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Sherilynn Milsom, 41

Occupation

Entrepreneur

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The portfolio

Rental and rent-to-own properties

The investor

After working as a manager and customer-relations supervisor for 10 years, Sherilynn Milsom began investing in Alberta rental properties. She and her husband are now full-time real estate investors: They run their own company, QDHomeQuest Inc., and belong to the Real Estate Investment Network.

What's in her portfolio

Part of her portfolio is composed of rental properties – single-family homes and duplexes.

"We seek properties that [have] cash-flow and have potential for value appreciation," Ms. Milsom says.

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It takes a lot of "legwork" to buy rental properties, especially two-storey duplexes. "The layout of the secondary suite is critical, and there must be the opportunity to 'legalize' the suite," she adds. "Legalizing" means obtaining approval from the city bylaw department for a suite that did not previously have it. "I must have viewed over 30 properties before purchasing our [last] duplex."

The rest of her portfolio (more than half) is made up of rent-to-own properties. "Here, a tenant-buyer qualifies with us and then chooses a property for us to buy and [lease back] to him. This provides great income for the short term, and as sales to tenants [are completed], we will use the income to buy more regular rentals for the long-term."

When their client finds a house, she compares prices of comparable houses and looks at other variables to determine if it is listed at a good price. She wants to make sure it can be sold quickly if "the tenant-buyer walks away from the deal," or if there is potential for price appreciation. "For our two most recent purchases, we vetoed our client's first choices because we didn't see the growth potential."

Best move

Deciding to invest in rent-to-own properties.

Worst move

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"Accepting a rent-to-own client who was in the process of getting divorced. … Legal fees for a divorce can quickly add up, leaving the prospective buyer cash poor and possibly unable to complete the purchase."

Advice

"Have patience. You must take action to succeed, but there will always be another house around the corner, so there is no need to rush. When people rush or worry about missing opportunities, corners are cut and mistakes are made."

E-mail mccolumn@yahoo.com

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