As an entrepreneur, part of my multiple income strategy has always been to buy real estate. At the moment our portfolio consists of a couple of houses we use personally and the rest are houses that we rent both as long-term rentals and short-term vacation homes that we AirBnB.
As someone who loves real estate and bought their first house at the age of 22, both my husband and I are always on the lookout to buy another rental property if it fits into the criteria we set for ourselves and our portfolio.
Interestingly enough, I thought with the global pandemic that it would be harder to buy real estate but looking at the numbers and making the necessary adjustments to deal with the changing regulations, it seems that this is still an excellent time to enter the real estate market to buy for personal use or for investment purposes.
The Local Real Estate Market
As of this moment, the local real estate market in my area is experiencing incredible movement.
This is a drastic change living in rural NS, Canada, where our market has been traditionally slow.
In fact 13 years ago, when we moved from Toronto to the Maritimes and after buying and selling homes in Toronto’s incredibly busy, urban market, it took a while to get used to the real estate market of the Maritimes.
A Different Pace
When we bought and sold real estate in the Maritimes, it was much slower than we were used to.
Showings were few and far between, and there were no 24-hour deadlines to negotiate deals. More often than not, real estate negotiations were relatively relaxed. Compare this to the boom that we are experiencing right now where this is the first time in 13 years that I have seen homes literally sell in a matter of a few days. Historically, they would be sitting on the market for anywhere between 2-6 months or longer.
Thinking of our own personal experience, back in the latter part of 2019, right before the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, we were looking to sell one of our income properties. This was not the first time we had gone to sell a property but again, our realtor said it could sit there for a good 6+ months or longer.
Things have certainly changed here now that we are in a pandemic and homes are selling quickly and often for over asking. The real estate environment out here is brisk, the busiest I have seen the market in over a decade because of the low supply and high demand.
That said, it is definitely a sellers market. Even in our local market, 40 minutes away from a major urban center, homes are receiving offers in as little as 24 hours and are selling for multiple offers, even in rural areas, which is what happened to friend of ours earlier this month when they purchased a home.
Looking at that situation, it would seem at first glance that wanting to buy in this type of market would not be smart but the picture is a little more complex than that.
Along with it being a sellers market, where homes are fetching prices far higher than they normally would, buyers are being met with historically low interest rates which makes staying out of the market difficult and making it very appealing to take the plunge and buy a home.
For a buyer in the market, it may seem like bad time to come and purchase but with interest rates so low, it makes sense that with an interest rate so close to zero for the foreseeable future, it would be a good time to invest.
So as we are currently looking to expand our real estate portfolio, I have compiled a list of tried and true points below for navigating the real estate market despite all the changing regulations.
1. Buy vs. Rent
Now, I know that we are in the market to purchase another rental, but for those of our readers who are first time home buyers, the big question you might be asking yourself is whether now is a good time to buy vs rent? There are so many things that go into the decision to make your first home purchase but to make things easier a simple “Buy vs. Rent” calculator can help put things in perspective.
By plugging in your numbers, you can see whether you can pay for a home on what you are currently paying in a monthly rental payment. With advanced features as well, you can also calculate things like long-term inflation and real estate appreciation, making it easier to determine whether it’s the right time to buy.
2. Your Purchasing Power
After determining that buying is a good idea, you need to know your purchasing power – how much you can afford?
As with all things during the pandemic, society has been tasked with navigating changing regulations and in Canada, the current stress test that has seen Canadians now qualifying for less money than before.
So how much can you really afford? Again, it has to do with knowing your numbers.
With houses getting multiple offers and houses selling for over asking, understanding exactly what you can afford is critical.
Even before shopping for a mortgage and working with a realtor, doing a quick assessment of what you can afford is simple. Using mortgage qualification calculators, and inputting your income numbers and variables and other variables will paint the picture of what houses you can look at and offer on. On that note, since homes are going so quickly, having a “Letter of Commitment” from your banking institution guaranteeing your approval for the next 90 days is key because once you enter negotiations, it will be important to have as much bargaining power and writing as clean an offer is one way to help yourself win a multiple offer situation.
3. Working With Experts
Before putting in an offer, understanding the environment and the type of marketplace you are working in is critical. Again homes are going quickly, in every part of the country; there is less supply and more demand which means usually multiple offers.
Aligning yourself with a realtor who specializes in your area would be very important as they will have a better pulse on the local market. They can help you navigate new regulations, negotiate offers on your behalf, advising you on the type of offer you will need to write to have a chance at winning multiple offers and making sure that you know the true value of the house you are bidding on so that you can keep perspective in what can be a very emotional situation.
4. Smart Mortgage Strategies For Paying Debt Down Faster
Lastly, even with low interest rates, it would be fair to say that if you did end up buying a home in this market, that you may have entered a multiple situation and possibly paid over asking price as a result.
If you did pay over asking, it’s a good idea to figure out how smart mortgage strategies to help you save money and pay off your mortgage even faster. This calculator will show you how you can pay off your home faster – it is certainly one of the strategies to implement whenever possible, especially if you can put extra towards your mortgage or you are buying as an investment and your rental units are cash-flowing. See the image below for an example of how you can determine your payoff goal.
Keeping in mind all of the above, doing your due diligence and working with the right experts make investing in real estate, despite the pandemic, a solid idea.
Being armed with knowledge, whether you are buying your first home or adding to your real estate portfolio, will help you understand the market. Being able to evaluate the true value of the homes you are looking at and making sure that you stay within budget is all part of navigating today’s real estate market. With that said, even during a global pandemic, there are great opportunities to be seized that can have positive, lasting results!