Investors earning high ROIs on rural properties

Prince Edward County is becoming known as an Airbnb hotbed—and with good reason. The county is a tourist destination year-round and there’s seemingly never a quiet day.

Torontonians, frustrated by their investments’ diminished returns, have turned to buying property in Picton, in particular, en masse. And all indications are that their investments will be sound for years to come.

Investor and Bosley Real Estate sales agent Davelle Morrison just sold an investment condo in Toronto to get in on the action.

“I believe strongly in that market,” Morrison told CREW. “I just sold one of my investment condos in Toronto and, with friends, I just bought a sixplex in Picton. I’m going to use it for short-term stays.

“This will be an Airbnb property, and it will be called a guest house, but with six units—some one-bedroom and others two-bedroom units—it will be a place where people can book their vacations in Prince Edward County.”

Prince Edward County is smack in the middle of Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, and, therefore, receives steady inflow of visitors throughout the year. With its microbreweries, distilleries and restaurants in addition to Sandbanks Provincial Park, the county has become one of Ontario’s predominant tourist hotspots.

“We know the demand is quite strong there and we’ll have a property manager there to manage our sixplex, and we’ll look after the online bookings here in Toronto, but an on our-site manager will greet guests when they come in and we’ll have a cleaner on board to clean the property after everybody leaves,” said Morrison.

The property Morrison and her partners bought can currently fetch $150 a night for a one-bedroom unit, and $185 for a two-bedroom. However, upon the completion of renovations, she hopes to shift those numbers to $200 for the single-bedroom and $250 for the double.

Picton’s single-family detached houses are still reasonably priced and, according to Morrison, they would make excellent Airbnb properties.

She added that fixer-uppers can be had for as little as $250,000, while finished houses go for up to $500-550,000. That isn’t a lot of money for investors—many of whom spend more on shoebox condos in Toronto—who want to use the houses as short-term Airbnb properties. Moreover, the county welcomes the economic spinoff.

“In Prince Edward County, there aren’t big hotel chains, and the problem with Airbnbs in Toronto is the hotel chains are upset,” continued Morrison. “Prince Edward County doesn’t have hotel chains getting upset, and they need tourists to come in to create jobs for people and spend money in the county.”

One challenge facing Picton’s renters is most properties are being used for Airbnb, effectively turning long-term renters into a lucrative target market. Similarly, the demand for Airbnb  properties isn’t dissipating.

Aziz Sidi is an Airbnb host in Picton who bought a house with an accompanying coach house for $326,000, then put another $100,000 of renovations into it. He pulls in around $2,000 during the slowest months of the year, and up to $12,000 during the peak month of July. In all, after all his expenses (including the mortgage) he averages $7-8,000 of profit a year.

“Quite honestly, the place has already gone up in value,” said Sidi. “I bought it for $326,000 and I can sell it for $400,000, and it’s only been a year and a half. The county is getting better and better every day. Every month or two, you have a new restaurant opening. A culinary school is also opening in Picton. It just keeps getting better and better and better, and it will obviously become more of a destination.”

Airbnb hosts have been known to draw the ire of neighbours, but Sidi says that hasn’t been the case in Picton because locals realize hosts are making both direct and indirect contributions to the economy.

“I’ve had no complaints, no issues,” he said. “When I bought the place, my neighbours were aware I’d be listing it on Airbnb, and they actually offered to keep an eye on it for me. People are fantastic here. It’s a kind place.”


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