Aug 202015
 

Best Cities In the World

The Economist recently released its new livability scale report. This study compares 140 cities across the world and ranks them based on factors such as political stability, healthcare, safety, and educational resources. Canadian and Australian cities dominated the top 5 spots for having the best koala-ty of life! 😀 Below are the top five cities in the list.

  1. Melbourne, Australia
  2. Vienna, Austria
  3. Vancouver, Canada
  4. Toronto, Canada
  5. Calgary, Canada and Adelaide, Australia

Similarities Between Canada and Australia

This is probably not a big surprise as both countries have a lot in common. We both export boat loads of natural resources. We have low population density and most people live in small to medium sized cities. Our economies are similar as well with national GDP in the $1.5 to $2.0 trillion range.

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Even our currencies are roughly the same in value. $1 CAD currently trades for about $1.04 AUD, lol. The stock market returns between the Canadian TSX Composite index and the Australian S&P All Ordinaries index (XAO) over the past 5 years are practically identical. Both stock markets returned about 18% since August 2010.

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I’m not sure if it’s even necessary for Canadians to buy Australian stocks for diversification purposes, and vice-versa, because it might not make any difference in the long run.  😕

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Aug 172015
 

Donald Trump Reveals His Personal Finances ?

I watched part of the Republican debate earlier this month. Some Americans warn that if Donald Trump becomes the next President then there will be Hell toupée. ? But he also has a lot of dedicated supporters. He’s quite a polarizing political figure. But what’s even bigger than his brash character and bold hairstyle is his impressive portfolio of material wealth. 🙂

His net worth is not clear as it’s difficult to put an exact value on such intangibles like his brand. Many sources say he is worth about $4.5 billion while Trump himself claims he is worth about $8.7 billion. As a presidential candidate Trump is required by law to disclose his finances to the Federal Election Commission. This opens up his personal finances for the whole world to see. It’s a great opportunity for us to study what makes him so successful in business and how we can possibly do the same. Trump’s financial disclosure documents reveal that over the last 18 months he’s made at least $380 million. This means Donald Trump makes about $250 million a year. Wow! It must be hard for anyone to Trump that kind of income. 😛

If he does somehow over-comb the controversies and become the next U.S. president, I expect he would want to make some changes to the White House. 😉

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? Types of Incomes ⛳ 

Surprisingly only $14,000 of his $380 million income is from a salary, lol. This goes to show that the rich are very tax efficient. Salary and wages are the highest taxed income sources one can earn in both Canada and the U.S. Most of Trump’s income comes from his business and investments. He owns the Trump Tower Chicago, the Trump National Golf Club in N.J. and the Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla, among many other properties. Roughly half of his income, about $200 million during the 18 month filing period, came from golf courses and resorts. He also earned at least $10 million in royalties for licensing his brand to not only luxury hotels, but also to vodka makers and energy drinks companies.

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Jul 162015
 

Earlier this year a Vancouver house with a $5 million assessed value was put on the market for $6 million. Guess how much it ended up selling for? Hint, it’s in the upscale Shaughnessy neighbourhood. 🙂

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After 12 days and multiple bids from 10 prospective buyers the 78 year old home was sold for $8 million, lol. Welcome to Vancouver. You’re welcome to buy a house here, as long as you’re willing to pay $2 million over the asking price. 😛

Our hot real estate market is about to get even more extreme because yesterday morning the Bank of Canada announced another 0.25% rate cut. Holy pumpernickel! Now it will be even harder to raise rates in the future without pricking the bubble. 📌

The Effects of the Rate Cut ✂

The overnight lending rate was lowered to 0.5% in an attempt to boost capital expenditure and drive companies to spend more on hiring and manufacturing. However this will also unintentionally persuade already heavily indebted consumers to take on even more debt.

The problem with monetary policy is that it affects the entire country even though places like Vancouver really don’t need any further easing of credit. A better solution would have been to address the faltering economy in some parts of Canada, like Alberta, using targeted fiscal policy instead of a blanket rate cut. But that’s just my personal opinion.

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May 132015
 

Not in my Backyard 

I recently read an article about a lower mainland couple who doesn’t like how a neighbouring $2 million house sits empty all the time. The yard is unkempt, there are no cars in the driveway and the lack of human presence is “driving [the couple] slightly bananas.”

Sacré bleu! You mean to tell me that there are people who buy property only for investment purposes? How dare they offer above market price to purchase a house here, so that Canadians can unlock the full value of their real estate. What can we do with cash anyway? Buy a diversified portfolio of liquid assets like stocks and bonds to provide passive income for retirement? No thanks. I’d much rather put all my nest eggs into a single illiquid asset that produces no income, and lies on a major fault zone. 😛 Those pesky foreign investors who don’t even live here think they can just not contribute any waste to our sewage system, and not use the city’s garbage services, but somehow think they still have the right to pay the full brunt of utility tax and property tax. Some nerve! How dare those foreigners help fund our police, fire, and public education system when they don’t even have kids here to overcrowd our classrooms. It’s also unfortunate how quiet their house is all the time. Who would want to live beside quiet neighbours anyway? Not me. 🙄

Sarcasm aside, foreign ownership of real estate is a hot button issue around here. Should non-residents or non-citizens be allowed to purchase Canadian residential property?

There’s actually a petition to restrict foreign investment in Canada’s most expensive real estate market, which I’ve signed and shared on social media. To be frank I don’t believe this petition will bring about any meaningful change, but I think it’s an important discussion for fellow Vancouverites to have. 🙂

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click on image to sign the petition

There will also be a rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on May 24th, to focus on the problem of affordable housing for young people in a city where the average house costs more than $1 million. Feel free to attend and take a stand if you believe in the cause. 🙂

Foreign Real Estate Ownership

Some believe foreign ownership drives up the cost of housing which makes it less affordable to live in the city. But I think that’s largely a myth. The amount of foreign owned property is just a fraction of the overall market. Foreign investment laws haven’t changed much in Canada over the last decade. However mortgage interest rates have been cut in half over the same period. Raise the interest rate and watch as prices correct overnight.

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Apr 162015
 

Canadian Farmland Values Up Again

Okay, it’s that time of year again when the national agency, Farm Credit Canada, release its farmland value report about the previous year’s farming landscape. As it turns out in 2014 the average Canadian farmland price increased 14.3%. 😀

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Meanwhile residential real estate prices increased only 5.2%, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. Of course the most strategic way to invest in a portfolio of properties is to be exposed to both residential, and agricultural real estate. Farmland prices are assessed using recent comparable sales. These sales must be arm’s-length transactions. The highest price increase was an incredible 18.7% in Saskatchewan, the land of living skies. The full report is on FCC’s site.

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As luck would have it I decided to buy some Sask farmland a few years ago. 😉 Back then I had blogged about why land in Saskatchewan was the bee’s knees because of how undervalued it was compared to other provinces and neighboring States.

 

The Greatest Advantage of Real Estate Over Stocks: LEVERAGE

I leveraged 8:1 to secure my position as a farm owner. This meant I borrowed $7 of the bank’s money for every $1 of my own money to invest. So an increase in Saskatchewan’s farmland value of 18.7% last year actually means a redonkulous 150% rate of return on my capital. Not too shabby. 😉

My farmland was worth about $1210/acre last year, so after this year’s adjustment it should be worth $226/acre more now. Awesome sauce! 😉 $226 doesn’t sound like a lot of money to get excited about, but since I own 310 acres it all adds up pretty quick. 🙂

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Investing in farmland isn’t for everyone but hay, maybe I have it in my jeans. 😀

As much as I like to feel wealthy on paper, when one particular asset class consistently outperforms all the other ones I’m faced with an asset allocation problem. Farmland now represents about two-thirds of my financial investments (all assets except primary residence.) This means I am not very diversified anymore. 🙁 Although I realize this must be the ultimate first world problem, lol. 😛

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