Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

AdChoices

Income Properties

How to buy a house and make it pay Add to ...

Most people buy a home to live in it. Others buy homes as investments, either to rent out or resell at a profit. Still others buy a property and rent out part of it, using the income generated to reduce their mortgage payments. But with the bidding wars and skyrocketing prices, is it still possible for home buyers to get into the market without breaking the bank?

It's not easy. Mortgage lending rules have tightened and, although the harmonized sales tax will not be charged on the purchase price of resale homes, commissions, closing costs and all home renovations in Ontario and British Columbia will be subject to the 13-per-cent tax as of July 1. Added to that, interest rates are on the rise.

But there are still savvy home buyers acquiring great properties at reasonable prices.

Here's an example of how one investor acquired a great property in Toronto just a few weeks ago.

This three-storey home in the Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood borders trendy Queen West Village, so it had location going for it. What else made this property a great purchase? Let's break it down.

  • Area - Trinity Bellwoods
  • List price: $499,900
  • Sold for: $520,000
  • Renovation budget: $65,000
  • Total investment: $585,000
  • Comparables: Three similar homes have sold nearby in the last 3 months for $655,000, $745,000 and $818,000 respectively.

There are some renovations required to ensure the property meets fire code regulations, but for the most part things are in the right place. The house is set up as a triplex with existing bathrooms, kitchens and separate entrances on each level. The property is already registered as a multiunit dwelling, alleviating the need for a costly rezoning procedure.

Other houses in the immediate vicinity are selling for between $650,000 and $820,000. This means there is a lot of room for equity growth on the property.

As an investor, the property cash flows nicely. Or, if the buyer decides to live in one unit and rent the others, it's still a very attractive proposition: You own the house, your mortgage payments are covered, you live on the main floor and you're profiting by $250 a month. Here's how those two scenarios might work.

  • Average rental rates for each apartment after renovation are as follows:


  • Basement 2-bedroom: $1,200/month


  • Main floor 1-bedroom: $1,350/month


  • Upper 2-bedroom: $1,700/month


  • Scenario 1; all units rented


  • Total monthly rental income: $4,250


  • Carrying cost: $2,650*


  • Net income: $1,600


  • Scenario 2; Live on main floor, rent other two units


  • Total monthly rental income: $2,900


  • Carrying cost: $2,650*


  • Net income per month: $250


  • *Carrying cost of the home includes mortgage, taxes, insurance and utilities. Assumes 20 per cent downpayment with 25-year amortization at 3.8 per cent interest.


All told, this property is perfect for the first-time home buyer or investor. It will take anywhere between $65,000 and $80,000 to upgrade and turn this house in to a safe, legal, modern and beautiful three-unit home, but it is well worth it in the long run.





















So, how do you find properties like this one? Here are a few tips.

1. Do your research. Investigate thoroughly the areas of the city that you are interested in living in. What are the best streets and schools? Where are the nicest parks? How accessible is the area? Now search for the roughest house among the great ones. Finding a solid house that needs some fixing up is usually the best way for a first-timer to build some "sweat" equity into a property.

2. Get an agent on the job. It's important not to pick an agent just because they are a friend or relative with a real estate licence. You want someone who is active in the area and knows the houses inside and out. An agent with multiple listings in the area is a good indication of their activity level. Expect to get tips and insight from your agent.

If you think rushing into a real estate purchase is going to help you win a race against new taxes and rising interest rates, think again. At this point you're going to be paying the HST on closing because most properties bought now will close after the July 1 deadline, and what's the rush anyway? The HST will add an average cost of about $2000 to the transactions of closing a property in Toronto. That is about one-half of 1 per cent of the purchase price. There is a misconception that the HST will be added to the cost of resale homes in Ontario, and this is not the case. Only new construction homes will have the HST added to the price. Be patient, it can take a couple months to find the right property.

3. Look for potential, don't pay for potential. Often I will look at overpriced, dilapidated properties about which the listing agent will say, "It's priced this way because it has so much potential" or "It's a renovator's dream." Another common phrase is "Vendor and agent do not warrant retrofit status of the property," yet they will say it is a great rental. I would pay more for a great rental that was legal! Pay for what the property is and if you decide to pay to renovate the home to its fullest potential, then those costs are justified. Don't make the mistake of overpaying for something that needs a lot of work.

Good luck with finding your "rough" in the diamonds.

Real estate entrepreneur Scott McGillivray is the host of HGTV's Income Property (hgtv.ca; scottmcgillivray.com).

























































Report Typo/Error

Follow us on Twitter: @globeandmail

 

In the know

Most popular videos »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail