Building Your Ark….

Investing or speculating, what’s the difference? Many people enter into the game of investing in real estate with the plan of buying a property, holding it for a period of time (1 year or more) and then selling it for the appreciated value. This is not investing but rather speculating because it is no different than putting money in the stock market with the hope that it will increase in value.

Unfortunately far too many new investors fall prey to the greed of easy money which appears to be available during times of high appreciation such as they experienced in Calgary and Edmonton from 2005-8. This is fantastic while markets appreciate but unfortunately what goes up must come down and when this happens it happens quickly and can be devastating.

If your focus was “Cash Flow” first and foremost then the depreciation would not be nearly as devastating. There is nothing wrong with playing the speculation game, just realize the risks are far greater than investing in real estate.

I am currently reading…

Okay, so it’s hard for me to focus on reading this month because there are hockey play-offs, plus we are still quite busy unpacking the house from the move home to the East.  And of course with the beautiful weather we are experiencing here in Ontario, all the yard work and clean-up needs to be done NOW!  Last weekend Joanne had me washing windows inside and out, raking the lawn (and it’s a very large lawn), setting up patio furniture…  there was hardly any time left to watch the beginning of the play-offs!

Managing Your Ark…

While some parts of the country (like Thunder Bay) are still covered in snow, other parts of the world are gearing up to start cutting grass – and that’s what landlords need to schedule into their property maintenance schedules to ensure that their properties look great all year round!

beautiful_lawn2There are several options for dealing with lawn care as a landlord.  For a single family home, providing the tenant with a gas lawnmower and a jerry can for gas is often the best solution.  Be sure that their lease agreement acknowledges that they are responsible for the lawn care.  Often tenants will do a great job of taking care of the exterior of their home – pride of “ownership” thing.  Of course, this doesn’t always work!  How many times have you passed a property with an overgrown yard, and flags in the windows as curtains, and you just KNOW that is a rental property… likely with an out-of-town landlord!

For larger properties landlords will want to hire a “professional”.  It is often more problematic to find a tenant to care for the lawn at a multi-unit property, unless you are extremely fortunate.  For these properties it is often advisable to hire a professional lawn-care company – one with insurance and WSIB coverage.  Set up a contract with them, spelling out what you expect them to do, how often you expect it done, and how much you will pay them each cut.  An all-in contract can also work – where you pay a flat fee for the season, but often the all-inclusive contracts find the contractor losing interest at the end of the season…

And one of the best ways we have found to find a contractor for grass-cutting is through Kijiji.  We have posted ads, and responded to ads, on Kijiji.  We talk to the contractor and then call some references.  It takes a little bit of work to get set-up, but there is nothing more satisfying than driving by your property during the summer months and seeing the well-tended lawn.

One final note, again depending on the type of rental property you have, spring for a pot of flowers at the building and have one of your tenants be responsible for the watering of them.  Nothings says “home” like flowers!

From Ken’s Ark…

We have just begun the “birthday season” as we refer to it at our house.  All of our daughters are Taurus, so we have their birthday’s two weeks apart, until we hit our granddaughter’s birthday.  Throw into the mix one daughter’s wedding anniversary, Mother’s Day, one son-in-law’s birthday, and then we hit June….

We have made it a family tradition to celebrate birthdays and the birthday person!  Well, I should confess that Joanne has made it a family tradition and I show up to help!  She takes care of a gift and a card, she plans the birthday person’s favourite meal, bakes them a cake – the only time we haven’t had a home-made cake was the year one of the girl’s wanted an ice-cream cake!  When the girls were young they always had a birthday party with friends, even though ALL 3 birthdays fell at the busiest time of our campground season.

So, the point I am trying to make is that no matter how busy your work life or home life is, it’s important to take some time to celebrate the important people in your life – make them feel special and loved!  It doesn’t have to cost much – it just has to let them know you love them!  And on that note – Happy Birthday Girls – Dad loves you!