What's the biggest act of self-sabotage real estate investors make?

What’s the biggest act of self-sabotage real estate investors make?

Dear Fledgling Real Estate Investor,

If you want to make positive cash flow buying rental property: please, please, please don’t shop for yourself!

Yours,
The Agent Who’ll Be Stuck Renting Your Overpriced Units

Let me describe one of the biggest acts of self-sabotage I witness when I work with beginner investors.

“Terrie, I want to buy an investment property.”

“Okay. Tell me.”

“I was thinking of a condo in ***insert over-priced, high-end neighborhood here***”

Watch as I hold my head. Housing, maybe more than any other business, is an emotional industry. I get it.

But, if you’re purchasing an investment property, it’s got to have positive cash flow, right? If you’re renovating a rental unit, it’s to maximize your return on investment or to protect it, no? Aesthetics has its place. Providing good, reliable services to your tenants are important. But be mindful of what makes economic sense and what is a matter of personal taste. You’d be surprised how many beginner investors struggle with this concept.

Let me give you my take on where this issue comes from. If you drive a Mercedes or let’s say, one of the old Volkswagen beetles, it might be difficult for you to imagine that anyone would want to drive a Toyota Camry. I get it. BUT which manufacturer sells more cars? Which car is easier and cheaper to maintain? Which producer will do better in a recession? Which car brand is more vulnerable when people start cutting back on luxury items?

You see where I’m going with this. When economic cycles take their toll on local economies, the one-bedroom for seven- or eight-hundred dollars stays rented. In fact, if this type of unit takes a price hit in a bad market, it’ll be a fifty-dollar hit. No so for the luxury two-thousand dollar a month loft in your oh-so-trendy neighbourhood.

The bread and butter of the residential tenancy markets are in middle-and-lower income areas. It stands to reason that higher-end rentals are in direct competition with the condo market. Whoops! The promoter decided to throw up another tower just as interest rates went up? You’ll have to keep your rent below what his prices are now. Lower end units don’t face this type of competition.

Also, your cash flow is directly related to the cost you pay per unit. What’s the cheapest condo you’d personally consider living in? Don’t like the ground floor? The busy street? That not-so-awesome graffitied neighbourhood. That’s fine! You don’t have to live there! The only thing that should interest you is how much someone else is willing to pay to live there.

For all we know, the owners of McDonald’s don’t like the Big Mac. The point is, enough people do, and the cost of manufacturing the sandwich leaves enough margin for the business to make money. You don’t have to want to live in your rental units. Your tenants do! That’s how you make an investment make cents.

Investment property is a business. Our success as investors depends on selling the right product to the right market. We need to be in the business of providing what the market wants, not in the business of creating something we personally would like, and then desperately trying to sell it to cover our overhead costs.

Think of that as you evaluate what type of investment property to buy.

Yours in investment,
Terrie

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