Great strategy for landlords

The New Tenancy Law Could Mean bump in equity for Landlords

OK, it’s a little off topic, but I think the metaphor works: Professional race-car drivers are all about maintaining momentum – not slowing down.

They know the particular track they’re on. They know every turn, every braking zone, every acceleration point, and every passing zone.

They practise hard and they have a plan, and team, that will give them their best chance at winning the race.

But, the most important ability they possess is the ability, in spite of changes in track conditions and rules, to adjust instantaneously to stay out front.  

Landlords and rental property owners have something in common with race-car drivers.

Having a strategy, executing it on time, knowing when to put on the brakes or accelerate, and having a stellar team are all keys to successful property investing.

But, when conditions change, can you adjust and keep on winning?

Time to Accelerate and Grow Your Investment

If you are currently a landlord or own rental property, then it’s likely you’ve heard about the recent changes to our tenancy law. The bottom line is that the changes make fixed-term tenancy agreements a thing of the past.

This is, of course, a form of rent control intended to take away a landlord’s option of raising their rents to match market value when the market value of their unit(s) has increased during tenancy.

Essentially, what this means is that all tenancy agreements will become month to month at the end of their term.  So now, moving forward, in order for a landlord to retake control of their unit, they must choose one of two options: 

  • move into the unit themselves
  • renovate the unit.

The first, while it is an option, is highly unlikely. And option two sounds costly and time consuming.

But let’s take a closer look.

Renovation Can Equal Better Cash Flow and More

We talked above about how both race-car drivers and property owners must be good at taking advantage of changes in conditions in order to stay out front.

Let’s examine the renovation option and see how property improvements can, and should, be viewed as an investment opportunity — even a win/win.

Let’s break down the numbers and figure out if this really is better than accepting below market value rents while waiting, sometimes for a long period of time, for a tenant to move on.

For our example, let’s assume this is an older rental unit, say 30 plus years old, and that it’s been some time since the last cosmetic overhaul.

The rents are appropriately low due to the age and condition. It’s a 1,000 square foot, two-bedroom, one bath apartment that is rented at $1,200 per month.

Our renovation plan: Find a cost-effective handyman, replace the tired flooring, paint, and install all new hardware and fixtures.

When it's done, the unit will look and feel completely refreshed and will be “renter desirable."

The Budget

  • Flooring — $5/sq.ft = $5,000
  • Paint — $2/sq.ft = $2,000
  • Baseboards = $1,000
  • Fixtures (lights, door knobs, faucets, etc.) = $2,000
  • Total @ $10,000


With your $10,000 investment, you are now able to re-rent the unit at market value. And, with its fresh new look, it will now rent toward the top of the two-bedroom apartment price range – more than likely at around $1,700 per month.

That’s a $500 per month improvement in cash flow. Not bad.

The example renovation can be completed in a month. And with the inclusion of the free month’s rent, required when ending a tenancy for this purpose, you are out two months income or $2,400 based on the old rent figure.

But stay with me here.

With a new tenant at $1,700 per month, it will take five months to recoup your lost revenue (5 x $500 = $2,500). Once paid back, the additional $6,000 per year in rent equates to a 60 per cent ROI on the $10,000 investment in the property.

That’s an amazing return for sure, but it’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What you now have is what we in the business call forced appreciation.

This means that you have increased the value of your investment considerably. So, how much did our $10,000 increase our example project’s property value?

More Good News: GRMs

One way that rental and investments properties are valued is by using what’s called a gross rent multiplier or GRM. If you’ve read my articles in the past, you’ve heard me talk about rent multipliers.

The GRM will vary from market to market. It will go up in boom times and down in bust times. It might be as low as 10 in bear markets and as high as 20 in bull markets.

Currently, in Kelowna, we aim for a GRM of 15 on cash-flow property. What this means is that an investor would be willing to pay a multiple of 15 on the gross annual rent.

Let’s apply this valuation method to our example:

When rented at $1,200 per month, our property produced an annual revenue of $14,400. Using a GRM of 15, the price an investor would pay for this revenue would be $216,000.

When rented at $1,700 per month, our refreshed property is producing a annual revenue of $20,400.

Using a GRM of 15 the price an investor would pay has increased to $306,000 – a $90,000 increase over the value of the old/original property.

New laws bring new opportunities

The B.C. government is proposing several changes in order to protect tenants from landlords who might use renovation as an excuse to evict tenants — while having no intention on doing any renovations at all.

Follow the rules and you’ll have no problems.

In fact, part of the new law allows the tenant first right of refusal, at the new rental price, when the renovations are complete and the unit is available again. So, you just may have a built in “instant” tenant — no advertising required.

Impact on Your Net Worth and Future Investments

My strategy clearly shows how you can proactively use the new Tenancy Law as an opportunity to affect a major, positive difference in what an investor would pay for your property(s) — although once you are enjoying the significant additional cash flow, you may never sell.

And, when the bump in equity finds itself onto your net worth statement you can leverage it for future investments.

Is that a win/win or a win/win/win?

Either way, it’s a great strategy and a smart way to move forward.

Investing in real estate

I am super excited to invite you to the first ever Real Estate Investment Network member meeting to be held in Kelowna.

As a longtime member of REIN, I’ve found that being a part of this community has been a huge asset in all aspects of my own personal real estate investing business.

Utilizing the REIN resources and network has helped me build my portfolio to over 50 doors by following in members' footsteps and through their advice. I have been working for the past year to bring a REIN chapter to Kelowna, and if this event is a success, it will be the first of many ongoing monthly meetings.

I invite you to come down to our member meeting on Jan. 30 from 8 to 10 p.m. to learn about and experience the full power of the REIN community. Typically, these events are $150 to attend, however, for being part of Castanet's network and a reader of my personal investor column, the fee will be waived for this first event! 

Follow the link to register for the meeting. Then click "Come As Our Guest $199" – but don't worry, your registration will be added to your cart for free.

We look forward to seeing you there. 

Please feel free to give my office a call if you have any questions about the event at 250-717-3133

The last affordability in city

With Kelowna’s average single-family home price hovering over $700,000 during a time when household incomes hover around $75,000 per year, it has many people wondering how they can afford to live here. 

Now, Im not saying that Kelowna is over priced, far from it based on what you get here in terms of lifestyle. But it cannot be denied that for the average person, affordability in single-family home sector is a challenge.

The Vantage Report released this July showed that there are still three neighborhoods that fit the average budget of a working family without leaving them house poor. 

Now, it should also be noted that in the same report you will see that these three neighbourhoods are among the fastest rising prices, so the window of affordability is rapidly closing.

The three neighbourhoods that a buyer can still obtain a nice sized home over 2,000 square feet on a generous sized lot at nearly a quarter acre for right around $500,000 are:

  • Rutland
  • Westbank
  • Glenrosa

Some may be saying to themselves, of course these are cheap, they are in the dodgy neighbourhoods, but that is far from the case these days. 

The local municipalities are pouring money and energy into the revitalization of Downtown Westbank and the Rutland communities. 

These amenity rich, self-contained villages are bustling with new commercial activity and new infrastructure.   Young families and people new to the area are making these areas home, partially due to budgetary constraints and increasingly to do with their walk score and proximity to amenities.

Why does this end up in an article about real estate investment? Well, you’ve been hearing me preach about investing only where the positive cash flow exists for years. 

It is in these very neighbourhoods that the best return on your investment can be found. Not only because they are less expensive, but because the rents relative to the price are still quite high. 

This means that a savvy investor can still expect to see a double-digit return on their investment and enjoy the best appreciation by purchasing homes like the three examples here.

For an in depth analysis of these neighborhoods and others in Kelowna along with some useful insight into the Kelowna market, heck out the Vantage Report here.


Mid-summer update

With the first half of the year on the books, I wanted to summarize where we are during these interesting times. 

As you might expect with two years in a row of double-digit property value growth in the Okanagan, and the headlines that go with it, we have seen the number of properties purchased for investment increase by 40 per cent.

This is a combination of baby boomers looking to augment their retirement income and out-of-towners catching wind that Kelowna’s market is in the full swing of a real estate boom and looking to get a piece of the action.

Now not all real estate investments in Kelowna have performed equally. Some have really exploded. Those holding properties in the new RU7 designations are seeing huge gains as values on war times houses in the North and South end of downtown have gone from the mid 400s to the low 700s in many cases.  

This is all due to the infill development potential that these city lots hold, as four units are now permitted on a regular-sized city lot

Multi family properties from duplexes, fourplexes and apartment buildings have become so scarce that prices have jumped nearly 40 per cent. A duplex in Rutland, for example, that could have been purchased for $550,000 last year, can fetch $750,000 in today’s market.

Suited homes have also seen dramatic equity gains. Gone are the days of buying a single family home with a suite for under $500,000. Even the most affordable of neighborhoods like Glenrosa are posting sales in the low 500s for a 1970s Bi level home with an income suite.

Rising rents have kept up with sky rocketing values reasonably well but CAP rates have fallen from six per cent to five per cent to fourper cent over the past two years.  

This means investors from markets such as Vancouver are coming in search of yield. Because of our relative affordability compared to their market, and the prospect of a few more years of property value increases, they are willing to forgo the huge positive cash flow, satisfied with breaking even as they watch their equity pile up from mortgage pay down and capital gains.

Many people that have been holding property since before the boom are electing to cash in at this stage. With thousands of units of purpose built rentals coming down the pike in the next one to two years, we expect to see the vacancy rate climb a little and rents on older units to soften.  

With this we may see prices stabilize on the multi-family properties. Good news for renters in the Okanagan, a sell signal for many landlords.

It appears the best strategy for this market is a buy-fix-sell-in-a-year strategy. If you are wanting to purchase a holding property before they no longer cover themselves, a five-bedroom home with a suite will still cash flow nicely, and will always fare well in any downturn as it always in high demand for both investors and first time home buyers alike.

Always remember, investors don’t put themselves in negative cash flow situation chasing capital gains, that’s called speculating and it’s how people go broke.

Stick to the fundamentals and buy well located real estate that is positive cash flow and has the opportunity to add value. That is a strategy that never goes out of style and is a fast track to building real, multi-generational wealth.

For the entire Vantage Report that dissects the data neighbourhood by neighbourhood, spotting trends and opportunity in our Okanagan market, view the entire report here.

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.

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