtor practices.

Sousa says investing in real estate is not a bad thing, but he wants speculators to pay their fair share.

He says the measures will also look at how to expedite housing supply, and he has appeared receptive to Toronto Mayor John Tory’s call for a tax on vacant homes.

Sousa has also raised the issue of bidding wars, and has suggested realtor practices will be dealt with in the housing package.

The Liberals have also said that the government is developing a “substantive” rent control reform that could see rent increase caps applied to all residential buildings or units. Currently, they only apply to buildings constructed before November 1991.

Source: The Canadian Press – April 20, 2017

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Reporting the sale of a rental property

Q:  I bought a house in 2010 for $600,000 and lived in that house as my principal residence until 2013.  Then I bought and moved into another property. I rented out the first house and reported all income on my tax returns. In 2016, I sold the rental property for $900,000. When I file my tax return for 2016, how much capital gains am I supposed to declare and report to the CRA?  Is it $900K minus $600K, minus the cost of disposition; or $900K minus whatever the deemed fair market value of the property at the time when I moved out in 2013, minus the cost of disposition?      

— Wallace, Toronto


Ayana Forward is a Certified Financial Planner with Ryan Lamontagne Inc. in Ottawa: 

You are entitled to a principal residence exemption for the time you lived in the residence—between 2010 and 2013. The formula for calculating your principal residence exemption also includes an extra year so you will have four years of exemption according to the formula.

The formula is as follows:
((# of years home is principal residence + 1)/# of years home is owned) x capital gain

Your capital gain before factoring in the principal residence exemption is your proceeds of disposition ($900,000) minus your purchase price ($600,000), which works out to $300,000.

Using the above formula, your principal residence exemption is:

((3 + 1)/6)  x $300,000 = $200,000

Your capital gain after factoring in the principle residence exemption is $100,000 (as $300,000 minus $200,000 = $100,000). Because it’s a capital gain, the CRA will only charge you tax on 50% of that gain, resulting in a taxable capital gain of $50,000.

The amount of tax you pay on that $50,000 will depend on your marginal tax rate.

To report the sale and tax owed, you must complete form Form T2091(IND) Designation of a property as a Principal Residence by an Individual (Other Than a Personal Trust) and file it with your income tax return.

Source MoneySense.ca –  Ayana Forward  is a real estate investor who also holds the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation. Ayana is fee-based Financial Planner with Ryan Lamontagne Inc in Ottawa, ON.

 

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Solving the enigma of Canada’s housing bubble

A real estate sold sign hangs in front of a west-end Toronto property Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy (Graeme Roy/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

If Yogi Berra were alive today, he’d probably describe the Toronto housing market like this: Things are so good, they’re bad. And if they get any better, that’ll be worse.

In February, the Teranet-National Bank house price index showed prices in Greater Toronto rising 23 per cent over the previous year – or about 21 per cent faster than the rate of inflation. Homes in neighbouring Hamilton were up 19.7 per cent. Even in Metro Vancouver, long the hottest market but which recent policy changes have somewhat cooled, prices are up 14.3 per cent. Most of the rest of the country, however, looks relatively calm.

But not Toronto. It’s become such a sellers’ market that – another Berraism – nobody wants to sell.

In response to surging demand, the number of properties offered for sale has dropped. Potential sellers are holding off putting houses and condos on the market, because they assume the longer they wait, the higher prices will go.

“In the first two months of 2017,” writes Simon Fraser University public-policy professor Josh Gordon in a recent report on Toronto housing, “new listings dropped despite rapidly rising prices, likely because even more sellers now expect prices to climb higher. That has sent the sales-to-new-listing ratio soaring, which is a good proximate indicator for future house price increases.”

In other words, prices in Toronto appear to be feeding on themselves. Why? It’s the psychology of FOMO – the fear of missing out. Purchasers fear that, unless they buy now, they’ll miss out on ever owning a home. Potential sellers fear that, if they sell now, they’ll miss out on windfall profits from inevitable price jumps. Based on the past few years, these have become rationally held beliefs. Speculation is now wisdom.

If you’re already a homeowner, it’s wonderful. If you’re a young person, an immigrant or middle-class, it’s depressing. If you’re an economist or a banking regulator, it’s terrifying.

Toronto has long shown signs of a classic bubble, and so has Vancouver. And when housing bubbles burst, they send tsunamis rushing through the financial system, and the entire economy. Just look at what happened in the United States in 2008.

That’s the danger. And the best way to address it is to try to carefully let some air out, before the balloon pops.

A real estate sold sign hangs in front of a west-end Toronto property Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy (Graeme Roy/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

So what’s been driving prices in Toronto and Vancouver? A lot of things – some of which can’t be changed, or shouldn’t be.

There are the Bank of Canada’s record low short-term interest rates, a response to weak domestic and global economic conditions. Should Ottawa be agitating for higher borrowing costs, across the entire economy? Obviously not.

The Bank itself is also reflecting a worldwide savings glut, which has pushed global bond yields and mortgage rates to the floor, while pushing up the value of a lot of investment assets. Can Ottawa or the provinces address that? Not really.

Some of the price increases are a reflection of population growth, with the Greater Toronto Area adding nearly 400,000 people between 2011 and 2016, and Greater Vancouver growing by 150,000. Should government policy aim to stop people from moving to these successful cities? Absolutely not.

However, housing in Toronto and Vancouver has also been driven skyward by other factors. Greater Montreal, Canada’s second-largest market, has the same low interest rates, and over the last five years, it’s added twice as many people as Vancouver. But Montreal prices have not been bubbling.

The price boom in Toronto and Vancouver has been far beyond what population and income growth would suggest. For example, there tends to be a long-run relationship between average incomes and average housing prices. That’s because, as Yogi Berra might have put it, people can’t afford what they can’t afford – except when they can. In Toronto and Vancouver, the unaffordable is now the norm.

Average home prices are normally expected to be about three times median family incomes. As of last summer, that’s roughly where things were in Montreal, Ottawa and Calgary. But in Toronto, prices were more than eight times family income. Vancouver? Nearly 12.

Last year, the situation finally pushed British Columbia to act. The government introduced a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers, which appears to have had an impact. Vancouver prices actually dipped late last year, reversing steep gains earlier in 2016.

The levy, which doesn’t apply to immigrants, had a dual effect. It discouraged non-resident speculators, while also signalling to the entire market that prices might not go up forever.

(Unfortunately, B.C. recently undermined the measure, by watering down its application, and creating a price-inflating program of interest-free loans for first-time homebuyers.)

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa is now also musing about a foreign-buyers tax for Toronto. As in Vancouver, it might calm the market, and it’s hard to see how it could hurt. Non-resident investors are likely only a small part of the picture – the data is still poor – but they may be having a significant impact on prices and psychology.

Economists keep sounding alarms about a Canadian housing bubble; the latest comes from the Bank of International Settlements. A popped bubble will harm the entire country, but the entire country is not in a bubble. There’s no need for a national plan to throw cold water on buyers from Halifax to Ottawa to Edmonton. Policy has to go after the problem where it makes its home, in Southern Ontario and B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

Source: The Globe and Mail – Published Friday, Mar. 17, 2017

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Learn from a flipping pro

A former teacher turned full time investor is dishing all the secrets needed to make a go as a professional real estate investor.

“I tried different ways of investing and I found real estate was the best and quickest way to build wealth,” Quentin D’Souza, a professional investor with over a decade of experience, told Canadian Real Estate Wealth.

D’Souza left a successful career as a teacher – one that he could have easily held down until retirement age – to take a crack at investing.

“When I first left my position as a public school teacher, I had done quite well for myself in teaching,” he said. “The first month that I did my first flip after making the transition, I made the same amount of money in a month that you made the previous year teaching.”

The veteran, who has invested in over 40 homes, is sharing his tips with fellow investors at the upcoming Investor Forum in Toronto.

D’Souza’s favourite investment strategy is to buy, fix, refinance and rent.

“Some people call it the long flip. It gives you the power of a flip, where you’re getting an instant lift in value and it hypercharges your ROI,” he said. “It allows you to get a return quickly and if you do it with cash flowing properties, you get ongoing cash with very low or no money into the deal.”

He will host a session entitled “Real estate flipping: Pitfalls and lessons learned.”

In this session, D’Souza will show you the flipping methodology and process from A to Z by using real-life examples and scenarios. You will walk away with concrete strategies and practical steps, including dos and don’ts of flipping. Through this session, you will learn how to avoid making future mistakes, including:

  • Five mistakes that make house flipping a flop
  • How to flip homes and make real estate profit the right way
  • Tax consequences of flipping
  • What is shadow flipping, and how does it work?
  • Long flip versus quick flip
  • Over a decade

“The best time to invest in real estate was 15 years ago,” D’Souza said. “The second best time is today.”

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.

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth – 15 Feb 2017

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Toronto Homeowners Get $8,500 Richer Every Month, While Condo Owners Get The Shaft

Bicycle Bob/Flickr

Forget working. The real way to accumulate wealth is to buy a single-family house in Toronto, and wait.

OK, that’s bad advice. But given what’s been going in Toronto’s housing market, you can be forgiven for coming to a conclusion like that.

If you own an average single-family home in Toronto, your net worth has been growing by about $8,500 a month over the past year.

According to the latest numbers from the Toronto Real Estate Board, a single-family home in the 416 now averages $1,053,871, up 10.7 per cent from a year ago. Break down that increase by month, and you get around $8,500.

But in yet another sign of the growing gap between condos and houses, Toronto’s condo dwellers aren’t seeing anywhere near that kind of wealth growth.

The average Toronto condo is now worth $418,603, 5.6 per cent more than a year ago. That works out to a wealth gain of $1,925 a month. Condo owners are growing their wealth at less than one-quarter the pace of homeowners. In the 905 region around Toronto, condo owners are adding only $637 per month in wealth.

Condos just aren’t seeing the same rate of appreciation. While standalone homes in Toronto have grown by 34.8 per cent in price over the past three years, condo prices have gone up only 10.9 per cent in that time.

Say hello to the new face of wealth inequality in Toronto, where owning a back yard is a pass to riches, and owning a balcony is a pass to condo fees.

But so what, you may ask. This value is tied up in the home, it’s not like people can live off it.

Well, yes and no. A growing number of Canadians are taking out home equity lines of credit against the value of their house. The higher the house value, the more they can borrow, and some experts are getting worried Canadians have borrowed too much this way.

And there is also the wealth effect: People change their behaviour when they feel richer, generally buying more than they otherwise would.

This effect seems to be strong in Canada right now. It certainly helps to explain whyconsumer spending held up in Canada this year despite all the talk of recession, and why imports to Canada are strong even while exports are flailing.

So the money may be stuck in your home, but its effects on the economy are real.

Here’s a breakdown of how much wealth Toronto-area residents are accumulating per month off their real estate.

Single-family homes in Toronto (416):
$8,491 in wealth per month (avg. price $1,053,871, up 10.7 per cent in a year)

Single-family homes in GTA (905):
$6,404 in wealth per month (avg. price $732,852, up 11.6 per cent)

Condos in Toronto (416):
$1,925 in wealth per month (avg. price $418,603, up 5.6 per cent)

Condos in the GTA (905):
$637 in wealth per month (avg. price $307,295, up 2.2 per cent)

Source:  |  By  Posted: 10/06/2015 12:29 pm EDT

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HIGH NET WORTH – Why the wealthy are heavily focused on real estate

Real estate averages 27 per cent of the investments of the ultra wealthy. (Sheldon Kralstein/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Real estate averages 27 per cent of the investments of the ultra wealthy.
(Sheldon Kralstein/Getty Images)

With markets roiling in 2016 and commodities lingering in low-price limbo, the holdings of high-net-worth investors can serve as indicators of where the rest of us might consider parking our nest eggs. It turns out that a good chunk of wealthy peoples’ investments is in real estate.

“Real estate is generally accepted as an alternative investment [by high-net-worth investors],” says Simon Jochlin, portfolio analytics associate at StennerZohny Investment Partners, part of Richardson GMP in Vancouver.

“It has the characteristics of an inflation hedge: yield, leverage and cap gains. It does well in upwardly trending markets, it pays you to wait during market corrections and typically it lags equities in market declines – it buys you time to assess the market.”

While the definition of high net worth can be flexible, in Canada and the United States it is generally considered to be someone who has at least $1-million in investable assets.

Thane Stenner, StennerZohny’s director of wealth management and portfolio manager, says a good way for determining what the wealthy do with their investments is to look at reports from Tiger 21, an ultra-high-net-worth peer-to-peer network for North American investors who have a minimum of $10-million to invest and want to manage their capital carefully.

Every quarter the network surveys its members, who number about 400 members across Canada and the United States. Some of the participants are billionaires, and most have a keen eye for business, Mr. Stenner says.

Though the Tiger 21’s Asset Allocation Report for the fourth quarter of 2015 found that its members were becoming cautious about Canadian real estate, they still on average put 27 per cent of their investment into real estate, the largest portion of their allocations. The next largest were public equities (23 per cent) and private equity (22 per cent) with smaller percentages going to hedge funds, fixed income, commodities, foreign currencies, cash and miscellaneous investments.

The real estate portion declined by 1 percentage point from the previous quarter. “While this is the lowest we have seen this year, it is at the same level observed in the fourth quarter of last year, which consequently was the high of 2014,” the report said.

“Real estate is very popular and one of the reasons, in my opinion, is that investors can actually see and touch their investment,” says Darren Coleman, senior vice-president and portfolio manager at Raymond James Ltd. in Toronto.

In his experience, real-estate investors, wealthy or otherwise, seem to behave with more logic than those who focus on markets. “For example, if you own a rental condo, and the one across the hall goes on sale for 30 per cent less than you think it’s worth, you wouldn’t automatically put yours on the market and sell, too, because you think there is a problem. Indeed, you may actually buy the other condo,” he says.

“And yet when a stock drops on the market, instead of thinking of buying more, most people automatically become fearful and think they should sell.”

Real estate also allows for considerable leverage, Mr. Coleman adds: “Banks love to lend against it. Over time, this lets you own a property with a much smaller investment than if you had to buy all of it at once.”

At the same time, Mr. Jochlin says there are disadvantages to real estate that investors should beware of. Property is not particularly liquid, so if you need to sell you could be stuck for a while.

“It’s also sensitive to interest rates and risks from project development,” he says. There are administrative and maintenance costs, and an investor who buys commercial rental property will be exposed to the ups and downs of the entire economy – look at Calgary’s glut of unleased office space, for example.

“Timing is key. You do not want to chase the performance of a hot real estate market,” Mr. Jochlin says.

“Buying at highs will significantly reduce your overall return on investment. You want to buy in very depressed markets at a discount. In other words, look toward relative multiples, as you would an equity.”

As to how one goes about investing in real estate, Mr. Jochlin says it depends. The factors to consider include determining whether your investment objective is short- or longer-term, your liquidity requirements, your targeted return and whether you have any experience as a real estate manager.

“Sophisticated high-net-worth investors have a family office, and thus a specialist to manage their real estate assets,” he says.

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How the rich buy real estate

The wealthy don’t necessarily buy and sell real estate the same way ordinary investors do, says Mr. Stenner. Ordinary people buy something and hope that when they sell it they’ll get a better price. Meanwhile, they like to do things like live on the property or rent it out, whether it is residential or commercial. If it is vacant land they might build something. Not always so for high-net-worth (HNW) investors, Mr. Stenner says. While everyone who invests hopes their investment will rise, Mr. Stenner says that in real estate, HNW people tend to fall into four categories:

Developers

“The real estate developer is looking for substantial returns from individual/basket real estate projects, typically 30-50 per cent IRRs [internal rates of return],” Mr. Stenner says. Developers are highly experienced investors who often take big risks, looking at a raw, undeveloped property and envisioning what it could look like with, say, a shopping mall or office tower. This requires lots of access to capital and a strong stomach, as there can be huge delays and setbacks.

Income Investors

“These HNW investors typically look for a stable, secure yield, tax-preferred in nature and structure if possible, with modest capital growth potential,” Mr. Stenner says. They take the same businesslike approach to property as the developer-types, but they’re more conservative, focusing on cash flow and long-term profit as opposed to getting money out after a development is complete. Often they’re building a legacy that they hope to pass down through generations. Mr. Stenner says lower net worth people can emulate income investors, for example, through REITs that are based on apartment buildings.

Opportunists

These HNW investors tend to look for more short-term higher risk, higher return “asymmetric” payoffs. Income from the investment or project is secondary — they’re in it for the quick buck. Often they see real estate in contrarian terms – investments to look at when the market is low and to sell on the way up, rather than hold. After 2008, many HNW investors bought up depressed-price housing in the U.S. Sunbelt. The sizzling Vancouver and Toronto markets might be the opposite of what they’re looking for right now; commercial property in the stagnant Canadian economy that can be purchased for low-trading loonies right now might be more interesting.

Lenders

This refers to HNW investors who lend capital to developers or opportunistic investors, for a fixed return, plus as much asset coverage from the property as possible. They fund mortgages, invest in real estate financing pools or put money into companies involved in this type of investment. “Because wealthier investors tend to have more liquidity, this also creates more optionality to deploy capital in various ways, while using the real estate as collateral or protection,” Mr. Stenner says.

Being a lender is a way to diversify. In addition, money lent in this way puts the lender high up in the creditor line if something goes wrong. If things go right, it generates income as the mortgage is paid back to the HNW investors or the funds they buy into.

Source: DAVID ISRAELSON Special to The Globe and Mail Published Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016

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