Sell high and buy low?

Canadian Real Estate 2020: Sell High and Buy Low?

The Canadian housing market seems to be defying logic in 2020.

COVID-19 is tearing through the global economy. According to the IMF, worldwide GDP is set to contract by over five per cent in 2020.

With the world looking like it’s heading into recession territory, Canada is certainly not immune to the crisis. Canadian unemployment for May 2020 was a record high of 13.7%.  

Both the Royal Bank and the CMHC are calling for a drop in home prices; but so far, Canadian real estate has barely flinched. In fact, since the lockdown ended in late May, the housing market has only gotten stronger. 

On a yearly basis, Canadian home prices are up by 5.4% and sales activity is up by 15%.

What’s Causing this Divergence?

COVID-19 has clearly been terrible on many sectors of our economy. Unprecedented layoffs and high unemployment figures have put some tenants and homeowners into precarious financial situations. 

Many Canadians are uncertain if they’ll be able to make their next payment — or if they’ll have a job to go back to at the end of this crisis. Before long, we could see a wave of Canadian mortgage delinquencies that leads to a drop in prices.

Yet, through this uncertainty, buyers are embracing new technology and snapping up homes like crazy. Mid to late summer is usually a slower season in the Okanagan, but this year there’s absolutely no chill.

June’s housing data firmly indicates a market rebound:

  • Home Sales through the Canadian MLS are back to pre-COVID-19 levels.
  • Actual sales in June 2020 were +15.2% compared to June 2019.
  • The National Average Sale Price was +6.5% vs June 2019.
  • The MLS price index went up 0.5% between April and June 2020.

At the end of June 2020, housing inventory was at 3.6 months — a 16-year low point. 

What this means is that if no new homes were added to the market, every listing would sell in 3.6 months. 

These numbers suggest we’re in a seller’s market.

The Sky is Not Falling

I’ve never been one to publicly claim the sky is falling in the real estate market. But I do feel a sense of duty to consult my clients on the best course of action — no matter what the market does. 

If you’ve followed my thoughts on real estate over the last two decades, you’ll know that I don't get caught up in the doom and gloom and I don't believe in good or bad markets — only good or bad tactics.

Saying that, right now is a unique window of opportunity for real estate investors. Thanks to a number of converging factors, we are seeing a nice flurry of sales that could slow to a crawl at any time. 

According to RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue, supply will soon begin to outpace demand, leading to a Canadian housing glut by fall/winter 2020.

I truly believe this could be the calm before the storm. In a short period of time, we could see the divergence between housing prices and our economic situation corrects itself.

Why Home Sales and Home Prices Are Rising

First, let's look at why the housing market is defying common logic, and secondly, what you can do to profit from the situation.

Here are four reasons I believe the Okanagan housing market is booming:

There’s Pent-up Demand post Lockdown. 

Fifty per cent of buyers who intended to move between March and May 2020 had to delay their plans. 

On top of the typical summer sales activity, we’re now seeing the demand backlog turn into strong June home sales numbers. I expect this rebound in demand to last about as long as the hiatus itself; in a couple months, things may calm down to a slower pace.

Unprecedented Government Stimulus and Mortgage Deferrals.  

The federal government has added $343 billion to the national deficit to help our country through the COVID-19 induced recession. 

For many households, support programs such as the CERB, small business loans, and the ban on tenant evictions are things keeping them afloat.

With the Liberals now under heavy scrutiny for their profligate spending, the extension of CERB, and the WE charity scandal, the unprecedented stimulus spending may be nearing an end. If the easy money handouts come to an end before jobs bounce back, many homeowners could be facing insolvency leading to forced home sales.

Seriously Cheap Money.  

Getting approved for a mortgage in Canada is only getting tougher, but incredibly low rates are available to qualified buyers. A five-year fixed mortgage can be had at 2.49%. 

These historically low borrowing conditions are likely driving demand from both first-time homeowners and investors seeking to create positive cash- flow.

The Exodus from Major Urban Centres and An Untethered Workforce.

Due to the pandemic, there is a new movement of people escaping the shoebox-in-the-sky lifestyle in crowded cities like Vancouver and Toronto for less populated communities like Kelowna and Vernon.

On top of that, the new trend of remote work means some employees may never return to their office cubicle. Companies are learning that most employees can be just as effective — if not more effective — while working from home.  

If you can live anywhere and keep your job, where would you rather live? Having a property with enough elbow room to avoid crowds and grow your own veggie garden seems like a smart idea. Looking across Canada, the Kelowna lifestyle is a popular choice.

How to Protect Your Wealth in a Recession

This could be the best selling opportunity we will see in Canadian real estate for years to come.

And sometime over the next one to three years, I have a sneaking suspicion we will be facing the best buying opportunities since 2010.

So, if you expect housing prices to drop, how should you position yourself to prosper from the shift?

Sell High, then Buy Low

An easy strategy is to sell your home for top dollar now, then sit on the sidelines until the market cools down. With the economy contracting, widespread economic hardship could lead to an increased supply of housing with fewer buyers. 

With cash in hand, you’ll be ready for the perfect moment to redeploy your capital.

If you bought a house in 2016/2017 and you’re not fully in love with the place, now is a great time to realize your tax-free gain. 

You’ve likely done well and doubled up your initial equity, so relax on the sidelines, wait for the big glut of inventory, and then get the home you really wanted — at a handsome discount.

Unlocking Your Home Equity

If you truly love your primary residence and don't see yourself moving for the next 10 years, then I highly recommend setting up a Home Equity Line Of Credit (HELOC). A HELOC is a revolving loan facility that lets you borrow cash using your home as collateral.

If your home has increased in value since your purchase, a HELOC lets you crystallize your equity gains and access a nice chunk of investment capital.

HELOCs let you borrow large sums of money at lower interest rates compared to credit cards.

With a HELOC, your household will be financially ready to take advantage of new opportunities or withstand an economic storm.

Should You Sell or Refinance Your Home?

If we are headed into a global depression, then cash will be king. There are two ways to convert real estate equity to cash — normal selling and cash-out refinancing.

Cash-out refinancing involves setting up a new mortgage at your home’s market value, paying off your old mortgage, and then pocketing the difference in equity as cash. 

If your home has increased in value since your initial mortgage agreement, a refinance lets you access some of this equity as cash, or at least negotiate more preferable borrowing terms.

What’s the best way to cash out your home? That really depends on two things — your capital gains exposure, and your net cash flows.

Capital Gains Exposure, Cash Flows, and Your Selling Decision

Before making a selling decision, you should understand your capital gains exposure.  Primary residences are typically exempt from capital gains taxes, but if you own a second home, you’ll need to pay back about 20% of your equity gains depending on your tax bracket.

If you’re renting out a second home with positive cash flows, you’ll probably be better off refinancing over the long term. Refinancing will provide you with the same net access to capital - about 80% of your home equity — but you’ll still own your income property through the years ahead which will always pay off long-term.

If you own a rental property with negative cash-flow, now is the time to unload it. The last thing you want going into an economic downturn is a drag on your personal finances. If your investment is not paying you monthly, it should become someone else's problem.

Instead, take some money off the table now and invest in something that pays you - or at least does not lose money. This might mean sitting out of the market for a bit. We can’t predict exactly when opportunities will come up, but it pays to be ready with cash in hand.

Will Kelowna’s Housing Market Stay Strong?

Now, it should be said that the Kelowna market may be somewhat insulated from global economic conditions. The Okanagan is one of Canada’s hottest real estate markets, and one of the most beautiful places in the world. 

Kelowna now has the eighth most expensive rent prices in Canada, with the average one-bedroom apartment going for $1,340 per month.  

It’s entirely possible that housing prices won’t end up plummeting here.  

To illustrate, let’s take a look at New York real estate — arguably the world’s hottest real estate market. Around 40% of apartments in the financial district got price cuts in the second quarter, but housing prices in the Hamptons are at record highs.

If the urban to rural flight trend we’re seeing in New York plays out in B.C., I expect to see a big wave of Vancouverites coming to live in the Okanagan Valley.

As a long-term investor, please keep in mind that the Okanagan is not the only housing market with opportunities. If oil continues its rebound, Alberta’s market might be the place to hunt for deals. Or maybe American real estate will go back on sale like it was in 2009.

A Game Plan for These Uncertain Times

Now, this is a real estate blog, but I believe it’s wise to diversify a small percentage of assets into physical gold and silver as a hedge against the US printing press. I'm even planning to hold some Bitcoin as a hedge against potential Weimar-style hyperinflation.

Just like our last market correction, opportunities will only be available to those with cash in hand.

This is the exact reason I created Cash Offer LP: a private investment partnership where we pool our capital and then pounce on distressed home sales. Since the start of 2020, we’ve already seen an increase in homeowners looking to liquidate their largest asset.

If you compare where we are in July 2020 to the boom and bust cycle from 2008 to 2013, selling in summer 2020 can be compared to selling in spring 2008.

The writing was on the wall, but it took years for prices to bottom out in 2011 at a 20% discount.

Keep in mind it took five years after for prices to rise back to pre-crisis levels.

This means we are playing a long game. It also means that once this selling window closes in a few months, you could be years away from seeing your equity value return to today’s levels.

Please don't let indecision and herd mentality stop you from making a move that could set you up for the rest of your life. If you’re not sure exactly how to protect your finances and use this crisis to your advantage, let’s chat about your unique situation.

To set up a 15-minute appointment and develop your own real estate game plan for the years ahead, click here


Why a lease option could be your safest real estate strategy

Less risky real estate strategy

You don't need to look far to find doom and gloom predictions about the post COVID-19 economy. Such dire forecasts can make entering the housing market seem like a scary proposition – especially for anyone buying their first property.

Every millennial knows an aunt or a parent with a story about the sky high-interest rates of 1982. Some still have grandparents with memories of the 1930s depression.

Let’s put those economic comparisons aside – eventually we all get to an age where we want a house of our own.

If you’re planning to raise a family, customize your own space, or just put down your roots somewhere comfortable, staking a claim on the property ladder makes a lot of practical sense.

We can never control the timing of the housing market, or the conditions we’ll encounter when it’s “our time” to buy. But we can control how much capital we put at risk, and the methods we use to own a home.

Fortune favours the bold

An old investment adage says: Buy when others are fearful, and sell when others are greedy.

If you’re planning on buying a home in Kelowna, you can use the prevailing emotion of fear to your advantage and negotiate a great deal.

Between 2008 and 2013, Central Okanagan home prices fell by 18%, presenting the best real estate buying opportunity of the last decade. Just eight years later in 2016, Okanagan housing prices made a full recovery from their ‘Great Recession’ lows.

If you held on to your property over those years, the price dip was just a blip in history. By 2018 – a full 10 years from purchase – your home was up by 30% from the highs of 2008.

And if you bought at the housing market bottom in 2013, you’d be up 57%. That was the home buying opportunity of the decade.

Playing the long game

As you can see in the chart above, if you’re in real estate for the long game, dips in the market can turn out to be great buying opportunities – and especially in today’s central bank driven economy.

During recessionary periods the world’s central banks continue to print money, relax interest rates, and even buy up risk assets. This all leads to an increase in what economists refer to as the money supply.

As I discussed in a previous article, increases in the money supply tend to correlate to increases in housing prices

In March 2020, the United States Federal Reserve started the largest asset purchasing binge in modern economic history, which led to a serious rally in equity and gold prices. If the Fed keeps buying and printing money, we could see price inflation across virtually all asset classes.

If you haven’t already noticed, grocery prices have also gone up this year. I don’t expect housing will be any different this time around.

It’s OK to feel hesitant

If you’re still not sure about the prospect of tying yourself to a mortgage through this period of economic uncertainty, there is a far less risky method of accomplishing your goal of home ownership.

You won’t likely hear this from your neighbourhood real estate agent, but it’s worth your time to consider a lease option as a means of acquiring your Okanagan property.

Lease options, also known as a rent-to-own agreements, provide the bulk of the housing market’s upside potential with minimal downside risk. For many would-be home buyers, this may be an ideal entry strategy.

How does a home-lease option agreement work?

With a lease option, tenants agree to rent a property for a given amount of time and have the added choice of purchasing the home throughout the term of the lease agreement at a pre-arranged price.

A lease option is just an option – if you enter into a lease option agreement, but decide you no longer want to own the property, you can simply walk away and let the option expire at the end of the agreement.

If you decide to exercise the lease option and purchase the home in the future, you’ll most likely need a mortgage to finance the transaction.

One of the advantages of using a lease option is that the monthly payments are generally far lower than standard mortgage payments. As a buyer, this gives you time to pay off any existing debts, build up your credit, and prepare for your inevitable mortgage application.

This means you can start enjoying life on a great Okanagan property without having to make a huge upfront layout in the form of a down deposit and mortgage contract.

Lease options do come with an additional expense in the form of an option fee.

The option fee

A lease option fee is a one-time payment that secures the right to purchase a home at a negotiated price. When you exercise the option, the option fee usually gets applied towards your down payment. If you walk away from the agreement, you’ll forfeit the option fee, which usually starts around $10,000, or 3-5% of the purchase price.

There’s no set price for option fees – I have successfully negotiated real estate options for as low as $1.

The option price

The option price is similar to the exercise price of a stock option – this is the pre-negotiated price at which you can purchase the property. With lease to own houses, you have the right to buy at this price at any time until the end of the option agreement.

Equity build up 

This is a negotiated amount of the monthly rent payment that gets applied towards the principal amount of the home when you exercise your lease option. Equity build up lets you chip away at the purchase price without being strapped into a mortgage.

The equity build up can range from zero – in the event you want to stake your claim with the lowest possible monthly payment – to sizable amounts in excess of $1,000 per month.

The option term

The term is the length of time you have to exercise a lease to own option. The option term is negotiated as part of the initial agreement and typically ranges from one to five years.

There are no set rules to option terms, so if you can negotiate an option price that is reflective of today’s market value, and then keep this option for a long period of time, you have the potential to do extremely well in the housing market.

How to value a rent-to-own agreement

When we design a rent-to-own contract, we model the monthly payment on three values to reflect the cost of ownership: The owner’s mortgage payment, home insurance, and annual property taxes. The difference between the market value of rent and the total monthly payment gets applied towards your equity build up.

A lease option vs. a traditional mortgage

Let’s compare some numbers for a lease option agreement and a traditional mortgage on a home asking $500,000 in Kelowna.

The home mortgage

Let’s start with a 25-year mortgage at 3.24% interest using a 5% down payment of $25,000:

$500,000 house

$  25,000 down payment (at 5%)

$475,000 mortgage amount


$2,300 monthly payment (at 3.24% interest)

$  250 a month ($3,000 annual property taxes)

$  150 a month ($1,800 annual fire insurance)

$2,650 total monthly cost of ownership with a mortgage


As shown above, using a mortgage of $475,000 leads to a $2,650 total monthly expense, with $1,080 of that amount being applied to paying down the principal each month for the first three years.

The home lease option

Now let’s see how $2,650 per month works out with a three year lease to own option:

$2,650 total monthly payment

$2,100 market value to rent a $500,000 home in Kelowna

$   550 potential option paydown

Over three years, a lease option provides a total paydown of $550 x 36 months = $19,800.

The home mortgage pays down $1080 x 36 months = $38,880.

Even with a sizable monthly option credit, your payments using a mortgage will bank equity at twice the rate of a rent to own agreement.

Lease options offer limited losses with unlimited gains

Now let’s compare the same mortgage and lease option if the housing market either booms or busts over that three-year horizon.

The good

If your property increases from $500,000 to $600,000, that $100,000 gain is all yours when you exercise the lease option. Assuming that option cost you $20,000, you’re looking at a potential five times return on investment.

The bad

If the bottom falls out of the housing market in the same three years and the home falls to $400,000, you would forfeit the option to buy at $500,000 and lose your $20,000 option investment.

The ugly?

The best part about using an option to buy a home is that there is no ugly – your worst case scenario is losing the $20,000 option fee. But if you use a mortgage, your downside risk is virtually unlimited.

Since the homeowner is the one exposed to a market downturn, they’re still going to need somebody to pay rent and look after the home. This means you may be able to extend the option agreement and carry your $20,000 forward while you both wait for a market recovery.

What are the tradeoffs with a lease option?

  1. You have fewer choices. Most home sellers are looking for a traditional sale or nothing at all, so your selection pool is much smaller with rent to own.
  2. You typically can't negotiate a screaming deal on the price. Discounts are reserved for now buyers who are willing to assume all of the market risk. If you want the hedged position of a lease option to minimize your downside risk, you’re probably going to pay market value for a home. This doesn't mean you will overpay; it just means that you will forfeit your right to make lowball offers in a buyer’s market.
  3. You give up the mortgage paydown. As our example showed, lease options provide about half of the debt reduction that you get with a mortgage.

A lease with the option to buy is a great way to hedge your housing bet.

If things turn sour, you’ll be far better off financially than those who saddled themselves with mortgages and huge down payments.

If things go well, you benefit from the upside, but your equity gains won’t be as big as those buyers who took the full plunge and bought in at a discount.

At the end of the day, you need to make your own decision about where you think the real estate market is headed for the long term.

Will we continue seeing full price recoveries in less than a decade? If you believe that in your bones, you may want to put on your big boy pants, apply for a mortgage, and buy a home.

If you’re not so sure, but you want to get a foothold in the property market, a lease to own home might be your perfect solution. 

Cardinal rules of real estate

1. Speculation is not investing

Speculation is more akin to gambling as you put all your eggs in one basket, home-value appreciation.

You have no contingency plan. Cash flow and mortgage pay down create ROI regardless of the market. Spec buying is putting a deposit down on a condo that’s two years away, hoping the unit is worth more and you can sell it before the building completes. 

Speculation is buying a property that doesn't cover itself with rent each month because you believe in the area and the potential for appreciation. I learned this lesson the hard way back in 2007; by the time my high-rise condominiums were built in 2010, they had dropped by more than my equity. 

I was “underwater” and forced to close anyway. This was a $150,000 tuition.


2. There are no good or bad markets — only good or bad tactics

For example, there are specific tactics that work in a slump, like trading up as the higher-priced homes get hit the hardest. Or negotiating creative terms like seller financing.

These same tactics won't work in a boom. Here you would use a buy-fix-sell strategy.

In a recovery period, the time between the end of slump and the next boom, this is the time to use a buy-and-hold tactic, and even more advanced strategies like rent to own, and agreements for sale. 

This is a great time to begin a real estate development project as well

The key is to know where you are in the cycle at all times. The good news is we always know where we are heading based on where we came from; it always goes Boom-Slump-Recovery. 

In this order, in a cyclical fashion. If you’ve been in a slump for a while, get ready, the recovery is on its way.

3. Your team matters

You need to build a dream team around you.  

This is one of the biggest reasons I chose to join Canada’s leading Real Estate Investment Network — R.E.I.N.  It’s in rooms like this you can rub shoulders with professionals that specialize in this kind of thing. Building out a dream team is one of the largest contributing factors in my success as an investor.

You want professionals that specialize in helping people achieve financial freedom through real estate investing. 

Find an investor-focused, real-estate agent, have them point you in the direction of a great mortgage broker, lawyer, and insurance agent. 

These three in conjunction with your ace property manager are the group of professionals that will leverage you to the highest of heights. 

Getting this right is the difference between buying a couple properties with varying success and building a well-run real estate empire that creates multi-generational wealth without consuming your precious time.

4. You get what you negotiate

Having a sharp agent who can negotiate a good deal for you is one thing, but a great negotiation starts with you.  You need to become a master at the art of negotiation. Check ego and emotion at the door and allow the process to unfold over time, never be in a rush. 

Also, remember that a real estate negotiation does not need to only be about price. Often terms are more important than dollars. Find out what is important to the other side and try to solve their problems while you create a wonderful deal for yourself. 

Dates, inclusions, improvements even financing options are all up for negotiation.

If you don't ask, you don't get.

5. Find your niche

Don't try to be in too many different arenas at once. Find a particular property type and become an expert at it.  Maybe it’s homes with a basement suite, maybe it's a condo that allows short-term rentals, perhaps it's small multi-family or light industrial. 

The key is to find a groove and master it. It’s very difficult to build a strong portfolio with a mixed bag of all of the above, but pick one and really master it; each deal is better than the next and you become the most confident investor possible.

6. You don't need to invest where you live 

Most people like the idea of being able to drive over to their investment and give it a kick or a feel. And as nice as that is, where you live is not necessarily the best option for you. 

Proximity to your home matters far less than positive cash-flow in a market with strong economic fundamentals for growth in both rents and market value. Furthermore, you might be at the tail end of the boom at home, but one province over is just coming out of a long slump. 

The opportunity for the next five years is far greater in the neighbouring province purely because of where they are in the cycle. A strong team of local professionals can be found to help you make a smart investment once you locate the area with the best opportunity

7. Graduate for economy of scale

Once you have mastered the single-family home game, and hit the limit of your ability to finance homes, which usually happens at five properties as banks typically place a limit on how many properties you can finance. 

Mortgages aside, the biggest reason to graduate to multi-family investing, which is more than five units on one title, is for economies of scale. 

You can get cheaper property management, a roof over an apartment building of eight units costs less than the four separate roofing jobs, same with one boiler system versus four individual furnaces. 

Having multiple units in one place just streamlines and simplifies your portfolio.

8. Bigger numbers don't equal bigger risk 

It’s counterintuitive, but a million-dollar four-plex is less risk than a $500,000 property, and a $5-million apartment building is even less risk than the four-plex and on it goes. As prices rise, risk is reduced. The big reason for this is diversified risk. 

The more units, the less risk of falling into a negative cash-flow for example three out of eight units could suddenly be vacant and you could still cover your mortgage. 

If your house or apartment suddenly becomes vacant, you are on the hook for the entire mortgage payment until a new tenant is placed.

9. Master joint ventures

At some point, every single investor reaches a ceiling as to what they can accomplish alone. Eventually everyone will run out of one of the three ingredients needed to grow their portfolio. 

The most common is capital for down payments; once you’ve deployed your chunk of liquid capital, it takes a long time to build up another down payment. Other times, the issue isn't capital, but rather access to financing. 

Every single investor eventually hits their limit for how many mortgages they can convince the bank to give them. 

And then there’s time and expertise, the third but equally important ingredient. Eventually, your time and expertise can only be stretched so thin.

When you hit this point, it’s time to master the art of joint venturing. For every person out there flush with cash but without extra time or expertise to spare, there is a person with the capacity and expertise to execute who has run out of capital. 

This is a match made in heaven and, with the right documentation and expectations, can be a mutually beneficial partnership that serves all parties for years and allows investors to reach new heights in their career.

10. Cash is king, but cash-flow queen

Yes, cash is king, but what really holds the power to your success and designing the lifestyle of your dreams is creating cash flow. 

For example, you could have a half million dollars and buy a nice condo in a high rise for a million with your cash, rent it for $3,000/month and you and find yourself in a negative cash flow situation monthly. That same 500k invested into a $2 million multi-family will bring in close to $15,000 in revenue per month; that's five times more revenue and positive cash flow each month that can pay for your lifestyle.  

11. Force appreciation

One of the best aspects of real estate as an investment class is the opportunity to influence the value of the asset by improving it. Take advantage of low hanging fruit renovations like floor and paint to instantly force up value. Put your sweat equity into landscaping and cosmetic projects. 

Some properties let you unlock value by developing them further, adding a suite or rezoning to another use. There are many ways you can influence the value of your real estate. 

Even if you are currently stuck in terms of finances, you can give your portfolio, and thus your net worth, a boost, simply by being strategic

12. Hold for wealth

Saving the best for last. Good money can be made buying, fixing and selling property. Many people do this as their full-time job. 

The challenge here is that this will forever be their full-time job because they rely on these profits to live. Real estate is great for creating a profit but the real magic is what happens when you own it over time. 

Multi-generational wealth is created by holding hard assets like real estate over decades. 

Consider that a $2.5 million portfolio of real estate today that you've invested under $500,000 of your own capital in, using 80/20 leverage, will, in 30 years, be a fully paid for portfolio worth around $10 million (real estate doubles every 15 years historically) and generating over $500,000 in rental profits every single year.


A retirement rescue plan

Frustrated Canadian Baby Boomers are now finding themselves staring straight down the barrel of retirement. 

Financial planners have told them they’ll need to bank at least $2 million to enjoy their golden years in comfort.  Based on the returns offered by products in the financial services industry today, that assessment is unfortunately quite accurate.  

Accepting this new paradigm can be downright discouraging for the majority of Boomers who have their net worth tied up in low-yield savings accounts and expensive primary residences. On the bright side, there’s an alternative route to financial independence.  

After years of steady growth in our major urban centres, there’s never been a more sensible time to downsize your primary residence, shrink your footprint, and experience the freedom of exiting the rat race in style.

This article outlines a strategy you can employ to earn a passive lifelong income while watching your net worth continue to grow past your retirement years.


Concerned about getting off that straight and narrow path with only a fraction of what you’ve been told you’ll need to retire? 

Hesitant about the legacy you’re hoping to leave your kids and grandkids? 

Assuming 15-25 years of runway and very conservative growth expectations, I can say with confidence that $500K investment will be more than sufficient to make an “elegant exit” into retirement, and you’ll watch it grow into a sum of money large enough to provide multi-generational wealth for your loved ones.


I’ve had the pleasure of consulting with a number of Boomers who have used their nest eggs to make strategic real estate investments and generate passive investment returns. 

I’m going to share a real world example of how I’ve been able to help individuals and couples design investment strategies that take less than six months to a year to execute – with no financial expertise or MBA required on their part.



This case study is a real-life story about a frustrated and highly risk-averse investor, who for the sake of privacy I will refer to as Tom. Following the conventional “wisdom,” he had whittled down most of his mortgage and was only a few years away from retiring and owning his home.

His risk aversion allowed him to build up a $500,000 nest egg, half in Registered Retirement Funds (RRSP) and the other half in low risk equities, government bonds, and GICs. 

His portfolio was returning a modest 4%, or $20,000 per year. On top of his expected annual $10,500 Canada Pension Plan, Tom was now facing the impending reality of living on a fixed income of $30,500 per year... for the next 20-40 years.

By most people's standards, he made it - with a net worth of $1.2 million (Includes 700k equity in primary residence), Tom had secured a safe future for himself and his family.

The only thing keeping him and his wife up at night was the fact that they busted their humps to get to this point in life, but still wanted to live comfortably, spoil their grandkids, and be free to check off their bucket list items. 

They knew Tom’s fixed income wouldn’t be adequate and wondered what else they could do through Tom’s final working years to improve the outcome of their golden years.

After reading a few of my articles, Tom came into my office and asked if I had any bright ideas to help him on his quest. He confided that he’d always been afraid of buying rental properties due to the risks. 

He’d heard horror stories of tenants stealing, doing the midnight dash, or just leaving places in terrible shape. Since Tom still worked full-time, he didn't have the time to run ads, screen tenants, handle maintenance, or chase down rent payments.  

What he did like about his portfolio was that it offered a completely passive, hands-off income. We spent the next hour going over his personal finances, and I outlined an investment vehicle that provides handsome returns while eliminating the major risks associated with owning investment properties. 

Tom asked me to sketch up a plan for he and his wife over the next few days, and I welcomed the challenge.


I shared an opportunity in a limited partnership called Cash Offer LP that can offer five times higher returns than his current low-risk portfolio. 

he fund’s strategy is simple: accredited investors like Tom pool their capital to make cash offers on homes at a discount of at least 10% from market value. 

Next, the partnership makes low hanging cosmetic improvements to increase property values, and then markets them as rent-to-own opportunities for the thousands of homebuyers that cannot qualify for a mortgage in today’s tight lending environment. 

Next, the home is refinanced at 75% loan to value, and those funds are reinvested into additional properties that also become R2O Properties, managed by a team of seasoned real estate professionals who are mutually invested in Cash Offer LP.

This combined strategy of buying at a discount with cash, making high return renovations, and then selling at a premium using a rent to own strategy generates outstanding profits.

Since the partnership has its own lending arrangement in place, this means Tom can access 4-1 leverage and the higher real estate returns without taking on any debt or providing a personal guarantee. 

What he appreciated most is having his investment capital diversified over dozens of homes that produce a completely hands-off income. With his 250k investment in Cash Offer LP, Tom can comfortably expect to double his investment funds over the next 3-5 years. 


To make this next move, let’s turn our attention to another source of capital – his primary residence, valued at $800,000. The funds in home equity are essentially frozen, and it’s time to put them to work. 

Tom conservatively has $300,000 in home equity, which he can access on a line of credit for less than $10,000 in interest per year.

The plan for this chunk of equity is to purchase a multi-family investment property like an eight-plex. I found a suitable property listed at $1.2 million. which means he would need $300,000 for a 25% down payment. After management costs, interest, and expenses, renting out the eight-plex would produce a $30,000 cash flow every year.


The last puzzle piece in Tom's journey from barely-registering returns into the land of double digits is putting his RRSP on steroids.  

I illustrated how Tom could invest his $250k in RRSP funds into a new, self-directed account to essentially become his own bank with the freedom to lend money to the real estate market privately for an expected
8-12% percent annual return. With his new plan, he can bank an additional $20,000 per year on his $250k in registered funds. 

Now, let's see what Tom’s financial picture looks like three years down the road when he decides to ditch work and focus his attention on that golden bucket list. After three years, his Cash Offer investment now sits at $500k and he’s banking a combined 16% return per year in capital gains and rental income.

Cash Offer LP investment - 16% ROI                           $80,000         
8-Plex bought with $300k home equity - 10% ROI      $30,000
RRSP's in a well-managed REIT - 8% ROI                   $20,000
Canada Pension Plan max amount:                             $10,500

Tom's Annual Pre-tax Earnings:                                 $140,500 per year

Not only is this more money than Tom has ever made, the best part is that he won't be doing the heavy lifting and won’t have to trade in his time. Each hard-earned dollar in home equity and RRSPs has been given the healthy quota of returning an average 12.5% per annum, and on top of that, his apartment building is appreciating in value. 

To replicate a $140k annual return with his old portfolio bringing in 3.5%, Tom would need close to $4 million.

Helping Tom to see his nest egg’s potential was the best part of this entire process.

After 20 years of investment compounding — as our once 55-year-old investor approaches 75 years young and looks towards succession planning — he will have a debt-free portfolio worth approximately $4,000,000 generating a passive retirement income of $500,000 per year. 

How’s that for a legacy? He left my office filled with hope and excited for the future.

If you’d like to know more about syndicated real estate investments like Cash Offer LP and other ways to earn double digit returns in the real estate market, email [email protected] or give us a call at 250-717-3133.

For a detailed analysis of this plan, reach out to us at 250-717-3133 or [email protected]

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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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