To own commercial property, you don’t need to be rich, and there are more opportunities with the downturns in the Vancouver and Toronto markets.
Chris Catliff, The President and CEO of Blueshore Financial, says for middle-class investors, there are other methods to enter the property business.
He lately shared five tips with those considering building up their commercial real estate retirement portfolio.:
- Start small with a REIT
To own commercial property, you don’t need to be rich, Catliff said. “In fact, my son is already invested in a Tax-Free Savings Account with a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).”
A REIT is a company that owns, operates and pays dividends on a variety of real estate assets on behalf of a pool of investors who purchased shares or stocks.
“They have relatively high yields compared to the broader market, or bonds or Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs),” he said. They’re typically riskier than government bonds or GICs but much less risky than tech stocks.
The purchase of shares in a REIT basically includes a collection of assets across the nation.Some REITs focus on the office sector, others on apartment or industrial or retail properties
“That diversifies your risk,” he said, adding that most REITs can be purchased through a stock broker, financial advisor or online through your direct investing platform.
- Invest in a strata unit
For bolder middle-class investors — and ones who don’t mind a bit more work — you could buy your own strata unit in a commercial development, Catliff said.
Like with condo residential buildings, many developers build strata commercial buildings in various asset classes including office, retail and industrial..
- Buy in a place you can visit
Catliff said he likes to own units in buildings he’s familiar with and can visit. “I purchased business units on my drive to work so I could see them twice a day..”
That’s so you can see what kind of development is taking place around your building and stay familiar with the market and the other tenants, he said.
- Think urban
More than three-fifths of immigrants to Canada are settling in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal, Catliff said. That means demand for homes, jobs and work space will continue to grow along with the population in those areas.
More demand for your space means less cash flow risk.
Catliff said it’s important to understand the supply and demand elements of your local market. In places like Vancouver and Toronto, demand for small industrial warehouse space or small light-manufacturing units has never been stronger.
Demand is also high for small street-front retail spaces in urban cores. There will always be people trying to buy themselves a job with a business like a sandwich shop or small restaurant, Catliff said. “There is just a lineup of people waiting for that kind of space.”
- Do your homework
“You really have to consider location,” he said. “You’re looking for high traffic. How easy is it to rent out to somebody else? Anything downtown pretty much has a lineup of people. If it’s in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Kelowna, you can always rent something out, it’s just a matter of what return you get.”
In the suburbs, anything you purchase should be considered for its future redevelopment potential, he added. “In the burbs… you’re (often) holding land until development comes to you.”