Category: torontorealestate (10)

How to Make an Extra $50k When Selling Your Home

Volition was featured on HGTV.ca to share strategies for getting top dollar for your home – you can check it out here.

As usual, we have more to say. Read on for the extended version!

To get top dollar for your home, you need to be strategic.  We’re going to go beyond the “regular” advice (i.e. staging, remodelled kitchens, curb appeal, etc.) and challenge some of the preconceived assumptions around getting top dollar for your home.  Any run-of-the-mill Realtor can throw something up on MLS and hope for the best… What separates an average realtor from a great one is their strategy and their market knowledge, and their ability to create a personalized Market Strategy for your home.  Also keep in mind: Investor Realtors make the best Realtors!  Investor Realtors work with regular home-buyers and home-sellers as well, and are trained to have higher-order thinking skills and possess the ability to see value where others can’t, leading to better outcomes and higher sale prices for you as the seller.  

Be Strategic

  1. Realtor Strategy: You need to be strategic about who you select as your Realtor.  Your Realtor is the quarterback for the entire transaction, so don’t hand out this responsibility lightly.  And definitely don’t go with someone just because they are “cheaper”: you may very well be stepping over pounds to pick up pennies.  The $5,000 you may save could mean that you’re leaving $25,000 or even $100,000 on the table – it’s not always “all things equal” because you may not be getting the absolute top sale price for your property.  You wouldn’t want a discount heart surgeon; why would you settle for anything but the best on the biggest financial transaction of your life?  Do your due diligence and find the best; you owe it to yourself.  What makes the best Realtor?  Keep reading to find out.
  2. Market Strategy: not to be confused with Marketing, a market strategy will help you understand the inner workings of your particular market, and give you deep insights into the current market environment, including important considerations such as supply/demand, mortgage interest rates, new government-imposed vacancy property taxes, pending tenant law policy changes, etc. – and more importantly, what this means for you and selling your home.  A good market strategy would then create an ideal target buyer persona and determine how to best position your home in light of the market conditions, and then cater all activities toward trying to attract that particular buyer profile.  If your expert Realtor develops a personalized Market Strategy for you and your home, then everyone else flows naturally from this… marketing, renos, staging, descriptions. 
  3. Reno Part 1 – Reno Strategy: Now that you know who the intended audience is, does your home already fit your particular buyer profile’s needs, or do you need to make upgrades to cater to their desires?  Don’t just make changes on a whim, or because you read an article about it.  Your Realtor expert should be able to clearly identify with laser precision what fixes or upgrades need to be done in order to attract the right buyer and what increased selling price you can expect as a result.  It’s even better if your Realtor expert has the renovation team internally (for example, Volition Properties has done many $25k kitchen upgrades resulting in an increased $75k sale price for clients!) or at least has partners who will do the renovations under the supervision of your Realtor expert. 
  4. Reno Part 2 – Best Reno Bang For Buck:  That begs the question: will spending $25k on a kitchen remodel always yield an extra $75k in selling price?  Will I get a better ROI if I finish off the basement or if I improve curb appeal?  Contrary to popular belief, there is NO one size fits all answer – every property and every market is different.  Perhaps your property is a starter townhouse and your target buyer needs a move-in ready home because they won’t have any money left over for renos, in which case it makes sense to do renos prior to listing and you would see the ROI in the increased sale price.  There are lots of simple, general, easy to understand, but wrong, answers to this very popular question.  Get expert advice from your Realtor as your starting point. 
  5. Reno Part 3 – Knowing When To Do Nothing At All:  Sometimes, you just aren’t going to get the money back, and the ROI isn’t worth it.  In a hot sellers market, perhaps you just need to get it listed ASAP to catch the hot market.  Timing could be everything, especially if you’re trying to get sold prior to new stricter mortgage regulations coming into effect, or other proposed changes that could affect the market.  Or maybe you do nothing because in your particular property in your particular neighbourhood, buyers require a blank canvas to put their own finishing touches on.  In addition to reno costs, other things to consider are time/energy spent, additional holding costs, living through renos or moving out, approvals/permits, and additional headache that you may not wish to take on. 
  6. Listing Strategy: It’s not just maximum exposure that you want, you want the right exposure.  Your Realtor will create a Listing Strategy, which will demonstrate how they plan to target your ideal buyer, while simultaneously getting you maximum sale price.  What is your pricing strategy, should you have an offer date, and is this best served as an Exclusive Listing?  Should you be advertising in foreign language publications and marketing to overseas buyers?  How is your Realtor going to target their list of private buyers/investors?  Your Realtor’s marketing plan should demonstrate how they will be highlighting the property against current market needs (i.e. during Covid, outdoor space, walk-out/rooftop patios, and dedicated office nooks demand a huge premium).  Keep in mind – much of the “advertising” that regular Realtors do is really just to generate more business for themselves, and does very little to actually sell the property for a higher price.

Putting an Investor Hat On

  1. Be Flexible: Buyers may value certain things that aren’t important to you as the seller.  The key is to hone in on those aspects, and offer them to the buyer – especially since it’s no skin off your back.  This could include offering flexible timing on closing, or allowing the closing date to be extended at the buyers’ sole discretion (to a limit, that is). Perhaps if the buyer is planning for an extensive renovation, you could allow unfettered access to the property, allow permits to be drawn up and submitted prior to closing in your name, and then transferred to the buyer at closing.  You’re only limited by your imagination – Volition’s Investor Realtors have the depth of expertise necessary to conceive and negotiate these considerations to get you top dollar. 
  2. Be Creative:  Creative deal-making can be an excellent way to get an extra boost in sale price.  If you don’t need the entire proceeds from the sale, you could offer the buyer a  Vendor Take Back, a form of Seller Financing in which you act like the bank and receive regular interest payments by lending the equity in your home to the buyer… and if this is not your Principle Residence, a VTB reduces your capital gains tax by deferring it over many years.  Other forms of creative deals include Rent-To-Own, Agreement For Sale, Sandwich Leases, Joint Venture with a contractor prior to sale, etc.  Caution: these are advanced-level strategies; make sure you are working with an expert Investor Realtor like Volition on these. 
  3. Get Your Rents Up Before You Sell:  As an investment property, one of the primary ways that a buyer valuates the property is by looking at the rents it generates.  The higher the rents, the higher the ROI and therefore the higher the property value.  This means staying on top of rent increases every year.  Depending on your province, this also means investing in an area where there is a more transient tenant profile where you can increase the rents upon tenant turnover.  This also means looking for creative ways to boost income sources; for example, coin-operated laundry, renting out the garage separately, renting out parking spaces separately, etc. 
  4. Create Value For The Buyer: this isn’t necessarily for the novice home owner, but you can create tremendous value though change of use.  Examples include putting in a basement rental suite, getting approvals for an extension or a laneway suite prior to sale, changing a single family home into a legal luxury triplex, severing/assembling a large plot of land for development use.  If your land is well-positioned for a land assembly by a big developer, perhaps band together with your neighbours in a united front to demand top dollar.  Change of use can, but doesn’t necessarily always involve, expensive renovations but time/energy will definitely be put into the planning process 
  5. Work With Your Tenants: Investment properties can be more challenging to sell due to them being tenanted.  This often means that you can’t stage the property, access can be restricted, sometimes the units can be messy due the tenants, coordination of schedules can be difficult, etc.  One of the best tactics is to incentivize tenants: gift cards to Tim Hortons or Starbucks often work well in exchange for cooperation with showings, keeping their unit tidy for showings, vacating the unit for showings, agreeing to house their pets at their parents’ place for the listing period, etc.  More extreme action could include asking them to temporarily move out for the listing period and you put them up at an AirBnb as a mini vacation for a week, or maybe if you need the property completely vacant you could negotiate a mutually beneficial scenario.  Volition Investor Realtors are experts in navigating these tricky scenarios and mediating these discussions with your tenants for you. 
  6. Is It All About The Money?:  Although as sellers we always want top dollar, it’s also worth considering the non-monetary aspects that are important to you.  A quick sale may be an important factor for you.  Minimized headache might be your most important consideration.  Perhaps reduced disruption to your lifestyle is paramount.  While maximum sale price is typically the #1 goal, have a frank discussion about this with your Realtor expert about what your priorities are, and this should be incorporated into your Listing Strategy as well.

Ready to sell? The Volition team is here to help. Get in touch with us at info@volitionprop.com

 

We are back with the second installment of the pre-reno walkthrough at the Danforth project!

We are considering options for our basement, which include:

  1. Leave unfinished, but move the mechanicals and electrical panel
  2. Finish as a recreation room plus den, extra bedroom and bathroom
  3. Finish as a legal secondary suite

We initially planned to leave the basement alone, but we realized that installing a new furnace and hot water tank (and removing the existing boiler and rads) present an opportunity to move the mechanicals, and plan future room layouts so the mechanical engineer can plan HVAC systems accordingly.

We worked with the architect to assess feasibility for a legal secondary suite as well as potential floor plans for options 2 and 3.

Considerations for each option:

1. Leave unfinished

Pros:

  • Lowest-cost option
  • Creates a more usable basement for now (storage space without the “icky” feeling) and future (can do rough-ins for drains and space plan for the future)
  • Assess waterproofing options and effectiveness as there are leaks through the cinder blocks with every rainstorm

Cons:

  • Delayed gratification – no finished space to enjoy right away
  • Costs more to do later as there are efficiencies rolling the work into the same project
  • Inconvenient – will have to dedicate headspace to finish later, and live through renos after move-in

2. Finish as a recreation room plus office/workshop/den, and add extra bedroom and bathroom

Pros:

  • Best “quality of life” option – we gain an extra floor to use and to grow into
  • Will still increase the value of the house and as it will become a 3 + 1 bed, 2.5 bath family home
  • Don’t have to rent out part of our primary residence

Cons:

  • No rental income to offset additional expense
  • Locks us into a less flexible option
  • Additional costs if we decide to create a legal basement suite in the future, although we can reduce costs by roughing in a kitchen now

3. Finish as a legal secondary suite

I will begin by emphasizing it is critical to work closely with professionals if you are considering this approach!

Construction strategy is one of my specialties (and one of the perks for Volition clients, as we guide investors through optimizing renovation investments and maximizing rental income), but there are many requirements to meet in creating a legal secondary suite, and I consult with the experts (i.e., architects and engineers) to ensure compliance with fire and building codes.

Here is why 80% of Toronto’s basement apartments don’t comply with all the rules – look at the steps involved to create a legal one!

Source: https://www.secondsuites.info/resource-centre/

Legal secondary suite considerations would be multiple blogs on its own, but here is a flavour of what we contemplated with this option:

  • Basement walkout – does one exist or would it need to be created?
  • Side setback to the property line – 0.9 m minimum, but our house is grandfathered due to its age and 0.8 m is sufficient (this is where I rely on SMEs), but we would have to demo part of the chimney to comply
  • Minimum ceiling heights – if we have to underpin, it is not financially viable
  • HVAC – independent or shared system?
  • Fire separation requirements
  • Sound attenuation requirements
  • Egress (escape window)
  • Attractive layout for two use cases: tenants now, and us later with the option to reclaim for personal use

… and the list goes on!

The key determinant for us is whether we can reach the basement minimum finished ceiling height of 1.95 m (6’ 4¾” – but I said 6’ 5” in the video) without underpinning.

This is a tall order (see what I did there?) when we take the extra layer of drywall and resilient channel for fire separation and sound attenuation into consideration, which is why we were digging the holes shown in the video to determine how far down we can go by breaking the slab.

Source: https://www.ontario.ca/page/add-second-unit-your-house

Pros:

  • Rental income to offset the additional cost of finishing the basement
  • Apply our specialized knowledge to create a rare legal secondary suite, and increase the potential buyer pool with a mortgage helper if we sell in the future
  • Flexibility through thoughtful design to reclaim the space in the future with multiple use cases: age-in-place option for family members, in-law suite for personal/non-rental use, convert back to recreation space plus office/workshop

Cons:

  • Most expensive option due to conformance with requirements
  • Giving up personal space that we may need, and realizing we could have just gone with option 2 with less time and cost instead
  • Minor costs to reclaim the space for personal use (e.g., open wall from interior stairs to basement, will end up with an extra set of washer/dryers, may get rid of or reduce size kitchen in the future)

There is a lot to think about and we haven’t made a decision yet. What would you consider? What would you choose? 

A question we get asked often is why and how do you invest in a crazy expensive market like Toronto?

Usually, the answer to this single question takes us a full-day Masterclass to explain, but we narrowed it down to a 1-hour presentation for Dave Dubeau’s Money Partner Formula, and now we’re sharing it with you!

Within the presentation, we breakdown the five most important questions when investing in Toronto:

  1. Where is the economic growth in Toronto?
  2. Who are the customers for my business?
  3. Who are the buyers and where are they buying?
  4. What type of asset should I buy?
  5. What is the single most desirable feature that will help me determine where to buy?

 

Dave Dubeau will be Volition’s guest speaker on September 15, 2021, for “Become a Money Magnet – Learn How To Raise Capital with JV Master Dave Dubeau”!

Join our Toronto Real Estate Investors Mastermind and RSVP for free.

Expert Tips That Will Help You Become a Homeowner Before 40

Accelerate your journey to homeownership.

Volition was featured on HGTV.ca to share our top tips for becoming a homeowner before 40 – you can check it out here.

As usual, we have more to say. Read on for the extended version!

We are going to steer clear of the typical stuff you often hear like start saving early, live frugally, don’t spend more when you get a raise, don’t order that avocado toast, etc. We want to broaden your thinking – especially because the traditional methods of getting into home ownership may not work in more competitive and more expensive markets.  These 10 expert tips will accelerate your journey to homeownership before you’re 40.

To help provide a frame of reference for the article, we’ve grouped the 10 tips into 3 groups: 

  • Tips #1-4 are Real Estate Strategies
  • Tips #5-7 are How To Get The Money
  • Tips #8-10 are Think Differently About Real Estate

1. House Hacking

Turn your biggest liability into your greatest asset – earn money from your home.  If you were thinking of a 1 bedroom condo, consider buying a 2 bedroom condo.  If you were thinking of a 2 bedroom or 2 bedroom + den condo, consider buying a small house.  This might seem counterintuitive, but the idea here is to buy MORE than what you need, rent part of it out, and lower your living expenses – including utilities and even wifi!  For example, let’s say that the difference between buying a 1bdrm condo and 2bdrm condo is $150,000, which equates to a $425 increase in monthly mortgage payments.  But consider this: if you could rent out your 2nd bedroom for $1200, you’re effectively ahead by $775 per month (even after the increased mortgage payment) and now you’re building equity on a larger asset!  Similarly, let’s say that you were able to buy a small house where your monthly costs including mortgage are $4200, you could live in the basement and rent the upstairs unit for $3000, then your monthly living costs would be only $1200 (and you would own a house instead of a condo!).  A larger purchase also provides you with more versatility as your needs change, i.e. you could move into the upper unit later.

2. Purchase a Triplex (or Convert a House into a Triplex)

A triplex is a 3 unit house: you could live in one unit and rent out the other two.  This is taking house-hacking to the next level… the price tag is high, but the reward is even higher!  Even though you’ll be spending more up front, the flip side is that you’ll be making significant rental income which helps immensely with the carry costs, and you’ll own a much more valuable house with much larger growth potential.  It is also more versatile since you can move between units as your needs change, or you can even combine two units if your family grows.  Typically with a triplex, your living costs would come down even further than in a smaller property: let’s say that you were able to buy a triplex and your monthly costs including mortgage are $5000, you could live in the basement and rent main floor unit for $2200 and the upper unit for $2200, then your monthly carry costs would be only $600!  

3. Buy a Property with Laneway / Garden Suite / Coach House Potential

A laneway house is a separate building that is located at the rear of your lot, and replaces where a laneway garage would normally go.  Enjoy the perks of having tenants without the downside of sharing walls!  No shared entrances, no shared laundry, no shared space.  In order to build this, you need a property that can accommodate a laneway suite (there are very specific requirements, so not all lots can), and the property needs to be located in a municipality such as Toronto and Vancouver that allows them to be built.  The price tag is steep: the cost of building one starts at about $400,000.  But the rental income that you get for that investment more than makes up for it; you could rent out a laneway house in Toronto for $3000+ per month, much more than a condo of the same amount!  The key here is to have the foresight and to consider futureproofing yourself – you may not have enough funds now, but over time as laneway suites become more popular and more attention is paid to them, lots that can accommodate laneway housing will carry a bigger premium.

4. Furnished Rental

Currently there are headwinds for the Short Term Rental (AirBnb) or Medium Term Rental market, but chances are that it won’t stay this way forever.  If you have available rooms/units and want a way to boost your rental income, employing a non-traditional approach to your rental strategy could provide you with what you need.  It is not for everyone: it is very hands-on, some municipalities have licensing restrictions on what you are allowed to rent out short term, and demand for STRs is relatively low right now due to Covid.  Employing this rental strategy, however, may actually allow you to reduce your cost of living down to $0 (or even make you cashflow positive while living there)!  The cost of furniture adds to the initial outlay, but can pay dividends in the future since it can help immensely with the cost of carrying the property and there is flexibility on how often (or not) you rent it out.

5. Turn Your Parents into Real Estate Investors 

If your parents want to help you out in getting started with your house purchase, they don’t have to act like your personal piggy bank.  Oftentimes, the better way to structure it is a win-win scenario, so it’s not a handout!  If they have a Line of Credit, or (even better) a Home Equity Line of Credit, they could lend funds to you for your down payment, and in return, you would pay their interest on the borrowed funds.  To structure it as win-win, you could pay them a premium on top of their own interest payments.  For example, if they borrow at Prime, you could pay them back Prime + 0.5% or Prime + 1%.  Or you can structure it in a Joint Venture model (more on this below) whereby they help with the purchase, you do all the work and manage the property as a rental, and you both share in the equity upside.  If you are creative and resourceful enough, there are countless ways to make this work.  But make sure it’s all in writing!

6. Co-Living

Shared ownership with family or friends to buy something bigger to accommodate everyone’s living needs can be a great solution.  We have clients who have purchased together in groups of 2-6.  It can be trickier, and everything needs to be well defined and documented beforehand (sharing of expenses, major repairs, upside capital appreciation, decision making / voting rights), but done right, this can provide an excellent opportunity for younger individuals to get into a bigger and more valuable house, with more upside potential.  This comes with the added complexity (and risk) of owning with other people, so clear, direct, and regular communication is key (e.g. scheduled regular meetings to review living arrangements, rules of the house, deciding on who gets which bedroom, what happens if one person wants out, etc.).  Note that buying in groups of more than 4 can get tricky from a mortgage perspective, so make sure you speak with your mortgage professional early.

7. Joint Ventures

Joint Ventures are a way of using OPM (Other People’s Money) to buy real estate.  When purchasing real estate, you need all of the 4 M’s: Money (downpayment), Mortgage, Mastery, and Management (Asset Management, not just Property Management).  Whereas in a normal real estate purchase where one individual (or a couple) brings all of these things in order to buy a house, the reality is that these things can come from different people.  In a traditional JV, if you are willing to provide the Mastery and Management, then your co-venturer would provide the Money and Mortgage, and you would both share 50/50 in cashflow, mortgage paydown, and equity upside of the property.  Often, this does require you to have a proven track record so that you can demonstrate you know what you’re doing, but there are many investors who used JV money when purchasing their very first property – these people spent all of their time & energy learning about how to invest in real estate by joining real estate investment groups like the Toronto Real Estate Mastermind, the largest & most active real estate meetup group in Toronto with over 3,000 members.

8. Stepping Stone Approach

The biggest advantage that young people have is that they have time on their side.  Buying property early, even something smaller like a condo, has a compounding growth effect that will work in your favour.  Just as an example, buying a $500,000 condo now can potentially mean it being worth $700,000 in 5 years.  This compounding growth effect, which Einstein himself described as “the most powerful force in the universe”, builds tremendous equity which makes it much easier to upgrade to a house by the time you are 40.  Jumping straight into buying your dream home might not be a reality when you are starting out; consider a stepping stone approach instead, rather than waiting and waiting.  This is not a call to arms over FOMO – this is to demonstrate that taking action and getting in early is generally the best strategy.  The Toronto market has grown 7-10% every year, so that $500,000 townhouse you were eyeballing 7 years ago is now $1,000,000… while your $100,000 downpayment that you had ready 7 years ago but didn’t use is now worth $115,000 while sitting in your savings account.  The rest of Einstein’s quote: “Compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world.  He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays it”.

9. Build an Expert Team

You are the CEO of your house.  Your job as CEO is to ensure that you have the absolute best team.  This is probably going to be the biggest purchase you will ever make in your life – don’t settle for second-rate team members.  Do you really want to entrust the fate of your financial future on using Uncle Joe as your Realtor?  You pay the same amount to most Realtors, so why not go with the best… or the one who truly offers the most value?  If you are considering a house with a basement unit, work with a Realtor who knows what to look for to ensure that it’s a legal basement unit.  Similarly, if you are considering a laneway house, work with a Realtor who knows the requirements and criteria for laneways so that you won’t be unpleasantly surprised later.  Demand this level of excellence and value-add from all of your service providers: Realtor, mortgage broker, insurance broker, accountant, real estate lawyer, contractor, etc.  When you start thinking about it in this way, you start realizing that home ownership isn’t a one-person show; the team that you surround yourself with can help you ensure that your purchase goes smoothly, and more importantly, ensure that it’s a well-considered part of your overall plan and financial future.

10. Invest In Real Estate, Even If You Stay As A Renter

Real estate investing can be one of the most lucrative ways to grow your wealth.  If you don’t necessarily NEED to live in the property that you purchase, then you can continue to be a renter – there is nothing wrong with that!  In fact, several of our clients have purchased investment properties in downtown Toronto, but continue to live as renters because they have apartments with very reasonable rents and financially, it just makes more sense to not live in their own property!  Keep in mind that your own home is a luxury, not a necessity (and as such, it is often a liability, not an asset).  With your equity growing in your investment properties and with renters paying your mortgage, you may eventually reach a point where that equity can help you purchase your own home by the time you’re 40… in a way that is sustainable and not a major financial burden!

Volition Properties

It’s hard for young people to buy real estate, especially with rising prices, escalating uncertainty in the market, and not knowing what you don’t know. 

Volition Properties sets out to demystify the real estate process. We get it – buying real estate is daunting.  It has many more zeros than your typical retail store purchase.  Volition is unique in that we aren’t just Realtors, we provide Advisory Services on your home purchase, which is immeasurably valuable when dealing with the biggest purchase in your life.  We can advise on your real estate needs and how it fits into your overall lifestyle, investment, and financial goals… beyond just the single transaction you will make with us.”  One great way to get started is to join a real estate meetup, such as the Toronto Real Estate Mastermind

How To Get The Highest Appraisal Value

Doing just 10% more will make all the difference.

Appraisals are possibly one of the most important aspects of real estate investing, particularly when trying to scale or grow your portfolio using the Volition “Multiplier Effect”.  They don’t happen often, but when they do, It’s critical that you give them the time and due diligence they deserve.  An appraisal can literally make or break your business model.

When are appraisals important?  Obviously, you’ll need an appraisal when you are acquiring a new property.  Most of us who have bought a property have gone through an appraisal, whether or not you were directly involved.  Oftentimes, your mortgage broker or lender will order an appraisal and it will happen seamlessly behind the scenes.  It’s not usually a problem… unless the appraisal comes in light.

But appraisals are key in the refinancing of your property as well.  Once you have equity established in your property (whether through capital appreciation over time, force equity lift through renovations, change of use, creation of value, etc.), one of the most common ways to access that equity is through a refinance.  This can include a complete payout of your existing mortgage, a top-up of your existing mortgage, or placing a HELOC on your property in addition to your existing mortgage.

Generally speaking, the higher the appraisal, the better.  A higher appraisal will allow you to get MORE equity out of your property, which means more cash in hand… cash that is typically used by real estate investors to go buy another property.  Basically, one property turns into two.  Done right, you should be able to accomplish this every 3-4 years.  This is what Volition has coined the “Multiplier Effect”.  And this is how Volition investors have been able to scale their portfolio from 1 to 2, to 4, to 8 or more properties in Toronto.

With this in mind, let’s learn how to get the absolute highest appraised value for your property.

You can approach appraisals in one of two ways: you can take a passive approach like everyone else, or you can take an active approach which is how Volition investors do it.  In the passive approach, you leave it to the fates to determine your value.  In the active approach, you try to influence the appraised value as much as possible.

At Volition, we pride ourselves on finding and working with the absolute best service providers in the industry.  The best mortgage brokers, the best accountant, the best lawyer, etc.  Funny enough… appraisers are the ONE time that we don’t mind working with an incompetent and lazy service provider.  Let me tell you why.

Volition recommends that you put in the extra 10% effort.  That extra 10% effort is what can make all the difference in the world.  Most people don’t put in that effort.  So when you do put in that effort, you can impress the hell out of the appraiser, make their job easier, and make it more likely that they will just go with whatever you have provided them.

What we do is we create an Appraisal Package for the appraiser.  So when the appraiser comes on-site, I hand them a well-developed, well-considered, well-thought through set of documents for them to look at.  This will quickly give the appraiser an idea of the property, an idea of the neighbourhood, sample comparables, and why it’s reasonable for your property to be worth $2.1M (or whatever your target value is).

You have to remember: appraisers appraise properties ALL OVER THE CITY.  It’s impossible for them to be absolute experts for every property they appraise, since they have to do upwards of 8-10 properties A DAY!  You want to quickly establish yourself as an expert and knowledgeable, without being overbearing and/or condescending.  You want to work WITH the appraiser and their ego and not overstep your bounds, but at the same time make their job easy.  Soft communication and interpersonal skills are a must.

One of the most common questions that the Volition team gets in our Exclusive Whatsapp Mastermind Chat is “if I do xyz upgrade (mini-split AC system, marble instead of quartz, etc, etc, etc.), will I get a higher appraisal”.  Our answer is “That’s not how appraisals work”.

The best way to understand this is to actually obtain and STUDY an appraisal report.  You’ll then see EXACTLY how it is that an appraisal works, and then you can reverse engineer and work backward to provide exactly what the appraiser needs. As a Volition client, we will provide you with a sample real-life, redacted appraisal report, so you can learn more about it.

Sample Appraisal Report

 

Essential Components of an Appraisal Package:

1. Feature Sheet

The feature sheets we create aren’t too much different than the ones we create for listings when we are selling a property!  Your goal here is to highlight the key features of the property.  Appraisers will spend maybe 15-30 mins doing a quick walkthrough of the home, and when making “notes”, they are essentially going through a checklist.  “Overall Condition of Property: Exceptional”.  “# of bedrooms”.  “# of half baths”.  “# of full baths”.  Etc.  They don’t have the time or energy to go through and examine every nitpicky detail.  They generally get “overall” impressions of a property to determine the level of property you have (i.e. is it a recently renovated property, to what quality, completely renovated or partially renovated, any major issues like slanted floors, etc) and then they use that as an input into the next stage of the appraisal process.

2. Comparables

After getting an overall impression of your property, Appraisers will then pull “comps”.  Comps are properties that are comparable in size, quality, and location to the subject property.  No two properties are exactly alike (unless they are in a subdivision with a single developer/builder with a cookie-cutter model, or perhaps condos), especially in downtown Toronto, so they are pulling comps that are as close as possible to your property.  After pulling a number of comps, they then make ADJUSTMENTS based on distance/location, quality of finishes, size, etc.  This is the key component.  You want the appraiser comparing with MORE EXPENSIVE properties and adjusting downwards, rather than LESS EXPENSIVE properties and adjusting upwards.  For example, if your property is in Seaton Village (west of Bathurst), you want the appraiser to be comparing (as much as reasonably possible) to Annex properties (east of Bathurst) rather than Christie Pits (west of Christie).  If an appraiser didn’t know the difference and you managed to get them to compare to Annex, you could very well get $200-300k more in your appraisal!

Also, this is why your feature sheet is important.  You want to be compared against those super-luxury, newly reno’d, expensive triplexes, not the beat-up triplex.  Even if you only spent $200k on your reno, you want to be compared to the $500k reno.  Again, appraisers GENERALLY don’t know the difference.  They only know by the pictures on MLS!

As you can plainly see, their guess is basically as good as ours!  It’s a HIGHLY subjective opinion, and we want to work this into our favour… and so it’s then easy to see why it’s not a bad thing to have a lazy appraiser.  If we do all the work for them, then they might just use it and give us what we want (or something close to it!) 

3. Summary Table

The last part is the summary table.  The summary table is the nice finishing touch that pulls together the entire appraisal package. This is where Volition investors summarize the important features of the property and compare it to other like properties, to try to get the appraiser to think that your subject property is in the same realm as the comps that you have pulled for them.

For example, if your property is a 25ft wide lot, you may wish to show a comparison of lot widths to other 25ft lots. The key takeaway here is that every summary table will look a little bit different.  You want to design your summary table so that it highlights your property in the best possible light.  Let’s say that yours is a true 3-storey and everything else is a 2.5 storey, then maybe this is something you want to include in your summary table.  However, if something that you’re trying to compare against is a little bit better than yours, then maybe you don’t actually include that in the summary table. So let’s say that yours is a 20-foot lot and you’re comparing against 25ft lots, then maybe that’s something you actually intentionally exclude from the summary table.  This is also where you would put your intended estimated value for your subject property – if you’re wanting to get $1.4M, then put $1.4M.  You’re really putting together a business case, and hoping that the appraiser will just say “Okay, yep, this is reasonable, I’ll use this”.

The idea here is to be smart, with the ultimate goal of influencing the appraiser to try to bring them into your line of thinking.  If you do all this work FOR the appraiser, and you supply them with the comps, and you’ve done the background legwork to prove that your property is indeed comparable to those comps, then there is a possibility that they’ll just use those comps (or ones like it).  Every appraiser is supposed to conduct their own independent search.  But the reality is, it takes a long time and it’s a lot of effort to narrow down properties.  If they even simply just use your suggestions as a starting point, it will lead to better outcomes for you. 

Finale

So as you can see, this is why we don’t mind having lazy appraisers.  It’s definitely not a guarantee that this will work.  It’s very plausible that some appraisers will just take the entire package and throw it in the garbage.  That has not been the experience for any of our Volition investors’ after having done hundreds and hundreds of appraisals using this methodology.  There is also the chance of offending the appraiser with this approach, which is why we also caution positioning this as “trying to be helpful”, rather than “being annoying and coming across as a know-it-all”.  It’s a delicate balance. 

As a value add to our Volition clients, we coach them through this appraisal process, we provide them with a sample appraisal package that they can then customize for their own needs, and we pull comps for them to assist in them getting the HIGHEST possible appraisal valuation.  Contact us if you’re interested in working with Volition (info@volitionprop.com), and getting the highest appraisal values just like our other Volition investors.

Welcome to Volition’s new blog series on construction projects!

I’m Florence (but everybody calls me Flo), the Strategic Initiatives Manager at Volition. I started attending Volition meetups in 2016, and the education and community here enabled me to grow my portfolio from a one-bedroom condo in 2013 to eight doors including legal triplexes in Trinity-Bellwoods and Little Italy in downtown Toronto.

I became such an advocate for Volition’s mission to help investors build wealth and achieve financial independence that I crossed over from the corporate world to join Volition and help grow the business.

Having been through several renovations including a 16-month legal triplex conversion, I am also applying my renovation and project management experience to oversee large-scale multi-family construction projects on behalf of clients.

For those who are new to construction, it feels like a black box with lots of pitfalls and things that could go wrong. It’s all true and not for the faint of heart, but it is incredibly rewarding to take something run-down and turn it into a warm, comfortable, and beautiful home.

The intention for this series is to journal two projects underway at our new property. I say “we” because this is the first renovation my boyfriend Fred and I are fully completing together. As you can see, Fred’s not afraid to roll his sleeves up and swing a hammer!

It is a detached house close to the Danforth on a 20.5’ x 140’ lot. We chose the neighbourhood as it has a great school and family-oriented community, proximity to TTC, and walking distance to retail infrastructure. These are characteristics to look for not only in your primary residence, but investment properties as well.

We chose the house due to the potential (dun dun dun…) – having shared walls with tenants and adjoining houses over the years, we value having a detached property. It’s an incredibly charming old house that is easy to fall in love with, and with the deep lot, offers options on what we can build over time.

On to the project details!

  1. Main House
  • About 1,400 square feet above grade and 830 square feet below grade. The barn/garage is 970 square feet
  • Original plan: Quick refresh of the kitchen by painting the cabinets, adding new countertops and appliances, plus a powder room
  • New plan: Drastically different after we confirmed asbestos covers much of the main and second floor walls and ceiling. Since the remediation involves stripping much of the material, we’re taking the opportunity to take down the interior walls and completely redo the main floor. There will be a new kitchen, new flooring, and we are adding a powder room and closet. Watch the video walkthrough and see what we have in mind!
  • We also conducted an energy audit as we are looking to improve insulation and efficiency, and will apply to the Enbridge rebate program
  1. Laneway Suite
  • I have been “house hacking” for years, and would like the luxury of living in an entire home by ourselves 🙂 I am still a real estate investor at heart, so we like the potential of a laneway suite to have rental income, but enjoy privacy and extra space for our own use such as a garage, office/workshop, and potentially support aging-in-place for family in the future
  • We love the existing barn/garage in the back and contemplated whether it could be converted to a laneway suite, but it would involve significant additional cost and removal of much of the existing brick and character to meet today’s building standards
  • Our property is eligible for a 2-storey structure at 1,340 square feet. The lot depth provides for the opportunity to build the entire second floor with a full height ceiling and not be subject to the 45-degree angular plane requirement

 

I am excited to blog about the construction process and share our journey with you!

Let us know in the comments if you have any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them in future posts!

IN-PERSON Real Estate Investing AMA with the Volition Team – Ask Me Anything!

NEW Date: Monday, August 30
Time: 6:00 -8:00 pm
Place: Withrow Park
RSVP for free!

Your most pressing questions about real estate investing in Toronto – ANSWERED LIVE AND IN-PERSON!

Yes, you read that right. We know we’re not the only ones tired of talking to blank screens and desperately craving facetime with the community. In line with public health guidelines, we’ll be hosting this Meetup at Withrow Park!

Record-breaking prices, falling rents, strict stress tests, “the exodus from the city”, possible rising interest rates, impacts of Covid, Laneway Suites, is it worth it to do this reno or that, do I need to change how I invest in Toronto, how do you do a legal triplex conversion… These questions that keep you up at night are the very same concerns that we aim to address during our much-anticipated AMA!

We get it. Not knowing how to get started or how to take your investing to the next level during these times is tough. But you’re not alone, Volition is here to guide you.

The Volition team currently has personal holdings of $32MM+ and 55+ units. We also run the largest and most active Real Estate Investor Meetup in Toronto with 3,000+ investors. Since 2012, we have helped hundreds of investors build over $100M of wealth and have changed countless financial futures along the way.

On August 30th, we’re offering an opportunity to have your burning questions answered by the Volition team in a live “Ask Me Anything” session – no topic is off the table!

We welcome (and encourage!) you to submit your questions to us at info@volitionprop.com beforehand, then join us live to engage in the conversation.

Your questions + our Real Estate Investing Advisors = the most valuable 2 hours you’ll spend all week.

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The Panel:

Matthew Lee – A real estate thought leader and advocate, Matt is passionate about the transformative change that real estate investing offers when done correctly. Having learned hard lessons from previously “chasing the shiny object” when investing in small towns, he has now created the Volition investing business model (an investment business model that actually works in the Toronto market) predicated on risk-mitigation, scalability, and resiliency, which he has taught to thousands of aspiring investors.

Ming Lim – Ming is a passionate educator and has 20 years of real estate investment experience in Toronto, the GTA, and Southwest Ontario. He purchased his first investment property in 2001 and has been hooked ever since! Ming has a dual role at Volition Properties as both the Head of Advisory and Construction. He mentors and guides new and experienced investors who are interested in purchasing and developing in the Toronto market. Ming’s background in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo and construction experience give him a unique analytical lens on investing, and a practical approach to implementing investing strategies.

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The logistics:

To help ensure everyone gets the most out of the event while staying safe, please read the entire post before attending.

Location: Withrow Park

What to bring: Something to sit on, personal snacks or drinks, your questions!

Food and snacks: Please leave no trace and dispose of all your waste at home.

Masks: As per public health guidelines, masks or face coverings are strongly recommended in all outdoor spaces when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Weather: If rain is forecasted, we’ll reschedule to a later date. This will be communicated to registrants the morning of the scheduled date.

RSVP for free!

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Volition Properties

Volition Properties is an award-winning Toronto boutique real estate investment firm. We provide real estate education, help clients buy investment properties, renovate and build income properties, and have sophisticated property management. We have helped clients invest over $228MM in real estate in the Toronto area – we can guide you too!

Massive Action: From zero to 90+ units before the age of 30!

Date: Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 pm

You’ve listened to them on podcasts, watched them on YouTube, and seen them featured in Toronto Life; now they’re gracing the Volition stage!! Volition is thrilled to welcome Austin Yeh and Mayu Thava, real estate investing superstars and leaders of RISE Network, as guest speakers!

Like many others, Austin started exploring the world of real estate investing after reading the classic book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. UNLIKE many others, Austin took massive action and has grown his portfolio from 0 to 40 units in just 3 years.

Mayu grew up fascinated by real estate and took quick action after graduating from university. Since then, he’s applied the lessons he’s learned to grow his portfolio to over 50 units.

Impressive, right? (And we haven’t even mentioned their ages yet!).

Austin and Mayu both quit their full-time corporate jobs before the age of 30 and will be revealing their strategic investment strategies. They’ve worked hard to put the right systems, teams, knowledge, and education in place and will be sharing how you can do it too.

You’ll learn:
– How to scale with minimal capital
– How to invest in long-distance real estate
– How to leverage social media to scale your investments
– How real estate helped them quit their full-time jobs

Watch the FULL recording below:

 


Austin’s Bio:
Austin Yeh is a 26-year-old full-time real estate investor and entrepreneur. Starting off with only $40,000 in cash less than 3 years ago, Austin has managed to scale his portfolio to over 40 rental units with properties in Windsor, Sudbury, and Toronto through using Other People’s Money (OPM) and with his own personal funds. In February 2021, Austin officially retired from his full-time corporate job to work on growing his real estate wholesaling business, called Ontario Property Deals, with his business partner, where they have ambitions to grow revenue to over $1mil in its first year of operation. Furthermore, Austin is the founder of RISE Network, a real estate community with over 5,200 members which serve to help, educate, and inspire all members to use real estate as an asset to achieve wealth and freedom. Austin is also the co-host of RISE Real Estate Investing Podcast, a Canadian real estate podcast which educates the everyday investor on how to invest in real estate through interviewing experts.

 


Mayu’s Bio:
Mayu Thava is a 29-year-old full-time real estate investor, mortgage agent, real estate coach and flipper. Mayu built his real estate portfolio through leveraging unsecured lines of credit, which today has allowed him to create a portfolio of over 50 rental units across Windsor, Sudbury, Kirkland Lake, New Brunswick and the GTA. In May 2021, Mayu left his full-time corporate job to jump into the real estate and financing world full-time. Mayu is actively involved in growing the RISE Network and a co-host of the RISE Real Estate Investing Podcast both of which are focused on educating everyday investors on how to successfully invest in real estate.

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