Tag Archive for: rental property

photo Terrie Schauer Alex Avery

Interview with Alex Avery : The Wealthy Renter’s Real Estate Advice for Covid-19

 

Real Estate Advice for Covid-19: What The Wealthy Renter Has to Say About Investing Now

How Are You Using your Covid-19 Crisis?

Covid-19 Crisis has us transforming confinement-psychosis into new pass-times. Amateur bakers and hair-stylists are popping up all over the place.

I admit I’m going through a lot of flour these days, but I also decided to have as many interesting conversations as possible. My goal is to connect with people who have insights, especially on Real Estate investing during the Covid-19 Crisis. Last week, I spoke with a favorite real estate author of mine, Alex Avery. His book, The Wealthy Renter, changed the way I look at home-ownership.

Is this a good time to get into the Real Estate market as a home-owner or an investor? See what the author of The Wealthy Renter, Alex Avery has to say. Here’s some of his Real Estate Investment Advice During the Covid-19 Crisis.

Is Your Home an Investment?

Avery’s thesis is that home-ownership (in the principal residence sense) isn’t the “investment” it’s touted to be. He’s suspicious of the advice that we must all “stop throwing money away on rent”. When he unpacks this statement, it appears as questionable investment advice. Home ownership makes investment sense as a premise if – say – a savings of 2000$ or whatever per month on rent justifies using a large amount of seed-capital (read: down-payment) to then carry a (possibly larger) mortgage payment.

For an investor, the answer is often “It doesn’t”.

Use Your Capital Wisely

In investment terms, capital should be placed where it generates the best returns (correcting, of course, for risk – eg. betting on the horses might give you good returns, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a sound investment). If we use our hard-earned seed capital as a down-payment for a single-family-home, our returns will be sub-par.
What return does this so-called “investment” generate?
  • It provides no cash flow or dividends.
  • Maintenance- and interest costs are out-of-pocket and not tax deductible.
  • Home owners have a tendency to spend MORE money on maintenance, upgrades and extras than owners of rental properties.
  • The mortgage on our homes get with after-tax dollars (read: with 50 cents out of a possible 1$).
  • We don’t have tenants to help pay our mortgage.
  • Yes, a principal residence is an appreciating asset, unlike – say – a car or a washer/dryer set. But then rental properties appreciate too.

Your Home as Consumption Not Investment

Avery’s distinction can be summarized as follows: the money you put into your home – in the form of a down-payment, as upgrades or as mortgage payments – is basically a form of consumption. If you have disposable capital and cash-flow that you want to “consume” in a single-family home as a lifestyle choice, go ahead. Avery himself admits to being a home-owner. But it makes more sense to view a principal residence as an object of consumption and not as an investment.

 

How Do I Make My Real Estate Plans in the Covid Crisis?

Avery has a few points of advice on this question.

  1. He advises that, if you have plans to buy a home, it may be wise to review how much leverage you take on. The economic downturn, he projects, will be more check-marked than V-shaped.
  2. As an asset class, Avery sees residential rental buildings doing fairly well. Federal and provincial governments have launched stimulus plans that secure the minimum income of the vast majority of workers. As a result, he doesn’t see massive residential rent defaults in the cards.
  3. Beware of commercial Real Estate. Commercial rentals were on a downward trajectory before the pandemic. Retail had begun to move online pre-Covid. Many companies were already running experiments in tele-work. The Covid Crisis will accelerate both of these trends, probably irreversibly.
  4. If you want to invest, choose a market with “land constraints”. For example, Toronto is bounded by the Green-Belt, the island of Montreal by water, and Vancouver by the sea and the mountains. Avery sees these markets as being more “recession proof” than, say, secondary markets like Quebec City, Calgary or Kingston. In the American crisis of 2008, markets like New York fared better than, say, Las Vegas, where builders could keep constructing ad infinitum.

 

When Everyone Has an Opinion, Who Should I Listen to?

Covid or not, Avery’s last piece of advice turns on where we get advice on Real Estate investing decisions.

  • Your father-in-law who bought his home in the 70s and hasn’t been in the Real Estate market since? Probably not the best source.
  • Your real estate broker who makes commission on home purchases or sales? Also not the best source of advice, because there’s an obvious conflict of interest at work (he or she gets paid when you sell or buy ANYTHING, not when you make good investment decisions).
  • Active players in the real estate industry. Investors, economists, experts with established track records in their field, or professionals make money whether a transaction takes places (accountants, independent consultants, property managers etc.). They are probably better sources.

Want to Learn More?

Purchase Alex Avery’s book The Wealthy Renter here.

Or check out my book The Mindful Landlord.

Why Quebec Moves on July 1st

Factoid : Most Quebec leases end on June 30th, making July 1st “Moving Day” for the whole the province.

Read more

Want to Invest in Real Estate? Not Sure How? Get Started in 5 Easy Steps

An Antidote to Confusion About Where to Start

Lao Tzu wrote: “The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”

Ah, but which step? There’s the rub! Start with the wrong one, and you may travel 1000 miles in the wrong direction!

It’s precisely this fear that kills dreams in their infancy. Don’t let this confusion end your real estate dreams!

Here are some really simple steps you can take to begin your journey.

Educate Yourself

This doesn’t mean talking about your project to Uncle So-and-So who once owned a duplex, or Aunt Thingamajig who wrote her Real Estate exam, unless they were successful at what they did in a way you’d want to repeat. Seek out resources who have a proven track record. Before launching a networking offensive, either read some books, watch some videos, or take a cheap online course. With a base level of knowledge about Real Estate Investment strategies you’ll have more useful conversations.

As you branch out and start shaking hands and making calls, you’ll be happy that you took the time to understand some basic concepts and terminology.

One caveat : expensive Real Estate courses, while often of some value, sell information and coaching at a very, very high mark-up. If you’re willing to apply a little discipline and do some work on your own, you can easily educate yourself without signing five-figure cheques or paying thousands of dollars for mentorship or classes. Why spend your down-payment money on Real Estate classes when the information is available at a very low cost? Try these resources first.

Where to seek affordable education?

  • You can check out the Recommended Readings on my website. Pay particular attention to the “Real Estate Investing” section, where you will find good “starter” books.
  • Consult online education platforms like Teachable or Udemy. Both have Real Estate sections. Online courses sell for a either tens- or a few hundreds of dollars. They’re easy to follow and are usually consumed on demand. You can go through the material at your own pace, in the comfort of home, and even follow a few different subjects that outline the major strategies for making money in Real Estate (Flipping, Buy-and-Hold etc.)
  • Organizations like the Real Estate Investors Club sell in-person/classroom or webinar training for a few hundred dollars.

 

You really shouldn’t pay any more that this.

Book An Appointment With a Banker or Mortgage Broker

Your mortgage banker or broker is a bit like a general practitioner in medicine. He or she will be able to give you a general bill of your financial health. Is your credit any good? What’s your borrowing capacity based on your current revenues? Very few of us know the answers to these questions, especially when we start out in the real estate game. Before defining your project, it may be a good idea to have a professional analyze your file.

Even if you’re sure you won’t qualify right now, it’s best to know what you need to do in the future in order to obtain financing. This will allow you to build a plan to get there. There are a million strategies! But, like that fateful visit to the doctor, if you don’t know where you stand, it’s very hard to move forward. Don’t let fear of bad news stop you! You need to know your starting position in order to plan your journey.

Bad credit? No down-payment money or insufficient revenues for conventional financing?

Okay. In this case, AFTER you’ve spoken to a conventional financing person and they’ve told you what you need to do to become creditworthy, go back to Step 1. There are a ton of resources out there to learn what’s called “Creative Finance”.

Network With Other Investors & Professionals

Remember what I said about Uncle So-and-So and Aunt Thingamajig?

Talking to them about their Real Estate debacles is NOT networking. If you want to succeed at something, learn from someone who is where you want to be.

I’ll repeat myself because this is really important: Take advice only from people who stand where you want to be! If you don’t yet know such people, no problem! It’s time to leave the house and start building your network.

You can join my Meet-Up to attend networking events in the Montreal area. The Real Estate Investors Club also hosts monthly networking events.

If you want to learn more about how to network effectively, check out my blog article on How to network effectively.

You could also check out anything by author Ivan Misner, founder of BNI (Buisness Networking International).

Find A Mentor

A few months ago, a woman approached me at one of my workshops. She offered to take me to lunch.

“I want to learn from you,” she told me. Naturally I was flattered and I accepted. We went to lunch, and as we were chatting, she had another interesting offer.

“Let me work for you for free for some months,” she proposed. “I’ll do anything, I just want to learn the business.”

What do you think I said?

This situation is now a total win-win. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for private mentorship, my new intern has access to me 24/7. Her boots are on the ground meeting tenants, seeing construction problems, talking to every real estate professional around: contractors, notaries, mortgage people – everyone who is involved in my business.

Do you think I’ll give her free advice on her own investment decisions now? Of course!

Not only is she learning for free and building her own network in an organized way, she works maybe two evenings a week and an hour or two on the weekend. If she was taking a (paid) class, she’d have to devote the same time and IN ADDITION pay.

You’d be surprised how accessible successful- and knowledgeable people are when approached with a little flattery. An offer for lunch or a coffee might be all it takes. Try it!

 

Fail Forward

Above all – don’t be afraid to look silly or make a few mistakes. Everyone who’s built success over many years remembers how little they knew at the beginning.

I tell my clients this, when they’re shy to ask what they think is a silly, basic question.

“We all start in the same place! With a dream and no bloody idea of how to make it happen.”

Anyone successful who’s acting puffed-up is doing so just because they want to feel big, NOT because you’re somehow unworthy or stupid. Don’t feel ashamed to be where you are.

“The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”

screenshot of newsarticle

Article in La Presse: Renting Using an Agent? Terrie’s Advice

Hire a professional to rent or manage your properties?

Read what Terrie had to say to the French-language newspaper La Presse

screenshot of article

 

Terrie Schauer is a real estate coach, speaker and author. Her domain of expertise: rental properties. She’s also a real estate broker and the owner of a property management agency. MyRoom Gestion manages around one hundred units in Montreal.

Most of the work associated with renting units is done by an administrative assistant. The person posts Ads, screens tenants on the phone and coordinates visits. “I only sign leases,” says the owner of the agency.

It’s possible to advertise on a variety of sites, but in Montreal, Kijiji works best, says Terrie Schauer.

“An Ad posted on Kijiji in the morning ends up on page 24 by lunch. It’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Answering the calls and emails generated an Ad is also demanding. First you have to make sure the caller actually read the whole advertisement, and that the unit matches their needs. Next, you have to question prospective tenants about their employment- and living situations.

Knowing the rental market helps maximize the price you’ll get for your units. “We track the stats of all the units we advertise,” explains Terrie Schauer. “If one unit is getting less clicks, we can reduce the price or take better photos. Sometimes a price adjustment of 15$ – 20$ makes a difference between no calls and twenty leads.”

Once someone applies, the agency does a full background check: credit score, criminal history, references from the current landlord and employer, and lastly, priors at the rental board (Régie du logement). In some cases, the company also runs similar checks on co-signers, if the prospective tenant is a student or a new immigrant with no credit history.

This service costs one month’s rent, whether the tenant stays in the unit for a year or more. MyRoom Gestion can also offer a full management service for a fee of 7 % of gross rent.

Is this advantageous for the landlord? If he or she lives outside the country or absolutely doesn’t want to deal with bad tenants, certainly it is.

It can even make financial sense. With her knowledge of the rental market, Terrie Schauer often manages to rent units for more money than if the owner handled the rental him- or herself. “If I can get you 10 % more on your gross rent and my services cost 7 %, you win without lifting a finger!”

Read the original article:

https://www.lapresse.ca/maison/immobilier/conseils/201810/22/01-5201163-un-courtier-pour-louer.php

 

How to Avoid Problem Tenants: Have a Good Apartment Screening Process

Good tenants are the best way to protect your investment! Choose wisely

Picking good tenants is almost as important as getting a good deal on a building. Quality tenants will help keep your rental building profitable. They protect your investment and determine the quality of your life as a landlord. All the more reason to choose carefully!

Here are some best practices for stream-lining your tenant selection process.

Without a doubt, the most common question I get asked from students and newbie investors is: “How do I deal with problem-tenants?”

It’s a question I usually answer with a question.

The real conundrum should be: “Why did you rent to problem tenants?”

To avoid renting to problem-people, you need a steam-lined and thorough tenant screening. Your tenants determine the quality of your life as a landlord. So listen carefully! And don’t leave things to chance. This article is the first in a series of 4 that will show you how to run an effective tenant-selection operation.

Advertise in the Right Place

The best way to set up a winning tenant-selection process is to have the biggest possible pool of candidates to choose from. You do this with effective advertising. Onlineis the way to go these days. Forget about newspaper Ads!

Pick the Right Platform

The first thing to do is to determine which platform works best in your area. In Montreal, we use www.kijiji.ca : 98% of our rental are concluded this way. Other platforms  are Craigslist (which also attracts a lot of scammers) and MLS (www.realtor.com). Usually we only use them because a client asks us to. They’re anyway redundant with kijiji.ca in our area.

For MLS, you need an agent to list a property. A professional rental service will cost you one-month’s rent, so you may want to think twice before doing this. In my experience, MLS works best for unique- or very high-end properties.

Facebook posts can yield some leads, but in my experience not very good ones.

A good way to test which platform works is to ask a few people who’ve recently been in the rental market. They’ll know which platforms yield the best results.

Market Your Unit Properly

Unit marketing basics are: awesome photos, the right price, and a clear, truthful description. These are the keys to effective online marketing for rental units. They’re also really straight-forward.

Photos

My advice on photos: pay the 100$ it costs to get a professional to photograph the unit when it is clean and presentable. These photos will serve as a marketing tool for the next 5 to 10 years. They can also easily add 50$-100$ on the value of the rent you can demand. In our high-traffic, saturated media environment, you really can’t attract decent attention without awesome pics.

Price

Rent is a very price-sensitive. 50$ up or down can make an huge difference. Most tenants shop on a budget.

A tip: start your advertising early. This lets you be optimistic and a bit greedy 🙂 Always post a higher rent amount that you think your unit is worth. If after a week or two you’re not satisfied with the number of responses, lower the price. It’s the best way to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table.

Another tip: if your unit isn’t renting, consider dropping the price by 50$-100$. When you weigh the alternatives with your calculator: major renovations, or having the unit empty for a month, you’ll see how cost-effective it is to adjust your rent downwards. (50$ x 12 months = 600$). Depending on your unit price, dropping the rent by 50$ will probably make more sense than having the unit empty.

Phone Screening Script

Don’t waste time on useless visits. Don’t get into silly conflicts or interminable discussions with bad candidates.

I don’t get off my ass to open a unit unless I’m convinced the people can:

  1. afford the place
  2. speak to me in a courteous and efficient way
  3. tell me a coherent story about who they are and why they want to rent the place

I don’t want to waste my time running back and forth to open doors. And – perhaps more importantly – I don’t want to have fights when I refuse unqualified potential tenants because I let them see a place they fell in love with.

The gate-keeper to useless door-opening is a good phone-screening script. You want to find out:

  • who will live in the unit (how many people | are all adults on the lease) ? is the number of occupants appropriate to the size of the place ?)
  • do they have good credit ? a history at the rental board ? references from a previous landlord ?
  • what type of income do they have (does everyone work? | are Mum & Dad paying the rent? | are they on social assistance?)
  • why are they moving (relocation | divorce | new baby | unhappy with their last place) ?

If any of these answers make you uncomfortable, take down their number and tell them you’ll return a call at a later time. In my experience, it’s a better alternative than the shouting match that can ensure from refusing an application live on the phone 🙂

Set Up A Winning Visit

Sounds self-evident, right? Here are a few things to watch out for. When you’re planning on showing a unit, be aware of what things can turn candidates off a place.

  • bad smells (buy a candle | show up 5 minutes early and open the windows)
  • messy tenants (schedule visits with lots of notice & explain to the tenants that the faster they clean up, the faster you’ll stop your visits)
  • existing tenants who’ve caused problems and who may run off their mouths to new candidates (plan visits when the tenants are not home)
  • big dogs (some people don’t like dogs & they can have a bad visiting experience if one lives in the unit. Ask the tenants to go for a walk while you show the place)

Have a Thorough Application Form

Do

  • request social insurance number & bank account info; if the tenant defaults, you won’t have to hire a detective to get this info
  • get a signed authorization to run a credit check
  • request contact info of the previous landlord
  • ask for a guarantor if the candidate has questionable credit, is from out of town, or doesn’t pay the rent him/herself
  • request employment information
  • take a small deposit while you do your background check. (You can deduct this from the first rent cheque, or else refund it if you refuse). A small amount of money makes the candidates more likely to commit and not waste your time running a check while they decide to rent elsewhere.

Do check all these points thoroughly!! Don’t forgo a credit check because it’s costly or complicated to obtain one. In my experience, credit history is the single best predictor of what kind of person you’re dealing with.

Don’t

  • let the candidates leave out information
  • not give you the deposit
  • get away with anything you wouldn’t want to accept later on in your relationship; the application process is your time to set the tone

Trust Your Gut

As a candidate jumps through different hoops and you have multiple interactions, pay attention to what your gut says.

  • Are your requests handled in a courteous and timely manner?
  • Is this the kind of person you want to deal with regularly for the next few years?
  • Do they quickly return phone calls or force you to make multiple requests for simple things?

Your tenants are your quality of life. If there are behavioral red-flags at the beginning, think twice. Do you really want someone harassing you every 5 minutes with silly requests? Not returning your calls when you have urgent requests? Being unpleasant or incoherent on the phone?

A final word: tenant selection is like dating. If it’s complicated from the start, maybe it’s not meant to be 🙂