Despite the long list of potential hazards, the possible rewards of being a landlord often outweigh the downsides. Here are the top 10 reasons why you should become a landlord.
1.) You use tenants’ money to pay your mortgage and build your equity. You can raise the rent each year (with restrictions) and adjust for current market rent rates when a property becomes vacant. Long-term investors buy real estate that generates positive cash flow, and either hold it until the tenants have paid off the mortgage or until there’s a compelling reason to dispose of the income stream in return for a lump sum; for example, to buy something bigger/better or to create a retirement annuity income stream.
3.) Real estate is tangible and more easily collateralized than most other types of investments. Ask ex-shareholders of Northern Telecom, Enron, Bre-X, and other “blue chip” failures. Lenders generally offer a higher ratio of loan amount versus the value of a real estate property than they would offer on a portfolio of stocks, for example. The building and/or land will still exist if the worst should happen. Mainstream lenders also love the low-risk appeal of rental housing properties insured by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and offer very attractive interest rates.
4.) A modest increase in rental income and/or decrease in operational costs can have a significant positive impact on property value. For example, increasing net operating income (by reducing costs and/or increasing rent) by $1,000 per year and applying a 6 per cent capitalization rate (better-than-average in today’s southern Ontario market) can add about $16,650 to the value of a property, using the Income Approach. This does not include appreciation for other reasons such as high demand for, and low supply of, rental space, improvement in the neighbourhood, etc.
5.) Several current tax policies (RCCA, capital gain, etc.) discourage longterm owners from selling their rental housing properties because the proceeds of a sale may only equal the cash flow they would receive from keeping the property for a few years. Combine this with the discouraging rent control policies which make investors/ developers unwilling to tie up their money in building a rental property. They may have to wait a decade or more for a return on their investment, when they can build a condominium and get their money back– often with a huge profit–in just a few years. So what’s good about that? Rental housing inventory is shrinking, resulting in high investor demand and high sale prices for existing inventory (seller’s market), and increases in average rent rates (low vacancy).
6.) A well-maintained and fully occupied rental property rarely depreciates. Unless they have been damaged by stigmatism or an eroding neighbourhood (eg. increase in crime), values have traditionally increased over the long term.
7.) If the very worst should happen, you still have a low (or no)-cost place to live.
8.) Legitimate and reasonable expenses reduce your taxable income. Tax deductions include mortgage and credit card interest, depreciation, a reasonable salary with employment deductions, a percentage of your local travel expenses, relevant long-distance travel (eg. trade show), portion of home office and workshop costs, etc.
9.) Despite the perceived stereotype, many landlords enjoy the satisfaction of helping to provide good-quality housing to self-sufficient people in need.
10.) Multi-residential investments are arguably the most stable, depression/recession-resistant, and relatively secure type of real estate investment you can make. Everyone needs a place to live; not everyone needs a place to work. Buying a place to live is not possible for many young people and remains elusive for many adults too. Some adults choose the apartment living lifestyle for its freedom from housing related issues.
Treat your investment like a business, and your tenants like valued customers; know your rights and those of your tenants; maintain tight control on your cash flow; act promptly in everything you do; surround yourself with high-quality industry professionals, and you’ll experience the success you’ve dreamed was possible, especially if you can expand your holdings.