Realtors often get asked about how to start investing in real estate. How to build a real estate portfolio for extra income. It can be a challenging undertaking even for those who already have a few investment properties. For a first-time investor just thinking about building a portfolio can be overwhelming.
Real estate is, in our opinion, one of the safest and most reliable ways to build wealth. Ottawa is a particularly stable market with excellent employment opportunities, safe neighbourhoods and large universities. The real estate industry however, is riddled with scenarios and complexities that can affect your return. Proceed with caution and be diligent at every step.
We worked with numerous professional real estate investors. There are various ways to build wealth and here we are going to discuss the most common ways.
1. Start simple and small. If you are a first-time investor we generally encourage you to start with a project that will minimize pitfalls. One would be to purchase a condo apartment. While no one likes paying for condo fees, the advantages of renting a condo are clear. Lower property tax generally and most of your maintenance issues taken care of by the condo corporation. In older condos you need fewer appliances as there might be shared laundry facilities on site.
2. Renting a condo also comes with the advantage of lower costs to upgrade the unit to make it attractive to tenants. You do not need to invest tens of thousand of dollars to finish a basement, build a deck or worry about the roof, air conditioner and furnace.
3. Look for condos that are centrally located and close to major employment hubs or universities. In Ottawa finding a condo downtown, close to the University of Ottawa, Carleton University or Algonquin College can be great investments.
4. An extra little perk in owning a condo rental property is that often you can rent the garage separately.
If condos are not interesting to you the nest logical step up is a townhouse. Town homes are always in demand in Ottawa. They are great for young families and couples. If you can find one close to public transportation routes, schools and shopping amenities they can be a great option. Taxes, insurance and maintenance are of course higher than for condos but much less than multi-unit buildings.
Single family homes can be good options. You have to be very diligent however as they tend to attract a different type of tenant. Tenants looking for single homes normally are looking for a very good neighbourhood with great schools and these tenants can be demanding. They often want an upgraded home. Your target market is divorcees, those recently relocated to Ottawa and growing families with two or more children.
Finally, the multi-unit investment property. These can be triplexes, four plexes or more. They are difficult to generalize. Some are located in upscale neighbourhoods and have modern units. Many are however, situated in less than desirable locations. Location and condition of the structure is absolute key when searching for a multi-unit property. You have to know what type of tenants you want to deal with and search accordingly. Make sure the tenants have privacy and parking if possible.
Another important factor when deciding how to enter the real estate investment market is to decide whether you will manage the property or contract it out to a management company.
Overall there are many factors to take into consideration when looking for income properties in Ottawa. Beside the obvious cost related issues, you should analyze the target tenant you wish to take on. Make sure the location fits that tenant profile. Look for safe neighbourhood with ample public transportation and neighbourhood amenities. Make sure the units are attractive and well taken care of especially if you start with a free hold.