Last year, my friend bought a cottage for $180K. His down payment was 25%, or $45K. This year he boasted to me that he had made $18K in a year off the cottage. It was recently appraised at $195K (+$15K equity) and he rented it out a few times this summer to earn $3K in additional cashflow. Not a bad return right? $18K total. If only it was true…
Last night I met with a colleague of mine who said she didn’t have any money to invest in her retirement. As it turns out, within five minutes I found several instances where she was believing her own lies. The biggest one? Her car costs as much as her mortgage… that’s nuts!
Short term pain for long term gain. Many people will avoid spending $100-200 to replace their lights with a more efficient alternative.
Recently I replaced the last 16 bulbs in my house with LEDs, the investment of $128 will break-even in less than 18 months and save me approximately $2,000 over the next 20 years.
At this pace, assuming no increase in electricity cost for the next 20 years (which is unlikely), worst case scenario I will earn an annual ROI of 33.3%; which is far greater than the historical average ROI of the stock market historical average of 10.1% (8.7% adjusted for inflation). There are many cases when masterful saving can outperform systematic investing and it’s worth paying attention to.
Does that $30,000 kitchen renovation really make you that much happier? Did you need granite countertops, new stainless steel appliances, built-in double ovens and recessed ceiling lighting?
Alternately, would new modern cabinetry with a standard countertop at a tenth of the price have been sufficient?
What about that $30,000 pool install? Did it need to be installed in-ground? Did you also need to replace your patio and extend it with high-end interlocking stone?
Alternately would an above ground pool that was a tenth the price have been sufficient?
Do these “luxurious” upgrades really bring you increased sustainable happiness or are you a victim to consumerism, short-term lust for higher-end physical possessions and, of course, trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Performing your due diligence when considering a real estate investment opportunity is the single most important step to ensuring an investment that meets your expectations.
Unfortunately most real estate investors that I’ve mentored have shared with me countless tales of errors and assumptions that have cost them severely. For this reason I am sharing an email that I sent this morning to help novice investors to learn.
The following email with attached cashflow analysis asks the questions required to ensure that I can make an informed decision without assumption. It also shows the realtor that I am serious, experienced and respectful of his time.
So can you keep great tenants from leaving in the first place?
“Definitely,” says Brent Mondoux, who has been investing in the Ottawa area for a number of years. “Some of the keys to holding on to our great tenants are by going back to the basics and simply treating them with respect.”
Moudoux has had a relatively low turnover in properties himself, and has forged good relationships with most of them, although he’s quick to point out that business is business when it comes down to things like missed or late payments. He recommends having a preventive system in place that will make payment a straightforward process for tenants and yourself, such as collecting post-dated cheques ahead of time and accepting rent via direct debit or e-transfer. So what are some other tips?
Be present. Tenants are unlikely to renew a lease for an absentee landlord, and they’re unlikely to be very quick to report breakages and structural issues as well. If you neglect your tenants, chances are your property will pay the price.
“Respond to all reported issues within an hour,” advises Mondoux.“Set expectations in terms of estimated resolution timeframe, and don’t lie. If it’s urgent, don’t delay. Set the wheels in motion immediately to resolve the problem in a timely manner.”
This is what a real estate cashflow analysis looks like. It informs you of your up-front costs, assesses cashflow positivity with current and potential future scenarios, budgets appropriately for vacancy/repair/contingency and accounts for overhead costs even if they may be unrealized (e.g. property management, accounting, bookkeeping, etc.). It is also vital to highlight any assumptions and verify them in writing, absolutely no exceptions.
By the end of 2011, I had completed nine years of real estate investment courses. Acquisition, cashflow, buy & hold, flipping, landlording, rent to own, taxation law… the list goes on and on.
Despite my educational knowledge, I still had not yet purchased a single investment property. Even though I had successfully run my own company for the previous fifteen years with positive cashflow in each and every year, I was still afraid to take the plunge.
I kept asking myself “How could I take so many calculated risks but be afraid to take this one?” I was stuck in a state of fear commonly coined as “analysis paralysis”. I would look for the perfect deal but before I would pull the trigger I’d make up excuses as to why each potential deal wouldn’t work. The truth is there’s no such thing as a perfect deal. The human mind can be our own worst enemy and I was battling against nobody other than myself. Trying to psyche myself into taking the next step, but for some reason I kept backing down, convincing myself as to why each opportunity wasn’t optimal.
In mid-2012 I booked vacation. I decided to stay home and relax. The previous two years’ vacation was spent repairing the house after extensive water damage which had nearly depleted all of my savings. It was early afternoon and I grabbed an ice cold Corona from the fridge and went to sit in the yard and do some reading. As I hunched down in my lounge chair I continued to read my latest real estate investment book. My attention was drifting in and out and I found myself reading and re-reading the materials. I felt frustration growing within me as I thought to myself “I know this s&%t. I’ve read it a hundred times in other books.” I stood up and blurted “That’s it! I’m going to buy a property or I’m going to stop reading about real estate investing.” That was the catalyst, the last nudge through the barrier of procrastination, the trigger required to break through my analysis paralysis.
Earlier this week I had a meeting with one of the local startups that I am mentoring. Over the last year his company’s bank account has been reaping the rewards of their hard work and so he has been considering his best option to invest the returns from his compounding successes.
Knowing that I am an active real estate investor he wanted to learn about how real estate makes money. He had performed a number of cashflow analyses, but, was failing to find lucrative returns. I could sense his frustration mounting in each additional word that he was saying. “The best cashflow I’ve been able to find is approximately 8% on a real estate investment and that’s just… well average”. He frowned. I smiled and excitedly said “That’s fantastic, you should put in an offer, do your due diligence and buy this property if everything checks out.”
A few months ago I was asked a very interesting question by one of my financial freedom students. She asked “If you could only give me one single piece of advice, what would it be?”
I sat there quietly pondering my response for what was likely several minutes as she looked on waiting. In my mind I was considering the path that I’ve taken towards financial freedom. I took time to contemplate the challenges, consider the obstacles and reflect upon the successes along the way.
Alas I broke the silence with my response, “Invest now“.
“That’s it?” she blurted out, “that’s the best advice you can give me?”