#110, 9780 Cambie Road, Richmond, V6X 1K4 Ph. 604-618-2128 Em. teresa@pointbinvestment.ca

Top 5 Ways to Find Real Estate Deals

House for SaleNo matter how wealthy people are, everyone loves to get a great deal. It makes us feel good when we buy something on sale as when we buy things at substantial discounts like 50% -70% off, it’s natural for us to get excited about the money that we saved. We go as far posting our finds on social media, and we tell our colleagues, our friends, our family, and basically anyone who will listen to us.

When it comes to real estate investments, not only is it important to find great deals, it’s actually essential if you want to make more money than the average investor. I have clients who, before meeting me, have bought property at market prices who thought that they had bought a good deal. When they looked at the numbers at the end of the month, however, they found that they were actually in negative cash flow and having to put their own money into their investment property and essentially paying their tenants to live there. When this happens each month, it’s no longer called an “investment property”. It’s now called a LIABILITY.

I have been finding great investment deals for myself, and for my clients for a number of years and have compiled a list of the top 5 things to do to find great deals:

  1. Drive by homes in the area you want to purchase and try to find “For Sale By Owner” signs.
  2. Find property foreclosures at the Courthouse. You must have cash in order to bid for these properties.
  3. Look in the local newspapers, Craigslist and Kijiji for properties posted by home owners. You may find a desperate seller which can make negotiating price and terms of the sale easier for you.
  4. Deliver mail to homes in an area you want to purchase with a professional letter asking if the owner would like to sell.
  5. It’s important to find a realtor who knows where to buy and how to analyze properties as investments so you know you are buying investments and not liabilities.

Some people prefer to find deals on their own and some with the help of a realtor. If you have good investment real estate knowledge and have successfully purchased investment property before, then by all means, find deals on your own. However, if you are lacking knowledge or have never bought investment property before, then it is best to consult an investment realtor to avoid costly mistakes.

By: Teresa Leung

INVESTOR | REALTOR® | AUTHOR | SPEAKER

Is 4 the New 13?

Is-4-the-New-13--300x100I’m in the market to purchase a three-bedroom townhouse in Richmond and have been searching for a few weeks.  For those of you who don’t know the Richmond, it’s a suburb in the Greater Vancouver area 30 minutes south of Downtown Vancouver where the Vancouver International Airport is located.  The total population of Richmond is 189,000, and of that, 91,000 are of Chinese descent, which means that almost 50% of Richmond is Chinese! (Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey)

During my search, I viewed various townhomes from brand new to 8 years old.  I came across a unit about a 5 minute drive from my daughter’s school. This unit was brand new, just over 1300 sq. foot, and the 2014 assessed value is $569,000.  The list price was reduced from $608,000 to $549,800 and it’s been on the market for 638 days, which is quite unusual.

I decided to view the home just to see why nobody wanted to purchase at such a reasonable price, since the average price for similar new units in the area is currently listed and sold for $570,000.  I then realized why a brand new unit close to transit, schools, and an outdoor mall was still available for almost 2 years.

It’s because it’s the dreaded Unit #4!  According to Chinese numerology; the number four rhymes with the Chinese words ‘to die and death’.  My parents have been avoiding the number 4 all their lives and have taught me and my siblings that four is bad, wrong, and don’t ever buy anything with a 4.  Some of my traditional Chinese friends even go as far as avoiding check-out #4 at grocery stores!

Just like the number thirteen in most American cities where there is no 13th floor, Vancouver condos and hotels don’t have a fourth floor. Its bad luck; 4 is the new 13 in Vancouver.

When I posted this situation on Facebook, there were many of my friends who disagreed with me.  My Vietnamese friend said, “ I’ll buy it and sell it to non-Asian people in the future.  Actually it’s only the Chinese that believe its bad luck. Other Asian nationalities don’t believe that. Vietnamese, Japanese, Indo-Asian, and Filipino’s are oblivious to the #4 as far as I know.”  My Caucasian friend joked, “4 scare the heck out of me too. Noooo…it’s the number 4!!!! It’s twice as big as 2!” My Realtor friend confirmed my point with a true story of his own experience; “I once owned a townhouse on No. 4 Road. Every Chinese family that came through said they liked it except for the fact that it was on No. 4 Road. It sat on the market for a while and eventually sold to an Indian family.”

After over 45 comments, I’m still not changing my position.  After all, I am Chinese AND a Real Estate Investor who buys properties based on exit strategy, future growth, and market potential and I don’t see unit #4 being desirable in any of these areas in Richmond.  Also, I would never hear the end of it from my parent’s and relatives.  As I would say to Howie Mandell; NO DEAL!

Readers, would YOU buy Unit #4 knowing you may get bad luck?

The ONE THING the Richest People in the World Do

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I was invited to a Financial Planning Firm’s project party a few months ago held at the Vancouver Fairmont Hotel. The speaker that evening asked the audience, “What’s the ONE THING the Richest People in the World have in common?” I thought to myself, would it be intelligence? A positive attitude? Driven? Hard-working? Perhaps being sociable, relatable or charismatic? There were many success personality traits going through my mind including, “they add value to people’s lives.” Surprisingly, I was wrong; The one thing the richest people in the world have in common has nothing to do with their personality.

According to Bloomberg Billionaires, 17 of the Top 20 Billionaires in the World use real estate as the vehicle to grow their wealth. Is that why we always hear of rags to riches stories of people making it big in real estate and quitting their full-time jobs? Hmmm… Could it be that these people learned the billionaire’s secrets and they took action on that knowledge?

What is it about real estate investing that’s so lucrative? The following reveals the top reasons how people can get rich from real estate investing.

How People Get Rich from Real Estate Investing

  1. CASH FLOW FROM RENTAL INCOME

If you analyse your subject property first before buying to determine if the rental income (greatly) exceeds all expenses of the property, the monthly profits can really add up, especially if you own more than one property.

  1. CAPITAL APPRECIATION

The remarkable thing about real estate is you don’t need to be smart to own. All you need to do is to hold the property for a number of years as historically real estate has doubled in value about every 20 years; so even the biggest dummy can make money doing nothing!

  1. MORTGAGE PAYDOWN

Once again, brains are not required here. Your tenants pay down YOUR mortgage. I’ll never forget Tim Johnson’s definition of a tenant, “Your tenant is a partner in business who will open up shop each morning and lock it up at night. They will look after security & inform you of potential problems in the business. They will cut the grass, rake the leaves, shovel the snow, and pay all the utilities. They will even pay all of your mortgage payments and taxes. Then, in the end, they will relinquish all monetary interest in the business and walk away, leaving you with the profits.”  THESE are the reasons why I give my tenants such nice Christmas presents each year; they are the BEST business partners anyone can have!

  1. LEVERAGING OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY

This is actually my favourite reason for investing in real estate. An example would be; if I buy a property for $300,000, the bank could give me a mortgage of $240,000, or up to 80% loan to value. I then use my home equity line of credit to finance the remaining 20% down payment. I have now effectively leveraged 100% of my property with other people’s money. I don’t know any other investment where the banks are willing and able to finance everything for me, so this is pretty sweet.

But the icing on the cake is this; if my investment property’s rental income covers the interest on my line of credit AND all of the operating expenses, it’s almost like having a license to print money. Knowing this, why would I let my money sit in my principal residence making ‘zero’ when I could have it making me double-digit annual returns? That’s like having an older teenager and allowing them to watch TV all day instead of going to work. It doesn’t make financial sense.

  1. BUYING BELOW MARKET VALUE

There are always motivated sellers in the events of a death, divorce, debt, re-location, or illness. These homeowners are desperate to get rid of their property and will likely sell below market value. Knowing how to seek out these people to help them out of their misery can make you allot of money because you get equity from day one.

  1. VALUE INCREASE THROUGH UPGRADES AND RENOVATIONS

Upgrading areas such as the kitchen and the bathrooms and giving the house a fresh coat of paint can do wonders in forcing appreciation on the property whether your strategy is to ‘buy, fix & hold’ or ‘fix & flip’.

  1. RE-PURPOSING THE PROPERTY

You have a 5-bedroom house that can be rented to a family for $2500 per month. Instead of renting the house entirely, why not rent per room to students for $650/month? The monthly gross rent become $3250, which is $750 more than if you rented the entire house to the family. Most houses have 2 living rooms, so why not turn that living area into two more bedrooms for an extra $1300 per month? But let’s not stop there and rent the covered garage for $100 to one of the tenants. By re-purposing this property as student housing, you make a killer monthly income of $4650, almost doubling the single family rental of $2500. Note: this can be illegal in some municipalities, so do your research before attempting this.

  1. CONVERT USE OF PROPERTY

Similar to re-purposing, an example of converting use of the property would be an apartment building with one title for the entire building. By remodelling, renovating and stratifying the building to condominiums and selling each unit individually, you are able to earn a much higher profit than renovating and selling the entire building.

  1. TAX WRITE-OFFS

Sometimes, it’s not how much money you make but rather how much money you get to keep.  Investment real estate is considered a small business, therefore, all expenses incurred to run this business are tax deductible including property management, travel, insurance, property taxes and even meals with partners. What most people don’t know is that when you borrow money from a line of credit to finance an income-generating asset, CRA allows you to write off the interest paid thereby reducing your personal taxes. (I don’t claim to be an accountant, but this is what my accountants advised me.)

So now that you understand how the richest people in the world make their money, I expect to see you on Bloomberg’s Top Billionaires list in the next few years. : )

Teresa Leung is an Investments Realtor specializing in finding income rental properties in areas with outstanding economic fundamentals, and creating turn-key investments for people who prefer to invest passively. She’s a Mentor with UBC’s Sauder School of Business, Community Council Member of Salvation Army’s Kate Booth House, and former Director of Marketing & Investor Relations with Award-winning Real Estate Investment Firm, Alture Properties. You can find her on twitter @TeresaInvestor or www.pointbinvestment.ca. For more information, e-mail Teresa at teresa@pointbinvestment.ca.

 

 

Why Buying a Bosa Condo Won’t Make You Rich – Part II

Money-City-Blog-PhotoIn Part I of my article Why Buying a Bosa Condo Won’t Make you Rich,” we saw how buying a property where expenses were higher than the rental income didn’t make financial sense.

Many of you commented on the opportunity cost of the down payment of $110,229 and how you can potentially earn 5-10% annually from investing in a ‘balanced portfolio’ with financial institutions instead.

Perhaps. But maybe you are saying this because you only know what you know and don’t realize what you don’t (yet) know.

I wrote the last article for two main reasons:

  1. 99% of so-called ‘Real Estate Investors’ don’t know what a true real estate investment is.
  2. making annual returns of 5-10% from investments is unacceptable, especially when your goal is true financial freedom.

Do you know what a true real estate investment is?

Many investors purchase based on emotions, speculating that the market will appreciate. Like the Bosa condo example in Part I, these people pour hundreds of dollars monthly into their property, and when the housing market crashes, these same Investors panic and sell their properties to avoid further losses. It’s sad for me to see this.

But it’s not really the consumer’s fault. According to Robert Shemin, US Investor and Instructor at Peak Potentials Real Estate Intensive, of all the active Realtors on the market, only 0.02% of them actually specialize in investment properties. And how can you tell if a Realtor is really an Investments Specialist? It’s actually quite easy. All Investment Realtors are also Investors themselves and will likely own multiple investment properties. But the sure-fire way of knowing if a Realtor really does specialize in Investments is by asking them to show you a pro-forma (cash flow analysis) of a property. If they look at you with a glazed look, it’s time to run. Having said that, it’s not the Realtor’s fault people buy ‘emotional investments’ either. Investment real estate isn’t part of the regular Realtor’s school curriculum.

What kind of annual return are you looking for?

I believe that making annual returns of 5-10% from investments is unacceptable and frankly just plain wrong. Trust me Mutual Fund Lovers, after I walk you through the numbers, you just may agree with me.

What does a true investment property look like? (Email me teresa@pointbinvestment.ca for a full report). You can only tell if a property is a true investment after analyzing the numbers, which most Investors and Realtors rarely do.

A true investment property will generate a monthly positive income (cash flow) after paying all the related expenses. This way, even when the market crashes, it wouldn’t affect the Investor at all IF they are not selling the property. Tenants still need a place to live in all market conditions and can’t arbitrarily lower the agreed upon monthly rent. In other words, a true investment property will protect its owner from housing market crashes.

A true investment property will also protect its owner from stock market crashes as it has no direct correlation with other investment vehicles.

Most importantly, a true real estate investment will make the owner money even when he or she is sleeping.

The sample property below is a 2-bedroom 2-bathroom resort-style condo that I sold just over a month ago in the Surrey area of Vancouver’s Fraser Valley. Now some of you may be reading this and think to yourself, “I don’t want to live in Surrey.” And that’s fine because this is an INVESTMENT, and you will likely NEVER live there. As savvy real estate investors, we invest where the numbers work in an area with exceptional economic fundamentals, which is not necessarily anywhere you may want to live in. Successful investors know that there are absolutely no emotions involved in choosing an investment property, as it’s really just a vehicle for income generation.

Now that we got emotions out of the way, let’s get to the fun part of analysing this property.

Property assumptions:

  • List price of a 2 bed, 2 bath condo is $269,900
  • From my Craigslist search the average monthly rent for a brand new quality, unfurnished 2 bed 2 bath condo in the Surrey area is $1,300
  • 30 year amortization based on 3% interest rate
  • 20% down payment

 

Screen-Shot-2015-01-06-at-2.35.20-PM

Unfortunately, the monthly cash flow is at negative $245 as an unfurnished suite, and this property loses almost $3000 annually.

But to be fair to the Bosa condo example, let’s compare apples to apples and see what happens when we furnish this baby and have it managed by a top property management company that specializes in vacation and corporate rentals.

Using the same criteria as the Bosa Furnished suite example, here’s a reminder of the assumptions:

  • $15,000 for furniture and chattels
  • Monthly rental income inclusive of property management fees is $3000
  • Vacancy buffer is now 10%
  • Repairs, cleaning & maintenance is $200 per month
  • Chattels & disposables would be $100 per month
  • Telephone, cable & internet would be $180 per month
  • All other assumptions remains the same as the unfurnished condo

 

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O-M-G!  This property now cash flows!!! But what does this mean exactly? Many of the readers from part one of this article mentioned opportunity cost, so let’s examine that. I’ve calculated the total start-up cost for this property to be $82,577, which consists of the down payment, property transfer tax, inspection, reserve funds of $5000, furniture, appraisal, legal and all miscellaneous advertising and closing costs. Since $82,577 is the total cash outlay, I will use this number to calculate this property’s return on investment.

I’ve used the first year mortgage pay down and the annual positive cash flow as income, since mortgage pay down is pretty much a given and positive cash flow is likely going to happen based on the property being managed by experienced managers.

Return on Investment, ROI

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As you can see, the initial investment of $82,577 provides a profit of almost $14,900 a year and an impressive 18% annual return on investment. Now when was the last time your investments gave you a predictable return of 18% per annum?

But wait, this gets better. Historically, real estate has doubled in value every 20 years; therefore, it wouldn’t be fair not to include capital appreciation into our analysis. I’ve used 3% appreciation per year just to keep up with inflation, but in some markets such as Fort St. John, BC, and Calgary, Alberta and in some parts of Asia, the capital growth in recent years had been much higher. Based on this assumption, below is an illustration of what would happen to this property in five years.

5 Year ROI

 

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I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t mind making this type of return for doing… well…nothing. Let me explain. We spent $82,577 on the property, we didn’t do a thing after the initial purchase as it’s managed by someone else, and we made over $120,000 in 5 years or 146% ROI. No wonder you always hear of people making millions with real estate. They get this!

Now if real estate investing can provide consumers with such amazing returns, why isn’t everyone and their dog jumping in to invest? Like I said earlier, only 0.02% of Realtors understand investment real estate. Banks and financial advisors don’t sell real estate and it’s the financial institutions that have the multi-million dollar marketing budgets.

This comes to the third reason why I wrote this two-part article. It’s so you, my readers, can join the 1% of Investors out there who do know what a true real estate investment is. It’s so that you can start creating wealth and time freedom today.

So I’m going to ask you the same question I asked in Part I of this article, “For the rest of your life, would you rather make money in your sleep, or work actively for your money trading dollars for hours?” I chose the former. Now you can too!

If you found this article helpful in any way, please share this with your friends and loved ones so that they too, can benefit from this information.

Teresa Leung is an Investments Realtor specializing in finding cash-flowing properties in areas with outstanding economic fundamentals, and creating turn-key investments for people who prefer to invest passively. She’s a Mentor with University of BC’s Sauder School of Business, Community Council Member of Salvation Army’s Kate Booth House, Co-founder of Exceptional Lifestyle Addicts Meetup and former Director of Marketing & Investor Relations with Award-winning Real Estate Investment Firm, Alture Properties. You can find her on twitter @TeresaInvestor. For more information, e-mail Teresa at teresa@pointbinvestment.ca.

Disclaimer: The average annualized capital appreciation on Canadian real estate is above 5.0% per annum since 1980 and 3% scenarios have been used for illustrative purposes only.

E. & O. E. The calculations and assumptions listed above are estimates only, they are not guaranteed., and in no way reflect with absolute certainty the future performance of the property. Purchasers are responsible for performing their own evaluation and forecasts. As with all real estate purchases, actuals may vary due to current and future economic conditions and time. Projections are for illustrative purposes only and are not indicative of anyactual returns or a guarantee thereof. Accordingly, there is no representation that actual results realized will be the same, in whole or in part, as those presented herein. Vacancy rates, inflation rates, appreciation rates, and mortgage rates are subject to market conditions.

Why Buying a Bosa Condo Won’t Make You Rich – Part I

Me with Jim Bosa

Me with Jim Bosa

I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Bosa, President of Appia Developments, at the Realtor’s launch of Phase II of their North Burnaby Solo District project last month. Appia Developments are one of North America’s premier property development firms within the popular Bosa Group of Companies.

For someone with enormous wealth and success, Jim Bosa is truly an understated gentleman who came across as humble and even a bit shy. He mentioned that he didn’t usually speak at public events, and he graciously agreed to answer a few questions and take a photo for my blog (yes, he really is tall, and I am really this short).

I asked Jim if he thought his condos would make a good investment and he said, “It depends on what you are looking for, but I welcome all purchasers whether they are home owners or investors.” Smart answer. The rest of our conversation was just chatting about the future of North Burnaby and how his company plans to capitalize on the area’s growth.

Before I left the event, I grabbed a price list to determine for myself if buying a brand new condo from Solo District would be a good investment based on cash flow. After all, I am a Real Estate Investor and I’m always looking for good investments. After analysing the numbers, here are my results based on the following assumptions:

  • List price of a 2 bed, 2 bath condo is $551,145 inclusive of GST
  • From my Craigslist search the average rental price for a brand new quality, unfurnished 2 bed 2 bath condo in the North Burnaby area is $2150
  • 30 year amortization based on 3% interest rate
  • 20% down payment
Unfurnished 2bed/2bath Proforma

Unfurnished 2bed/2bath Proforma

Unfortunately, the monthly cash flow is at negative $545 and this property loses $6542 each year.

But I really like Jim Bosa, and I want to buy his condo as an investment, so I’m going to increase the monthly income by renting this as a furnished condo, managed by a top property management company with higher profile tenants. By the way, most of the time, when renting out a furnished property, not only do you buy the furniture and chattels, you are also responsible to pay for the utilities since it’s mostly short-term renters. Here are the new assumptions:

  • Add $15,000 for furniture and chattels (for simplicity sake, I added this to the purchase price and mortgage)
  • Monthly rental income inclusive of property management fees is $3000
  • Vacancy buffer is now 10% as furnished can be harder to rent for a full year (unfurnished would be 5%)
  • Repairs, cleaning & maintenance is $200 per month
  • Chattels & disposables would be $100 per month
  • Utilities, cable & internet would be $180 per month
  • All other assumptions remains the same as non-furnished condo

Let’s see what we get with this new scenario.

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Damn, even when furnished, the cash flow is still negative $254 per month with losses of over $3000 annually.

What can I say Jim? As savvy Real Estate Investors, we always invest for positive cash flow first, as opposed to capital growth/appreciation. Therefore, as much as I like you, the North Burnaby area, and the Solo District project, buying a brand new Bosa condo will not get me rich. I’m not just picking on Appia or Bosa, as the same would be true for a brand new condo with Concord Pacific, Wall Centre, Polygon or any developer if rents don’t cover expenses. It’s that simple.  The key is to treat your real estate investments like a business and if the projected rents cannot cover all the related expenses, it’s like buying a company that loses money each month. It doesn’t make financial sense.

Now don’t get me wrong, many people look at these new condos as emotional investments similar to buying a brand new Jaguar or Porsche. They’ll never get rich from the purchase, but it sure as hell makes them feel fantastic when they’re in it.

The magic question to ask before investing is, “Are you a Business Owner or an Emotional Investor?” Or better yet, “For the rest of your life, would you rather make money in your sleep or work actively for your money trading dollars for hours?” I choose the former. How about you?

Click here to read Part II of this article.

Teresa Leung is an Investments Realtor specializing in finding cash-flowing properties in areas with outstanding economic fundamentals, and creating turn-key investments for people who prefer to invest passively. She’s a Mentor with University of BC’s Sauder School of Business, Community Council Member of Salvation Army’s Kate Booth House, Co-founder of Exceptional Lifestyle Addicts Meetup and former Director of Marketing & Investor Relations with Award-winning Real Estate Investment Firm, Alture Properties. You can find her on twitter @TeresaInvestor. For more information, e-mail Teresa at teresa@pointbinvestment.ca.