Real estate as a wealth creator

Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by Engel & Volkers. 

Who is the wealthiest person you know? Almost without a doubt they will tell you that they have substantial real estate holdings inside their portfolio.

If you’ve been toying with the idea of purchasing an income property, now is the perfect time to jump in. You might be asking yourself, “Why now?” Well, because there is an opportunity in the marketplace that I have never seen in my 20+ year career and will likely never see again.

Over the last two years, the value of your home has increased, on average, 40 per cent. The market has peaked and we are having a bit of a soft landing thanks in large part to the Bank of Canada raising the overnight rate four times already this year.

How is this an opportunity?

First, we have a cohort of first-time buyers with solid incomes and the best of intentions that simply cannot break into this market. They are your new tenants. The average home in Ottawa purchased today would require a household income of $137,050, assuming you had 20 per cent down. A six-figure income is now needed to buy the average home in Ottawa!

Secondly, the new found equity in your current home could be your ticket to getting into investment real estate. You may be eligible for an up to 80 per cent loan on the current market value of your home; equaling the down payment for your first investment property.

There are so many reasons why real estate is a wealth creator, but let's start with this: Say you buy a $1 million property with 20 per cent down—in other words you invest $200,000 to buy a $1 million investment—but which number do you earn your return on? You earn a rate of return on the value of the building, not on the value of your down payment. Your tenants pay the mortgage and expenses, and you reap the rewards!

Ottawa has an average 5.6 per cent rate of return over the past 50 years. With 20 per cent down, you have a 5x multiplier on the market rate of return on your initial investment. Your down payment has earned a 28 per cent rate of return over the last 50 years! Do you know anyone in the stock market that can say the same?

Now, this is an oversimplification. To determine your actual rate of return you have to subtract the interest cost on the mortgage you are carrying and utilities, taxes, and maintenance. Individual results will vary, but real estate is a solid winner in any case.

Reason number two that real estate is a winner: Real estate values in Ottawa rarely go down on a year-over-year basis, and when they do the losses are quite small. In fact, Ottawa has recorded a contraction in average sale price only three times in the last 50 years.* The biggest one-year drop was 2.9 per cent. The second biggest was 1.9 per cent, and the third was 0.4 per cent.

American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist, Warren Buffet has famously said, “Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.” Why is this so important? It's important because it is very difficult to recover from losses.

If we return to the $1 million purchase example above: Imagine you had $1 million worth of stock and the market crashed… You probably owned Nortel stock around the 2000's or bought Shopify at its peak recently. Your million dollars becomes $500,000 overnight. But what happens when there is a corresponding increase of 50 per cent in the marketplace? Are you back to $1 million? Unfortunately, you are not… Your $1 million crashed to 50 per cent, and when the market rebounds by 50 per cent you are left with $750,000 and a $250,000 loss. Ouch…. Now do you see the wisdom in Warren’s words?

This is merely the tip of the iceberg here, and a deeper dive into your particulars would be recommended. Reach out to a professional to help guide you through the process of starting your real estate empire one door at a time.

*According to Ottawa Real Estate Board historical trends stats.

About Sean McCann

It's not about me. It’s about you and how your home tells your story. Far too often real estate can feel transactional. I’m not interested in transacting. My singular interest is in guiding you and your family to your best possible outcome. It's about building meaningful connections, in an increasingly disposable world, and understanding how your home is the epicentre of your world. Let's be honest, my family’s well-being and future success lies in the experiences I create and the advocacy that I earn with you today. I appreciate you and I intend to honour the trust that you place in our relationship. Let’s have some fun and do something special together!