The cost of real estate in Toronto

“The cost of real estate is driven by supply and demand and as long as the market you are investing in still has less supply than demand, it’s still worth investing” says Lee. “If there is an opportunity, I’m open to learning and analyzing.”

This is an interesting point as many people have been hesitant to invest in Toronto since prices have been at an all-time high. There are some concerns about a recession or a real estate crash happening, but people have been saying that for years.

I’m not saying one thing will or will not happen, what I’m saying is that you can’t predict the future. According to Lee, Toronto is still a good market for investors.

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The most important things when purchasing a condo

Purchasing a condo for yourself is very different from purchasing a condo for investment purposes. If you’re going to be a condo investor, Lee says the following three things are the most important factors:

  • Location  
  • Rentability 
  • Total investment  

If you buy a condo in a good location, you’ll likely have an easier time renting it out which is point No. 2 (rentability). Of course, you shouldn’t buy a condo just because it’s in a good location. You’ll want to ensure it has a good layout or has amenities that are desirable.

Total investment is something that people don’t typically think about but it covers things such as closing costs, development levies and incidentals which can affect your return on investment.

When to say no right away

Many people are excited to become real estate investors, but Lee says there are a few things that should be instant flags. “Bad layouts are a consideration now that the size of units is under 500 square feet. The use of space is very important.”

She also says to beware of projects without approvals. “If the development is still seeking approvals from the city, should these permits not get approved or take too long, there is a chance of cancellation.”

In case you didn’t know, cancellations have happened quite a few times over the last few years in Toronto. This has left many people who had invested early empty-handed as they don’t have a unit and if they were to buy now, they’d be paying the current market value.

You may want to add "builder reputation" to your list of most important things to consider when purchasing a condo.

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Know your costs

“Some people simply look at the purchase price and forget about the other hard out-of-pocket costs” says Lee. “Closing costs, including HST, development levies, education and park levies, section 37 costs, other incidental fees are very important to calculate in your analysis.”

What you’re looking for are investments that are cashflow neutral, however, there are cashflow positive properties out there which is why some people work with a coach that uses the right strategies to find the right investments.

“If you can find a market that is affordable, with low vacancy and strong rent rates, this is a recipe for success” says Lee. “It may take longer to earn on the appreciation factor, but as long as it is rented and you’re at least cashflow neutral, you’re still making money and can choose when to realize your gains.”

Fine art as an investment

Stocks can be volatile, cryptos make big swings to either side, and even gold is not immune to the market’s ups and downs.

That’s why if you are looking for the ultimate hedge, it could be worthwhile to check out a real, but overlooked asset: fine art.

Contemporary artwork has outperformed the S&P 500 by a commanding 174% over the past 25 years, according to the Citi Global Art Market chart.

And it’s becoming a popular way to diversify because it’s a real physical asset with little correlation to the stock market.

On a scale of -1 to +1, with 0 representing no link at all, Citi found the correlation between contemporary art and the S&P 500 was just 0.12 during the past 25 years.

Earlier this year, Bank of America investment chief Michael Harnett singled out artwork as a sharp way to outperform over the next decade — due largely to the asset’s track record as an inflation hedge.

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About the Author

Barry Choi

Barry Choi

MoneyWise.ca Contributor

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who makes frequent media appearances. When he's not educating people on how to be smarter with money, he's earning and burning miles and points for luxury travel.

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