Monday, March 31, 2014

5 ways children hold the key to housing’s future

Why did the housing bust happen in the first place?

Why did the financial crisis happen in the first place? More importantly, can we learn enough from history to stop it repeating?

Anyone with a heartbeat could get a mortgage, and lending standards remained non-existent. Boom, then bust. And America is still clawing itself out of the leftover damage.

Doug Duncan, chief economist for Fannie Mae, previously said, “It took 10 years to get to the housing bust, so it will take 10 years to get back.”

But for now, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is doing what it can to ensure that the same situation never happens again.

“We have an opportunity to see that America does better by its children. Now more than ever, as we emerge from the deepest financial and economic crisis of our lifetimes, people need the know-how to manage the ways and means of their lives,” Richard Cordray, director of the CFPB, said at the President’s Advisory Council for Financial capability for Young Americans Meeting.

“The choices they face in the financial marketplace – with instruments like mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, student loans, credit reporting, and more – are increasingly complex,” he continued.
Cordray outlined five ways young childhood education is the key to helping shape housing’s future.

1.  Financial education should begin at a young age
Education needs to be a priority as students approach gradation from high school and should continue to evolve into adulthood. Cordray explained that this can be attained through integrated curricula in our schools, so the benefits of compound interest are understood in math class, economic costs and risks are taught in social studies class, and essay topics in English class may cover how we use money, how we protect our money, or how we can take control of our financial lives to achieve our goals. 
2. Students should practice financial management through experimental learning
Whether it is through stimulating a banking experience or playing a computer game that hones financial skills, it will help students learn more effectively.
3. Teachers who are interest in teaching personal financial management need to be supported and engaged with
Teachers need access to training and incentives to take part, such as continuing education credits or need-based travel stipends.  
4. Financial education concepts need to be integrated into standardized tests
In doing so, it would increase the incentive for educators to teach these topics.
5. Parents need to get involved
“Parents help set expectations, and research has shown that if parents engage their children by establishing a savings account for them, these children are seven times more likely to attend college than those without a savings account,” Cordray explained. 

For the complete article, please click here 

Buying your first home ... what if your co-buyer isn't a first timer?

A common question, I am buying my first home and my partner is not.  How does this work?

Click the link here for details

As a first time buyer get the straight facts on buying a home by clicking here

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Interesting Duplex Property in Kanata Lakes

An interesting duplex property came across my desk this morning

Asking - $619,000
In Kanata Lakes

Upstairs - 4 bedroom, 2 car garage and 3 bathrooms - expected rent is $2500
Downstairs - 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom expected rent is $1200

Total expenses - $10,028.30 (not including mortgage)

Expected approximate cash flow is $784.00

To view the property, please click here
For more information, please click here 

Mortgage Rate Cut - sub 3% a reality again

TORONTO — Finance Minister Joe Oliver says he will keep a close eye on the Canadian housing market after the Bank of Montreal pulled back a key mortgage rate to levels that had left his predecessor feeling uneasy.
"Our government has taken action in the past to reduce consumer indebtedness and the government's exposure to the housing market,'' Oliver said in an emailed statement on Thursday.
"I will continue to monitor the market closely.''
Bank of Montreal moved late Wednesday to lower its five-year fixed-rate mortgage to 2.99 per cent, down from 3.49 per cent.
It's the first big bank to lower the key rate beneath three per cent, a level that caused then-finance minister Jim Flaherty to publicly chide BMO in March 2013, saying that he disapproved of the rate and discouraged other big banks from following its lead.
At the time Flaherty said he believed in ``responsible lending,'' and that he was concerned such low rates would work against his attempts to slow the momentum in the housing market.
One of his officials also contacted Manulife last year when it announced its own similar cut. A day later Manulife reversed its decision.
Flaherty stepped down as finance minister last week to return to the private sector.
BMO spokesman Paul Deegan downplayed the timing of the rate cut and Flaherty's departure.
"This rate change is driven solely by the fact that bond yields have fallen and we are in what has traditionally been the busiest season for buying a home,'' he said.

Other Canadian banks have also recently cut their rates — TD Bank reduced its four-year fixed-rate mortgage to 2.97 per cent earlier this month, while Scotiabank lowered its rates across the board while issuing a four-year special rate at 2.94 per cent.

For the full article and video, please click here

Huge double digit gains

Across the nation year-over-year, Atlanta, (16.8% gain), New York (at a 6.7% gain) and Washington D.C. (at 9.2% gain) posted their highest year-over-year returns since 2006. Others included, Los Angeles 18.9%, San Diego 19.4% and San Francisco 23.1%.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Professional property manager helps protect rental investment: Weisleder

Rental real estate: professional property manager will find a good tenant, chase down rent, pay bills and keep on top of repairs

More and more Canadians are buying rental residential real estate for investment purposes. These properties offer in most cases, stable income that pays almost all expenses, with a real estate asset that will typically appreciate in value in the long term. However, there are many pitfalls with becoming a first time landlord. The good news is that with the assistance of a professional property manager, you can be protected and have peace of mind that your investment will be secure for the long term.

Here’s why:
Tenants are properly screened: One of the toughest parts of owning a rental property is properly screening tenants in advance. If a mistake is made and the tenant stops paying rent and uses the system to delay, the owner will be faced with unpaid mortgage and other bills that could threaten their ownership. A property manager knows what information to look for and what questions to ask before renting out your unit, to assure that this does not occur. Problem tenants typically stay away when they see that a professional manager is reviewing all applications.
Rents are collected in a timely manner: Property managers generally have offices where it is easy for tenants to pay the rent, if they cannot pay by post-dated cheques or pre-authorized payments. You do not have to arrange to meet with the tenants at odd hours to collect rents. If rents are late, the property manager will likely start eviction proceedings to make sure that tenants get the message and pay the rent on time.
Repairs and Maintenance are attended to promptly: Do you really want a call at 11 pm that the furnace just broke down? With a property manager, all problems, 24/7, are directed to the property manager office. The property manager will have a list of approved contractors who can complete any repairs in a timely and cost-efficient manner, to keep both the landlord and the tenant happy. The property manager will also conduct routine maintenance checks to make sure that furnace filters, eavestroughs are cleaned in a timely manner, so that problems do not arise in the future.
Sharon Goldberg, President of Dash Property Management, which specializes in condominium properties downtown, tells me that his firm will also conduct property visits every three to six months to make sure that the tenant is properly looking after the unit. If the place is a mess, follow up visits are scheduled to make sure that the tenant properly looks after their own obligations.
All income and expense statements available online: Property Managers will typically collect all rents and pay some bills for the owner, usually property taxes and insurance. Most management companies have their own insurance policies that offer better rates and coverages than what an individual owner can negotiate in the market. The manager can then add the owner as an additional insured on the policy, making sure you have all the required coverage should anything happen. They will also ensure that the tenant takes out proper contents and liability coverage to protect the tenant as well. Landlords then have access on-line to these statements, which can be easily printed and given to their accountants for income tax preparation.
Managers believe in relationships: Managers are not exclusively on the landlord’s side. If the tenants are happy, they look after the property better. That is why the main goal of property managers is to solve problems quickly, so both landlords and tenants are happy long term.
The cost is very reasonable: Brandon Sage, of Landlord Property & Rental Management Inc., tells me that for a little over $100 a month, an owner can enjoy the benefits of a professional manager. As Brandon says, if your time is worth at least $30 an hour, then for less than four hours each month, you can have peace of mind.
Goldberg adds that for most investors, you do not think twice about trusting your stock portfolio to a professional manager. Why would you not do the same with your real estate properties?
It is not easy being a landlord. Using a professional manager will give you peace of mind and a safe investment over the long term.
Mark Weisleder is a lawyer, author and speaker to the real estate industry. You can contact him at  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kanata and Barrhaven growth

Populations of Kanata and Barrhaven are expected to grow by 60% by 2031 (17 years) according to City of Ottawa.

Millenials biding their time?

Many of the first-time buyers are millennials. They are expected to account for 35 per cent of home ownership in Ontario by 2016, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Census numbers show that almost half the population of downtown Toronto consists of millennials. Home ownership is said to be a high priority with this group, who are, according to anecdotal evidence at least, quite prepared to live at home with the parents until they have saved enough to buy that first home.

7 bold commercial real estate predictions

Conjuring the future of commercial real estate begins by conjuring our future. How will we work, live, shop or do business? Perhaps no other investment sector is so closely tied to people's most fundamental needs and behaviors; its evolution, to a large extent, follows ours.
Take it from Peter Linneman of Linneman Associates and the Albert Sussman Emeritus Professor at The Wharton School of Business, who pioneered the academic study of real estate and was named by the National Association of Realtors as one of the 25 most influential people in the business. Commercial real estate, he said, "exists to service the economy and society. That's all we do."

Over the next 25 years, say Linneman and other key players in the industry, commercial real estate will be buffeted by changes in demographics, technology, globalization, economic and environmental realities and a host of other trends. Some pieces of the trillion-dollar global industry will adapt; others will fall away. It will still be a cyclical business, but no matter how it changes, commercial real estate is expected to be thriving in 2039.
Here are seven bold predictions about U.S. commercial real estate in 2039.

1. Most shopping malls will be extinct.The world of the American shopping mall, said Kenneth Riggs, president and CEO of Real Estate Research Corp., "has been a Darwinian environment since the 1990s with the advent of big-box retail and the 'Wal-Marting' of the world-and it will stay that way." In other words, expect malls to continue their decline due to the rise in e-commerce, with only those consistently producing very strong revenues still doing business in 25 years.
"As the J.C. Penney's and Sears continue to lose market share to online retailing, you're going to see more dead malls where the anchors go dark and ultimately are worth only the land they're built on," said Tom Bohjalian, executive vice president at Cohen & Steers (NYSE:CNS - News), which was the first investment company to specialize in listed real estate.
Teardowns may not be the only way to capture value in defunct malls, though, said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and co-founder of the U.S. Green Building Council. He predicts that with repurposing, they'll be a useful resource when our way of life swings back to revolving around more compact communities. "Established places like shopping malls will become like town centers, where people can come together, where their doctors and day care will be, where they can gather after major devastations."
(Read more: Will the American dream still include owning a home? )

2. Brick-and-mortar will go tech-and warehouses will go back to the drawing board.As consumers increasingly shop on their computers and phones, brick-and-mortar retailers will need to adopt the attitude 'If you can't beat 'em, join 'em' in order to survive. Innovation will be key, making use of technology that integrates omnichannel shopping into the physical experience of being in a store and matching the logistical advantages of online merchants.
"People want to look and touch; they want instant gratification, too," said Maria Sicola, an executive managing director at real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, even as selling floors become smaller. "Perhaps there will be the equivalent of a mini warehouse within the store so you can go in the back room and buy what you want."
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL - News) is one retailer already using this forward-thinking approach in its stores. Its sales floors feature products that people can touch and try on their own, spending as much time as they'd like. They can buy and take home merchandise if they choose, or they can go home, do further research and buy online-with free overnight shipping. This may be a model other retailers will emulate.
Efficient distribution will be key, and the increasing importance of logistics and automation will impact warehouses across the country, many of which are obsolete even now, lacking up-to-date technology and adequate clearance height and often too remote to accommodate same-day delivery. That will add up to a lot of activity in the industrial sector in coming years, with old warehouses being retrofitted or new ones being built.
(Read more: The priciest real estate? It's not New York )

3. Baby boomers will be behind the biggest construction boom.The big generational bulge of the 20th century hasn't finished exerting its outsized influence yet, and commercial real estate will continue feeling its weight in the next quarter century. "We're an aging population, so in 25 years there's going to be a heavy focus on medical-related facilities," said Riggs, who also predicts a shift back toward affordable, multigenerational households that will translate to increased multifamily residential, particularly in close proximity to mass transit.
In seven years boomers will turn 75, a magical number in one way, said Linneman, because that's when people usually begin moving into senior housing. When this huge and demanding demographic is ready for the next stage of their lifestyle, rest assured: "It will explode," he said. "Right now senior housing is a food group in real estate, but it's like vegan or something, not that established. In 25 years it will be a major food group."

4. Urbanization will sweep the planet.If there's one thing all our experts were clear about, it's that our world will be significantly more urbanized in 2039. There will be a rise in the number of megacities-urban areas with more than 10 million inhabitants.
Baby boomers will be part of that phenomenon-many empty-nesters are attracted to the manageable charms of the city-but it's the desire of Gen X and Gen Y cohorts to live, work and play in a compact area that's largely fueling the trend. Multifamily residential stands to gain, but companies keen to attract young, educated talent are paying attention, too, and positioning themselves accordingly.
"Some businesses today consider location even more important than compensation in recruitment efforts," said Rick Cleveland, a managing director at Cushman & Wakefield. "That's driving a lot of the trend toward urban areas."
That doesn't mean that any old building on any city block will suffice for the worker of 2039. "The features that older-generation office spaces have, in terms of locations and amenities surrounding or in the facility, don't work for the new-age tenant," said Sicola, who points to companies in Manhattan that are abandoning Midtown for the west edge of the island and buildings that can be retrofit for open infrastructure. "For baby boomers, it was 'live to work,' but Gen Xers are working to live. They like to take breaks, have fun. Incorporating that into the workplace is critical."

5. The much-reported death of the suburbs will prove to be greatly exaggerated.As important as cities will be, however, suburbs won't simply die. "The suburbs want to become more like urban centers. Millennials want to be there, but in an environment where they can combine their work-and-play lifestyles," said Steven Blank, a former investment banker in real estate finance and now a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute.
"Mixed-use projects take advantage of that," he added. "We'll see a lot of existing office complexes re-engineered to comprise transient components, rental, retail, office. One example right now is the Time Warner Center, albeit in Manhattan. One tower is the Mandarin Oriental hotel and office space; the second was built as the headquarters of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX - News). And there's a high-end shopping space, restaurants, condominiums. These are a wave of the future."
Fedrizzi believes that suburbs will aim to replicate the city experience. "The way most of the suburbs will evolve is that there's an interim step; they'll be connected to cities by high speed or light rail, and they'll become walkable communities with a sense of place."
That will require a change in today's "definition of building: newer and bigger. There will be a sense of going back to the past, to a place that's a little more thoughtful," Fedrizzi said.
(Read more: Battle of the smart homes )

6. Work spaces will be transformed by technology.
Call it the "Googlization" effect: Cleveland and Sicola expect office complexes of the future to look and function more like today's technology company campuses, with open spaces, large workbenches mixed with more personal plug-and-go digital workstations and amenities like massages, bistros and dry-cleaning onsite.
Henry H. Chamberlain, president and COO of BOMA International, agreed. He foresees more densely populated office spaces as the globalization of business kills the traditional 9-to-5 workday and requires companies to be staffed 24/7. Key to their operation will be tech tools, such as teleconferencing, to stay connected to the international marketplace.
To accommodate the needs of the workplace, Chamberlain believes that these will operate as "smart buildings." "Running a commercial office building will increasingly become a high-tech job," he said. "It will require property managers and engineers to possess IT knowledge to keep buildings online."
They will take on a whole new meaning, especially in the area of security. "Not only will technologies be integrated into buildings to track who enters or leaves the property, but access will be tailored to risk, tenant population and potential threats."
(Read more: Google to invest $50 million in real estate site )

7. Green buildings will come of age.While sustainability is gaining traction in Europe, it remains more of a buzzword than an actuality here in the U.S.-but that's changing. Efforts to meet environmental standards at this point tend to be costly, but they're a long-term imperative, and most everyone in the industry recognizes it. "Sustainability is not economical," said Cohen & Steers' Bohjalian. "It's a downward bias on return, but it's the necessary evil."
The gold standard in sustainable building design and operation is the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), levels of certification based on points earned in various credit categories, like water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, sustainable building materials and reduction in waste. "I tell people it's like the nutritional information on a box of animal crackers," said Fedrizzi.
There's no doubt that all buildings 25 years from now will need to be up to LEED standards, he said, which will mean that many existing structures, especially some of the cheaply constructed ones of the '80s, will have to be torn down. "Some you couldn't retrofit if you wanted to."
(Read more: Sustainable Singapore: A model to be replicated? )

But LEED standards have always changed with the times, since their inception 14 years ago, and what constitutes a LEED-certified building-indeed, the future of all buildings, as Fedrizzi sees it-will be different in 2039 than it is now. "Instead of a nutrition label, the metaphor going forward is of a speedometer, measuring performance."
The skyscraper of tomorrow will monitor how much energy-sapping CO² is in the air-perhaps via devices on employees' wrists-and increase ventilation rates accordingly. The building will similarly monitor light, energy, water and heat levels and respond by controlling them, increasing efficiency as well as human and environmental health. (Fedrizzi imagines there will be a lot of agriculture on rooftops, as well.)
As a final word, warned Fedrizzi, don't underestimate how much needs to be done to make our communities livable for the long haul: "Our schools are so decrepit, it will take $75 billion worth of upgrading to bring them up to code that the Environmental Protection Agency has already said is the baseline."
Perhaps in 2039 our schools will be our most important-and sustainable-buildings of all.
-By Robin Micheli, Special to

Another big thing coming is the baby boomers.

 Because there are so many of them, and they are reaching the age when they will have special needs in their housing, their impact is going to be huge. This isn’t really much of a prediction—anyone can see it coming. But senior housing, they say, is going to explode in the next couple of years, and stay big for the next twenty-five. Not only will housing have to be built or modified to accommodate the boomers, but there will be an unprecedented construction boom in new medical facilities to take care of them.

How important is real estate to the economy?

In Canada and the United States, the residential real estate industry, including housing services and consumer investment, accounts for about 17–19 per cent of GDP. This includes construction of single-family and multi-family homes, remodeling, production of manufactured homes (mobile homes), brokers’ fees and other financial and legal services, and insurance. Considering that Canada’s economy is worth more than $1 trillion, and the US economy about ten times that amount, it’s evident that housing in both countries is worth hundreds of billions of dollars each year. In short, it matters.

Front door color... love luv luhhhv

Is The Ideal Building Material Made By Mother Nature?

The Coast Redwoods in California can live more than 2,000 years. Their trunks can grow up to 24 feet wide. And some reach higher than a 30-floor skyscraper.

It is these miracles of Mother Nature that have people asking … why are wooden buildings limited to four storeys?              

Wood science and building technology are inspiring builders. For the first time in 100 years, builders are looking at new ways to build skyscrapers. In fact, more and more architects are experimenting with wood building techniques. New technologies and building systems have enabled longer life spans for wood, taller walls, and higher wood buildings. The load strength and span-width capabilities of new wood products, coupled with the lighter weight of wood, are enabling architects to design dramatic vaulted ceilings and long span bridges.

One such innovation includes timber panels. Instead of using typical 2 x 4 wood studs, builders are creating massive timber panels—pieces of young wood glued together to make larger and longer panels. This allows builders to “tilt up” these larger, systems of wood to build buildings six storeys at a time, safely.

But the most innovative features of wood are inherent in its nature. Wood is the only building material that is grown naturally, from the power of the sun. It stores carbon and reduces emissions. It costs less, is better for the environment, and offers performance and versatility.

Wood also meets building code, and with the current push to increase wood buildings to six storeys, measures are being put in place to ensure this continues. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fears of housing market crash in Ottawa overblown, report states

Fears that a housing bubble is in danger of bursting in Ottawa are exaggerated, the Conference Board of Canada said in a report published Monday.

The report by the Ottawa-based think-tank said the city’s resale market is sluggish and the amount of new home construction remains soft by historical standards.

But the housing market in Ottawa remains balanced between sellers and buyers, the report said.
“The housing market may be undergoing a correction in some regions and market segments, but it is more likely to be a soft landing than a bubble bursting,” Robin Wiebe, a senior economist, said in a statement.
The report said the ratio between houses sold and the number that are put on the market has been in a downward trend since 2009 and 2010, which is largely due to falling employment in Ottawa.

The number of new homes built compared to the population growth is in line with historical averages, the report said. It stated that in some Canadian markets, housing prices may be headed for a modest decline.
“Mortgage costs, not just house prices, are the principal deciding factor for potential homebuyers,” Wiebe said. “Mortgage rates are expected to rise this year, but not dramatically, because the Canadian economy remains in a slow-growth mode.”

The report said that housing-bubble fears hinge on the ratio of house prices to apartment rent and house prices to income. While the ratios are high, the Conference Board of Canada says they are misleading.
“Better indicators of affordability are the ratio of mortgage payments to rents and mortgage payments to incomes, and neither presents much cause for alarm about a housing bubble,” the report said.

The Conference Board of Canada’s report, called Housing Briefing: Bubble Fears Overblown, looked at the housing markets in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

For the complete article, please click here

Fears of a housing bubble in Canada overblown, report says

Fears that a housing bubble is brewing in Canada are overblown, according to a new report by the Conference Board of Canada. 

While house prices may be headed for a modest decline in some markets, there is no bubble to pop, the report says.

As the price of homes continues to rise, low interest rates and low mortgage rates are keeping affordability at reasonable levels, according to the report.

Average home prices in February rose an annual 10.1 per cent across Canada, with large increases in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta.

The report says those calling it a bubble are looking at the wrong statistics – by focusing on the ratio of house prices to incomes and the ratio of house prices to rents.

Instead, the report looks at the ratio of principal and interest costs to incomes and to rents, and finds that they are in the same range they have been in for the past 20 years.

"Mortgage costs, not just house prices, are the principal deciding factor for potential home buyers," according to Robin Wiebe, senior economist at the Conference Board's Centre for Municipal Studies and author of the report.

"Mortgage rates are expected to rise this year, but not dramatically, because the Canadian economy remains in slow-growth mode," she said.

The report also looked at the real estate markets in six major Canadian cities, and found there to be a good balance of buyers and sellers in each, indicating a healthy market.

In February, the IMF and TD Bank said the Canadian housing market is 10 per cent overvalued, while in a report released last November, ratings agency Fitch said prices in the Canadian market are overvalued by 21 per cent.

All three said the market would find a soft landing, without a painful crisis when prices dropped.

For the complete article, please click here 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Prosperity with property

With bonds ending a 25-year bull run and many predicting less robust future returns for equities, interest is growing in the alternative property investments category, which encompasses mortgage funds and real estate equity.
When people hear alternative, they immediately think exotic and risky, says David Kaufman, president of Westcourt Capital Corp., a Toronto-based investment fund specializing in income-generating funds tied to real estate and equity investments not correlated to the ups and downs of the stock market.
Firms such as Westcourt allow high-net-worth clients invest in several revenue-stream options, including mortgage investment corporations that invest in residential mortgages, real estate investment trusts (REITs), and more unusual investments such as Canadian farmland.
Not all property investments. Chris Biasutti, a Vancouver-based exempt market representative who established his own business four years ago to advise clients on the various investment options available in the exempt market and their suitability says in the past several years he’s put money into everything from mortgage income corporations, single mortgages, private REITs, and raw land syndications.

Biasutti’s success investing in the alternative space has led him to teach investors about alternative real estate and provide research on alternative investment products. “The government, with its regulations, really lumps this whole marketplace into what they call high risk investment but the reality is that there is a whole spectrum of risk,” running from large, stable mortgage investment funds to speculative land syndication.
On the spectrum of risk, one of the safest and most steady investment harbours for high-net-worth investors is a mortgage investment fund, which manages pools of non-bank mortgage loans for pension funds, foundations, and wealthy individuals. Mark Hilson, managing general partner of mortgage fund giant Romspen, says the advantage of investing in mortgage funds over many other alternative investments is stability.
“You are one step up from the equity, so your risk is meaningfully reduced, and your returns are much more predictable.” Further, returns from an investment in such funds can either be sheltered from tax in an RRSP or held outside a registered plan.
Investing in mortgage funds, or REITs have another clear advantage over investing directly in real estate. They are liquid. In the case of public REITs, units can be sold just like shares. Likewise, most funds let investors easily sell at regular intervals, often monthly. Owning and selling hard real estate assets, like a strip mall, is a much longer-term proposition, typically taking six months, during which time property prices can fall dramatically.

There are several types of alternative real estate investing:
Direct Mortgage Lending – A single investor, or group of investors (syndicated), lend capital to a borrower under a mortgage agreement (the loan). The investment is secured against the borrower’s property through the registration of the mortgage agreement and names of the investors appear on the title. There is increased risk compared to Mortgage Income Funds as there is only one mortgage rather than a diversified portfolio of mortgages.
Land Banking: Individual – A single investor acquires a parcel of land, often on the outskirts of a growing municipality, and holds it until inflation and urban sprawl increases its value. Land banking is one of the least liquid forms of real estate investing and very few banks will finance raw land, so the leveraging advantage of real estate can be lost in this strategy.
Land Banking: Group/Undivided Interest – Investors who do not have the desire to purchase a parcel of land individually may choose to participate alongside a group of investors by buying an undivided interest in a parcel. None of the investors have direct control of the land, so their capital is committed until the entire group chooses to sell.
Limited Partnerships for Land/Building Development - Often used for projects involving the development of raw land, the construction of new buildings, and the ownership of real estate or other assets.
Mortgage Income Fund (MIF) - A managed pool of capital used to make multiple mortgage investments secured against real property. Interest income earned on the fund’s portfolio is distributed to shareholders through monthly, quarterly or annual dividends.
Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT): Private - A managed pool of capital used to purchase income producing real estate. Investors participate in private REITs by purchasing shares directly from the trust. Liquidity of private REIT shares are often dependant upon the REIT buying shares back from investors at set times throughout the year. On the plus side, share prices are not influenced by stock market volatility and do not carry the high operating overhead of public REITs.
REIT: Public – Shares are purchased through the public market and the REIT is required to file financial statements for publication. Investors purchase shares in public REITs because of the liquidity (they’re easy to exit), but they carry the risk of market volatility. Public REITs often trade at prices well above or well below the true value of the shares based on the combined value of the portfolio.
Paul Brent is a business journalist based in Toronto.

Please click here for the complete article

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Retirement Living Option - Golf Communties in Georgia

Demographically, approx. 80,000,000 baby boomers exist today in North America. These people range in age from late 40s to late 60s.  The front end Baby Boomers are reaching the age where the insane Northern winters are becoming unbearable.  A developing trend in real estate is the movement South of a huge portion of the population, whether for a few months a year or on a permanent basis.

Retirement is no longer just Florida.  It is important to have unbiased real estate reviews and in-depth information about popular gated communities in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, all in an effort to help people discover where to retire in the Southeastern USA.

It may seem like Baby Boomers have to fall into a rabbit hole to find their very own Wonderland these days among the myriad of neighborhood choices. Real Estate Scorecard is among the lucky ones, lucky enough to find Wonderland just around the corner in one of the best golf communities in Georgia. There are plenty of things to do at the Currahee Club in North Georgia at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A new Southern Living Inspired Community and where to retire in Georgia this year. Learn why Currahee Club is a wonderland of the south and why surrounding Lake Hartwell real estate developments are on the top of buyer's minds in 2014.

Earlier this year, Currahee Club was announced as one of the founding communities in the Southern Living Inspired Community brand. The “charm, taste and southern spirit” of the Currahee Club was a perfect match for this brand. The editors of the Southern Living brand hand-picked Currahee Club and praised the natural beauty of the community’s sweeping landscapes, while admiring the southern hospitality of the residents. Real Estate Scorecard couldn't agree more.

Take a peek at Currahee Club homes.

The charming essence of the community attracts plenty of retirees to Currahee Club, but the ideal location definitely makes this place a wonderland of the south. The 1,200-acre gated community community rests near Lake Hartwell and the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains is fit for royalty. The properties and homes overlook the lake, mountains and even the Signature #17 “Quarry Hole” that is part of the private community golf course. Retirees and visitors have a supreme view of one of the best golf communities in Georgia, and more and more people are inquiring about available Lake Hartwell real estate as they learn about the area. Property owners at Currahee Club are pretty happy here when Real Estate Scorecard consider's they scored the neighborhood 88 out of 100.

When deciding where to retire in Georgia, it is important to find a place that provides plenty of amenities. Currahee Club offers retirees national-class amenities including: one of the finest 48,000 square foot clubhouse's we've seen, a five-acre Sports Amenity Campus with swimming pool and fitness center, and Jim Fazio designed golf course. Natural trails and scenic walks are just added bonuses of this amazing community for residents, and Southern Living is looking forward to organizing events like on-site interior design, cooking, organic gardening and landscape design classes. Residents living in Currahee Club homes are busy with social activities and retreat back at the end of the day to relax in their own custom built Currahee Club home at Lake Hartwell.

Currahee Club and Lake Hartwell real estate are in high demand because of their Blue Ridge Mountain top location. Mountain Manor homes and Cotswold-style cottages are popular designs in this neighborhood, and one-of-a-kind architecture is celebrated within the community and by the Southern Living editors. Currahee Club is known as one of the best golf communities in Georgia, and earned the title as a Southern Living Inspired Community, another significant achievement.

For more information on vacation rentals, sunshine retirement or vacation homes, please click here 

10 Major Cities Where It's Cheaper To Buy Than Rent

Sometimes it is cheaper to own than rent.  This is the case in these 10 major cities, where rent is more expensive than owning. These cities are excellent investment opportunities for investors to make positive cash flow on an investment property.

For more information on real estate investment ideas and options, please click here.

Military House Hunting Trip

Congratulations on receiving your military relocation to Ottawa, Canada’s Capital City.  We are honoured and pleased to have you for the duration of your posting.  The National Capital Region is home to approximately 1,200,000 people and is the 4th largest metropolitan area in Canada and located only 5 hours from Toronto and 2 hours from Montreal.

It is, for the most part, a public service city with the Federal Government being the largest employer though there is also a good-sized high tech component, located predominantly in the West End in Kanata.  Many jobs, especially public sector jobs, require fluency in both English and French.  There major school boards – English Public, English Catholic and French Catholic (English schools do offer French Immersion).

Ottawa is a beautiful city with rivers, canals and parks, bicycle paths, ski hills within a 30 minute drive and lots of great restaurants, museums, and cultural offerings.  Mont Tremblant, Quebec is located within a 3 hour drive and offers world class skiing and golf, nestled in a European chalet styled oasis.

The housing market in Ottawa and area is a fairly stable market, mostly due to the stable nature of the workforce here. Prices climb slowly but steadily year after year. For specific information on the real estate market, please feelfree to contact me by clicking here.

The Relocation Process- House Hunting Trip (HHT)
You are entitled to a House Hunting Trip (HHT). The HHT shall normally be taken 30 – 60 days in advance of Change of Strength date (COS). HHT bookings must be made at least 14 days prior to departure dates, except when operational requirements prevents it and the Base Commander authorize the last minute bookings. The HHT must be authorized by your Base Commander at least 14 days prior to your trip.

What is covered on my HHT?
A standard HHT as a Core Benefit includes up to 5 days and 5 nights at the new location, for the member, or spouse, or both.  The total duration, including travel time, should not normally exceed 7 days and 6 nights.  Your meals will be reimbursed for the total 7 days of your HHT including travel days.  Members are entitled to a rental car and all expenses related to it such as gasoline, insurance and parking while on your HHT.

Other expenses covered by the Military?
All your legal and other fees associated with your purchase will be covered. You may use only approved suppliers from your list for such services as real estate agents, lawyers, house inspectors, surveyors etc. If needed, you will pay for water tests, well and septic inspections and radon gas inspection etc and be reimbursed later by IRP. Please note, if you are buying a property on a well and septic you should count on about $1000 for the various tests, but these properties are rare within the city of Ottawa.

If you are a military family moving to Ottawa, please click here for assistance

References available from other military personnel relocated to Ottawa.

Student housing apartments for Ottawa universities and community colleges:

Got a child attending university in Ottawa?  It can be a daunting task finding acceptable housing.  Ottawa U, for instance, has approx. 40,000 students and only space for approx. 4,000 students to stay on campus.  This creates a major void in the availability of housing for students. 

Here are helpful links for those seeking housing for their child attending post secondary eduction in Ottawa:
Algonquin College student residence

Algonquin College Off-campus housing,

Carleton University Student Residence,

Carleton University off-campus housing,

University of Ottawa residence,

University of Ottawa off-campus housing,

 For more information on Student housing in Ottawa, please click here.

Tips On How Can You Become a Successful Student Landlord From University of Toronto Housing Services

Residential landlords in Ontario face a lot of challenges.
Whether it’s professional tenants manipulating the system to avoid paying rent or the government 2014 guideline allowing you to raise the rent only 0.8%, the challenges are real and daunting.
(Although you might be exempt and can raise the rent above the guideline if you own new buildings!)
Many existing landlords and new investors have written in with questions regarding renting to students.
After all, students are usually less jaded than older folks and have worked hard to gain entry into university.
With a heavy load of studies and busy social lives they are less inclined to think of ways to bring their landlord to the Landlord and Tenant Board and ‘play the system’.
Examples of students causing major (and expensive) problems for their landlords exist.
Take a look at this story from the Peterborough Examiner.
However, it seems renting to students attending colleges and universities is a profitable and safer way for you to invest in residential rental properties in Ontario.
Many landlords who rent to students have positive things to say about their investment choice on the Ontario Landlords Forum:
“I like renting to students. My houses are downtown near 3 universities in Toronto, so most of my tenants have been students.
Rent is secure, as they usually have OSAP or parental income to cover the rent.
I have indeed had students ask me to change their lightbulbs but I just tell them it is up to them to do that, offer them a ladder, and it isn’t an issue …
The dormitories at school usually only take first year students, and for second year the students have to find their own place (due to lack of space in the dorms to house everyone), so if you can get a group of second year students, you’ve got tenants for 3 more years and then they usually move out.
Best of all…No professional tenants among students…!”
Are You Interested In Renting To Students Yet?
We contacted the University of Toronto for help on getting some tips and advice on what students want from their landlords.
The Manager of Housing Services for the University of Toronto is Jennifer Radley. 
Jennifer provided answers to our questions and we appreciate her assistance. 
10 Tips On How To Be a Successful Student Landlord
Here are some of our questions to Jennifer and her tips.
 #1 What are student tenants looking for in a rental property?
Students are looking for a place that is either close to campus or along a transit line and close to amenities. Ideally, the monthly rent would be within the average rates already listed in our registry and would include utilities. If renting a basement apartment, students look for adequate lighting and windows. Above all, students want a safe, reasonably-maintained rental unit, and a good landlord. 
#2 What are most student tenants looking for when they say they want a “good landlord”?
To students, a good landlord is someone who:
  o     Follows the law (eg. Human Rights Code and Residential Tenancies Act)
  o     Offers affordable rental rates
  o     Repairs and maintains the property as required, in a timely manner 
 #3 What is the most common complaint from U of T students about off-campus landlords?
The most common complaint is landlords not repairing and/or maintaining the property in a timely manner.
The issues brought forward include everything from appliance and plumbing issues to pests and fire/water damage.
#4 Is it a good idea for a landlord to get involved in student tenant vs. student  tenant issues?
We recommend landlords follow the RTA and/or get advice on tenant vs. tenant issues from the Landlord Self-Help Centre and/or the Landlord and Tenant Board.
#5  How can a landlord improve a property to make it more “user friendly” for students?
Based on feedback we receive, the most appealing features are:
 o     Have utilities included in the rental rate (utilities can be quite intimidating to a student,  especially if international)
 o     Bright space/windows
 o     If shared accommodation, should have locks on the bedroom doors
 o     If private, a separate entrance
 o     Bike storage
 o     Pet-friendly
#6  Any tips on how a private landlord can communicate and cooperate with   university housing? (As not all housing services are as cool as the U of T one)
Yes – and thank you! Landlords can visit to learn more about our service, subscribe to our bi-annual LandlordNews newsletter, and to register/place an ad.
We are also available via phone 416-978-8045 and email ( during regular office hours to answer questions.
Let other landlords know about our service. 
#7  We hear student tenants are more and more concerned about safety. How can a private off-campus landlord accommodate that? Are things like security cameras a good idea or will student thinks it’s too invasive?
Things such as alarm systems, security cameras (more common in apartment buildings), bolt-locks (rather than doorknob locks), window locks, and good outdoor lighting (eg. motion-sensored) are some ways a landlord can make their property feel safer.
#8 Many of our landlord members are hands-on and not absentee landlords. Do students like landlords who come and do regular safety inspections (with proper notice) or do they prefer landlords stay away?
I think this depends on how often, how much notice is given, and how invasive the inspection is. No tenant, including students, want their landlord entering their room/unit all the time. I believe, however, safety inspections are typically done on an annual basis (unless there is adequate reason for another). In which case, with proper notice, I wouldn’t see that being a problem. This is based on the individual’s preference.  
#9 Should landlords encourage tenants to get insurance?
Yes. We also encourage students to get tenant’s insurance.
#10 Where can landlords who rent to students learn more to become better landlords and have better relations with their student tenants?
U of T Housing Services is a great place to start! 

To learn more about Ottawa Student Housing, please click here

For the full article, please click here

Friday, March 14, 2014

Atlanta, Georgia - Live the Life Buckhead

Came across a great video today about Buckhead, a district in Atlanta, Georgia.  Interestingly, it is sunny and 65 degrees farenheit there.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Military Relocation to Ottawa

My brother-in-law served in the Canadian Forces and I understand, on a personal level, how difficult this process can be. Serving our military and assisting them with their military transfers is an honour to me.  You and your family are an important part of my business. 

I have experience with the DNDIRP practices and assisting our military families with their moves. I am an authorized Military Relocation broker in Ottawa, my military clients can expect the utmost in service from me whether they are moving from Ottawa or relocating to Ottawa.

If you are moving to Ottawa, I will:
  • Work with you by phone or email to determine your detailed housing requirements -  based upon your criteria — number of bedrooms, yard size, close to schools or work, townhouse or single family home, etc
  • Provide you with information on the local real estate market, city maps, schools, and any other information you might wish to have about Ottawa
  • Plan your house hunting trip to make the most of the short period of time you have here
  • Assist with the selection of a DND approved lawyer and home inspector
  • Negotiate the offer and Agreement  on your behalf
  • Work hard to make your trip very efficient, in the desired scenario, we would spend days 1 to 3 viewing houses, day four negotiating, day five lifting conditions, so you can enjoy our city for a few days as well.
A large part of my job is to relieve your Ottawa relocation stress

*** References available from other military families I have recently assisted. 

For Military Relocations to Ottawa, please contact me by clicking here