Thursday, October 29, 2009

Steffany Hanley - Dare To Be A Champion

Steffany Hanley, an incredible personal and performance coach, will be holding a Champions Seminar in Vancouver November 14th and 15th.

We've heard her speak before from REIN and been so impressed to the clarity she brings to reaching goals. She has some amazing success stories that will seriously give you goose bumps.

From her site :
"Ready to overcome obstacles, surge past plateaus and achieve new levels of success? Steffany Hanlen is a performance coach with incredibly special and unique knowledge and understanding of the “winning strategies” you need to know to succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

As a coach Steffany has worked with high-profile professional and amateur athletes, including NHL hockey players and Olympians, as well as singers, actors, ballroom dancers, business owners, CEOs, real estate investors, parents, hard-working “regular people (non-athletes)” and many others … and in each and every case her mission has been the same – to help clients expand and grow, overcome challenges, and achieve even greater success."

Click Here to read more!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How To Invest in Revenue Properties Without a Penny of Your Own Money

Unique opportunity exists to own and invest in cash-flow producing income properties without putting up any money for the down payment.

Canadians with good credit and steady jobs are now in the driver's seat when it comes to investing in Edmonton, Alberta.

The current economic downturn is time to celebrate for savvy, forward thinking people who see opportunity amidst crisis. Owning a portion of a revenue property provides investors with a stream of cash flow and potentially large payouts all without the hassles of being a landlord.

"There are many frustrated Canadians wondering how to get involved in real estate investing. Seeing this as a market niche we started to research ways to help folks with little capital or experience get into what may be the best buyers market we have seen in a while.

I knew that there had to be a way for these would-be-investors to get started without them going into debt" said Todd Millar, investment director of Glenn Simon Inc.

This system allows investors to receive an equity position and cash compensation by holding the mortgage of a revenue property. "It's very simple.,” says Millar.

"Basically this program is suited for Canadians who have a good credit score, steady job history and not have completed too many prior real estate transactions (specifically mortgages)."

A typical structure looks like this, within a private investment program; Glenn Simon Inc. carefully selects a cash-flowing revenue property in an economically strong area of Alberta.

Glenn Simon Inc. provides all the capital needed to purchase and operate the investment, bringing years of experience and a proven track record to the table.

The investor takes the role of qualifying for and providing the mortgage in return receiving an equity position in the property and a cash bonus for each transaction completed. It's important to note, that all mortgages and property purchases strictly adhere to federal and provincial lending laws and are completely transparent.

"We are really offering a unique chance for the average Canadian to build a portfolio of real estate without using any of their money. It's a perfect route to get into the market with less exposure all the while learning about investing" says Millar.

Husband and wife team Todd and Danielle Millar, own and operate Glenn Simon Inc. The Millars are experts in the Edmonton real estate investment field and help people from all over the world safely and profitably invest in the Alberta region of Canada.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Stay variable or lock into fixed rate mortgage?

This Globe and Mail article tries to answer the question burning in every mortgage owners mind, "Should I stay variable or lock into the fixed rate?" They end by saying it's up to you. Well, what should you do?

Canadians are enjoying the lowest interest rates in history. A few of my mortgages were at 1.65% for a while providing incredible cash flow after all other expenses were paid. But around the net and on the news we're hearing that rates will rise probably in June or maybe earlier. It all depends on the economy's health.

Generally speaking variable rates will do better for you in the long run. Now, the gap between variable and fixed is so large, you might get huge increases in rates and the amount your mortgage costs you every month.

There is no clear cut answer but wait and see. It all depends Canada's economic health in early 2010.

If the global economy recovery looks strong:

“could force the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates aggressively, driving variable mortgage rates higher, but leaving fixed rate choosers unscathed.”

but if we are all still wobbly:

“Low and steady inflation, taken with a fragile global economic recovery, points to the Bank keeping its commitment to hold rates steady through June 2010 (conditional on the inflation outlook),”. “There is also some risk to locking in as fixed rates could fall if the economy performs worse than anticipated.” Mr. Douglas Porter and Mr. Benjamin Reitzes BMO economists

As for me I can hold on until spring 2010 because the savings we are getting now at these rates are phenomenal. The best thing to do is find out your bank's stand on penalties for locking in mid-term and how they affect you in the long run.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Keep investment real estate cash flow positive.

In a recession it's easy to see that buying for cash flow is the only way to go. In a hot market everyone banks on equity. Which can be a very tenuous thing.

The most important thing is how much cash flow you are getting at different rates. We are seeing the lowest interest rates in history but when they rise how will your investment perform. Will it still cash flow at 6% interest? How about when vacancy rates increase and you get a drop in rents?

This is called stress testing your property. Although many people see cash flow at one point only - today's rates and today's rents the income will fluctuate leading to some unfortunate surprises.

What to do:

1. Do your property's income and expense numbers at a range of rates and of rents
2. Know the scenario your property will and won't cash flow
3. Have a good reserve fund to cover the skinny times.

You don't retire or get rich by owning property that takes money out of your pocket every month.

REIN on Facebook!

Alberta REIN has a Facebook page with all the events, seminars and up to date economic information available for everyone. Take a look or become a fan to meet like minded investors.

I went and looked at some of the member's photos with the Real Estate Investing In Canada all around the world.

Good things come to those who read!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Edmonton the city of entertainment

I went to the EEDC website to get updated on statistics and the city's economic outlook (sadly not updated since May) but ended up getting sidetracked by events.

There is seriously a lot going on in Edmonton. Festivals, groups, fashion shows, city wide events there really is no need to stay at home being bored.

This month there are dozens of events happening this month lots are kid friendly and all look like a lot of fun. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

We're all selling something.

It's often said that we are all selling something. You may not be a salesperson by trade but even the act of getting married is selling yourself to someone.

Now that we can avoid the dreaded "Can I help you with something?" by shopping online, how does it affect those who sell? And those who buy?

"Stephanie Flanders asks her panel of top business guests about the fine art of salesmanship. Now we can all bypass those eager shop assistants and go online, are salesmen on the way out - or just getting a makeover?"

Listen here

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Alberta #1 in Population Growth

Even in a recession Alberta is still more attractive than the rest of Canada. The province's population growth has lead the country between April and June.

The reason is compared to the rest of Canada where unemployment rates are in the high nines Alberta still has a lot to offer with rates in the mid sevens.

Population growth is always a good thing, it increases housing prices, retail sales and when the economy picks up again a willing labour force. It can put a strain on the infrastructure but overall the effects are positive.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rental Properties and Insurance Coverage

If you've every played Cashflow you've probably got the "Natural Disaster/Toxic Pollution" card that wipes out your property unless you have an "All Risk Insurance" card and have been paying the $200 premium.

Image -

In Canada property insurance is structured under three types:

Standard - protects against "named perils" including such things as fire, lightning, windstorm, hail, theft, and specific types of water damage.

Broad- is a level up from named perils and is called "all risk" this includes such things as faulty workmanship and some types of wear and tear.

Comprehensive - provides all risk coverage to the dwelling and the contents

If you're renting your property you want to avoid Comprehensive as the tenant is responsible for insuring their own belongings. Although we recommend all our tenants have this insurance.

As housing prices rise and fall you must make sure that your insurance covers your property at the current value. If your house has increased in value but your coverage is to an outdated limit you may not be completely reimbursed to the value your property holds. Check with your insurance agent to make sure the values are accurate.

Let your insurance agent know if you have vacant properties. If you don't inform them you may not be covered for some types of damage. It may cost you extra money as a "vacancy premium" is often charged. However, that is the beauty of insurance as a few hundred dollars could save you tens of thousands.

Our insurance brokers have an incredible track record with us. We've only had to use them a few times but they have been outstanding. As with any service provider make sure your insurance company will give you the best value and service possible.

More Canadian specific insurance information Click Here

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Peter Kinch on Canadian Mortgage Rates

If you're riding the variable rate it can be scary sometimes, it can even keep you up at night. With interest rates at historical lows people are starting to wonder when and how high rates will go. Peter Kinch, The Number 1 Mortgage Broker in Canada, has insight on what to expect in the short term and in the next 2 to 4 years.

He points out that interest rates are at their lowest ever which is attracting buyers to the market in turn firming up prices. Housing affordability is very good right now so take advantage while you can.

He also expects rates to go up 3% in the next 2 to 4 years.

Watch the full interview here on CTV News.

Small piece of trivia Mr. Kinch lived in the same city I do in Japan and we have mutual acquaintances - Six degrees of separation!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

This long weekend in Canada is Thanksgiving. We are hard pressed to find a whole bird here in Japan and even if I did I don't know where I'd cook it.

When we do cook Thanksgiving dinners are legendary at my house. Todd is a FANTASTIC chef and always puts out delicious meals that leave everybody wanting more. There never are any leftovers...

In the expat community there are a lot of people alone for many holidays so it's nice when we have impromptu parties with people of all nationalities bringing a dish. I guess it's a true rendition of the original Thanksgiving of sharing.

We have so much to be thankful for; even the bad things that happen teach you to be thankful. When bills come due and tenants leave or rates go up and rents go down everything is a learning experience. Every hurdle you clear brings you that much closer to your goal.

Todd, Ronan and I are really grateful for our excellent team, our mentors, our friends and family and most importantly our partners. We're looking forward to seeing you soon!

Ode to Thanksgiving

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Yeah for Canadian Real Estate!

Canadian real estate is on the road to recovery.

"On balance, given the recent unbelievable strength in the Canadian housing market, the modest downshift in sales in August should not be seen as anything other than a brief respite in what has been a remarkable recovery in the sector," said TD Securities economics strategist Millan Mulraine.

"Even so, we believe that Canadian housing market activity in the coming months will be relatively tepid as the sector consolidates the gains made since January." Read More

I'm one!

Today is my son's first birthday. You can see in the photo we've already got him hard at work answering phones.

What a fantastic year together and I'm really looking forward to all the great things to come. First steps, days at school, first tricycles and first school plays...

We've had some nice celebratory lunches with friends all over Utsunomiya. My favorite has been the lunch my mentor gave where she said, it's to award you for surviving the first year of motherhood. No kidding.

This month also brings another special day the 7th anniversary of Glenn Simon Inc.

October has become the month where great things are born!

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Frugal Landlord - 3 Ways to find tenants cheaply.

I went to my local book exchange library today. After living in Japan for 10 years I've pretty much read all the English books at all three of my city's libraries.

The book exchange often has some reading gold that you can borrow and keep for free. I've gotten tons of business books, travel books, biographies and novels there.

Today I was pleased to find The Frugal Gourmet cook book. When I was a kid I remember watching the show and him always taking a sip of wine and well that's about all I remember. I guess it didn't make THAT much of an impression on me but I thought the book might help me overcome my sometimes unambitious cooking.

Then I got to thinking about land-lording and how you could use the Frugal Gourmet premise when finding tenants. So here it is 3 ways to get champagne tenants on beer advertising budget.

1. Place your ads wisely - Newspaper and online advertising have become cheaper over the past few years but how about spending no money at all? It's old school but placing ads with the little phone number tags attached to the bottom is a fantastic way to get tenants that are looking in a specific neighbourhood. Places like laundromats, supermarkets, schools and community centers may have bulletin boards where you can post for free. Effective? Yes. Cheap? Very!

2. For rent signs- They are cheap, highly visible to foot and drive by traffic and they let people know instantly that this property is up for grabs. Not to mention you can put them up the minute the tenant gives notice. In fact you can keep it in the property and ask the tenant nicely to do it themselves! Save gas too....

3. Referrals - You've probably got some good tenants who respect your property like it's their home. They are a goldmine of untapped potential tenant networks.
Offer all your great tenants the chance to introduce their friends to your family of rentals and offer say, dinner for two or a movie, they would be more than happy to help you fill your vacancies. You maybe saying well dinner isn't cheap but it's a lot cheaper than a vacant property with mortgage payments.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Hey nice yard! 5 Tips to not get burned by contractors

Is not what people are going to be saying when they go by our property that just had sod laid. A local Edmonton landscaping company came laid some dead sod, left sod pallets blocking the access to the garage and a pile of junk on the property.

Yes, we paid them for this.

In advance.

And that was our mistake.

How do YOU avoid this mistake?

1. Don't pay any company the full amount until a satisfactory job has been done - give them half or even a partial payment. If they insist on getting paid upfront you should start to wonder about your recourse if things don't end up as planned.

2. Get a reference list of clients and call a couple- Why not. It may take about 1 hour of your time and even if they all give raving reviews people will always tell you their opinion. If a company is reluctant to give references start to ask yourself why. Trust me one hour on the phone is much cheaper than the time and cost to you to rectify shoddy work.

3. Closely monitor the job until done - Drive by every day. That pile of pallets didn't just appear they left them over the time they were working there. You can watch the work progress and make sure all scrap is removed. At any rate you can get to know the people who are working for you for future jobs.

4. Ask around - You'd be surprised how many people will tell you their good and bad experiences. Many people have had contract work done and are willing to "show and tell". People who are satisfied will say so and those that aren't will really say so.

5. Let the world know - Companies like this keep operating because clients are unaware of their bad history. The internet age means most people surf online to find companies locally. When your review comes up or filed complaint you will be saving someone, somewhere some money and some time.

Ripoff Report,
The BBB,
The Complaints Board

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Come on Edmonton - "Suite-n" up the deal

I own several properties and currently provide some affordable housing. I'd like the opportunity to provide more affordable housing by suiting some of my properties.

I tried to apply for a grant to put a suite into a property of mine but was summarily rejected because I am not an owner-occupant.

Why? Why? Why?

Our friend Tim summed it up nicely. People don't want their neighborhoods getting messed up with a bunch of rental properties with suites. Really who can more effectively manage suites a landlord with experience or a home-owner who will give it a shot and then learn the hard way about tenant issues?

Chances are the investor/landlord with 10-20-30-40 homes has more skill in operating a rental that an owner-occupier. This also paves the way for better communication and less disputes between lower income tenants and owners.

The grant should be expanded to allow owners who don't reside in the prospective houses a chance to "suite"up. We can avoid tent-city as a greater amount of affordable housing will be created.

A primary owner-occupant is limited to only one home to work with whereas an landlord who owns multiple property, has the ability to reach more people by providing more suites.

Am I seriously being punished for providing housing?

If I spend my own money to put in a suite and the risks associated with it, I should be fairly compensated for that risk. That may equate to a 1 bedroom being rented for $875 at market rent.

If I were to go the route of the grant I could reduce my costs and risk, and provide housing at a reduced rent - the same suite could be rented for $721 per month, thus filling the need for affordable housing.

I own many properties that qualify for the grant, image the impact I'd have on the community compared to one owner-occupier.