Buying Duplexes & Other Income Type Properties in London and South West Ontario

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1 Buying Duplexes & Other Income Type Properties in London and South West Ontario I have spent a lot of time studying and working with wealthy real estate investors and I am not talking about the flashy ones or the jet setters, I am talking about the person who looks and acts like your regular person next door, yet has a portfolio of 5 or more properties. They could be condos, single family houses or multi-family homes and whichever they are comfortable with; they take the attitude of slow and long term growth. They do not flip, they do not take excess risks and they are great landlords because they know the secret to being a successful landlord. Being an investor in small real estate properties will not make you rich overnight, but over time you can build what I call slow wealth! You make money in real estate when you buy, not when you sell! All our client s do well with this philosophy, we guide and advise and as J.P. Getty said Investors bank on climate, while speculators bet on the weather. By Ty Lacroix Owner & Broker of Record

2 Buying Duplexes, Triplexes VS Single Family Homes I am asked all the time, should we buy a single family home or a multi-family home as an investment? As always, each and every one of us is different and has various levels of risk tolerance. The biggest advantage in small residential income properties (duplexes, Triplexes and Fourplexes) or investing in multi-family units is the most obvious reason: the monthly cost if any units are vacant to the owner/investor. Let s use the following example: Owner "A" has a Single Family home with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths that rents for $1500 with mortgage of $1,100 per month. Now the property goes vacant for one month. Thus, Owner "A" must now come up with $1,100 out of his own pocket to make the mortgage payment. Ouch. Whereas, Owner "B" has a duplex, each unit has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths that s rents for $1300 each unit ($ $1300 = $2600) with a monthly mortgage amount of $1,500. If one unit goes vacant for one month, Owner "B still receives $1300 from the occupied unit and now must come up with only $200 to make his monthly mortgage payment. A MUCH Smaller problem than what Owner "A" has to deal with. Both of these properties are real life examples; located in London and show why investing in a Duplex, Triplex or Fourplex is a MUCH BETTER way to go in creating wealth through Real Estate investing, along with good real estate education. The numbers may change, but the final results will be the same. Now, as you can see from the above examples, you can be in a negative position real quick. I do not like being in a negative position and you should not like it either! You may smile, but you will not believe how many investors I come across who subsidizes their properties from their employment income or savings! Don t do that! I have a few rules in investing, break them, you will go broke! Things are different when buying a single condo as an investment, especially if you wish to be more of a passive investor and not be as hands on as a multi-family home would require. Give me a call to learn my take and client examples of very, very good returns. So why put your money in one residential unit like a single family dwelling if you re an investor, (does not include condos) when you can spread the risk among 2-3 units like in a duplex or triplex and create a better CASH FLOW for yourself and create future wealth? Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc Page 1

3 That is just one reason why investing in multi-family units (duplex, triplex or four- plex) can be one way to Real Estate wealth then simply buying a single family home. The Cost Per Unit typically here in the London market, on average a single family home goes for about $228,000 a nice duplex will go for $ ,000, likewise a triplex for $250-$300,000. Yes, the monthly mortgage will be higher for the triplex then the single family dwelling, but you will have THREE FAMILIES paying you rent towards that mortgage payment. The "Per Unit Mortgage" amount is less with the triplex and the opportunity in collecting rents to cover the monthly mortgage is much greater than the single family dwelling. Owner verses an Investor As an owner/buyer of a duplex, triplex or even a four plex who lives in one of the units; you have many advantages over the ownership of a single family home. For example if you buy a duplex, banks like to loan to owner occupied duplexes because they know that part of the mortgage payment will be coming from the other unit (the rental unit) and part from the owner (owner occupied unit) thus reducing the amount that the owner would need each month. Also, you can write off some or large portions of your repairs. For example, if you installed a new roof on an owner occupied home, the homeowner gets NO immediate TAX benefits (the benefit kicks in at time of selling as an "adjustment to the cost basis" of the home). Whereas, the owner occupied duplex can write 1/2 of the roof installation on his/her taxes that year. With a 5-20% down on a duplex you may still have a small negative cash flow (some areas with 20% down you can have positive cash flow) but the time it takes to go from a negative to positive cash flow is much shorter than the time it will take you with a single family home. My experience over the years shows that my successful real estate investor clients look at purchase price and cash flow a lot differently than the rookie real estate investor does, and for that matter, so called experienced investors who leave thousands on the table when they purchase or sell or in tenant selections! Again, our systems work because they are proven, and when or if I hear that a client is not doing as well as they should, quickly we can identify that the system works, but the investor did not follow the system, in other word, the system works, the investor did not work the system! Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc Page 2

4 Run the Numbers before Buying an Investment Property People talk about running the numbers before buying an investment property, but what are the numbers and how do you get accurate numbers? Running the wrong numbers can make the difference of making $500 or losing $1000 per month. In this article, we will go through the costs and factors to consider making your investments successful. RENTAL INCOME Rental income is not as straightforward as it seems. Sometimes properties are under-rented and sometimes properties are over-rented, so be sure to find out the market rents when you consider a property. When Peter and Karen bought their first triplex, we looked at comparable leases and realized that rents were too high, so instead of assuming they would continue to receive $3600 of rental income; they had to be realistic and assume it was more like $3200. MORTGAGE INTEREST A huge cost is mortgage interest. You should definitely sort out the details of your loan options and get an idea of current rates before running the numbers. It could make or break a deal. If you are getting a duplex or a house, the loans are generally similar to other home loan programs. Triplexes and four-plexes tend to have higher rates, and commercial is a whole other ballgame. One thing to consider is to put more down because the more you put down, the less your loan will be, which means less monthly interest to pay. Another consideration is the type of loan. Just get educated about the loan options and run the numbers. Oh, and do not just take advice from one mortgage person. The best way to get educated is to talk to a variety of mortgage brokers and banks to find your best solution; not all loan places have the same programs. TAXES People frequently use the taxes from the year when they purchased the property, assuming the taxes will stay the same. Taxes change every year. Taxes can go up drastically after a purchase. For example, an owner occupied property usually has tax breaks, so unless you intend to owner occupy too, your taxes will go up. In addition, the city appraisal that your taxes are based on could go up after your purchase. For example, if you buy a property for $200,000 but the tax appraisal last year was for $150,000; don't count on it remaining at $150,000. In fact, I have seen cases where a year after a property was purchased the tax assessor increased the appraisal value to the purchase price. The safest approach is to look at the tax rate and the purchase price to determine your future taxes. Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc Page 3

5 VACANCY COST For some reason people tend to forget to take into account vacancy rate. Even when looking to invest in a desirable rental area, it's best to always take into account at least a 5-8% vacancy rate. Do some investigation, look at your market and find statistics on the average vacancy rate. By the way, vacancies cost you dearly. Use our philosophy and you will have very few vacancies, if any! TENANT TURNOVER COST I have personally found that the biggest surprise for most investors to be the expense of tenant turnover. This includes advertising for a new tenant, cleaning, repainting, replacing carpet, etc. If you expect to have high tenant turnover, like next to a student campus, anticipate this to be a significant cost. (I don t like tenant turnovers, most of my clients do as well so we avoid these high income, high risk, and high maintenance properties. INSURANCE COST Insurance on investment properties are typically higher than owner occupied, single family properties. So get an insurance quote on the property instead of basing your expected insurance off of the insurance bill for your house. You also should purchase liability insurance. MAINTENANCE COSTS This is by far the most difficult number to estimate. It depends on the property, whether you fix some of the problems yourself or hire outside help, and random luck. So I can't give you a hard and fast number but we can look into different factors to take into account. **Property Type - When you evaluate different properties remember to take into account the type of property. If its brick you won't have to paint or worry about wood root. Decks need constant maintenance. A property with wood or concrete floors will be easier to clean and will not have to be replaced when a tenant moves out. Just think about the aspects of the property and their maintenance costs. **Property Size - A smaller property is easier to maintain than a larger property. For instance, say there are two properties for sale for $200,000 and each have a combined rent of $2,400. A property with 2 units and a total of 1000 square feet will be cheaper to maintain than a property with 6 units and 3000 square feet. The larger property will be more expensive to maintain when you are replacing the larger roof, painting the interior walls etc. More units mean more money spent on advertising, make-readies, and more appliances to repair. **Property Location - Consider your proximity to the property. If you buy a property 30 miles away, over the course of a year you can spend a decent amount of gas money driving back and forth. Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc Page 4

6 For years I used to produce a weekly Top Ten List of income properties in London available for sale in London, St. Thomas and surrounding areas. However, there are many kinds of investors who have a totally different perspective on income properties. Some are true investors (long term and patient to build equity), there are strictly cash flow investors (who want or need income monthly starting today) and then there the dreamers, the flippers and get rich quick type who know everything there is to know about real estate, they tell everybody how smart they are, yet don't have a pot to tinkle in! So, my Top Ten did not fit the mold for the first two types of investors and secondly, sometimes, for example as of today, out of 84 active income properties available for sale on MLS, I could only pick 7 as a value proposition! Why? Price or location or condition or income or style! All of these I have run the numbers and there is only 7. Now, I may have 77 Sellers and 77 Real Estate Agents upset with me, but you know what, value is in the eye of the beholder and the wise investor! My client's know and now you may as well, investing in real estate takes patience, courage, diligence and a team of pros. If you are an investor and not doing well, or want to sell your portfolio or want to get started, let s meet for a chat, discuss investing philosophies and after that, if you and I are a match, let s go! me at or a quick call at , fence sitters usually get a pain in the butt and are the ones who say I could have, I should have, if only I. Talk to you soon! Ty Lacroix Broker of Record and Owner 25 base Line Road W. London Ontario N6J 1V1 Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc Page 5

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