The precarious state of Kelowna real estate in 2022

Speculating or investing?

With a white-hot market and macro signals that point towards a market shift, what strategies and tactics can savvy real estate investors use to make it out on top and protect their newfound wealth?

First, we must draw a clear distinction between speculating and investing. Speculation is a gamble that property values will increase in the short-term. Investing is buying a property for the positive cash-flow, mortgage buy down, and tax advantages

In 2022, 30% annual price increases have made a lot of local real estate speculators feel like geniuses. Even if your cash flow situation is negative, the $200,000 in property appreciation totally eclipses a negative cash flow of $500 to $1,000/mo.

But after a few years of unsustainable growth, now might be the best time to capture your gains and get your portfolio ready for the next phase of the market.

Payments are as low as they are ever going to be right now. To help tackle price inflation, The Bank of Canada is expected to increase interest rates in the coming months, which has the potential to decimate some mortgage holders.

As we’ve shown, even a 1% increase in the prime rate will have a major impact on mortgage affordability. Combined with other economic factors, this could be the tipping point where certain investments don’t make economic sense to hold through a downturn.

To show you the hard reality, let's run the numbers on a common investment property in Kelowna.

The investment equation of a two-bedroom apartment in Kelowna

Right now, a median two-bed apartment in Kelowna will cost you about $525,000. Based on the Vantage West Market Rents Grid for Q1, a two-bedroom apartment in Kelowna will command $2,100/mo in rent payments.

Your mortgage payment, with 20% down and 30-year amortization at 2.5% interest will be around $1,650/mo, netting you $450/mo before any other expenses.

After paying strata fees around $350/mo and property taxes around $200/mo, you can see how this investment is already underwater by $100/mo.

It’s no big deal if the property’s value is increasing by 100x that per month. But what happens if you carry this mortgage into a recession brought on by rising interest rates?

If you stress test this apartment through a 20% drop in rent and a 1% increase in interest rates (while factoring in some vacancy, repairs, and maintenance allowances), you’ll arrive at a negative cash flow situation to the tune of minus $10K/year.

One could argue that if the mortgage is being paid off at approximately $10k/year, you’re technically offsetting that loss. The reality is that cash-flow in a recession is everything. Negative cash flow can be the kiss of death for many investors who lack the necessary staying power.

My advice to many of our investor clients is that they should consider selling any property that could become a cash flow drain in an economic recession.

Right now the market right now is likely as favourable as it’s going to be for the next decade. If your plan was to cash out sometime in the next decade, now is the time to act.

We recently conducted a survey of homeowners and found nearly everyone held an optimistic view about the housing market.

• 72% believe the market still has some runway left

• 20% believe that the market will level off this year

• Only 3% believe we’ve reached the top

In the U.S., Fannie May conducted a recent survey that asked people if they believed now was a good time to buy. Their results represent the lowest buyer sentiment in recorded history.

• 25% of Americans said that now was a good time to jump into the market

• 75% of Americans said no

Is there a clue here? Why would two different surveys ask the same question show inverse results with three-quarters of Canadians thinking now is a great time to buy, while nearly three-quarters of Americans believe now is a good time to pump the brakes? Something’s got to give.

If you are looking for a way to capitalize on what potentially little time we have left of this historical seller’s market.

You will find the appropriate strategies being discussed at the Free and informative Seller’s workshop March 7th. Register here

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.





2021 predictions for city

As we look to 2021, I think a lot of people are excited to see 2020 in their rear-view mirror — the year that became a meme in and of itself for being wildly unpredictable and apocalyptic.  

The real estate market, however, started out strong, fell off a cliff during the first lockdown in the spring, then rallied back incredibly and finished a record year in many sectors. 2020 will be remembered by realtors fondly, I can assure you of that.

Luxury sales went through the roof as people fortified in anticipation of the next lockdown, and total sales jumped over 70% year over year. 

Now well into the fourth quarter, things are slowing as per the seasonal norm as the snow starts to fall. The question on everyone’s mind is, what does 2021 have in store for us? 

I was fairly bearish on the post-COVID market six months ago. I expected to see demand fall off once the bottleneck of buyers displaced from the spring lockdown had done their thing.

The market proved me wrong and continued to pick up steam. What hadn’t been predicted was the behavioural shift brought about by COVID-19 that would play right into the Kelowna real estate market’s hands.

Suddenly, workers became untethered from their offices, which caused many to completely rethink where they called home.

People who endured consecutive months in smaller living quarters began questioning their urban existence, and began the search for greener pastures. Buyers sought elbow room, a yard, ample space for home offices, gyms and at-home classrooms. 

Many homeowners living in the Lower Mainland made the decision to seek out a less populated area close by that offered relative affordability and the same four season lifestyle they were used to.

Kelowna became a focal point for so many seeking a change.

These behavioural shifts set in motion by a global pandemic will have a lasting impact on the buying decisions and will continue to funnel people into the Okanagan, so I see the demand remaining strong through 2021 and beyond.

This combined with record-low mortgage rates should generate enough sales activity to hold our inventory levels down in seller’s market territory in 2021.

The overall sales volume for the past two months was nearly $1 billion, this is unprecedented for our market when compared to last year at $470 million.  

This represents a lot of proceeds that find their way back into the local economy. There are dozens of ancillary businesses that benefit either directly or indirectly from this. Service providers, contractors, local retailers, you name it. 

This is good news.

Now, if you’re a buyer, you may not hear this as good news. If you have been on the sidelines for even just three months. you have watched the average single family home in Kelowna jump by nearly $40,000 and over $70,000 if you’ve been on the sidelines since before the pandemic.

Now, it's not all full steam ahead, the market will face some head winds. As single-family homes had the largest price jump, the entry-level property has been pushed out of reach for many first-time buyers.

This combined with a strict lending environment will keep many would-be homeowners on the sidelines in 2021.

The other challenge we face is a small business economy that is a little battered and bruised after lock downs and social distancing protocols put into effect. The impact on our local job market is still unknown, but this will likely play out in 2021.

This brings us to the potential foreclosure issue that may be brewing — 3.7 million borrowers in Canada are still in government and private-sector mortgage forbearance programs. That’s about seven per cent of all active mortgages, according to Black Knight, a mortgage technology and data firm.

Barring further government support, experts there predict serious delinquencies could be on the horizon.

Having said that, I doubt we will see many foreclosures, however, as people have gained so much equity that they would just sell their property prior to the buyer getting conduct of sale.

In conclusion, my prediction for 2021 is a robust year in Kelowna real estate with some excellent growth opportunities in the higher-end single-family homes, recreational property and agricultural land.

A very strong rental market with low vacancy indicates that positive cash-flow will still exist for investors and homeowners can look forward to another year with single-digit property appreciation.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



A BRRRR strategy

Despite its funny name, BRRRR is the hot strategy for the 2020-21 market. 

 

It combines the strategies of buy and hold with flipping for profit. 

But rather than exposing yourself to a large downside risk, with only the potential of making a quick profit, you are covering your downside risk and building long term wealth and positive cash-flow.  

What the heck does BRRRR stand for?

  • B - Buy
  • R- Renovate
  • R - Rent
  • R - Refinance
  • R - Repeat

This is the perfect strategy for someone who is limited in terms of down payment capital, wants to build a portfolio of property and multigenerational wealth, but also wants to put their design and reno skills to good use and create sweat equity in their properties. 

This is the exact strategy I used in the early days to build my portfolio, and it is part of the overall strategy I use now in the Real Estate Investment Partnership that I manage today. There are some simple rules to this. 

I call these, the rules of 20.

You can’t pay more than 20 times the gross annual rent of the property

If a property rents for $2,500/ a month or $30,000 year, you cannot pay more than 20 times its annual rent or $600,000. 

Here is why. With 20% down, and assuming a 3% interest rate and 30-year amortization, your payment comes in at 2000/mo add in property taxes, insurance and a little for maintenance and you are at a break even. 

Despite there not being any positive monthly cash-flow, you are still getting over 10k per year in equity build up as your tenant pays your mortgage.

You must get the property for 20% less than its after reno value. 

It is important that you adhere to this rule before buying. Lot’s of homes need cosmetic help, not all of them will give you the lift in value you need to make the strategy work. 

Often the neighbourhood places a ceiling on how much a home can sell for no matter how cute you make it.  In these cases you need to make sure you are buying it at a bargain price. 

Many neighbourhoods however have a range of property values that will allow you to make improvements and reap the appropriate rewards. 

For example: So let's assume the after reno value of the property is $700,000 - Following the rule above, you need to make sure you can buy it for no more than 80% or $560,000 (This is what a home with deferred maintenance goes for in Kelowna in 2020)

Buy the property with 20% down and get a mortgage with a re-advanceable line of credit, which you will be using this line of credit down the road to extract some tax-free capital to go on and repeat the strategy.

Stay within 20% of the median price for a single-family home. 

You are always safest to buy property that the masses can afford. The sweet spot for affordability is between $550,000 and $850,000

Here is how the math shakes out on the example above of buying a distressed property for $560,000 that you feel you can drastically improve the property with around 50k

Warning: you must spend $50,000 on the low hanging fruit; floors, paint, trim, fixtures, landscaping refresh, bathroom refresh, etc. Replacing roof, furnace, windows will chew through your budget and not give you the lift that a full cosmetic overhaul will.  

  • Buying the property for $560,000 Your mortgage is $448,000
  • Your mortgage after one year is $440,000
  • The after reno value of the home is now $700,000
  • Based on 80% Loan to Value you can withdraw $120,000 on your HELOC once the appraisal confirms your new value for the bank. (80% of 700,000 = $560,000 - $440,000 = $120,000)

This is the amount of your original down payment, you go and do it again. That takes us to the final R in the BRRRR strategy, Repeat!

This is a manoeuvre you can repeat five times with conventional banks; there are ways to go well beyond this, but that is an article for another day.

If this strategy sounds like too much work, I hear you; we have been doing this for the better part of two decades and have assembled the dream team to assist you every step of the way.  

For a free, 15-minute virtual coffee on how you can create your own financial freedom through real estate investment strategies like this and many others, click here and let’s see where it goes.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.





Sell high and buy low?

Canadian Real Estate 2020: Sell High and Buy Low?

The Canadian housing market seems to be defying logic in 2020.

COVID-19 is tearing through the global economy. According to the IMF, worldwide GDP is set to contract by over five per cent in 2020.

With the world looking like it’s heading into recession territory, Canada is certainly not immune to the crisis. Canadian unemployment for May 2020 was a record high of 13.7%.  

Both the Royal Bank and the CMHC are calling for a drop in home prices; but so far, Canadian real estate has barely flinched. In fact, since the lockdown ended in late May, the housing market has only gotten stronger. 

On a yearly basis, Canadian home prices are up by 5.4% and sales activity is up by 15%.

What’s Causing this Divergence?

COVID-19 has clearly been terrible on many sectors of our economy. Unprecedented layoffs and high unemployment figures have put some tenants and homeowners into precarious financial situations. 

Many Canadians are uncertain if they’ll be able to make their next payment — or if they’ll have a job to go back to at the end of this crisis. Before long, we could see a wave of Canadian mortgage delinquencies that leads to a drop in prices.

Yet, through this uncertainty, buyers are embracing new technology and snapping up homes like crazy. Mid to late summer is usually a slower season in the Okanagan, but this year there’s absolutely no chill.

June’s housing data firmly indicates a market rebound:

  • Home Sales through the Canadian MLS are back to pre-COVID-19 levels.
  • Actual sales in June 2020 were +15.2% compared to June 2019.
  • The National Average Sale Price was +6.5% vs June 2019.
  • The MLS price index went up 0.5% between April and June 2020.

At the end of June 2020, housing inventory was at 3.6 months — a 16-year low point. 

What this means is that if no new homes were added to the market, every listing would sell in 3.6 months. 

These numbers suggest we’re in a seller’s market.

The Sky is Not Falling

I’ve never been one to publicly claim the sky is falling in the real estate market. But I do feel a sense of duty to consult my clients on the best course of action — no matter what the market does. 

If you’ve followed my thoughts on real estate over the last two decades, you’ll know that I don't get caught up in the doom and gloom and I don't believe in good or bad markets — only good or bad tactics.

Saying that, right now is a unique window of opportunity for real estate investors. Thanks to a number of converging factors, we are seeing a nice flurry of sales that could slow to a crawl at any time. 

According to RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue, supply will soon begin to outpace demand, leading to a Canadian housing glut by fall/winter 2020.

I truly believe this could be the calm before the storm. In a short period of time, we could see the divergence between housing prices and our economic situation corrects itself.

Why Home Sales and Home Prices Are Rising

First, let's look at why the housing market is defying common logic, and secondly, what you can do to profit from the situation.

Here are four reasons I believe the Okanagan housing market is booming:

There’s Pent-up Demand post Lockdown. 

Fifty per cent of buyers who intended to move between March and May 2020 had to delay their plans. 

On top of the typical summer sales activity, we’re now seeing the demand backlog turn into strong June home sales numbers. I expect this rebound in demand to last about as long as the hiatus itself; in a couple months, things may calm down to a slower pace.

Unprecedented Government Stimulus and Mortgage Deferrals.  

The federal government has added $343 billion to the national deficit to help our country through the COVID-19 induced recession. 

For many households, support programs such as the CERB, small business loans, and the ban on tenant evictions are things keeping them afloat.

With the Liberals now under heavy scrutiny for their profligate spending, the extension of CERB, and the WE charity scandal, the unprecedented stimulus spending may be nearing an end. If the easy money handouts come to an end before jobs bounce back, many homeowners could be facing insolvency leading to forced home sales.

Seriously Cheap Money.  

Getting approved for a mortgage in Canada is only getting tougher, but incredibly low rates are available to qualified buyers. A five-year fixed mortgage can be had at 2.49%. 

These historically low borrowing conditions are likely driving demand from both first-time homeowners and investors seeking to create positive cash- flow.

The Exodus from Major Urban Centres and An Untethered Workforce.

Due to the pandemic, there is a new movement of people escaping the shoebox-in-the-sky lifestyle in crowded cities like Vancouver and Toronto for less populated communities like Kelowna and Vernon.

On top of that, the new trend of remote work means some employees may never return to their office cubicle. Companies are learning that most employees can be just as effective — if not more effective — while working from home.  

If you can live anywhere and keep your job, where would you rather live? Having a property with enough elbow room to avoid crowds and grow your own veggie garden seems like a smart idea. Looking across Canada, the Kelowna lifestyle is a popular choice.

How to Protect Your Wealth in a Recession

This could be the best selling opportunity we will see in Canadian real estate for years to come.

And sometime over the next one to three years, I have a sneaking suspicion we will be facing the best buying opportunities since 2010.

So, if you expect housing prices to drop, how should you position yourself to prosper from the shift?

Sell High, then Buy Low

An easy strategy is to sell your home for top dollar now, then sit on the sidelines until the market cools down. With the economy contracting, widespread economic hardship could lead to an increased supply of housing with fewer buyers. 

With cash in hand, you’ll be ready for the perfect moment to redeploy your capital.

If you bought a house in 2016/2017 and you’re not fully in love with the place, now is a great time to realize your tax-free gain. 

You’ve likely done well and doubled up your initial equity, so relax on the sidelines, wait for the big glut of inventory, and then get the home you really wanted — at a handsome discount.

Unlocking Your Home Equity

If you truly love your primary residence and don't see yourself moving for the next 10 years, then I highly recommend setting up a Home Equity Line Of Credit (HELOC). A HELOC is a revolving loan facility that lets you borrow cash using your home as collateral.

If your home has increased in value since your purchase, a HELOC lets you crystallize your equity gains and access a nice chunk of investment capital.

HELOCs let you borrow large sums of money at lower interest rates compared to credit cards.

With a HELOC, your household will be financially ready to take advantage of new opportunities or withstand an economic storm.

Should You Sell or Refinance Your Home?

If we are headed into a global depression, then cash will be king. There are two ways to convert real estate equity to cash — normal selling and cash-out refinancing.

Cash-out refinancing involves setting up a new mortgage at your home’s market value, paying off your old mortgage, and then pocketing the difference in equity as cash. 

If your home has increased in value since your initial mortgage agreement, a refinance lets you access some of this equity as cash, or at least negotiate more preferable borrowing terms.

What’s the best way to cash out your home? That really depends on two things — your capital gains exposure, and your net cash flows.

Capital Gains Exposure, Cash Flows, and Your Selling Decision

Before making a selling decision, you should understand your capital gains exposure.  Primary residences are typically exempt from capital gains taxes, but if you own a second home, you’ll need to pay back about 20% of your equity gains depending on your tax bracket.

If you’re renting out a second home with positive cash flows, you’ll probably be better off refinancing over the long term. Refinancing will provide you with the same net access to capital - about 80% of your home equity — but you’ll still own your income property through the years ahead which will always pay off long-term.

If you own a rental property with negative cash-flow, now is the time to unload it. The last thing you want going into an economic downturn is a drag on your personal finances. If your investment is not paying you monthly, it should become someone else's problem.

Instead, take some money off the table now and invest in something that pays you - or at least does not lose money. This might mean sitting out of the market for a bit. We can’t predict exactly when opportunities will come up, but it pays to be ready with cash in hand.

Will Kelowna’s Housing Market Stay Strong?

Now, it should be said that the Kelowna market may be somewhat insulated from global economic conditions. The Okanagan is one of Canada’s hottest real estate markets, and one of the most beautiful places in the world. 

Kelowna now has the eighth most expensive rent prices in Canada, with the average one-bedroom apartment going for $1,340 per month.  

It’s entirely possible that housing prices won’t end up plummeting here.  

To illustrate, let’s take a look at New York real estate — arguably the world’s hottest real estate market. Around 40% of apartments in the financial district got price cuts in the second quarter, but housing prices in the Hamptons are at record highs.

If the urban to rural flight trend we’re seeing in New York plays out in B.C., I expect to see a big wave of Vancouverites coming to live in the Okanagan Valley.

As a long-term investor, please keep in mind that the Okanagan is not the only housing market with opportunities. If oil continues its rebound, Alberta’s market might be the place to hunt for deals. Or maybe American real estate will go back on sale like it was in 2009.

A Game Plan for These Uncertain Times

Now, this is a real estate blog, but I believe it’s wise to diversify a small percentage of assets into physical gold and silver as a hedge against the US printing press. I'm even planning to hold some Bitcoin as a hedge against potential Weimar-style hyperinflation.

Just like our last market correction, opportunities will only be available to those with cash in hand.

This is the exact reason I created Cash Offer LP: a private investment partnership where we pool our capital and then pounce on distressed home sales. Since the start of 2020, we’ve already seen an increase in homeowners looking to liquidate their largest asset.

If you compare where we are in July 2020 to the boom and bust cycle from 2008 to 2013, selling in summer 2020 can be compared to selling in spring 2008.

The writing was on the wall, but it took years for prices to bottom out in 2011 at a 20% discount.

Keep in mind it took five years after for prices to rise back to pre-crisis levels.

This means we are playing a long game. It also means that once this selling window closes in a few months, you could be years away from seeing your equity value return to today’s levels.

Please don't let indecision and herd mentality stop you from making a move that could set you up for the rest of your life. If you’re not sure exactly how to protect your finances and use this crisis to your advantage, let’s chat about your unique situation.

To set up a 15-minute appointment and develop your own real estate game plan for the years ahead, click here

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



More Investment Real Estate articles



About the Author

AJ is the owner of Kelowna’s downtown boutique firm, Vantage West Realty. The firm takes pride in breaking the mould when it comes to how they practice real estate. With a well-deserved reputation as a real estate renegade, Hazzi has been shaking up the Kelowna real estate scene since 2002.

Having been a student of real estate through two market cycles, AJ has come to see an absence of truly qualified professionals specializing in investment real estate. This has become AJ’s role within the firm and the community: To educate clients on how to achieve financial freedom through real estate.

Arming his clients with knowledge on where to find positive cash-flow, how to renovate for profit, and other creative avenues that most agents completely ignore, Hazzi has carved out his niche as a real estate investment advisor (REIA), and loves nothing more than educating people on the right strategy to capitalize on both boom and bust years.  AJ is a firm believer that the Kelowna market is rich with opportunity, if one knows where to look.

If you are in search of an advisor who practices what they preach, consider that AJ has built his own real estate portfolio up to include multi and single family cash-flow rental properties, development property, resort property, fix and flips, and commercial properties. By sharing the lessons learned from his own experiences, his clients get the knowledge and confidence to invest without having to make the expensive mistakes he and many new investors have made along the way.

His goal is to impart on people, especially of the X and Y generation, that depending on RRSPs and Government Pension Plans to look after us down the road is risky business. Most people don't realize that as little as one or two properties added to your real estate portfolio now, can secure a comfortable, even lavish, retirement.

Bringing a consultant's approach rather than the tired, old-fashioned sales approach, AJ and his partners offer a world class service from finding, pre analyzing, and negotiating your next acquisition, to property management, all tailored to today’s busy investor.

To hear what AJ Hazzi's clients have to say about his service view the testimonials.

Contact Information

For more details or to reach AJ Hazzi, please visit www.vantagewestrealty.com

Email [email protected] Cell 250.864.6433



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories