Jun 272016

Real Estate Ad Terms

Some folks might think using words like “charming,” or “spacious” in a properly listing is smart and would result in a higher sale price. But in reality the opposite is true. Here are 10 common real estate ad terms. Half of them have strong positive correlations with a higher sale price, and the other half is negatively correlated.


According to the book Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, the 5 terms correlated to a higher sale price are:

  1. Granite
  2. Maple
  3. Corian
  4. State of the art
  5. Gourmet

And the 5 terms correlated to a lower sale price are:

  1. Fantastic
  2. Charming
  3. Spacious
  4. Great neighborhood
  5. !

Words such as Granite, Maple, and Corian (a countertop brand,) are all definitive physical descriptions of a home. It tells any potential buyer exactly what the property is like. The terms Gourmet and State of the art, also connotes a place that’s ready to move in.

But on the other hand words like Fantastic can be a misleading description, as are other ambiguous terms such as Charming or Spacious. These words aren’t tangible enough to tell the buyer anything specific about the property. Mentioning a “Great neighborhood” might signal that this particular house isn’t that great and may not have any specific attributes worth mentioning, but at least other homes nearby are pretty nice. The last word on the list isn’t really a word; it’s an exclamation point. It feels like a feeble attempt to cover real shortcomings of the home with a false sense of enthusiasm!!!!

The book also broke down the language used in a listing for a real estate agent’s own home. She indeed emphasize adjectives like new, granite, maple, and move-in condition. She avoided empty and interpretive portrayals like wonderful, immaculate, or the overused exclamation point. She used every advantage she had to increase her final sale price, including telling potential buyers that a nearby house recently sold for $50,000 above the asking price. But that doesn’t make her a bad person. Realtors are people too. They’re simply looking for closure. 😆

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Apr 192016

If you tend to be very trusting of what other people tell you, it might end up harming you in the long run. You can actually tell a lot about some people based on your first impressions of them. Though your initial thoughts about somebody could be wrong, oftentimes, your gut instinct tends to be correct because it is based on your past experiences with similar people.

Consider this scenario: if the lessor turns out to be a pain to talk to during the initial discussion about the house rental, then you will be stuck with that particular lessor for the whole duration of your contract. This is something that can easily be avoided if you take the time to make acute observations during the discussion of the lease. Here are some things for you to observe when you have the initial meeting with your possible landlord, and why each of these factors might be a clue as to your future relationship with that person.

Does Your Lessor Have a Pleasant Personality?

One of the most important factors to consider when renting a house is if your lessor is easy to work with. After all, you will have to deal with this person for the entire time that you stay at your new place. For instance, assuming that you have been able to pay all of your dues each month without a problem, would your landlord consider giving you a short extension if you happened to be late on a particular payment due to some circumstances beyond your control?

According to an article by Brittany Foster on Law Depot, most landlords who are accommodating do not mind giving you a little leeway. After all, it is in their best interests to keep a tenant that is responsible and courteous most of the time rather than kick them out and replace them with a troublesome tenant who is rude and misses every single payment. This is a headache that most decent lessors would want to avoid at all costs, as good tenants can be hard to come by, and it is not worth letting go of them all because of a one-time tiny mistake that they could not avoid no matter how much they tried.

Do You Feel Respected by the Lessor?

During your initial meeting with the landlord, it is important to check for signs of whether or not they look down on you as a possible tenant. After all, they are trying to get people to rent our their property, so they must treat you with respect no matter how many questions you have or how many times you ask to clarify something in the contract. In fact, taking the time to observe a lessor’s tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions are a way to gauge just how much they actually respect you and any other potential lessees they may have.

If you sense any discomfort, condescending tones of voice, or even the tiniest signs of disrespect, consider these red flags about the lessors’ attitudes and move on to the next one.

Does Your Lessor Blame You for Everything?

According to Brene Brown, blaming others for all kinds of problems is one way in which people try to release any pain or discomfort that they are feeling. After all, when you point the finger at somebody else, you would be washing your hands of the problem and would not have to deal with it anymore.

If you can, ask current tenants if the lessor tends to blame them rather than diagnose what the problem is. Make sure to check if the contract states that any damages that happen to the house will be paid for by the lessor. If the contract states that all repairs will be covered by the lessor but you are still forced into paying for the damages, then take it as a sign that the will blame you in the future, and look for another house to rent.

Whether you are looking for a new house for rent on useful sites such as PropertyGuru Singapore or hitting the streets to look for vacancies, do not only focus on the physical properties of the house itself. There is an element of human interaction whenever you decide to rent a new property to live in, and that happens to be in the form of your future landlord. Take your time feeling out the person’s personality, as a few minutes or hours talking to them will give you a clue about what your long-term relationship with them will be like.

Find a landlord that respects you so that you will not just have a home that is beautiful and up to physical standards, but an intangible renting experience that is nothing but positive for everybody involved.

Feb 112016

House it Going in the Real Estate Market?

So this is the kind of house you can expect to buy in Vancouver today for about $1.19 million.



To put this into context, the same $1.19 million could be used instead to create a dividend growth portfolio that would generate $40,000 each year of tax advantaged income for a lifetime. 🙂 Have homeowners completely lost their noodles in this city?

The economy has stagnated. The U.S. stock market is down about 10% over the last 12 month period. The TSX in Canada has seen worse, falling by 20% since this time last year. Canada lost more jobs than it gained last month, pushing the unemployment rate up to 7.2%. Low oil and commodities prices is costing us a lot of jobs not just in this country but also in emerging markets that export metals and other resources. Negative interest rates are as common as the flu. Asia’s growth is slowing down. U.S. Treasury yields have fallen from 2.0%+ to just 1.6% over the last 6 months. And as Lenore Hawkins, chief economist at Meritas Advisors, says, the slowdown of growth in “global trades is at levels we haven’t seen since around 1958.” It’s almost like the entire world is in recession.

But despite all the negative news and market volatility out there, local real estate as a whole has remained stubbornly bullish for the last 4 decades.

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Feb 082016

Mortgage Investment Corporations Returns in 2015

The Toronto Stock Exchange lost about 9% last year. But one group of investments that performed well in 2015 were mortgage investment corporations (MIC.) In the beginning of 2015 I held three different MICs. Since I didn’t add any new positions throughout the year it’s easy to calculate my total annual returns from them. Let’s take a look at the results. 🙂

Liquid’s MIC returns in 2015:

  • Antrim Mortgage Fund: +4.5% return (on $10,300 invested)
  • Atrium Mortgage Investment Corp (AI): +8.2% return (on $2,100 invested)
  • Timbercreek Mortgage Investment Corp (TMC): -0.6% return (on $2,600 invested)

Total returns = 461 + 172 + (-16) = $617

Overall Return on investment = $617 ÷ $15,000 = 4.1% return

The chart below shows the unit price of my AI and TMC investments compared to the S&P/TSX index, throughout 2015. It does not include dividends or interest.


MIC Analysis

My total return for holding $15K in MICs last year earned me 4.1%. This rate of return was lower than the historical average of 5% to 8% one would normally expect from a basket of mortgage based investments. I believe a number of negative factors played into this outcome.

  1. Our economy in 2015 was weaker than economists had expected. The price of oil lost around half its value. As a result, the Canadian economy fell into a recession because it’s very dependent on strong oil prices to grow.
  2. Another reason is because the Bank of Canada cut interest rates not once, but twice in 2015. Lower rates are bad for mortgage lenders like MICs because they make less money if borrowers pay less interest on their loans.
  3. Furthermore the annual account fee I paid to my trustee lowered my Antrim Mortgage Fund return by 1.3%.😖
  4. The last reason is because one of my holdings, Timbercreek (TMC) severely under-performed other MICs. I don’t know if 2015 was just a bad year for the stock or if the drop is due to something more substantial. 😕

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Jan 202016

There are many different reasons why you might be considering a real estate transaction but it is an especially popular time to be doing so in the state of Florida. Not only is Florida popular for its climate and many amenities within the state and the counties within it, but many people simply enjoy the community atmosphere and the opportunity to relocate to the south. With affordable prices now on the horizon for individuals buying real estate, there are many reasons you should consider an investment home in Florida today. Read on to learn more about some of the most popular reasons.

Leveraged Assets

When you invest in real estate in Florida you have a unique opportunity to leverage your own assets by financing some of the purchase. This means that you are using the bank’s money in order to make your own money. This is a great way to carry out your purchase and leverage your own assets while also getting the benefit of owning a new piece of real estate in a hot market.

Cash Flow and Income

When you choose to purchase an investment property you could rent it out to someone else to actually earn income. Many landlords choose to do this in order to receive monthly cash from the real estate they have already purchased in Florida. Individuals who are approaching retirement and who ultimately plan to live in Florida full-time might consider doing this so that their property can be rented out when they are not spending the summer there. This provides for extra income that can be stashed away for retirement, and this is one of the reasons that Florida has become such a popular location for people interested in buying real estate.

Property Appreciation

Areas in various localities within Florida are affordably priced but are always poised to rise because of the high demand for housing in the Florida area. If you purchase a property now, the value of that property is likely to increase over the future. This means that you can make money simply by owning your home and choosing to sell it or rent it out later.

Vacation Home

Since the weather in Florida is especially ideal during the winter, you could capitalize on your investment by choosing to obtain a vacation home. This allows you to spend several weeks each year on your own property and rent it out to other individuals if you choose to when you’re not using it. This means extra income for you and the opportunity to escape to the beautiful area of Florida if you want to. Ultimately, you could move into your vacation home and make it your permanent residence as well which gives individuals approaching retirement a significant opportunity to do something different and plan ahead.

Tax benefits

Investors who decide to purchase a property and do so on an investment basis may save money when they do their taxes. Of course you should always consult with an accountant to be clear about this.

Can you think of anymore reasons to invest, or not, in Florida real estate?