Category Archives: investors

Pay less tax on rental properties

Q: I have five rental properties in my name. Should I switch them to a numbered company?

–Travis

A: Hi, Travis. Incorporating a holding company to own rental properties has some advantages and disadvantages depending on the objectives you have in mind in both the short and long term. However, you should first speak with a tax accountant about any tax ramifications both personally and corporately to ensure as perfect an integration of the two systems as possible. Then speak with a legal advisor to draft up the appropriate corporate structure before making the transfer.

From a tax point of view, there are two things to consider. While the transfer of real property held personally should qualify for a Section 85 election to rollover the properties at their cost base, you will want to be sure the CRA will not consider your properties to be held as “inventory”; that is property, held primarily for resale rather than rental. If so, they will not qualify for a tax-free rollover or capital gains treatment. Therefore, the transfer could trigger unexpected tax consequences. Your history of receiving rental income from the property will help you avoid this.

Second, you’ll also want to understand the difference in taxation rates both inside and outside of the corporation. Recent tax changes may have made it less desirable to own passive investments inside a corporation, depending on where you live in Canada.

Some advantages of incorporation include limited liability and creditor protection. However, if you are holding mortgages, most financial institutions will still require personal guarantees. Corporate directors and officers can also be held liable on default, so proper insurance protections for these instances is critical.

From a retirement planning point of view, incorporation may provide more flexibility as to when income is taken as dividends. It could help you to avoid personal taxes or spikes into the next tax bracket, and benefit from the recovery of refundable taxes in the corporation.

Consider also that there will be costs for setting up and annual reporting of the holding company. Transferring the properties from the taxpayer to a holding company may have tax consequences, other than income taxes. If your province has a land transfer tax (or equivalent), you may have to pay the land transfer tax when the properties are transferred.

The bottom line is this: you’ll want to be thoughtful about the transfer, and you’ll want to match your investment objectives and desired tax outcomes as closely as possible.

Source – MoneySense.ca – Evelyn Jacks is a tax expert, author, and founder and of Knowledge Bureau in Winnipeg

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Five ways to maximize your investment property

Wasim Elafech of Century 21 Bravo Realty in Calgary is among the banner brokerage’s top sales agents in the world. Century 21 operates in 78 countries with over 100,000 agents, and Elafech managed to become their number one unit producer in 2015 and number three in Canada last year, so he knows a thing or two about getting the best bang for your buck out of a rental property. He shared some of those tips with us.

1. Maintain the property
Elafech says some he’s sold properties to clients who in turn rented them out, but without putting in the necessary work. “The work you do doesn’t have to be expensive, but it has to be brand new,” he said. “It will be liveable but it won’t look good. The floors will be cracked or peeling, and when people walk in they get the impression it’s a rundown property, but they won’t if you do the work. Make sure all the fixtures work, that they’re not broken; make sure door handles are loose or need to be replaced. If the place is well-maintained, 100% of the time you’ll get more money for your rental.”

Elafech added that properties are often reflections of the people who live in them.

“A really good tenant won’t look for a rundown place, first of all, so they wouldn’t take that place. You’ll attract the type of people your property looks like. People who accept living (in shabby properties) aren’t the best tenants.”

2. Bungalows yield higher rents
Bungalows are excellent rental properties because the top and bottom floor can be rented out as separate units. “One guy I know pretty much made his whole house different rooms with a common living room, couch and TV.”

Typically, however, the upper and lower floors of a bungalow can be rented as separate units. “Bungalows are the easiest houses to sell in certain areas here because you can rent the upper and lower levels, if it’s properly treated. In an area where you’re renting a whole house to a person, you’d get, say, $1,600 a month, but if you’re renting the floors separately, you can get maybe $2,200 a month. It’s about volume.”

3. Screen your tenants
Screening tenants adequately ensures your rental investment doesn’t become a nightmare.  “I see it a lot,” said Elafech. “They don’t want to lose a month on the mortgage payment, so if it’s been sitting for a couple of weeks they’ll rush into a deal and rent it to whoever comes next, and sure enough the people either do a midnight run or don’t pay. I’m going through that now with my client.”

Elafech recommends waiting it out, even if that means the property sits empty for a month or two. Ask tenants for references and their job history. “If the tenant is reluctant, there’s usually a reason. Keep a look out for red flags.”

He also suggested hiring a rental management company if an apartment building, rather than two or three properties, needs to be maintained. While pricey, they’re well worth it – and they screen tenants.

Sometimes, though, less is more.

“I have a client that’s renting out a house with a garage for $1,000 month that usually goes for $1,800, because he has a good tenant. He cuts the grass and maintains the property. He does everything for the landlord, so that peace of mind is worth more than the money he’d get from renting the parking pad and garage in the back.

4. Rent the garage and parking spot separately
Elafech mentioned a rental property he’s currently showing. “The owner is going to park his trailer on the parking pad, rent out the garage and both floors of the bungalow separately – rental income from upstairs, downstairs and the garage.”

5. Location, location, location
Location is everything in real estate, so Elafech recommends investing in a property that’s surrounded by prime amenities like transit and schools.

“In Calgary, we have LRTs and buses. Even having shopping centres and schools nearby is important. A client had a condo with an LRT across the street, and he got more for it than a similar place he owns that had a similar layout but was a bit bigger, because it was six or eight blocks away and farther from the LRT. In Calgary, when it’s minus-40 outside, you’re not walking, or waiting for a bus when it’s cold. People pay for convenience.”

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth – Neil Sharma

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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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Syndicated mortgage a high-risk investment bet – analyst

Syndicated mortgage a high-risk investment bet – analyst

The emerging trend of syndicated mortgages for Canadian condominium units might appear to be convenient for would-be investors, but Maclean’s senior business and finance writer Chris Sorensen argued that the arrangement is a high-risk choice that might even upend the market in the long run.

A syndicated mortgage involves hundreds of individuals lending money—in some cases even as little as $25,000—to a developer “in exchange for a fixed annual interest rate of between eight and 12 per cent over a term of two to five years.”

The popularity of the set-up is such that in Ontario, it has garnered nearly $4 billion in sales in 2014 alone, the latest year with available numbers.

However, Sorensen noted that much of the money in a syndicated mortgage goes to expenses for the development and pre-sale of enough units to convince banks to provide financing. The analyst said that this presents the risk of buyers not getting their funds back should the deal go south.

“Even in a hot market like Canada’s, there are no guarantees a given condo project will get off the ground, regardless of how quickly buyers snap up the units,” Sorensen wrote in an April 4 piece published on the Maclean’s website.

“If something goes wrong with a project, syndicated mortgage investors are subordinate to banks and other primary lenders, meaning they’re further back in line for repayment—assuming there’s enough money left over after other lenders have received their share,” he added.

The analyst cited the observations of Toronto-based mortgage broker John Bargis in proving why the present wave of syndicated mortgages isn’t sustainable in the long run.

“I’ve been exposed to multi-million-dollar projects where things have gone bad really fast. It’s not because it’s not a viable project, but there’s just so many moving parts. You’ve got construction managers, contractors, builders—so many things that can go wrong from an investment perspective or a sales perspective,” Sorensen quoted Bargis as saying.

Despite the dour prospects, Sorensen acknowledged that syndicated mortgages would remain popular among enterprising individuals for the foreseeable future.

“The myriad risks explain why syndicated mortgages pay interest rates approaching double digits at a time when a five-year Guaranteed Investment Certificate, or GIC—a truly ‘safe’ investment—offers only 1.5 per cent annually for a five-year term,” he said.

Source: MortgageBrokerNews.ca by Ephraim Vecina | 13 Apr 2016
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Are syndicated mortgages sufficiently regulated?

With syndicated mortgages back in the news, one veteran suggests further regulatory restrictions on these investments may be needed.

“Here is simple proposal for FSCO: put a moratorium on all syndications over $2 Million,” Ron Butler, a broker with Butler Mortgage, wrote in the comments section of MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “Just freeze this multi-million dollar sales activity today and wait until further study is finished and a total redesign of the rules around large syndication are completed.

“I think it is important for the public good and it will also protect our whole industry.”

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) revealed sales of syndicated mortgages for condo units in the province reached nearly $4 billion in 2014, the latest year with available numbers.

Their growing popularity has one analyst questioning the safety of these investments.

“If something goes wrong with a project, syndicated mortgage investors are subordinate to banks and other primary lenders, meaning they’re further back in line for repayment—assuming there’s enough money left over after other lenders have received their share,” senior business and finance writer Chris Sorensen wrote in MacLeans earlier this week.

And while some question whether or not syndicated mortgages are sufficiently regulated, one industry veteran who specializes in them argues they are.

“Private mortgages, syndicated or not, and rules governing disclosure, suitability, etc. are, in my opinion, all adequately addressed in Ontario via the Mortgage Brokerages, Lenders, and Administrators Act and subsequent Regulations. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) ensures brokerages follow these rules,” Glen May-Anderson, president of FDS Broker Services, wrote in an email to MortgageBrokerNews.ca earlier this year.

May-Anderson also pointed to the fact that FSCO has recently addressed the regulation of syndicated investments.

“Improvements to the governance of traditional private mortgages and syndicates for development and construction mortgages were implemented by FSCO last year, with the introduction of the revised Investor/Lender Disclosure Statement for Brokered Transactions (Form 1) and the new Addendum for Construction and Development Loans (Form 1.1),” May-Anderson wrote.

Source: MortgageBroker.ca Justin da Rosa | 07 Apr 2016

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The red-hot market that has a property type for every investor

Forget the GTA: This one booming market could be the next big thing, according to one veteran.

It’s being billed as Silicon Valley of the North and for good reason.  Due to many factors, including an influx of technology companies, Waterloo is one housing market that is ripe for the investor picking, according to Karl Innanen, managing director at Colliers International.

“Waterloo has become recognized as a diverse market – it has universities, it’s home to some of the largest insurance companies, its known for its technology and manufacturing sectors,” Innanen told Canadian Real Estate Wealth. “It’s not a one-horse town so it allows for great diversity in terms of investment options.”

It’s become a hot and, indeed, safe market for investors because of the large transactions and liquidity that has poured in over the past few years, according to Innanen.

The Waterloo Region is also unique in that it comprises three different cities that each offer their own investment options.

Waterloo offers opportunities for office investment; Cambridge is known for its industrial offersings; and Kitchener is home to many urban office opportunities.

And there are plenty of residential opportunities throughout the region for investors as well.

“Residential is front-and-centre in the Waterloo Region; there are 3,200 new homes built every year … and the demand is there (for rentals),” Innanen said. “There are a lot of condos being built; 2011 was the first time there were more apartments built than there were single-family homes.”

Innanen argues the Waterloo region is a better option for investors than the GTA.

“A lot of people are pushed out of the GTA because of product availability; Waterloo also offers higher returns (than the GTA),” he said. “You will get a 1% higher cap rate in the Waterloo region than the GTA for apartments. And apartments offer the lowest cap rates in the region.”

Source; Canadian Real Estate Wealth – by Justin da Rosa 26 Feb 2016

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Why Real Estate Is One of the Best Ways to Make Money

Why real estate is one of the best ways to make money

After a decade of saving and investing, I think real estate is one of the best ways to make money and build wealth.  Here is why.

There are many ways to turn a profit with real estate.

When you buy a stock, the only way you can make money is if the stock appreciates in value, and you sell it at the good time. With real estate you can make money in many ways, I can name those 12 off the top of my head, and there are many more.

  • Rental income. That one is the main source of profit investors are going for when buying a rental, and doesn’t need an explanation.
  • Buying low. You turn an instant profit if you manage to buy a property for under market value. Think foreclosures, quick sales, and awesome negotiation skills.
  • Selling high. You can make extra money if you stage the property to attract buyers over market value. With stocks, you always buy and sell at market value. With real estate, you can try to beat the market.
  • Increasing equity. If you take a mortgage to finance a rental, you are increasing your equity with every mortgage payment. I put down 25% on my last rental and with mortgage repayments am around 33% equity at the moment, those 8% of the property value were paid by rents and are increasing my net worth every month.
  • Leverage increases returns. If you put 20% down on a property, you will still receive rental income based on 100% of the property value, making it a great return for your 20%. Say your property is worth $100,000 and you charge $750 in rent with $500 in mortgage, taxes and fees. You have a $250 profit on $20,000 down. That is $3,000 a year, or a cool 15% return on your deposit. Good luck trying to get an almost guaranteed 15% on stocks.
  • Leverage makes you profit on the full selling price. If that same $100,000 property you bought with $20,000 down sells for $120,000 a few years later, you get your $20,000 plus principal payments back, and a $20,000 profit. It is only a 20% profit over the full value of the property, but thanks to your leverage, you are making a profit of 100%, minus principal payments to the $80,000 mortgage. The bigger the leverage, the greater the return.
  • Renting smaller units. I rent three rooms by the room, to three tenants. I can charge more than if one family was renting the whole place. You can divide your family house into a duplex or a triplex and increase the rent.
  • Renting to businesses. Businesses are a different type of tenure and rents are generally higher. They are also safer if you choose a well known business to rent to.
  • Tax benefits on interest. Depending on your country of residence, you can often deduce the mortgage interest from the rental income, and create a tax free profit.
  • Tax benefits on improvements. You can also deduce the cost of the improvements from the rental income, while the added value to the property is yours to keep.
  • Profit from a lump sum on a refinance. So you bought your $100,000 place, and put $10,000 worth of improvements, that the tenants paid back with rents. The property is now worth $125,000 because your contractor did a great job, you can refinance to get the $25,000 cash and put 25% down on your next $100,000 rental!
  • Profit from extra cash flow on a refinance. If you are able to refinance the property to lower your mortgage bill payments while the rent stays the same, you are generating more cash flow every month. You can build a cushion for maintenance, save up for a deposit on a new rental, or have more passive income to live off.

 

Why real estate is one of the best ways to make money

There is less risk in real estate leverage than in stock leverage

Stocks are volatile. Penny stocks and currencies even more so. Some trading companies will allow you to trade on leverage. That means if you buy 1,000,000 shares of a penny stock valued at $0.05, the trading company will not require that you fund your account with the full $50,000, it will let you buy the shares with only $5,000, BUT if the share goes down to $0.045, which it almost certainly will, you will get a margin call and your whole account balance will be wiped out.

With real estate, you can put the same $5,000 as a deposit on a $50,000 or even a $100,000 house, and rent it. If you have a renter, you don’t really care about the ups and downs of the market, as you are able to meet your monthly repayments. If the property sits empty for a while, all you have to do to keep it is pay the mortgage yourself. It isn’t fun, but it is much better than seeing your whole trading account annihilated by a margin call.

Real estate is what you do with it

I bought my first rental cash when I was 22, let the property rot and did not invest a dime in repairs in 10 years. The result? A low rent and quite a bad tenant. He was there before I bought the place and I wanted to have him out before renovating, but he beat me to the game, stayed for 10 years, died, I had to evict his widow, and managed to sell the place a few months later for double the money.

My last rental is a different story. I bought a brand new property, furnished it nicely, set up rental prices that are not outrageous but will drive away the worst tenants, and positions the place as an upscale flatshare for young professionals, instead of a bottom range share for first year students.

What you plan on doing with the property should determine the area you buy in, the type of unit you buy, the state of the property, and all details about said property. If you are not handy and hate to renovate, buy a new place or somewhere you can afford to hire out the renovation without tanking your operation. If you want to rent to families only, buy a nice family home in a good school district. For young professionals, find an affordable studio or 1 bed that is an easy commute from a dynamic zone of employment.

The same thing applies to managing the place yourself or not. Property managers will happily do the job for a fee, and if you are busy, that fee will be worth your time and then some. It will however decrease your profit. Choose to do it yourself, and you will have all sorts of headaches, and a source of income you can no longer call passive.

How you profit from real estate depends on YOU. When you buy a stock, you never know, for as much as you study the company, if its CEO isn’t about to leave and the next one will run the company to the ground, if there is a merger with a less profitable company in the pipeline, or if an earthquake will destroy the production plant in China. Your real estate investment will be a result of your own efforts to renovate a place, promote it, screen a proper tenant, and keep it up over the years. And real estate is tangible. When all the markets tank, you are trying to hold to your losing positions in hopes they will go up in a few months, or hurrying to sell at a loss before it gets worse. Real estate will bring you a monthly rent to cover the mortgage, even if you have negative equity. And in periods of economic turmoil, when people lose their houses to foreclosure or first time buyers are denied mortgages by the banks, you will have more potential renters than ever. When things go back to normal, home prices will increase and you can make a nice exit, sit it out until the next crisis, and go back in the game to buy low. Don’t want to time the market? Just buy. Now is as good a time as any, for all the reasons mentioned above.

Source: Huffington Post – Pauline Paquin; 02/16/2016 04:42 pm

 

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