Presales Condos & Pre-Construction Real Estate

Monday, August 20, 2007

Schools Add Value in Real Estate

From the API Magazine ( March 2007 edition. Real estate investors find that buying near popular schools can help prop up property values, according to Raine and Horne.

Parents will pay a premium of 5 per cent for a home close to well-regarded public or private schools, said Angus Raine, chief executive of Raine and Horne. The plethora of quality schools on Sydney’s north shore, for instance, kept that real estate market in demand, Raine said.

“This area is an evergreen for sales – almost irrespective or real estate market conditions,” he said. Lesley Bassam from Raine and Horne Turranmurra said excellent public schools were also part of the appeal.

“Parents with their mind focused on schooling will pay premiums of around 5 per cent to et a home in their school’s catchment area. And it’s not limited to owner-occupiers. We get enquiries from renters looking for a home that’s in the catchment for particular schools.”

David Meldrum of Raine and Horne in Beecroft said some parents refused to buy real estate properties that weren’t located in the catchment area of their chosen school.

Tenant Damage Claims Rising in Real Estate

The number of landlords making insurance claims for accidental damage their tenants have caused has jumped 73 per cent over the past year, according to figures from Terri Scheer Insurance Brokers.

The average cost of an accidental damage claim also climbed from $721 to $850, a jump of 18 per cent. The tight rental real estate markets in most cities at the moment were no guarantee against damage to a landlord’s property, Terri Scheer marketing and operations manager Carolyn Majda said.

“While landlords can have their pick of tenants in current rental market, they should not let this give them a false sense of security that nothing unforeseen will ever occur,” Majda said. “These figures show that despite their best intentions, more tenants are causing accidental damage to the properties they are renting.

“Even a model tenant can unintentionally damage a property, lose their job or suffer other financial hardships that leave them unable to keep up with their rental payments.”

Majda said it was vital landlords ensured their insurance policies covered accidental damage, as general building insurance policies exclude such claims.

Vancouver West End Real Estate A Secret Gem

Published in the 24 Hours newspaper in June 2007, this article talks about the ongoing problem with increasing real estate market prices in Vancouver, but how you can find the diamond in the rough to make your purchase worthwhile and affordable.

No question about it, in today’s overheated housing market it’s tough to find a bargain. But for those willing to search and think beyond convention, there are still deals to be had. One of the most surprising is, according to Sutton Group West Coast Realty realtor Maureen Stout, Vancouver’s West End. “It’s become a little bit of a secret gem because people have forgotten all about it. When you think downtown Vancouver, most often you think of Yaletown or Coal Harbour. But if you’re willing to look at older buildings, there are a surprising number of charming, well-maintained condominiums with far more space than you’ll usually find in newer construction in the West End Vancouver.” If you’re wiling to put some sweat equity into light renovations, she adds, you can often do even better on price.

Within Vancouver proper, South Main and Commercial Drive remain popular among bargain seekers, although most industry watchers suggest as these neighbourhoods continue their rapid development, they are no longer quite the ‘real steals’ they once were.

Moving towards the burbs, Surrey and New Westminster are two communities, Jennifer Podomore, MPC Intelligence principal, says are worth keeping your eye on. “When you see real estate developers putting in multi-phase towers [like Quattro and Agenda in Central Surrey] you know an area is on the move,” she says. “The challenge is to be willing to change your perspective. Surrey has had a huge stigma attached to it for years – so get over it. Fifteen years ago, Yaletown was considered an awful place to live –look at it today.”

Although prices are clearly beginning to escalate, Chilliwack still represents an affordable option for people either working in the Fraser Valley or willing to battle the daily commute. According to the Chilliwack & District Real Estate Board, on a per square foot basis, average prices in 2006 were $303 for single-family dwellings, $209 for attached, and $141 for apartments, a bargain compared to Vancouver, whre home buyers were forking out approximately 300 per cent more with single-family detached commanding an average of $974 per square foot, attached getting $549, and apartments logging in $366 (more than 20 per cent higher than the per square foot cost of a house in Chilliwack). And with new, city savvy condominium and townhouse development booming, you no longer have to sacrifice luxury for affordability.

Whatever your preference in housing and neighbourhood, though, Podomore offers one final piece of advice. “Some of the best deals will continue to be found in smaller, boutique style infill developments,” she says. “This type of property typically doesn’t have a large advertising budget, so the best way to find them is pick a neighbourhood you like and then simply get out there and walk it.” Published by Susan M. Boyce, the most respected and experience reviewer of Vancouver real estate and pre-construction condo projects in the Lower Mainland.

Asset Protection – Warning on Trusts

From the API Magazine from Australia June 2007 Edition by Julia Hartman. Discretionary trusts may lose their asset protection ability if the person being sued is considered to be in control of the trust.

This finding has come from Richstar Enterprises Pty Limited v Carey (No.6) [2006] FCA 814 where a single judge made an interim decision to preserve the assets of a trust pending further court decisions on whether the assets could be distributed by the creditor.

The matter is far from certain. Nevertheless you should avoid setting up a trust where the person likely to be sued or their spouse is both the appointer and the trustee or a director of the trustee company. Further, the person likely to be sued should not be a default beneficiary.

The best real estate investment strategy at the moment is wait and see. If you must act now, you may not be considered to be in control of the trust if you and your spouse aren’t the a pointer and the trust doesn’t have a default beneficiary. Giving appointership over to someone else means they will have control; this requires considerable trust. Whoever takes on the role of the appointer shouldn’t be a beneficiary or he or she will be considered to control your turst so the assets would be vulnerable if your appointer is sued.

To effectively protect real estate assets held in other entities from people who may sue you personally, you must make sure you don’t own, in your own name, anything that would give creditors access to these other entities.

For example, if you hold your real estate assets in a unit trust and you own the units your creditors would be entitled to those units in the case of bankruptcy and it’s quite probable that the units will give them the right to demand redemption which could lead to the assets beings sold and proceeds distributed to your creditors because they now own the units.

Similarly, if your real estate assets are in a company and you own the shares your creditors would be entitled to the shares which would give them control of the company, allowing them to liquidate the assets and distribute the proceeds to shareholders.

In a discretionary trust the beneficiaries have not fixed entitlement so a creditor can’t force the trust to distribute money to them. But be careful – if you have loaned money to the trust, a creditor can demand that money be repaid. This is also the case for loans to companies or unit trusts.



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