Tag Archives: investors

BALTIMORE MAY SELL HOMES FOR $1 TO REVIVE NEGLECTED NEIGHBORHOODS

In order to revitalize distressed neighborhoods in Maryland, councilmembers and local community advocates are pushing for a government program that would sell thousands of vacant buildings in Baltimore for $1 each. In turn, buyers would have to promise to refurbish and live in the properties for a certain period of time.

 

Baltimore

 

According to a bill adopted by the Baltimore City Council last month, the program would revitalize “marginal neighborhoods by matching construction ability at the grass roots of Baltimore to production of affordable housing for workers’ families and neighbors.” The idea is modeled after the 1973 “Dollar House” program, which sold rundown, city-owned houses for $1 and helped rebuild ravaged neighborhoods in the city throughout the 1980s. The original program also granted buyers low-interest loans to rehabilitate the properties as long as they lived in the homes for a certain amount of time.

Now, advocates want to restore the program to curb the city’s blight epidemic and prevent more homes from becoming vacant. The program would also create construction jobs, say advocates.

On the other hand, the housing commissioner argues that the program is outdated and that there is not enough government funding to address the estimated 16,000 to 46,000 vacant homes in Baltimore, reports The Baltimore Sun. That’s triple the amount in the ’80s. Plus, about 250,000 fewer people live in the city compared to when the program first started.

Nonetheless, real estate agent and affordable housing specialist Mable Ivory applauded the idea, arguing that city governments have implemented similar programs to revitalize distressed areas in Detroit and Harlem. “It has been proven that when home ownership increased among residents in neighborhoods like Harlem and Detroit, which were once plagued by urban blight and flight, crime declined and the communities became more beautiful as owners took pride in their neighborhoods and took better care of them,” she said in an email. “Baltimore seeks to mirror the success that has been experienced in Harlem and Detroit by creating a similar, discount homeownership program.”

Whether interested in buying a vacant property in Baltimore or purchasing an affordable home elsewhere, Ivory advises potential purchasers to “do their due diligence and research” before taking on the cost of homeownership. “If possible, before bidding on the properties, homeowners should do a property inspection with licensed professionals, such as contractors, architects, and engineers, to have a clear and full understanding of all the repairs needed to make the home inhabitable; the cost of the repairs; as well as the time it will take to complete the entire renovation. The good news is that there are mortgage loan programs available like the FHA 203(k) mortgage loan program, which provide financing for the total renovation of a home.”

Selena Hill   

by April 13, 2018 Editor’s Note: This post originally published on December 27, 2017

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IN FOCUS: Investor Services The importance of property management services for investors

Any savvy investor knows that building a success property portfolio doesn’t come without its complications. From problem tenants and maintenance issues to volatile housing markets, the challenges can sometimes seem endless. As a result, utilizing the skills of an experienced property management company is crucial for investors who want their investments to run as smoothly as possible and yield the best possible return.

“A property management company takes care of a wide range of essential functions including all of the maintenance related to the property, whether it’s tapping into a network of contractors to  handle the repairs or snow clearing and grass cutting,” says Rob Kirby, President of Veranova Properties Limited. “A property management company also does all of the leg work involved with getting new tenants, including finding them, doing the background checks, and then managing them when they move in.”

Property management companies act on behalf of the landlord and shoulder the tasks that fall outside of most peoples’ comfort zone. Finding a suitable realtor, offering legal support services, and inspecting the property if it is empty are all functions that fall under the management company’s remit.

“Many investors do not realize that if you leave a property for a certain period of time and something happens, such as a flood, the insurance may not cover it because it was vacant with no one checking on it,” Kirby says. “The property management company might check the property something like every 48 hours to inspect for things like break-ins and water damage until they get a tenant, which can take a bit of time if you’ve just bought a property.”

Property management companies play an important role in helping investors safeguard and maintain the value of their properties. “In the current economic climate, and with interest rates rising, it is harder to find real estate and harder to qualify for borrowing, and that makes it even more crucial for investors to make sure they maintain their asset’s value,” Kirby says. “A good management company takes a preventative approach to maintenance, which means issues are dealt with before they become big, costly problems. It’s an approach that saves the investor both time and money.”

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth – Mar 20, 2018

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Surprising facts every renter should remember

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Did you know that three of the leading causes of financial losses for renters are fire, crime, and liability suits? Lucky for you, tenant insurance can help you keep your bank account in tact — and get things back to normal as quickly as possible.

Let’s take a moment to consider the facts:

Fire

With tenant insurance, you can rest easy knowing that a fire in your apartment won’t leave you out in the cold. Not only could your policy cover the belongings you lost in the fire, but it could cover other unexpected expenses like a roof over your head and food in your belly while you wait to get back into your home.

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Fast Facts for Renters: Fire

Fire doesn’t care whether you rent or own your space. Thankfully, tenant insurance covers all the things that make your rental a home.

  • Nearly one quarter of all residential fires in Canada happen in apartments
  • The average cost of damages in an apartment fire is over $65,000
  • The most recent study of fire losses in Canada found that in 2007 alone, fires in apartments led to more than $185 million in damages
  • That same year, Ontario had more apartment fires than any other province: a total of 1,650 fires that led to more than $55 million in damages
  • In British Columbia, the average cost of damage caused by one apartment fire is over $140,000 — that’s more expensive than in any other province

Source: “Fire Losses in Canada (Year 2007 and Selected Years).” Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners.

Crime

Coming home to find that a stranger has been there — and worse, that they’ve stolen your TV and smashed your glass coffee table — is something no one should ever have to experience. But if something like this happens to you, know that renter’s insurance has your back — your insurer could pick up the tab for your stolen or damaged belongings.

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Fast Facts for Renters: Crime

Burglars don’t discriminate — and rental properties aren’t exempt from break-ins. Do your best to deter those pesky thieves, but know that tenant insurance has your back when you need it most.

  • In Canada, renters experience the greatest number of break-ins per household, with a whopping 125,000 cases reported in 2014
  • That same year, there were 248,000 reported cases of theft of personal property from rental homes
  • Cases of vandalism are decreasing year after year, but there were still 143,00.0 cases of vandalism to rental properties reported in 2014

Source: “Household victimization incidents reported by Canadians, by type of offence and selected household, dwelling and neighbourhood characteristics, 2014.” Statistics Canada.

Liability

Of all the types of coverage in your tenant insurance policy, liability coverage could be the most important when it comes to protecting your finances. This is the coverage you need when, for example, a court decides you’re legally required to pay for your friend’s Ray Bans and medical bills after you break his nose and glasses at one of your weekly baseball games. Plus, it can cover any legal fees you encounter in the process. Accidents happen, and battles over money are never pretty. Talk to your broker to make sure you’re covered.

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Fast Facts for Renters: Liability

In the event of a liability lawsuit, tenant insurance can protect your savings — and your credit rating.

  • A lawsuit can virtually bankrupt you if you’re held responsible for covering expenses that result from an injury or damage you caused to someone’s belongings — say goodbye to your savings and your credit rating
  • If you’re taken to court for a liability issue and need to pay a lawyer, you could be in the hole for thousands of dollars in legal fees
  • When your toilet backs up and the questionable puddles in your bathroom start to trickle into the apartment downstairs, you’ll have to pay for the damage
  • Don’t forget your landlord: if she claims that you ruined part of your rental unit, get ready to forfeit your damage deposit plus additional repair costs

You have options

Get protected before the unexpected happens. If you’re ready to get set up with your very own tenant insurance policy, connect with a licensed broker to learn about your options.

Source: Economical.com – Stephanie Fereiro  |  Published on: December 12, 2016  

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TORONTO CONDO MAINTENANCE FEE STUDY 2017

Toronto Condo Maintenance Fee Study 2017

 

How much are you paying each month in condo maintenance fees and what do those fees truly pay for? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you might want to read this study.

Maintenance fees (MF) are a constant topic in condo real estate, both during your search process and once you own a home. Back in 2015, we released a study that revealed the truths and myths behind maintenance fees in Toronto condos. But two years is a long time, especially in today’s real estate climate, so we’ve come back with our Maintenance Fee Report 2.0.

 

But first, a bit of maintenance fee 101

 

Every homeowner will pay maintenance fees in one form or another. Whether you have a freehold house or a condo apartment, a homeowner’s maintenance fees cover a wide range of home upkeep costs from lawn care to roof repair.

For a freehold house, the everyday upkeep costs will vary from year to year, depending on the condition of the house and whether there’s a need for sudden repairs. Unexpected costs are the most common worry with owning a freehold house. When a pipe bursts or the furnace quits, you can be hit with a sizable bill.

For condos, the maintenance fees tend to follow the rate of inflation, acting as a fund for the on-going upkeep of your unit and building in a range of ways. That fund, if managed well, can keep unexpected costs away for good.

That’s the key benefit of the structure of condo maintenance fees over freehold: the potential to remove sudden, unexpected costs.

It’s not surprising that there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding condo maintenance fees. In this report, we’ve picked the most common concerns that our Condo Pros hear from clients and broken them down into true or false answers.

 

1. Maintenance fees have no legal increase limit

 

TECHNICALLY TRUE

 

There is no legal regulation regarding the amount that a condo building’s maintenance fees can be increased annually. There is a general rule that maintenance fees increase to adjust with inflation and/or the needs of the building. Condo corporations are non-profit entities made up of unit owners within the building, not an outside group. The cost of operation adjusts for the true cost of maintaining the building. The condo board members who may vote to raise maintenance fees are in the same boat as all other owners in the building.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Lower maintenance fees mean lower monthly costs

 

FALSE

 

Maintenance fees cover different elements from building to building. Some buildings include the cost of water, heat, hydro, insurance, and other elements in the maintenance fees. Others may not. If those elements are not included in the maintenance fees, you will have to pay them separately. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what your maintenance fees cover. A low maintenance fee does not necessarily mean low monthly costs.

The maintenance fee that includes water, heat, hydro, and A/C is obviously more expensive, but these elements must be paid regardless. If you’re paying for these elements separately, the total monthly costs could be much higher than if they were included in the maintenance fees.

 

3. Smaller boutique buildings are less expensive than high-rise towers

 

FALSE

 

Condo building maintenance fees depend on a lot of factors. At the top of the list is the building’s footprint and the number of units. Between two buildings of a similar footprint, it doesn’t matter if the buildings are five-storeys or forty. It will cost the same amount to maintain and repair the roof. That cost is dispersed across the units. The more units, the broader the dispersal; and the lower the fee for each individual unit.

Building amenities are another key contributor with a range of factors. But it still has to do with the number of units. A concierge service shared between ten boutique units will be more expensive per unit compared to a concierge shared between 400 units.

Between two buildings of a similar footprint and similar amenities, the one with more units will tend to have lower maintenance fees. However, the building with more units will have a higher opportunity for wear and tear of common elements, which might in the long run cost more to maintain.

 

4. Maintenance fees always spike within 3-5 years for new buildings

 

TRUE AND FALSE

 

Every building is managed differently. Builders often market new buildings with low maintenance fees to make them more appealing to buyers. Once the condo board takes over, it is common to see fees undergo slight increases as the board fills out the reserve fund. After an initial increase, however, fees should stabilize. In the case of well managed properties, maintenance fees even come down. For instance:

 

Toronto condos maintenance fee decreases

5. Low maintenance fees are a sign of value

 

FALSE

 

Maintenance fees should be priced in accordance with the true cost of operating and maintaining the condo building. If that true cost is low, and the maintenance fee is low, then great. But if maintenance fees are low for the sake of attracting buyers, and are not adjusted to the true costs, then you could run the risk of a mismanaged reserve fund.

A better sign of value is smart building management. The maintenance fees fill the reserve fund and are used for big repairs, upgrades, etc. If a building is poorly managed, the reserve fund may deplete, at which point the condo board will have to issue “special assessments.”

During the condo search process, however, you may still want to look for buildings with low maintenance fees as a means of maximizing your purchasing power. With a lower all-in monthly maintenance fee, you can allocate more of your monthly budget towards a mortgage payment, thereby increasing the size of the mortgage you can carry. Just be mindful of the building’s true operating costs.

 

6. Cost of Parking Spot and Locker are included in maintenance fee

 

FALSE

 

Parking spots and lockers are often separately titled properties, which means they have their own maintenance fee attached to them. If your parking spot or locker is separately titled, then you have to pay a separate fee on top of your condo maintenance fee.

 

Source: via Condos.ca as of Jan 4, 2018. All data is for 2017 unless otherwise noted.
Disclaimer:
Condos.ca has worked diligently to ensure the accuracy of this information and our calculations including the removal of any small samples and data anomalies that could skew results. However, we cannot guarantee the information with 100% certainty due to factors including but not limited to potential incorrect information entered by listing brokerages or agents on MLS. This information and the views and opinions expressed here are intended for educational purposes only. Condos.ca accepts no liability for the content of this study.
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Capital gains explained

Source: MoneySense.ca – by   

 

Capital gains explained

How it’s taxed and how to keep more for yourself

What is it?

You have a capital gain when you sell, or are considered to have sold, what the Canada Revenue Agency deems “capital property” (including securities in the form of shares and stocks as well as real estate) for more than you paid for it (the adjusted cost base) less any legitimate expenses associated with its sale.

How is it taxed?

Contrary to popular belief, capital gains are not taxed at your marginal tax rate. Only half (50%) of the capital gain on any given sale is taxed all at your marginal tax rate (which varies by province). On a capital gain of $50,000 for instance, only half of that, or $25,000, would be taxable. For a Canadian in a 33% tax bracket for example, a $25,000 taxable capital gain would result in $8,250 taxes owing. The remaining $41,750 is the investors’ to keep.

The CRA offers step-by-step instructions on how to calculate capital gains.

How to keep more of it for yourself

There are several ways to legally reduce, and in some cases avoid, capital gains tax. Some of the more common exceptions are detailed here:

  • Capital gains can be offset with capital losses from other investments. In the case you have no taxable capital gains however, a capital loss cannot be claimed against regular income except for some small business corporations.
  • The sale of your principal residence is not subject to capital gains tax. For more information on capital gains as it relates to income properties, vacation homes and other types of real estate, read “Can you avoid capital gains tax?
  • A donation of securities to a registered charity or private foundation does not trigger a capital gain.
  • If you sell an asset for a capital gain but do not expect to receive the money right away, you may be able to claim a reserve or defer the capital gain until a later time.

If you are a farmer or a newcomer to Canada, they are special capital gains rules for you. The specifics can be found at the CRA website.

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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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Still thinking of home ownership as an investment? Here’s proof you’re wrong

 

Source: The Globe and Mail

Take some advice from rookie home owner Desirae Odjick about houses as an investment.

As a personal finance blogger, she ran the numbers on the cost of owning a home and concluded that breaking even would be a good outcome when it comes time, many years down the road, to sell. “A house is not a long-term investment,” she said in an interview. “It’s not a miracle financial product. It’s where you live.”

The idea that owning a house is an investment is so ingrained that a recent survey found one-third of homeowners expect rising prices to provide for them in retirement. But rising prices do not necessarily mean houses are a great investment.

Ms. Odjick lives in a suburb of Ottawa, where the real estate market’s recent strength still leaves it way behind price gains seen in the Toronto and Vancouver areas. But her point is relevant to all markets where prices aren’t soaring, and probably to hot markets as well if you’re just now buying a first home and understand that continuous massive price gains are unlikely.

In terms of home upkeep costs, Ms. Odjick and her partner have had an easy time of it since they bought in the spring. But they’ve still had expenses that surprised them. “You can use all the calculators you want and you can plan as much as you want, but until you’re in it you really don’t know what the costs are going to be.”

One example is the $3,000 spent at IKEA to equip the house with furnishings as mundane as bathmats. Another was the cost of term life insurance, which, incidentally, is a smart purchase. Term life answers the question of how the mortgage gets paid if one partner in a home-owning couple dies.

Estimates of the cost of upkeep and maintenance on a home range between 1 and 3 per cent of the market value. Her house cost $425,000, which means that upkeep costs conservatively estimated at 1 per cent would come out to an average of $4,250 per year and a total $106,250 over 25 years. Ms. Odjick is too recent an owner to have much sense of these costs, but the housing inspector she used before buying warned her to expect to need a new roof in two or three years.

She and her partner don’t have grandiose plans to fix their place up right now, but she did mention that they are looking at having children. There will almost certainly be expenses associated with getting the baby’s room ready.

In her own analysis of housing costs, Ms. Odjick estimated the cost of property taxes at 1 per cent of a home’s value. That’s another $4,250 per year. This cost would add up to $106,250 over 25 years, and that’s without annual increases factored in.

The biggest cost homeowners face is mortgage payments. Ms. Odjick and her partner made a down payment of 10 per cent on their home and chose a two-year fixed-rate mortgage at 2.71 per cent. Assuming rates stay level and no prepayments are made, this would theoretically work out to a total of $542,122 in principal and interest over the 25-year amortization period.

But rates have crept higher since mid-summer and could increase further in the months ahead. In a post on home ownership on her Half Banked blog, Ms. Odjick said the idea of rates staying level “is bananas and will not happen.”

Let’s add up the costs of home ownership as likely to be experienced by Ms. Odjick over 25 years. There’s the $42,500 she and her partner put down to buy the house, the $106,250 cost for each of property taxes and upkeep/maintenance and $542,122 in mortgage principal and interest. Total: $797,122.

Now, let’s imagine the $425,000 house appreciates at 2.5 per cent annually for 25 years. That’s in line with reasonable expectations for inflation. The future price in this case would be $787,926, which means Ms. Odjick and her partner would have paid a bit more in costs than they get for selling their house in the end.

Houses can be sold tax-free if they’re a principal residence, so there is something to the house-as-an-investment argument. But the numbers comparing what you put in and what you take out over the long term don’t exactly scream “financial home run.”

Ms. Odjick’s fine with that, because buying her home was a lifestyle decision. “If we’ve lived here for 25 years, even if it does end up costing money, then it will have been a great place to live.”

Are you a Canadian family that has made a financial decision to remain lifelong renters? If you would like to share your story, please send us an email

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