The Canadian economy is beginning to open up. But chatter surrounding a recession still lingers. First-time real estate investors who missed their shot during the 2008 recession are setting their sights on a COVID-19-led recession to break into the world of real estate investing. But will a Coronavirus-led recession lead to the rock-bottom prices that we saw in 2008? Not necessarily. However, just because real estate prices aren’t hitting a new low, doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to invest in an income property.
In this article, we discuss the myth behind a COVID-19 recession resulting in the 2008-level real estate prices. We also provide some reason why now continues to be a good time to invest in real estate. Lastly, this article reflects on somethings to keep in mind for purchasing your first (or second or third) investment property.
The Myth that Any Recession can Burst the Real Estate Bubble
It’s often conventional wisdom that housing prices will decline during a recession, but this isn’t the always case. The 2008 financial crisis originated from subprime mortgages and the U.S. property market, among other factors, caused the decline in housing prices and subsequently the greater financial disaster.
Subprime mortgages are not the reason for the possible recession that Canada could face. Now, the cause is the COVID-19, so it’s not likely that real estate prices will be affected as much as they were in 2008. Many experts across Canada believe that real estate prices may decline 5-10% at most due to COVID-19. Even though, until now, this hasn’t affected the market: monthly numbers from real estate boards across the country have continued to show a steady average price of the homes sold.
COVID-19 is leaving many unemployed, reducing immigration to Canada, and providing us with economic uncertainty. However, the pressure exerted on the housing market by these factors is limited. Other COVID-19-related events, such as the slowdown of new housing constructions, are exerting upward pressure on real estate prices due to reduced supply. Further, if Canada can reopen its economy successfully and safely, the recession could have a smaller impact.
Why You Should Consider Investing in Real Estate Anyways
The stock market’s prices have been jumping up and down due to on-going news about the Coronavirus. If you’re looking for a bit more stability in these unprecedented times, then residential real estate may be a good bet.
As an income stream, real estate is relatively secure during a recession. Tenants will generally continue paying rent as they still have a legal obligation to do it. In contrast, a company whose stock you purchased may cut their dividends or the stock may see a sharp decline in value.
Interest rates in Canada are still low, as the Bank of Canada attempts to stimulate the economy. This may reduce your cost of borrowing to purchase a home. If you can lock in a good mortgage rate for an investment property at this time, it’ll result in a better return on investment and cash flow down the road.
A Few Best Practices for First-Time Real Estate Investors
Just because now is a good time to invest, doesn’t mean you should jump right into any property you can get your hands on. If you purchase an overpriced property when you aren’t doing well financially, it could hurt you more than it could help you.
Calculate your Cash Flow
In the world of real estate investing, cash flow is king. Cash flow is what you’re spending (cost of monthly mortgage payments and repaying other debts associated with the investment property) versus what you’re taking in (usually rental income). If you have a positive cash flow, you’re on a good track. Before buying an investment property, it’s important to run the numbers…. And, then, run them again to make sure you didn’t miss anything. When calculating your cash flow, make sure to ask yourself these questions:
● How much will your monthly mortgage payments be?
● How much will renovations cost?
● How much can you rent out the property for?
● What happens if you can’t find a tenant to pay the price you’re looking for?
Assess your Financial Position
It would be best if you also looked at your financial circumstance. Just because you have a good job today, doesn’t mean you’ll have one tomorrow. Especially not in the era of COVID-19. Would this investment still make sense if you were laid off or furloughed? Similarly, if you’re a business owner, could you manage the investment property’s mortgage if we face a second lockdown? Although residential real estate tends to be a safe investment, it’s essential to judge your financial position before committing to a purchase.
High-Quality Properties in a High-Quality City
Finding the property with the lowest per-square-foot cost is usually not the best way to go. To find an investment property that will provide consistency in economic uncertainty requires buying in a high-demand area, even if it’s more expensive. This can better guarantee renter demand.
Further, fixer-uppers are often of great value. You can renovate the property and get an even larger return on investment, however, there are some fixer-uppers you want to avoid. Properties with water damage or structural problems are often ones to avoid, especially as a first-time real estate investor. Even some veteran real estate investors stay away from these properties.
We’re unsure if COVID-19 will bring a full-blown recession that’s as devastating as the one in 2008. However, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see the same kind of decline in home prices. Nevertheless, it may still be a good time to invest in residential property. Investment properties can provide a consistent income in times of uncertainty. But if you are a first-time investor, make sure you figure out your cash flow, assess your financial situation, and choose a high-quality property before making such a financial commitment.