Real estate investing is tough at the best of times. What about the worst of times. Is it possible to invest profitably in real estate when the market is like it is right now?The real estate market is in meltdown right now. House prices are plummeting, foreclosures through the roof, people living in their cars and houses selling for $1. I’ve been watching a lovely 4 bedroom home in Florida that is listed on eBay right now for a starting bid of $1.Real estate investing success relies on a few simple parameters. Rising house prices and good rental returns. If an investor can secure a house that will rise in value over time and returns enough rental return to come close to covering the expenses of the mortgage and other holding costs, then that investor will, over time, make a profit.Ideally the rental returns from the tenants should exceed the costs of holding the property, and it is then in positive cash flow, and the investor makes a return on investment both from the income from the property and from the capital gain as well.It’s all pretty simple really. There’s dozens of real estate investment seminars around, however that’s the basics. If you buy a home for an investment, and the value of that home goes down over time, you’ll lose money.If you’re making a loss on the rental return over time, you’ll also lose money unless you can sell that home in the future at a price that is sufficiently higher than the purchase price to cover the rental losses and make some return on capital.Simple stuff. But hard to achieve, even in the best of times. When the market is good, like it was up until a while ago, you made money if you we’re a good real estate investor. If you chose well, bought well and tenanted the property well, you were in front.Not any more. The basic premise of real estate investing is rising home prices. If you’ve got rising home prices then you’ve got a good chance of doing well. Buy just about anything and by default you’ll make money.Now prices are falling.So right now there are no real estate investment opportunities right?Wrong. There are good real estate investment opportunities. But if you’re trying to find them yourself you’re almost guaranteed to fail. There are some professional real estate investors now who are trying, and if you’re a professional investor with significant real estate investment experience you may do well. Or you may well do badly too.But if you’re beginning real estate investing now you’d be better to stay out of the market. Unless……Imagine for a moment.A solid American public corporation, experienced in real estate investment. Well capitalized with a well thought out proven strategy for investing in real estate regardless of market direction.The corporation invests in buying homes in demand. Not your McMansions that are on eBay right now, but the sort of houses that millions of working Americans live in right now, or need to live in. Basic properties that exist in their millions right over the US.With sufficient capital it can buy hundreds of homes at a time. From government, charities or any organization that owns large numbers of homes in a single area. And because it can buy like that it can buy at way below market value. Hundreds at a time purchased in a suburb with all the right characteristics including high demand for rental properties and, in some cases a backlog of demand for up to 15 years.Then it refurbishes those homes to a high standard. While doing so it spends money on the suburb building parks and playgrounds and community facilities. And within a period of time a suburb has been totally transformed. New community attractions, high quality homes that people want to live in. Suddenly everyone wants to live there.Up to 40% of the profits are ploughed back into the local community.Demand rises, people want to live there, both to rent and buy. The corporation has created it’s own capital gain, regardless of market direction.And then it sells these properties to individual investors. No money down, loan provided, tenant provided with a rental guarantee. Immediate equity to the investor of around 15%. The investor owns the property and can hold it or sell it and keep 100% of the profits.Now that’s successful real estate investing in a bad market. But it takes experience, commitment to a community and to the investors, and a solid background of real estate experience, and a lot of capital.Sound too good to be true? Maybe it’s not.
A new Ontario real estate agent, wow, congratulations! Now what? Chances are you are probably still flying high with excitement after all the hard work and study you just went through. Time to take a well deserved break before jumping into the realty sales game. An opportunity to think about things like what kind of properties to specialize in, what kind of Brokerage to be part of, and a good time to review and list some old and new goals.Now that you have your passing marks, and you took some time off to celebrate, a decision to join an Ontario realty Brokerage firm needs to be made. This is a requirement since you must be employed by a Brokerage registered with the Real Estate Council of Ontario or R.E.C.O. You will fill out a new registration with your employer and your employer (realty Brokerage) will also fill in its section and authorize same. These forms with your fees and dues payable to R.E.C.O. will be sent by either yourself or your new employer. Upon successful qualification, based on the information you provided on the application, you will be issued your brand new Ontario real estate license certificate.There are many different types of real estate Brokers and Brokerages to work for in Ontario. Variations among them like, residential vs commercial and/or industrial and leasing, office expenses, commission splits, services provided for you, training, office space for your desk and phone, franchise office vs independent etc etc. One main difference which is vastly overlooked by many new realty agents starting out in their careers, is whether the real estate Brokerage is a member of their local realty board. The difference is vast since being a member means that all registered agents with that Brokerage have to be members as well. Being a member entitles the agent many beneficial privileges and services but it also comes at a yearly cost. If the Brokerage is not a member then the yearly cost is avoided by the Brokerage and all its registrants and no services or privileges given either.Here are some steps you should consider:1. In Ontario under the R.E.C.O. rules and regulations, you must be registered with them through an Ontario Brokerage within 1 year of passing your final exam. If you fail to do so, you will have to start from “scratch”. Therefore, your first step ought to be whether to jump in as per the steps that follow or park your Ontario real estate license and hold it active with a Brokerage that provides a low cost “keep your license active” service. If you decide to park your license by holding it active, you can do so indefinitely subject to the Brokerage policies. When you decide to take your license off hold then all you need to do is request to transfer it to another Ontario Brokerage of your choice. One more thing, if you park your license, make sure it will be a month to month contract to ensure flexibility. If you are asked to pay a yearly membership or parking fee, inquire whether they have other options available for you.2. Decide what type of real estate in Ontario you want to sell/trade. Residential homes and condos, investment housing like apartment buildings, industrial buildings, commercial properties, office buildings, leasing etc3. a) Based on your decision in step 2, interview the Broker/Owner of a few real estate Brokerages in Ontario that specialize in that field since they will be able to assist you in the “know how” of that selection. Learn about their support, and commissions payable to you and learn about their office policies. Compare them to the other Brokerages you interview. Pick the Brokerage the fits in with your personal goals.3. b) Depending on your selection in step 2, you may or may not require the services of your local Ontario real estate Board. Most active residential salespeople will want to be members of their local Board because the multiple listing service will be extremely beneficial in sales. However, some commercial salespeople elect to be registered with a Brokerage that is not a member of any Board. Commercial is often a field where agents develop their own purchasers for their in house listings and prefer to sell or lease commercial properties without the assistance of other agents from other Brokerages through the m.l.s. system. If I lost you here, sorry…make sure you ask the Brokers you interview to explain the pros and cons. You may get a different view from each Broker.As a new Ontario real estate agent, Licensee, you may want to consider taking it slow before you jump in and incur all kinds of expenses right off the start. It may prove you well to initially join an Ontario realty Brokerage firm that will allow you to hold your registration or license there with them at a low cost before deciding to go full out with a franchise Brokerage or any other Firm that provides all the services that you will eventually require in your career. In the real estate Brokerage world this is also known or referred to as “park your license” or “hold it active” with a non board member Brokerage in Ontario.Park your license and holding it active does not only apply to new Ontario real estate agents. There are Brokerages out there that provide this “parking” or “holding” real estate licenses for all registrants including Brokers, associate Brokers, Realtor, sales rep’s, husband and wife real estate teams where there are 2 licenses active etc etc.If you had previously done your homework and have already selected the Ontario Brokerage you wish to join and be employed by, then great, jump in with gusto and make it happen. For the many new real estate graduates out there, taking the slow road may be a better way to ensure you make the right decisions for yourself. It is amazing how many well intentioned people decided to become a real estate agent in Ontario with a long term career in mind only to have that dream cut short. The expenses that will be introduced to you in this field can be shocking especially if it takes a while before you notice some commissions coming in.Give yourself a fighting chance. It really is a great business to be in right into your later years. Your just around the corner from receiving that certificate (real estate license) in the mail that you have worked so hard for. Shop around for that Brokerage and interview at least 3-5 Offices/Firms. Jump in with a full service real estate Brokerage with full real estate board membership or park your license for a while and take your time doing your due diligence. The choice is yours.