Are you a genius? Mortgage Broker, Dustan Woodhouse, joins Adam and Matt to discuss the three types of real estate investors… which one are you? Also, Matt offers some of his favourite quotes for the year ahead. Trust me, you will be motivated!
Vancouver Real Estate News, Market Updates, Insider Tips, Stats, & Analysis
Intro: Hello, hello, hello. This is the Vancouver Real Estate podcast.
Adam: And welcome back to Vancouver Real Estate podcast. I’m your host, Adam Scalena.
Matt: And I’m your other host, Matt Scalena.
Adam: First of all, happy 2017 everybody. It’s so good to be back on the mics.
Matt: It is. We have these cans on the ears and we’re ready to go.
Adam: Cans on the ears?
Matt: I think it’s an industry term. I think so.
Adam: We’re going to have to – we’ll have that footnoted in the show notes. Yeah, I mean somebody complained that we have no show notes. Here’s the thing. We’re actually starting within the next couple weeks we’re launching our new website, VancouverRealEstatePodcast.com.
Matt: That’s right.
Adam: It’s going to be an amazing site and there’s so much more coming and we just can’t wait to tell you guys.
Matt: 2017 is going to be a huge year.
Adam: It’s going to be a huge year and Matt, you just got back from Winnipeg.
Matt: Well, yeah, and Winnipeg was actually an ideal place to go before a huge year.
Adam: I don’t believe you. I don’t believe that.
Matt: And I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you why. Not only my daughter has cousins there and grandparents but more importantly, the year before we went to Mexico, you’re running around, trying to see things, you’ve got to do this and this and the tour and this. Winnipeg – I was there 12 days, I think I watched Die Hard.
Adam: With a Vengeance?
Matt: Yes. Sports that I don’t usually watch, stared at the golf channel. And it was relaxing. And yeah, spent about 7 days in a coma on the couch and then I started gearing up for 2017 and by the time I got back on the plane I was ready to go.
Adam: You’re ready to get back, yeah. You’re back to work, yeah.
Matt: Ready to get back to work.
Adam: And that’s the best way. It’s really hard I think in a lot of industries and I’m sure a lot of people out there can relate where you take a few weeks off and you come back and you still feel burnt out. And then you’ve got to go back…
Matt: Yeah, you need a vacation from your vacation.
Adam: Yeah, sure and I think it’s taken me a long – I make the mistake over and over again. We just got back from Asia where…
Matt: There was a honeymoon. Winnipeg is not the ideal spot for a honeymoon.
Adam: No, you’re right. You’re absolutely right. Yeah, but I mean I did actually feel because it was long enough. That’s the nice thing about the honeymoon is you actually get to extend it longer than a typical vacation hopefully. And the nice thing was I feel good, I came back, I read a lot of books while I was away, I listened to a lot of different podcasts, I feel motivated for 2017 and yes, it’s just going to be a great year.
Matt: Hey, we’re on the same page, we’re both back in the studio.
Adam: Who have we got on the episode today? We’ve got Dustan Woodhouse, oh, amazing.
Matt: Back from episode 10, he was on episode 10. So if you haven’t, check it out, it’s one of our most popular episodes of all time. And he is back to talk about investment strategies in real estate. And he breaks it down in a really useful way and Dustan is one of those guys who is so good at taking ideas.
Adam: Complicated ideas.
Matt: Complicate ideas, packaging them up and making them understandable and it’s such a…
Adam: Easily digestible content.
Matt: …such a great guy to have on the show so we’re looking forward…
Adam: I’m a huge fan of his. And you what the nice thing is, too is he is also a best-selling author on Amazon right now.
Matt: That’s right.
Adam: He’s got an amazing book called “Be The Better Broker.” He’s got 3 volumes of it. So if anyone and I know we’ve got a lot realtors and mortgage brokers out there listening so if you do want a great book and it doesn’t matter where you are in your career that’s going to help out go check out Dustan’s book “Be The Better Broker” on Amazon.ca.
Matt: Yeah, and I would even say even if you’re not interested in mortgage brokering he’s got a lot of wisdom in those books so…
Adam: Sure, sure. So we’ll get to Dustan’s interview but first Matt, how do you approach 2017? Do you write down your goals? What are you doing?
Matt: Yeah, I spent a couple of days in Winnipeg kind of thinking about what I wanted to accomplish this year and by the end of the first quarter, write down the goals, check them twice and keep coming back to them. I think that’s one of the strategies I use.
Adam: Right. We tend to review goals and we often do it together on certain things that we work on quarterly, right? And I think it’s a nice…
Matt: I hold you accountable.
Adam: Yeah, and I hold you accountable and that’s why we lost so much weight before my wedding. It was about 10 pounds. I have the other one we started.
Matt: 2017 is going to be a huge year. Literally.
Adam: When we sit around the mics we sit around the mics. But yeah, I think the nice thing is we do review our quarterly goals and it actually helps. And I mean anybody that – I mean I’m sure most of you out there do write down your goals and I mean if you don’t, you’ve got to start because it’s so helpful for…
Matt: Yeah, I did not write them down for many years and it’s been really helpful.
Adam: It’s a game changer. It’s a game changer. And Matt, you’ve got anything to add to that?
Matt: Well, yeah, I actually have a quote. And like I said I spent about 7 days in a food coma but the last 5 I did a lot reading, a lot of thinking about this upcoming year. And anyone who is – real estate is always in the news in Vancouver.
Matt: We’ve often said that the market here is much more like a stock market than a regular market and I was reading a lot of – Warren Buffet came across my desk a couple of times over the holidays and one of his quotes just struck me
Adam: Hit home.
Matt: And I think because of the moment right now in Vancouver real estate, Buffet says “Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy. Profit from folly rather than participate in it.”
Adam: Okay, so let’s unpack that a bit. Current state of the market…
Matt: Well, I mean current state of the market is if you look from January 2016, we’re way up. Yet if you follow the media, I mean man, the sky has been falling for months, right? And what does that mean on the ground for 2017 in my mind? I don’t think there’s going to be a wholesale sell-off where some people have these crazy dire predictions. I also don’t have a crystal ball. What I do think is this constant negative media attention is going to make some sellers very nervous. I mean Buffet’s strategy has always been when the herd zigs you zag, right? And 2017 I think offers a lot of potential opportunities out there. So I think you just have to have your goals set on kind of a longer term focus than 6 months or a year and there’s going to be some real investment opportunities for sure.
Adam: And when Buffet zigs I Zigler. And my quote is a Zig Zigler. No, actually it’s a Stefan Persson quote.
Matt: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. Because you brought a quote as well.
Adam: I did, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Matt: It has nothing to do with Zigler.
Adam: And it has nothing to do with the market. So I think that that’s a great quote. I think that when there is bad news and when the market kind of softens, right now inventory is low but we’re also seeing sales volume is way down. Stats just came out. You know, I think it does create an environment and opportunity and there are people out there that are nervous. There’s nervous sellers. And there are opportunities out there. So something to consider, my quote is – I’m totally going to change gears here – my quote is “Loyalty is not won by being first, it is won by being best.” And this is actually a quote that’s going to be I think shaping what we’re doing this year.
Matt: Well, and it likely has shaped past years as well but it’s a nice reminder.
Adam: It is a nice reminder and it’s also something that we – again, we have a lot of mortgage brokers and real estate agents that listen to our show and I think that it is a quote that reminds you that loyalty is earned. Loyalty is not something that just because I worked with you before you’re going to be loyal to me. We have to earn your loyalty and we have to do that on the podcast and as agents we have to do that by continuously updating you and adding value whether you’re actively looking or not and that’s kind of been the goal of the podcast the entire time.
Matt: We’re only as good as our last podcast.
Matt: And that was a hell of an episode though.
Adam: That was the best of, it had to be the best. Yeah, it was a great episode. Well, actually do you have anything else you want to say or should we get to our interview with Dustan Woodhouse?
Matt: No, let’s cut to Dustan Woodhouse. He is spitting knowledge here.
Adam: So without further ado, here’s our interview with best-selling author and mortgage broker, Dustan Woodhouse. Enjoy.
Okay, so we’re here with Dustan Woodhouse, mortgage broker with Dominion Lending Centres. How you’re doing Dustan?
Dustan: Great guys, good to be here with you.
Matt: Yeah, and we should say Dustan is a past guest. He was here last spring as well so…
Adam: Yeah, fantastic episode last spring. So today we actually wanted to talk to you, it’s the New Year, we’ve got a lot of people writing down their goals, talking about investing in various markets including Vancouver’s market. You wrote an article last fall called “Are You a Genius?” and you identify the 3 types of real estate investors. Maybe what we can do is just – do you want to just start by maybe going through the 3 different types of investors.
Dustan: Well, sure. I mean and to be fair there’s probably 333 types of investors or 333,000 types of investors but I was more just playing on timing. And not so much the time when you enter the market because really it doesn’t matter so much when you enter the market, it matters a lot more when you exit the market. Because even if you enter at a peak there’s no such thing as the peak, there’s various peaks. So even if you enter at a peak and the market peaklines from an investment point of view, as long as – you never hear any talk about a bubble of rental prices. You never hear that. Like when was the last time somebody got in the news and said rents are going to drop by 80%. It’s never ever spoken of.
So at the end of the day if you’re buying a property you’re setting your mortgage cost, you have an idea of what your property tax and strata are going to be. The rent is going to be the rent. It’s not going to vary significantly. Certainly not lower market. You’re pretty much impervious to the ups and downs and the actual value of the asset.
So as they say, timing not really vital when you enter the market but the 3 different types of investor I was highlighting were more sort of the 3 people, the 3 different times people maybe exit the market or ideally select it at all. And like I said, so your opening level is the true risk, the planning to buy a property, put a tenant in it, we’ll see how it goes.
And they do everything the way tourists do. Without a great amount of research, maybe not as thoroughly as they should, maybe not with as committed a mindset as they should. So in other words, they don’t vet their tenants thoroughly, they aren’t pulling credit before it’s up – they’re not calling previous landlords. They’re not doing any of that. And subsequently they wind up with some pretty traumatic experiences.
And then there’s just life, you know what I mean? We’ve got all this snow on the ground, guaranteed more pipes are bursting right now in the Lower Mainland than it probably has in the last 5 years combined. And if that pipe is bursting at 3 o’clock in the morning in one of your rental suits and you’re having to deal with it, it’s where you start to wish there was a sell button on the end of your keyboards for your properties.
Bad tenants, property problems, getting through those things is difficult. But if you start building a team like a dedicated professional property manager who is vetting the tenants for you, you’ve got a plumber on Speed Dial who specializes on dealing with investment properties. And that really only tends to happen over time as you learn the hard lessons, you tend to get a little more stabilized.
But like I say, that first batch of investors there’s a percent of them that are tourists and they are like “This is not for me, I’m never coming back here ever again.” And they sell. And maybe they hit the market right, maybe it’s flat. They might make a few dollars they might not.
And then you sort of have that next level of investor and I did it in 5 years segments. If you made it to the end of your first 5 year mortgage term you probably came out of that investment property okay. Mortgage has been paid down a little, likely the value had gone up a little. Over a 5 year period you usually save for many real ships in value.
And that next level is that more committed investor. I say more committed, not totally committed. When they make it to the end of their 5 year term, that second 5 year term so now you’re talking 10 years. Well, there’s just about no point certainly in the history of Vancouver real estate where if you bought and held for 10 years, no matter what happened in between, you were smiling at the end of that 10 years.
Matt: For sure.
Dustan: At today’s interest rates 50 cents on the dollar of your mortgage payment is paying the principle down. So if you’ve got a quarter million dollar mortgage which is roughly a $1,000/month payment, that’s 500/month, 6,000/year, 30,000/term over 10 years. That’s $60,000 of that quarter million dollar mortgage paid off by somebody else.
So even if the property hasn’t gone up in value which is unlikely over a 10 year period, you still have it $60,000 increase in equity in that property. And at that point you’ve got a lot of people who will go like “we’ve been really smart, this is one of the best investments we’ve ever made.”
Matt: Pat yourself on the back.
Dustan: Yeah, but the media is scaring me because well, that’s the media’s job and I read the newspaper and I watch the news because I like to be terrified of everything around me. I mean why else does anybody watch the news? Obviously they want to be terrified of what’s around them. Because that’s what they provide.
So this bubble they’ve been talking about for a 100 years, maybe it really does exist, this interest rate increase they’ve been talking about for the last 35 years maybe it’s finally going to come. You know what? We’ve done great, let’s take our money off the table and pay off our own mortgage or whatever it is.
And so those people who were committed, who last for 10 years, they back out. And it’s so unfortunate because the very few people I deal with and I’ve taken 2,000+ mortgage applications and I can probably count them on one hand, certainly I wouldn’t need the second hand, the number of people who’ve actually held the same investment properties up to 15 years and beyond, I mean it’s a very, very finite number and those people, they are genius level.
Now they’re not really genius level. In fact, they may have a much lower IQ than the tourist investors. But what makes them a genius is the fact that they actually hung on and rolled it all the way through. And I can think of a one individual. He started buying condos in False Creek 20 years ago and they were a 150,000. Grossly overpriced. I mean who is going to pay a 150,000? And at the time he was buying from developers who were guaranteeing rents for 18 months. Because really I mean who is going to rent downtown? Like who wants to live in downtown Vancouver? Does anybody really want to move down there, live down there?
So the developers, true story, I mean they were basically guaranteeing rents just in case you couldn’t get a tenant downtown to pay $700 a month for a 2-bedroom suite that you’re buying for 150 to 175. So of course those units, I mean the values of today 700,000-800,000. The rents upwards of 2,000 and his mortgage balance is $65,000, right? I mean it’s just incredible.
Dustan: So he’s got this incredible cash flow from these units that he did nothing more special than simply hang on to. That’s it. And real estate is meant to be boring and it is illiquid, right? Like it’s not like a stock. There isn’t a sell key on the edge of the keyboard. And so the people who can buy something and whether the storm of the media scares, the pipe bursting in the middle of the night – and we had that happen a few years ago in one of our units. 3 o’clock in the morning the pipe bursts, it’s flooding into the suite below, right into the middle of the master bed, in the master bedroom, the suite below.
Matt: Oh god.
Dustan: So yeah, so I get there and the tenants are upset, the people below them are outside, they’re yelling and screaming and they’re upset and I’m just like get me out of this. Where is that sell button? But of course it’s really clunky to get rid of a property. So you handle the insurance issues, the strata issues, you make nice with the tenants and the people below. It will cost you a couple of dollars. And you move forward and you sort of get over it. And that was 3 years ago and touch wood, that’s kind of the last real issue that we’ve had amongst the 3 sets of tenants in our lives. And hopefully we’ll be entering genius level soon ourselves. And I write those folks as much for myself, as I do for anybody else.
Matt: Yeah, they’re a good reminder.
Dustan: Yeah, yeah.
Matt: So Dustan, one question I have for you is, especially when it comes to the tourists, the headaches that inevitably arise when you have an investment property what advice could you give somebody to get over those hurdles apart from just backbone and kind of mental strength?
Dustan: Well, I mean it is about a little bit of preplanning. Like you know that eventually you’re going to have a plumbing issue of some kind. So track down a plumber and make sure you’ve got a plumber on Speed Dial and maybe have a quick conversation and just confirm that yeah, they’ve got people available 24/7 and accept the fact that this is going to potentially be something that is going to cost you a few dollars when it happens and make sure that you’ve got a separate bank account that is specifically for the management of your property, of your rental property and you’ve got a bit of a cushion in there. Because nobody likes to seed an investment property, nobody likes to subsidize the monthly cost of it. And when you have those unexpected little bills – I guess expect the unexpected, right? Prepare for it.
So if you want to apply math to it I would say have whatever the value of the property is you probably want to have 1% of the value of the property sitting in an account for no other reason than to deal with the emergency as they pop up.
Matt: Good advice. Good advice. Another question for you, the sort of buy and hold advice I think is the right strategy obviously and Adam and I wholeheartedly agree with you. A lot of the investors we talk to – and I’m just wondering your take on this talk about buying a property say that’s less than 10 years old and they hold it for a 5-8 years and then they’re starting to see that wear and tear where a lot of the largest systems in the building are needing repair or upgrades. I was just wondering how you approach the age of the property argument. Like trading up to a newer property I guess.
Dustan: Well, so there’s sort of two things, two points to make there I guess. The first one I guess is probably not what realtors want to hear necessarily but I mean hey, the reality is it costs money to trade up a property just like it does a car. I mean it’s going to cost you money to sell the property; it’s going to cost you money to buy the new property. There’s an interruption in your income, rental income between the two properties. I mean I think you want to try and buy right the first time and certainly if you’re buying in a newer building you’re buying yourself 10, 15, 20, 25 years of comfort.
Absolutely, I remember the days going through real estate weekly newspapers 20 years ago and we’d always look at the strata fee. We were always looking for the lowest strata fee. Well, how horrible of a strategy did that prove to be for a lot of people? Luckily today we have depreciate – mandatory depreciation report. And those depreciation reports and confirming that there’s a fully-funded budget really kind of mitigates if not eliminates the concerns around those systems because the purpose of that depreciation report is to budget for the replacement of every single thing and to make sure that the budget, the money is in the bank to address that.
So I mean I think what you’re looking for ultimately is a property with little history of problems, a [inaudible 23:21] strata, regular meetings and a completed depreciation report that’s fully funded. And that’s how you cover those bases. And I mean I still see the odd file come across my desk where it’s a $400,000 purchase and the strata fees are a $110 a month. And that is a huge red flag.
Matt: Yeah, no kidding.
Dustan: Because those older buildings tend to have a lot of people who have lived in them for years. Maybe they’re retired now and they’re living on a pension or fixed income and they don’t have a big budget to increase strata fees or to absorb special assessments. And they do have time to show up at every council meeting and vote down the work over and over and over. And we’re seeing those, you guys have seen those properties out there, you know which ones they are where the work has been voted down for 10 years in a row and the places are falling down around people over the years. And of course that leads the math to special assessments. But that’s what those depreciation reports are all about heading off.
Adam: And so Dustan, we don’t want to take up too much more of your time here. We’re just wondering, it’s just the beginning of 2017, everyone is wondering about the Vancouver market. Any predictions for the year to come?
Dustan: Well, I’m a mortgage guy so primarily my life revolves around interest rates. So first I’ll give you a prediction on interest rates that I’ve been saying the same thing for quite a few years. I don’t think we’re going to end this year with rates above 4%. That’s been a pretty safe statement for the last few years because it’s just gotten lower and lower. Have we seen the absolute bottom? You know, rates have moved up roughly a 0.5 % and there is a very complicated reason as to why. Not necessarily, I mean they could easily back down another quarter point into the spring market.
So no significant movement on interest rate, certainly I’m not talking about fixed interest rates which of course were driven by the bond market. Prime which dictates your shorter term fix rates and variable rate mortgages. The bank account of it is in no position to do anything with prime. The #1 message I like to get across to people is what drives the government to increase prime? Like what drives interest rates up is economic good news. The government increasing prime, that’s about them trying to put the brakes on an economy that’s overheating. Trying to stop runaway inflation. When was the last time you heard a good economic news story? It’s been a while.
So prime, not going anywhere anytime soon. If you’re in a variable rate mortgage it’s going to be another wonderful year ahead, just ravel in that variable rate mortgage. As far as the market goes it’s pretty interesting, I was looking at the stats last night. The first that just came out and some pretty significant drops in the amount of properties sold and the amount of properties on the market which is interesting.
So listings aren’t going up so supply isn’t expanding. There’s actually less supply out there, there’s fewer transactions and prices are actually pretty stable or even inching up. In some cases pretty significant increases, I mean condos in Vancouver year over year, a pretty significant price increase despite an incredibly significant decrease in actual sales volume.
So there’s less happening but it’s all happening at the same prices or higher prices than the previous years. So you’re not really seeing that erosion in price. And again, the key thing that I would put out there for everybody right now is think about January of 2009. It was the all-time worst month of real estate I think just about ever in Vancouver history. And everybody kind of in their memory goes oh yeah, we had that economic crisis, financial meltdown. No. we had a – yes, we had that but more than more importantly, more functionally…
Matt: That did happen.
Dustan: Yeah, that did happen. That was a thing. You’re right, yeah. Shouldn’t discount it too much. But what I would argue that on a micro level – that was a micro thing, right? That was a global thing that was happening but on a micro level we had a foot of snow on the ground for the entire month of January. How many open houses are you guys doing when there’s a foot of snow on the ground?
Adam: Don’t ask us that question.
Dustan: Exactly, right? Like it’s pretty darn painful. And here we are in our 3rd or 4th week of subzero temperatures. I mean what happened to global warming? I was so excited. I’m kidding but clearly, we don’t have global warming anymore, now we have climate change. Well, I guess damn straight we’ve got climate change. So yeah, we just had a horribly slow December. Well, yeah, tough time of the year to begin with, with all the holidays but throw a couple of inches of snow and ice across the city and nobody wants to go out.
Matt: Yeah, I stayed in bed basically the whole month.
Dustan: Well, there you go and now the forecast is calling for another 5, 10, 15 centimeters a day every day next week.
Adam: Back to bed, Matt.
Matt: I can’t believe I’m doing this right now.
Dustan: So sorry to say guys but I think it can be a pretty quiet January but it’s quiet volume-wise. It’s not that the demand has gone away. The demand is not so much pent up, it’s curled up in front of the fire to stay warm. As soon as that snow melts and the sun comes out, you’re going to see another race to the open houses and things are going to wash.
So my prediction is another booming spring market despite the best efforts of the federal government to try and cool things down I think you’re going to see a very strong spring market. So get [inaudible 29:38] field a few more weekends if you’re a realtor and then brokers are kind of enjoying a bit of a quiet state right now but as soon as the snow melts it’s going to be go time. That’s what I predict.
Adam: Excellent, well, hey thank you so much for your time Dustan, it’s always a pleasure having you on the program.
Matt: It’s for sure.
Dustan: I appreciate the opportunity guys. Thank you.
Adam: So if people want to reach you Dustan – I know that you’re not taking on any more clients at this stage but what if they want to maybe subscribe to your newsletter or just learn more about you?
Dustan: Oh, well, absolutely. You can find me at dustanwoodhouse.com or .ca. I’ve got both.
Adam: Sounds good.
Adam: All right, well, have a great day. Thanks again.
Matt: Thanks so much Dustan.
Dustan: Thank you guys.
Matt: So there you have it folks, our discussion with Dustan Woodhouse, mortgage broker with Dominion Lending Centres and best-selling author.
Adam: And I’m a huge fan. He is fun to listen to and also you ask him one question and he talks for 10 minutes.
Matt: And he never loses the thread.
Adam: No, I know. And I think he was driving to work. He was hands free but I think he was driving the work, he was parallel parking at one point in that interview. Impressive guy.
Matt: There’s a reason why that guy has written 3 books.
Adam: Exactly. Yeah. And he must just have a stenographer that just follows him around, he just talks and…
Matt: Yeah, chapter 2.
Adam: Chapter 2, yeah. So Matt, what’s your biggest take-away from that interview with Dustan?
Matt: You know, I tend to let Dustan speak for himself but my big takeaway, maybe I’ll quote the Oracle from Omaha once again “Our favorite holding period is forever.” And I think the long term hold is Dustan’s point and I think it makes a lot of sense.
Adam: You said you were reading a lot over Christmas and it sounds just like you’re just on the Buffet Wikipedia I think.
Matt: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Adam: And I already mentioned earlier Matt but we do have that new website coming which is going to be unlike anything that anyone has ever done in the Vancouver real estate market. There’s some resources on there that are going to absolutely blow your mind so…
Matt: Yeah, that’s going to be great.
Adam: So we’re excited to tell you about that. Matt, how can people reach you?
Matt: You can reach me at 778-847-2854 or email@example.com
Adam: Or you can try me at 778-866-4574 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt: We’ve also got that non-partisan line.
Adam: email@example.com. So thank you so much for listening, we didn’t make it to 100 reviews by the end of last year.
Matt: But you know what? We’re over 90. There’s over 90.
Matt: Well, there’s 87 on iTunes, I just checked and Stitcher has a couple as well so I think there was…
Adam: I think there was 5 so yeah, we’re over 90.
Adam: So hey, something for the New Year, set your goals high.
Matt: Set your goals high and it’s not a failure if – what does Buffet say?
Adam: I don’t know. We’ll see you next week.
Matt: Okay. Take care guys.
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