13 Feb

For Rental Properties, Cash (Flow) is King


Posted by: Greg Domville

For Rental Properties, Cash (Flow) is King

Ask pretty much anybody about mortgages and the first, sometimes only thing they want to talk about is the interest rate. In my business as a Mortgage Professional, my job is to educate clients that while interest rate is definitely a cornerstone of your mortgage decision, it is not the only factor to consider when agreeing to sign a mortgage commitment. In many cases, the lowest interest rate does not represent an ideal fit, especially when the actual mortgage isn’t aligned with customer’s stage of life, priorities, or long-term outlook. Rental properties are a prime example of mortgage situations where basing a decision solely on the rate is often short-sighted and in some cases detrimental to the long term viability of one’s investment.

Rental properties can be a lucrative way to diversify investments, build passive income and long term net worth. They can also be costly, rigid and very problematic if you don’t choose the right property, area, tenants and MORTGAGE PRODUCT. Like any investment you are going to do your research before buying – RIGHT? And you are going to take your time and screen potential tenants vs taking the first Kijiji reply from @fraudster.com offering a cash deposit higher than you have specified – RIGHT? I’ll leave that part up to you. Where I come in is ensuring that the mortgage product you are using allows you the most flexibility on your payments and overall investment. The best way to ensure that your rental investment does not become a sucking vampire on your personal bank account is to minimize the cash outlays you are obligated to make.

Enter the Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).
In my 10-plus years of doing mortgages and owning investment property, the HELOC is far and away my favourite product for investment properties.

First & foremost – CASH-FLOW. HELOC’s allow you the option of making interest-only payments monthly. The monthly payments on a standard $200K mortgage using current 5 yr fixed rate of 3.39% for example are $987. Interest only payments would be about $650. That’s a cash flow difference of $340. Think of a vacancy – they happen. That’s $340 of your own money that you don’t have to pull out of personal savings to cover while your investment income is stalled.

Having the ability to scale back or minimize your cash outlays can be the difference between good and bad when it comes to an extended vacancy, renovation or unforeseen expense such as a repair or insurance claim. This very feature has allowed me to take the time needed to properly screen potential tenants when I have a vacancy and not rush into leasing to the very first interested reply. I can tell you that one of the worst mistakes that can be made with a rental is to scramble to get tenants in so they can start paying rent only to find out you picked the wrong people.

HELOC’s also offer a number of additional features:

Fully open – imagine somebody comes along offering you top dollar for your investment property. A HELOC is fully open meaning it can be paid off immediately without restriction or early payout charges. You can accept the offer and cash out immediately without seeing profits eroded by penalty charges and fees. With a standard mortgage you may have a payout penalty ranging from 3 months interest into the tens of thousands depending on mortgage type & institution (cringe if you have a fixed mortgage with one of the Big 5 Canadian banks).

Revolving – so you’re an investment property wizard and the cash you are making has allowed you to pay down the HELOC we set-up dramatically. You can use the available space on your current HELOC towards the purchase of another property. Keep your personal savings and investments in tact and don’t have to ask permission to access the equity. That’s the beauty of revolving credit.

The main (only) drawback to a HELOC over a standard, amortizing mortgage is that the interest rate tends to be slightly higher (about .50%). To me this argument rings hollow. Since your rental property is essentially a business, the interest that you pay on a mortgage is eligible to be written off for tax purposes. Given the strict criteria involved in qualifying for mortgages these days, I’m willing to bet most people with rental properties are already showing income that has them in an elevated tax bracket. That means that every extra dollar of profit reported on tax returns gets annihilated by CRA. Sometimes increasing an individual’s interest expense actually helps them bring their reported profits on rentals close to breaking even and honestly that’s why we have accountants (SIDE NOTE: please use an accountant if you are going to play in the investment game).

Finding lenders who offer HELOCs on rentals isn’t easy, especially if you are wanting only 20% downpayment (80% LTV). Most lenders these days want more meat on the bone (equity) for rental properties. There are definitely good lenders out there doing rental HELOCs at 80% LTV. That’s where a call to your trusted Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Professional and the proper strategy can pay off in spades.

Shaun Serafini

Dominion Lending Centres – Accredited Mortgage Professional
Shaun is part of DLC Canadian Mortgage Excellence based in Lethbridge, AB.

13 Feb

The Taste of Home – Our House Magazine


Posted by: Greg Domville

The Taste of Home – Our House Magazine

Restaurateur and TV personality Vikram Vij on the joy of cooking—slowly—at home

The culinary landscape in North America is amply populated with chefs and personalities putting their spin on a style of cooking designed to get your attention. With the explosion of the foodie culture in recent years, cutting through the clutter would seem a near impossible task. But that’s exactly what a chef with humble beginnings from India has managed to do. Vikram Vij is one of Canada’s most celebrated chefs, ascending the culinary ladder by reaching into his Indian heritage. He opened Vij’s restaurant in Vancouver in 1994 to great acclaim and hasn’t looked back. He’s since opened three Indian restaurants and a fleet of food trucks and become an author and television personality, most notably taking a turn as a Dragon on CBC’s Dragons’ Den. Despite all the success and attention, Vij continues to focus on what he loves to do: cook. During an autumn tour of India, he took time out to speak to Our House magazine about food, fame and his future.

Our House: Where do you call home these days?
Vij: I live in Surrey, B.C., but as an Indian who came to Canada and who loves to travel and get culinary inspiration from around the world, I like to think I’m a global citizen!

I understand you’re in India, can you tell me a little about the purpose of the trip?
Every year I take a trip with some food fans, some of whom have been coming with me for years now, for a Vij’s Culinary Tour. We’ve visited India most often, but we’ve also been to places like Vietnam, Peru and South Africa. I love to experience not only different culinary cultures, but also to re-explore my own roots and to visit different parts of India to see what is being cooked – and how it’s being cooked – and to incorporate those methods into the food in my restaurants. That’s how I stay authentic, and it’s the best way to keep learning and to grow.

Describe how important cooking at home is, not just for yourself but for families and people in general?
I cannot say enough about eating together as a family, and having a home-cooked meal – and I’m a restaurateur! There are stats that show families who make time to eat together each night, who break bread together and talk, have fewer instances of crime, of drug addiction, and of broken homes. Now, that’s easy for me to say – working in the restaurant industry, we were hardly a “sit down for dinner at six o’clock” family. But we made a conscious effort to set aside breakfast time, and an evening each week when we knew we would all be together – and that means no cellphones at the table.

What advice would you give to someone who is afraid of or overwhelmed by the idea of learning how to cook?
I would say just try it. There are so many books out there that will teach you the basics, and if you get it wrong, so what? I don’t use recipes; I put in a few key ingredients that I want to use… then I add more, and then even more until I’m happy with what I’ve cooked. Baking is a science – so it’s hard to go freestyle with that… but cooking is love… and you should experiment and not be put off from trying.

What advice would you give to a young chef thinking about opening his or her own restaurant?
I would say it will be the hardest thing you will ever do. But it will also be the most rewarding. You need three things: the passion to follow your dream of opening a restaurant, an amazing team who will always have your back, and money – ideally lots of it!

Do you cook much at home, or leave it to your restaurants?
I love to cook at home and I love to be in my restaurants seeing other people enjoying their dinner with us. I don’t have my daughters at home to cook for anymore, so I can make what I want. But I like to take my time while I’m cooking. Being in the kitchen is my greatest pleasure, and it’s also my entertainment for the evening, and I don’t want to rush it.

You’ve cooked for celebrities and politicians. Is there someone or a group you haven’t cooked for that you would still like to?
There’s an expression: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” I’d like to teach people how to cook Indian food, and have it added to their repertoire of meals they cook for their family. I’d love to be an ambassador of Indian food in Canada, and I’d like to show as many Canadians as possible to not be daunted by Indian spices and recipes.

Describe your thoughts on the Canadian culinary scene. How do Canadians stack up against the rest of the world?
Canadian cuisine is incredible – and it’s getting better and better. We have the most amazing resources which create the best ingredients. We have fantastic meats and produce from our local farms, we’ve got really great wines, craft beers, gin and vodka, and on the east and west coasts, the seafood is second to none. When you’ve got those world-class resources, then you’re already on the international stage from a culinary perspective.

How does your typical day unfold?
There’s honestly no such thing as a typical day. They are all so different, and it depends on where I am. As much as possible, I get up early and go to yoga, then it’s either meetings and more meetings followed by service at one of the restaurants or, if I’m travelling, I’ll try and eat at someone else’s restaurant to see what they’re up to.

What do you make of the popularity of food shows and channels like the Food Network, and chefs as celebrities?
I think bringing cooking into the mainstream cannot be a bad thing, but I hate the term “celebrity chef,” because our main focus should always be the food, rather than fame. I’ve been involved in many TV shows myself and I’m grateful for the ability to bring an Indian presence there, and to highlight Indian cuisine to a wider audience.

You’ve written books, been on TV shows. Do you see yourself cooking and opening and running more restaurants for the years to come? What does the future hold?
The day I stop cooking is the day I give up on everything! Sure, I’d like to open more restaurants, but I also want to make sure the ones I have are the best they can possibly be and have the attention they deserve. I have two daughters, but I have three other children: Vij’s, Rangoli and My Shanti!

What is the one thing people might not know about you?
I’m known for working the room at my restaurants – but the reason I love to do that is because I originally wanted to be a Bollywood actor. I love to perform and to talk to people and I wanted to be a movie star, but my father said no son of his was going to be an actor, so I became a chef.

Jeremy Deutsch

Lead Writer