Interesting Foreign Investor News

February 7th, 2017 · Buying or Selling Your Property

Today I came to read this article on CBC quoting past President of TREB about foreign investors.

It thought it was independent verification of the point I made yesterday, that TREB and OREA don’t actually get data from developers.

Anyhow Happy Day…

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What Is a Foreign Investor?

February 6th, 2017 · Buying or Selling Your Property, Rental Property

I was reading this article about Foreign Investors and the Toronto Real Estate Board and how some people doubt the figure that 4.9% of buyers are Foreign Investors.

First of all, I have a problem with real estate board data, because of it’s lack of accuracy. Real Estate Agents are not statisticians concerned about the accuracy of entries and removals. The source of the data is therefore quite suspect.

Second the definition of “foreign investor” is extremely troublesome. Let’s take for example my very first client, that was a foreign investor. He worked for Canada Revenue Agency and was transferred to Singapore for his work. In the meantime his house in Mississauga was rented out three times to some lovely tenants. After the last tenants moved, he moved himself and his family back into the home.

This type of “foreign investor” is the sum total of my clients. They are or used to be Canadian residents and for whatever reason (usually work) end up overseas. Another “foreign investor” married an Italian and lives in Italy. She inherited a house here from her mom. Another works for a bank in Hong Kong.

That’s not the kind of Foreign Investor I think people are afraid of. I think the type of “foreign investor” people worry about is this nebulous person with suitcases of cash that comes to Canada and buys up all the property. Not all the property – just the good property. If this pure type of foreign investors exists, they may well have very legitimate reasons for buying property here in Canada: for example, to house their children that go to school here or even as a vacation home. I grew up in Temagami, Ontario which is hardly a place that people would be concerned about the Foreign Investor invasion; however, I can assure you that a large number of Islands on Lake Temagami are owned by Americans who vacation there. I daresay that Muskoka is in the same boat.

Lets talk about this Foreign Invasion that is happening and let’s be clear that we’re really talking about the Chinese that “ruined” Vancouver by coming there and specuvesting and leaving property vacant only to flip it or tear it down and build a big fat mansion and then sell it to the next Chinese buyer and outbidding the locals. The locals who have an average salary of 60K because not much is happening in Vancouver economy wise.

Another problem is families of rich Chinese people coming to Vancouver and not having any local taxable income and not paying any taxes on their worldwide income but getting services here such as medical services at tax payer expense without contributing to the local economy.

Yet another problem is money laundering of all kinds as Chinese citizens are only allowed to take $50,000 per year out of China.

I have also heard people complain about 19 year old kids buying expensive sports cars and driving them around. Personally I drive like a grandma now, I don’t need any speeding tickets.

Back To Statistics

My understanding is that TREB collects data from the houses they sell, and a large amount of homes are not sold by real estate agents using the MLS. Lots of new homes and condominiums are sold by developers, some are sold privately through sites like Comfree and probably even kijiji and craigslist. The point is that leaves a large chunk of data unmined.

TREB is just one of the 39 Real Estate Boards in Ontario and Toronto is just one city. What about the rest of Ontario or BC? The data we don’t have is perhaps more important than the data we have, specifically the data that the developers may or may not hand over.

Identifying the Foreign Investor

Unless the investor tells me or give me an out of country address I have no idea where people come from. As mentioned above a lot of these investors come from here and have relocated for love or money. They have bank accounts here, they have family and often addresses here. Generally I’m not performing a full scale investigation into my clients. I can’t imagine it’s any easier for anyone else in this business including the real estate agents. An asian or middle eastern accent tells you nothing, Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world with 51% people legally here from other places.

I do offer the CRA paperwork for Foreign Investors for free with property management so it’s good for investors, yet I still don’t see the hordes of foreigners you’d think I would.

Like Attracts Like?

A friend of mine argues that the people who are truly foreign won’t want to have anything to do with a caucasian lady like myself, after all they can find someone from their country of origin who speaks their language to help them buy and manage their income property.  This is a much more likely explanation for the sad lack of hordes of authentic Foreign Investors lining up to get me to manage property. Certain cultures just want to deal with their own culture.

Focusing on What Matters

I think enforcing money laundering oversight, improving data collection on new property purchase, forcing the developers to stop cheating on collection of HST, and cracking down on certain brokerages that have already been caught not following the 25% income retention rule for CRA would go a long way towards dealing with the problem. After all foreign investors pay 25% income tax on their income and some more tax when they sell. They have no principal residence exemption when they sell their income property. Tenants claim their rent on their income tax. Follow that evidence.

Canada Revenue Agency is where all this data is already, forget TREB and Urbanation, those guys are just kids compared to the database that CRA has at their finger tips in combination with the Land Registry Office.  That’s where the money is folks, mining that CRA data, for information and acting on it. We can tighten up on that a hell of a lot and cause some serious financial pain for the flippers/specuvestors and others that really are trading property like penny stock.

Please Feel Free To Chime In Below In the Comments

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Number One Reason Why Landlords Rock

February 1st, 2017 · Property Management, Rental Property

20 long years of property management and I still get up every morning with a spark of joy in my cold dead heart. Why? The reason is that landlords provide an extremely valuable service. In Ontario we are mostly reviled and underappreciated, but that doesn’t matter because literally thousands of people have been safe, warm, and comfortable because of what I have done and continue to do every long arduous day.

If you’re a landlord and you’re putting your money and heart and soul into your property, today take some time and really appreciate what you are doing. It is substantial and valuable and never let anyone make you feel bad or ashamed.

Happy Landlord Appreciation Day!

 

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Discrimination Is Not Just Skin Colour

January 30th, 2017 · Landlord Advocacy, Rental Property

discriminationI read this interesting story about how some younger people were denied a nice condo with excellent credit and jobs and are now suing the landlord & hopefully his real estate agent as well because they were denied because they were too young at the age of 22 and 23.

The way the young couple was described, they sound pretty good to me and honestly, I would completely accept them. Young professional couple with decent jobs and excellent credit…isn’t that our target market?

It reminds me of this landlord who called me one time to rent a three bedroom condo on the second floor of a condo. I was very happy because 3 bedrooms are rarish in Toronto and one the 2nd floor, which happens to be perfect for families because a lot of them are scared of being up high in case their child should ever go out onto the balcony and fall.  As I shared my thoughts with her she out right came out and said she didn’t want roommates or any people with kids. So I asked her who she thought would be the perfect tenant for her and she said she would like a retired couple with no grandchildren that just wanted a lot of space.

I went from happy to depressed in one second, seniors are not a target demographic for 3 bedroom apartments in Toronto so I declined the listing and told her I wasn’t interested. Frankly if I had accepted the listing, I would have brought her application after application that she would have illegally declined and there’s just too many really decent nice and decent landlords out there to bother.

Experience has taught me that good people come in all colours of the rainbow, and appearance and religion have nothing to do with anything. Tattoos and piercings don’t seem to have much effect, but if you show up reeking of booze or pot, I’ll decline your application.

In any case as educated rental agents and property managers, it’s our job to tell our clients what the law is and follow the law. I have zero interest in being an agent of discrimination and I don’t really care if that means I’m eating ramen soup till the end of my days.  People of principle have to stop going along to get along with this kind of crap. I’m too old and ornery to even care about hurting bigots little feelings.

Regardless, I’m of the firm belief that it’s bad for business to turn down application after application because of wrong minded thinking. We live in one of the most diverse cities in the world and I’m all for it.

Discrimination – Not Even Once

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I’m ready for 2017 rental market

January 25th, 2017 · Property Management

risingsun

So winters are always a resting and catching up time for me. It’s the time for Fire Inspections and being with my family and skating and just relaxing after the frenetic summertime.

Last year I decided I didn’t want to deal with legal problem tenants as much as I had. The business idea behind dealing with the bad tenants was that we would take the properties under management, deal with the tenants, rent to new and better tenants and keep the property under management. This just didn’t work out that well. What happened in real life was that I would deal with the shitty tenants, hire Jeff Shabes the paralegal, go to the Landlord & Tenant Board, the tenants would be evicted, and then the landlords ended up firing us because they got rid of their problem tenants and no longer needed our services. In some cases they sold the house, in others they just rerented the property. In other cases they resumed fighting with the tenants.

The other issue was that Landlord Rescue would be in the position of explaining to the landlords about how the Landlord & Tenant Board actually worked and they didn’t like that at all. This created a lot of friction because it’s not a secret the Landlord & Tenant Board is really pro tenant. It has to be admitted we were exhausted by the legals and conflict and we would get sick of the property as well.

I had to admit it, dealing with some of these properties kind of kept me on my toes, because renting and managing properties in my own portfolio was pretty boring. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, boring and predictable. For most of the properties, the biggest problem is getting another year’s worth of post dated checks.

Looking For A Challenge

I decided that I would change my focus to growing my business instead of dealing with these legal problem tenants. Then… a few days after my sister was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. My husband had two ear surgeries, my son had a terrible, terrible year at school and there was a lot of conflict.  I have one of the best, most diligent, most competent managers working for me and I had to lean on her very heavily this year, and then when my situations resolved, her grandfather (her heart) became ill and broke a hip and finally passed away. So she leaned on me, as it should be in times of trouble.

Instead of being a year of growth and focus on the business, it became a year of personal challenge, situations that didn’t resolve and misery and stress and yet we still kept the company on a fairly even keel.

It is really difficult to care about growing your business when you feel like you’re drowning in personal chaos.

The good news is that I’m still standing and my relationships are stronger and tighter than ever before, and that I’m one year smarter and maybe a little more accepting of my myself and my weaknesses. I feel like I’ve reflected a lot more about the stuff that matters, and money is only worth so much in this life, once you can afford groceries and pay your bills.

Balance is so much more important than just growth.  Properties we manage also have to be legal and decent. Fundamentally I don’t want to expand my business by taking on the ticking time bomb of illegal triplexes in South Oshawa, just waiting to be caught by the city with high risk of bad tenants. No thanks. I want to manage properties I’m proud of, that are clean and solid, and have good owners.

The Rental Market Is Stirring

After a slow month, I feel like spring is approaching and all my rentals that have been hanging out with me… for the last few months, are ready to go off to their new occupants and are renting. So that feels good, in the depths of December tenants are scarce and you can’t even get your own mother to call you back. I wonder if I have something stuck on my face that says don’t rent lol.

We’ve reached the other side of that mountain, and I start to plot and plan all the nice new properties I’m going to rent and manage this year.

Prices have trended up for the last year, and a lot of this is the result of a very flat market finally catching up to itself. I had condos that rented for the same price for 5 years and this year…jumped $300 in rental price per month.  This was a welcome relief for the owner, who had dealt with annual maintenance fee increases, and some repainting and ongoing turnover expenses.

Skating

So I bought skates and went skating with my son. I had so much fun, I went back in 30 years to when I was a kid and I was doing really well and feeling great. So I was trying to impress my son and so I went to do one of those stops that spray snow on him. This did not end as I had envisioned in my mind, with my son coated in a fine mist of snow, but with my fat butt on the ice convinced I had broken my ankle after hearing 3 snapping sounds reverberate up my leg.  One X-ray later, I learned that I had a bad sprain. I also want to mention that Scarborough General was very efficient at helping me and I was X-rayed and out the door in 2 hours. I was very surprised and very pleased at the good job they did.

I was so mad. It’s really hard to find something you enjoy doing and I really injured myself.  I’m now on the sidelines but I still went and enjoyed my son learning to skate.

So basically I can’t wait to get off the crutches and get back on the ice, and next time I won’t forget that I’m old and fat curvy.  Skating is seriously a lot of fun and you can go for free which is also nice.

Looking Forward To Another Year!

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