Thursday, July 20, 2017

How I turned my Finances Around…

March 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Buying Real Estate, Featured Posts

My story starts off typical – single female, living in a city where the cost of living is high, my debt load was at an uncomfortable $15K and I wasn’t a homeowner yet. At this point I was 31, I had a university degree and a good job but I still found it hard to save enough money to pay off my debt and save for a house. Blah, blah, blah…this is probably many people’s story if they moved out on their own right away and into an expensive city. But what makes my story extraordinary is the ending, mainly because I chose a plan to get out of debt, create time and financial freedom, and I stuck to it and no, I didn’t marry rich! The mere fact that I stuck to the plan is what made it work, not the plan itself. Why? Today most people quit on their plans very early, some even before 60 days whereas my plan took 60 months. The average person will try something for a bit, if it doesn’t work immediately, they jump to another strategy only to get the same results. My plan took me exactly 5 years where I went from living from pay cheque to pay cheque to being a homeowner, debt free and boss free.
My plan was super simple – I did two things: 1) I chose a profit making vehicle that I could do outside of my full time job to generate extra income. It was a home based business in the network marketing industry and I describe it as a mini-franchise; 2) I partnered with a family member to buy a rental property instead of my original plan, a downtown condo. We pulled together our pennies and purchased a triplex. I moved into one of the units and managed the other two apartments.
With the rental property, we put most of the profit that we made each year back into the house so we could gradually bump up the rental income on the units as they turned over. Most people ask me if I have nightmare land-lord stories but I honestly don’t. I think if you have above average quality rental units, with reasonable rental fees you will attract respectful people. Fast forward 5 years, when the mortgage came up for renewal we shopped around and secured an amazing interest rate. This reduced our monthly costs and bumped up our profits. We were also able to pull out equity on the home which we used for any remaining debt like car payments and down payments for future properties. So instead of buying a condo I created an income generating vehicle from my first home purchase.
During this 5 year period, I simply worked my network marketing business for about 4 to 5 hours a week. It wasn’t a lot of time but I was very consistent about my efforts. Of course, I didn’t know if this strategy would work before I started but I was determined to keep trying which was my true key to success. The product I represented was a consumable in the preventative health industry. It was high quality and sold itself. After about 3 years, the profits from my business covered my living expenses so I decided to take the plunge to do the business full time. I had been tracking my efforts and results so I knew if I had more time I would be able to increase my income. I have been doing my business full time for 2 years now and my take home income far exceeds what I would have made in my full time job. The best part is that I own my time so I can do other projects like real estate or businesses ventures whereas when I was working full time for 1 company I was putting all of my eggs in one basket.
This past 5 years is what Seth Godin, North America’s #1 business marketer, calls “The Dip”. The dip is the long haul that it takes to get from beginner’s luck to mastery. It’s the daily consistent action to build a system that works. It’s getting through the dark times when you are alone and all you want to do is give up but something deep inside tells you to keep slugging away. It’s ignoring the naysayers and your “procrastinating side”. Then eventually, you come out of this long valley to see sunlight and you can touch and feel your ultimate goal. You are there! You are at the place where everyone else wants to be! But only the people who go through the valley will make it. Are you willing to go through the valley or would you prefer to be average?

Toronto’s Impending Real Estate Bubble ?…. Sorry Hate to Burst your Bubble….

Pundits and so called experts have been predicting a crash in the Toronto Real estate market for well over a decade now. These claims appear to be more based on selling newspapers and advertising then based on fact. If one were to look at the facts , the facts paint a much different picture than all the recent doom and gloom portrayed in the media.

The Toronto Real Estate Board reported 4,337 transaction’s for the month of January 2011. The result was 13 percent lower than January 2010. When one reads this immediately it appears to be the sign that we are finally at the end of the road. The report however goes on to state that despite the drop in transactions the average sale price for a home in the GTA was $427, 037, which represents an increase of over four percent compared to the prior January. In essence prices are going up because there is not enough supply. It’s basic economics 101 , supply and demand.

There has also been talk over the impending crash of the condo market due to over supply. Lets take a look. Completions of new condos in Q4 have lead to an increase in new units entering into the market place. The Toronto Real Estate Board reports that there was a 25% percent increase in the number of condominium apartments listed for rent on a year over year basis . However the report goes on to state that the number of rental transactions for condominium apartments increased at an even great rate of 29 percent. Demand is outstripping supply. Furthermore rental prices for popular one bedrooms have increased by 2.1 percent and 2.6 percent respectively compared to the last four months in 2009. Much like the resale housing market the condo rental market is also tightening, not contracting .

According to Realnet data a shrinking supply coupled with an increasing demand points to a shortage of new homes in the GTA’s future. Realnet projects the strain is expected to emerge in 2011 and full be manifested by 2014. It is projected that based on the current levels of immigration into Toronto between 130,000 -140,000 annually, the GTA will need to create 40,000 new homes per year just to keep up with current immigration levels ….. something to think about for sure.

The next time you read or hear the next person claiming the market is about to crash ……. think again !

Or for that matter simply just start thinking !!

HST and its Impact on the Ontario Real Estate Market

One of the most common questions I get asked is about the New HST tax and its impact on the real estate market in Ontario. This law is very new and many people are still unsure of its ramifications on the industry. A lot of industry experts are unclear, on what the legislation actually entails. If lawyers and accountants have only a vague understanding of the new Tax, imagine how confused the average Ontario resident must be.

According to a recent survey by Royal Lepage, most home buyers believe that HST applies to the sale price of resale properties. The survey goes on to show that this misconception is impacting buyer behavior, which has been a driving force in the recent slowdown on the market place.

So Exactly how does the new HST impact the Ontario Real estate Market?
There is no HST on resale properties. HST is only levied on preconstruction homes. HST will not be applicable to new homes costing under 400,000. For New homes costing between 400,000 to 500,000 home buyers in Ontario will receive rebates up to $24,000 to lessen the impact of the HST. For homebuyers purchasing homes over $500,000, they will have to bare the full brunt of the HST Tax . It is estimated that this will increase the purchase price of homes over 500,000 by as much as $30,000- $50,000.

The ramifications for purchasers of preconstruction homes who are investors and not end users is a little more complicated. If you claim that you are an investor who will not reside on the premises, HST will be applicable, but credits may be offered for up to 75%. If you are considering buying a pre construction property as an investment it is best to consult with an expert as to how the tax can effect your purchase.
While resale purchases are HST exempt it is estimated that the new tax will will add an additional $2,000 in closing costs to consumers on resale properties .

While maintenance fees, energy cost and closing costs will inevitably rise, the increased costs are significant but not dramatic. It is estimated by the Minister of Finance for Ontario that only 7% of preconstruction homes bought in Ontario are over 500,000.

The jury is still out on HST and the damage that it may or may not have done to the Toronto Real Estate Market. I think the damage has been more psychological, as the tax has left many consumers confused and scared. In my opinion the impact will be short term, and things should flatten out this fall and begin to rise again by next spring. Canada and Toronto have still way too much going for it for the politicians to mess it up.

If I only had a Crystal Ball

The most frequently asked question I get from clients/friends and just about anyone that has any interest in real estate is “what’s the market going to do next”? If only I had a crystal ball to look into the future and tell them exactly what was going to happen!

Without such magic I rely on my experience and wisdom. The market took off like gang busters in the beginning of 2010. There was a real sense of urgency amongst buyers, mostly fuelled by misconceptions about two things 1. HST 2. Rising interest rates. Buyers were scurrying around buying anything and everything and paying all the money for it. Sellers obviously reaped the benefit of this frenzy by taking in fantastic sale prices. As the year progressed, the urgency started to die down and buyers shifted from a “need to have it now” mentality to a “let’s sit back and get a deal” mentality. Sellers under pressure to sell therefore took less than their neighbours a few months earlier, but still achieved good selling prices year over year. Moving into the fall market, we are expecting a more “normalized” buy and sell trending, where there should be enough (or almost enough) product to satisfy the demand creating a more even playing field for buyers and sellers alike. Again, anything is possible, as Toronto is tops for real estate and quality of living, which continually attracts new buyers to the playing field. And the high demand neighbourhoods can only house so many people. Either way, staying on top of the market and knowing the values is the best way to get in or sell successfully.

A Slowing Market is a Healthy Market

September 9, 2010 by  
Filed under Buying Real Estate, Selling Real Estate

There has been a lot of talk in the market place lately about a slowing real estate market relative to year ago. This is based on a decline in the number of house sales which has given people the wrong impression. The general perception seems to that a slowing market is a bad thing, but is it?

On the contrary, a slowing market is a great thing for buyers!

In my opinion, this slowdown means that the real estate market is returning to a healthier state. It means that the potential for competition at the table when making offers should be less. Assuming that there is enough product on the market, this means that in most cases buyers won’t be faced with paying above asking price for the property.

As we move into the fall market, the number of new listings should increase also helping to reduce competition among buyers resulting in more palatable purchase prices relative to the first four months of 2010.

Buyers, if you are looking to get into the market September 2010 would be a great time!

What Am I Signing here?

July 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Buying Real Estate, Recent Posts

There is something about signing an agreement that people shy away from.

When you’re a first time home buyer it seems strange to sign a contract with your real estate agent! The truth is, a Buyer Representation Agreement protects you the buyer and should be signed at your earliest opportunity.

A  B.R.A. is a written representation agreement between a client and a real estate company.  It states very clearly that the company’s legal duty is to ensure the client’s interests are protected and promoted at every possible opportunity.

In other words, under an Agency Agreement, the company must ALWAYS put YOUR interests first– above everything else except the law.

FACT:  If you do not wish to be represented under a Buyer Agency relationship, the company you choose automatically must work for the Seller during the transaction.  It’s either one or the other.  Almost every home Seller on the market has already has an agent in place. In fact, this is one of the mandatory conditions of being listed on the MLS system.   So if the Buyer does not have an Agency Agreement in place, their Realtor must work for the Seller as a “sub-agent” by law.  In a situation like this, all information gained about your situation, including financial information and what you are willing to spend may be shared with the Seller to enhance his or her negotiating position!

On the other hand, if a company works as your exclusive Buyer’s Agent, it owes you full confidentiality (they will not tell the Seller anything) and its duty is to make sure you are fully protected.  You’ll be advised about the true market value of homes and about the best strategy to purchase your ideal home for the best price possible.