You've probably heard that Montreal's real estate market is on fire. But how can you get in on the action? According to Alex Marshall, a local real estate broker, buying a property as an investment for the purpose of renting it out is a great way to go about it.
Why do you recommend buying a revenue property?
Marshall used personal experience to highlight the advantages of owning a revenue property. He's currently renting out the Saint-Henri loft he bought in 2010.
"Not only is my tenant paying off my mortgage, but I'm making a couple 100 bucks a month as well," Marshall said.
Marshall was also able to take out a line of credit on the property, he said, and use the equity to buy an additional property.
"You actually don't need to live in the property that you buy. I'm seeing clients who are in apartments with low rent [who] don't want to move but have got the money right now ... and are looking for smart ways to invest," he said.
What are some tips to help people save up for a revenue property?
When Marshall was saving up to buy his first property, he said he worked a second job.
"There's a lot of value to having that side hustle ... even if it's at Subway or it's at a landscaping company on Saturdays. It will add up significantly in the long run," he said.
He gave the example of adding $5,000 to your annual income.
Marshall said you can qualify to borrow roughly four times your annual salary for a mortgage so $5,000 could actually provide you with an extra $20,000 of buying power.
"That might get you a second bedroom, that might get you a parking spot, that might get you a larger space," he said.
The pandemic, Marshall said, has also helped some of his clients save extra funds.
"You can't travel, you can't go to the restaurant, you can't go to the theatre, you can't go to the bar. So a lot of people right now are finding themselves with almost a disposable income," he said.
Marshall also recommends looking into Canada's Home Buyers' Plan program, which allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 — — tax-free — from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to put toward buying or building a qualifying home.
What if you can't rent out your property for as much as your mortgage?
Marshall admitted that the rental market has not kept up with the "exploding" housing market. But he still doesn't see it as a deterrent.
"What I tell my clients is that you may not be making $100 a month or $200 a month. But as long as your property's going up [in value], I would argue that you're winning all day long," he said.
In other words, even if you're losing $100 a month because the rent is $100 less than the cost of the property, as long as the value of the property goes up — say half a percent or 1% each month — you're going to be making money long term.
A $300,000 property that increases in value by 5% in one year is worth $315,000 at the end of the year. So even if you lost $1,200 throughout the year, you still earned $13,800 in property value.
Where should people be looking to buy a revenue property? What areas?
Marshall said he's seeing newer homes with high rental demand in off-island communities, including Saint-Zotique and Coteau-du-Lac.
He gave the example of a client who bought a house for $335,000 and rented it to a tenant sight unseen for $1,850 a month, which will cover her mortgage plus make her an extra $300 a month.
"There's a high demand for properties because people want space now with people working at home," Marshall said.
"The Island of Montreal is becoming unaffordable for the average person. That's why we are seeing a big boom off-Island — Vaudreuil, Pincourt."
Marshall also said he feels like there's a big opportunity for people to buy new condos downtown right now because there's nothing to do with bars and restaurants closed and all the major festivals are cancelled.
"There's a lot of buildings right now that are sitting empty, needing sales so that they can continue to build their project," he said.
Is now the right time to buy a property or is it better to wait until the market cools off?
Marshall said that, for the first time ever, his clients looking for revenue properties outweigh those looking for places to live.
He attributes this to the mortgage rate, which is the interest rate you'll have to pay on your loan, being historically low — hovering around 2%. This would be one reason to take advantage of the current market.
He also said he doesn't expect the market to slow down any time soon.
"Although there are some people out there who are suggesting that the market will crash or slow down, it's showing no signs of slowing down. And, even if it does slow down, historically, it always goes up," he said.
"Get into it sooner than later. If you're renting right now you're paying somebody else's mortgage. You're contributing to somebody else's nest egg ... why not start your own?"