Thursday, 04 September 2014 15:52

Is Miami the strongest market in the U.S.?

Written by Vernon

Miami has come full circle in the wake of the recession and is now one of the best performing housing markets in the U.S., according to a new report.

Miami’s revival of fortunes is being attributed to the phenomenal influx of foreign investments, and primarily Canadians.

Almost 90 per cent of all new downtown construction is due to demand from foreign investors, according to a new study by Miami Downtown Development Authority conducted by Integra Realty Resources.

And it is the high-end of the market that such buyers are opting for, with a majority conducting cash transactions. In the new Dezer Development, the least expensive unit is $5.5 million and so far, 22 investors have already put down deposits. Miami is currently eight in the world for luxury cities with high-end real estate dubbed as the “new global currency.”

The study also found that domestic buyers constitute 10 per cent of downtown purchases, with the remaining 25 per cent primarily made up of Europeans and Asians.

According to Sotheby’s International, Chinese buyers are viewing Miami as a real hot spot and are realizing prices are not as high as New York and other major cities.

Thursday, 04 September 2014 11:24

Ohio is new favourite amongst Canadians

Written by Grainne Burns

Canadians are increasingly moving from the “regular” investing comfort zones with Ohio the latest favourite amongst buyers.

Forget its old tag as a cow town and embrace its position as a new tech-centre with huge potential for growth.

That is the advice of Canadian investors that are parking their cash in Ohio, or more specifically Columbus and Cleveland.

“Columbus did better than a lot of the rest, and I think it recovered faster than some of the other cities in the region. Other places were so manufacturing-based … and a lot of those cities have just declined enormously,” says Vena Jones-Cox, a local real estate investor. “A high percentage of people are living under the poverty line, but Columbus has stayed a lot more stable.”

Latest statistics show that the average media house price at US $125,000 with a media rent of $1,039. The estimated household income currently stands at US$43,844.

“Cleveland has the number one price-to-rent ratio in the whole country,” says Davor Rom, investor and president of Investor Income Properties. “Essentially the market rents versus investment dollars are higher than anywhere in the country, which is why we’re doing business there.”

***Do you want to learn more about investing in Ohio? In the next bumper issue of Canadian Real Estate Wealth, we speak to Canadian investors who are currently taking the leap into Columbus and Cleveland. The issue will be available in early October. Get your copy earlier by subscribing here today to avail of our special offer.

Canadians need to stop focusing so much on the U.S. dollar or else they will miss the boat, says one seasoned investor.

The fluctuating Loonie in recent months may have stalled many expansion plans of late, but one investor says it is time to stop obsessing about the currency rates.

“I would encourage clients that it is important to consider all market fundamentals above all else,” says Sean M. Greene from Platinum Investment Real Estate Group. “There are some extraordinary opportunities for Canadians investing in U.S. real estate these days that far outweigh the shift in the Canadian dollar.”

To safeguard investments against any future fluctuations, many Canadians are changing the way they finance deals, according to Ryan Kohl from Express Capital Mortgage Inc. in Arizona.

“Instead of moving money over from Canada, we are performing ‘cash out’ or equity loans on properties that were purchased for cash,” he says. “Many Canadians have been paying cash for years and have a lot of equity that we can leverage for them to re-invest in additional property. This way they don’t have the added losses from moving money across the border.”

He adds that more companies are setting up limited companies in the U.S. to access finance from lending institutions there, while fix-and-flippers are turning to hard money lenders to fund such projects.

More Canadian investors are taking advantage of attractive commercial real estate opportunities down south.

Thanks to tougher lending conditions, more investors are looking to move into the commercial arena…and they are heading south to avail of the attractive prices  and market supply.

Canadians purchased, on average, between $15 and $19 billion worth of U.S. commercial real estate property per year since 2009, according to the Royal Bank of Canada.

This spending spree means that Canadians accounted for a third of the $38.7 billion of foreign capital invested in 2013 alone, according to the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

A lack of domestic opportunities and price are two of the main reasons for this trend. The entire Canadian office market is about 400-million sq. ft., roughly similar to the size of Manhattan.

Canada’s commercial property market is also estimated to be worth about $1-trillion (U.S.) compared with $11-trillion for the U.S. market.

"The bulk of Canada’s international real estate investment has traditionally taken place in the U.S. and Western Europe, but we are seeing Canadian investors in the Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Southern and Eastern Europe,” said David Green-Morgan, global capital markets research director for Jones Lang LaSalle.

Commercial investors are reportedly targeting such markets as Tampa Bay, Chicago and Phoenix with ample supply of under-valued properties.

From Miami Beach to Orlando, Florida remains the top destination for Canadians. But are there still bargain properties available the savvy investor?

Real estate investing anywhere in Florida starts with the weather. Throw in world-famous attractions, a large student population and economic development projects and you’ve got all the ingredients for a successful investment.

Home to Disney World, the University of Central Florida and a short distance to the Atlantic Ocean and places like The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, the area is an investor’s paradise, according to Steve Perez, managing partner of Altura Investment Realty in Orlando.

He concurs that weather is an advantage, especially when it comes to renovating investment properties, as construction can continue year-round. With the population continuing to grow, Perez says demand for housing is strong, as is the supply.

“We’ve had 35 per cent appreciation over the past two years,” he says. Prices have dipped though recently after a hyper-exaggerated market due to large institutional buyers snatching up thousands of homes. “Many of them have now stopped and the market has begun to stabilize. 2014 looks much better for the individual investor because the market is less competitive.”

Homes prices increased throughout Central Florida compared to statewide during 2013, according to a report released by Florida Realtors. In the Orlando Metropolitan area, which includes Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties, the median home price rose 20 per cent to a median price of $165,000 – exceeding the 15.9 per cent statewide increase and edging the region closer to the statewide median home sales price of $168,000.

According to Perez, single-family units in established neighbourhoods are the best investment and the average price for these in $60,000 to $100,000 for rentals and $80,000 to $150,000 for flips. He says their average rental deals goes for about $70,000 and expected rents of $1,100, with cap rates anywhere between 12 to 15 per cent.

In the communities near Orlando’s theme parks, yields are even better, renting out properties to tourists for weekly rents of $1,000 to $1,500.

Perez says the supply of housing in the area is steady, as Florida is a judicial state when it comes to foreclosures. “This means that the banks have to go through a lengthy foreclosure process and have a back log of homes or shadow inventory. The banks have been releasing this inventory slowly and we feel there are at least three years left of undervalued inventory.” Perez says there are currently 14,732 homes listed on the Orlando MLS and that thousands of FSBOS that will be sold in 2014.

Thursday, 03 July 2014 04:19

Whitecourt, Alberta

Written by Vernon

With a zero per cent vacancy rate, it is clear that something is abuzz in Whitecourt. Its local economy thrives on the back of its oil and gas production, with three forestry-related mills also a major source for employment within the district.

The town’s population has been growing steadily over the years as more migrant workers choose to settle permanently in the community. Its central location in Alberta and proximity to urban cities such as Edmonton are vital for residents and investors.

Whitecourt offers a positive business environment – there is no Provincial Sales Tax, low municipal tax (amongst the lowest in the province), low utility costs, modern infrastructure and an abundance of natural resources. This young and vibrant community is continually expanding with the majority of its population between the ages of 25 and 44 years old, and an average family income of over $99,000.

With the average home selling for $391,460, the cost of market entry in Whitecourt remains an obstacle for many first-time buyers. As such, they remain in rental properties to save up for deposits, says Janet Kuehn, associate with RE/MAX Advantage Whitecourt.

“A lot of local people are also investing in the area, which indicates the level of confidence that they have for its long-term potential,” she adds.
Kuehn states that given the small area size, almost all of the high-density residential areas are a good investment choice. “It all depends on how much you are willing to invest, be that $200,000 to $450,000.”

Single-family homes dominate the property inventory in Whitecourt, with demand ‘exceptionally high’ for this type, explains Kuehn.
“When single-family homes come onto the market they tend to go quickly, so investors need to jump on the opportunities when they arise,” she advises.

Townhouses with three to four units are an alternative for investors, says Kuehn, especially for migrant workers.

Monday, 26 May 2014 14:36

Chomedy Northwest, Laval

Written by Jamie Henry

Located north of the island of Montreal, the city of Laval has experienced rapid population growth in recent years, a trend that investors are keen to tap into.

Despite being an island city itself, there is an abundance of undeveloped land in Laval. Most of this land is being converted into new residential developments to keep pace with that burgeoning population.

Laval is divided into a number of subdivisions, Chomedy being one. Situated near the centre of the island, Chomedy’s prices and population have climbed since 2012, particularly in its northwest corridor. There, the average price has increased by 3.53 per cent to $315,750, according to Brookfield RPS market data.

Chomedy Northwest provides residents with easy access to a number of key services and amenities. RE/MAX 2000 agent Anto Hindoyan notes that they include two major highways, several shopping malls, and a reliable local transit system. The bus network, in addition to several bridges, provides direct links to Montreal, the employment centre for Laval residents.

The relative tranquility of the neighbourhood also makes it both an ideal place to live and invest in. “The only people who drive into it are people who live there,” Hindoyan says. “In general, it’s a very calm residential (enclave).”

Investors looking to capitalize on the demand in Chomedy Northwest will find it rife with opportunities. Hindoyan believes the best profits can be made with a certain type of property.

“In this area, cottage-style single-family homes would be the best buy,” he says. “These (properties) were built between 1985 and 1990 and are generally well-maintained. They can be rented out for up to $1,200 per month.”

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 13:41

Dundas, Hamilton

Written by Vernon

Located northwest of downtown Hamilton, the town of Dundas is nicknamed “Valley Town” due to its location at the bottom of the Niagara Escarpment.

That it is surrounded by the Bruce Trail with easy access to several waterfalls including Webster’s Falls and Tew’s Falls only adds to its growing appeal. It is a historical town with a population that has remained stable for decades, mainly because land, which is part of the Dundas Valley Conservation Area is protected. But change is coming.

Dundas’s population has experienced nearly 8 per cent growth over the last five years, and its average home prices are also trending upward. The average property price in Dundas is $403,360, marking a 4.11 per cent year over year increase.

Dundas’s property market has remained relatively stable over the years – a factor which may attract investors. Conrad Zurini, a broker with Record of RE/MAX Escarpment Realty believes that the time for investors to enter this sub-market is now.

“There is less than 3 per cent of land left to develop in Dundas,” Zurini reveals. “It’s a pretty mature city with one of the most thriving downtowns of all the neighbouring communities that make up Hamilton.”

Zurini notes that Dundas has inventory available for investors at all experience levels, ranging from mid-range residential properties to higher-end homes. For residents, there are direct links to downtown Hamilton via various public transit routes and major arteries.

Dundas is also located near McMaster University and houses many student tenants. Zurini advises investors to purchase single-family homes, if they are interested in tapping into the student-housing market. These properties have strong revenue potential.

“Because of its proximity to the university, I think [investors] should probably look at mid-range, single-detached homes that can be rented out to people who will only be there for a year or two,” says Zurini. “On average, you can rent these [properties] out for close to $3,000 per month.”

The high-rent expectations in this neighbourhood can easily generate up to $1,573 in monthly cash flow for landlords.

Not every renovation or fix-up project ends in smiles and a pat on the back. If you want to know the six renovation undertakings to avoid at all costs, read on…


1.  Removing all the trees: It might be tempting to pull out the chainsaw and sought that depressing looking willow tree out once and for all, but be cautious. Contrary to many people’s belief, removing trees can sometimes cause more damage to the value of a home than simply leaving them there. A large attractive tree can add $10,000 - $15,000 to the value of a property in some areas.


2. Expensive, but unnecessary fittings: A reno that gives you the best house on the street, won’t necessarily get you the best price. If you are an owner occupier in an area where there are a lot of rental properties that have been neglected and not well-looked after, it won’t matter how much you spend on improvements, the rest of the neighbourhood will drag the value down.

3. DIY fails: Homeowner-installed wiring and plumbing often spell instant devaluation on a property. It is illegal and dangerous and may be picked up by a pre-purchase inspection. Unless, you’re a professional yourself, leave complex projects to those who know what they’re doing.


4. Pulling out the ugly stick:  Renovations should be sympathetic to the original building. Starting an extension without considering the form or visual impact of the exterior materials being used so that the renovation appears as an add-on rather than part of the house, can potentially devalue your property by at least $28,000 on average.

5.  No playground, no barbeque: Poorly considered site planning, including extensions that can leave unusable outdoor spaces or are overwhelmed by fences and retaining walls close to important rooms will devalue the whole property.If you look at the new home designs that are current at the moment, you’ll see that there’s a really big emphasis on lifestyle or an outdoor living. Whether you’re buying a new home or an old home, people are looking for these features these days.


6. Illegal building and faulty structures: Undertaking construction work without a permit normally results in an instant fail. A prospective buyer having a pre-purchase inspection when you try to sell usually picks this up. Illegal building ultimately costs some owners $30,000 or more to make it comply with regulations. The same can be said for installing new kitchens and bathrooms without first checking that the sub-floor structures are sound. Many new kitchens are virtually destroyed in the first four years by floor subsidence.

Sunday, 27 April 2014 23:34

Time to think of Terrace?

Written by Grainne Burns
Terrace may be a quaint city on B.C.’s Skeena River, but it is a regional and retail hub for the northwestern portion of its province.

The region is undergoing major economic transformation with billion-dollar investments in forestry, mining, smelting, hydroelectricity, liquefied natural gas, as well as infrastructure projects in the Kitimat-Terrace industrial corridor.

With increasing activity increasingly descending on the region, Westjet recently commenced a twice-daily flights from Terrace to Vancouver at the end of November. Direct access to tidewater has established the region as a vital freight and commodities corridor for the Pacific Rim while its location at the junction of three major roadways is also pivotal to the region.

With so much industry and infrastructure investment, Terrace is naturally expecting a significant inflow of skilled and highly paid workers to the region, adding to the area’s population of just under 20,000. Local investors are already tapping into this market with house prices rising, on average, by 16 per cent in the last 18 months.

“There has been a definite spike in sales in the last year,” says John Evans, an agent with RE/MAX Coast Mountains. “There is almost a zero vacancy rate here, so savvy investors are coming in now. A lot of construction work has already started so there is a demand for rental properties.”

The average price of a single-family home is $294,067, according to the latest statistics for the first three months from the Northern B.C. Real estate Board (NBCBEB).

In the first quarter of 2014, 101 properties were sold overall in Terrace, up from 60 last year. This year, the total value of these properties was $23 million – double the $11.5 million total for the first quarter of 2013. As of March 31, there were 121 properties of all types available for sale in the Terrace area over the MLS system, down from 184 on March 31, 2013.

While demand for housing is increasing monthly, says Evans, prices remain affordable for investors. “To date, house prices have remained relatively stable, but rents have actually increased by about five per cent,” he says. “With so little housing stock on the market, we are expecting this rate to continue at this pace.”

Mobile homes are a popular residential choice in Terrace, with prices starting at the $20,000 mark. “These are suitable for the smaller or first-time investor. Rents are less for this type of property but considering the amount of workers expected to come to the area in the future, investor can earn a healthy cash flow quickly.” Two-unit single-family homes yield better returns, says Evans. “Houses that are near the access routes and in ‘move-in’ condition will rent quickly, especially for those who are primarily coming here to work on a short-term basis.”

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