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A Mississauga woman’s retirement plan included buying homes. A lot of homes

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When Lisa Nagy’s marriage ended in 2014, so did her secure financial future. Her adviser suggested she buy houses.

By 2017, Nagy owned six homes.

Lisa Nagy with her poodle Lucy in front of a house she owns in St. Catharines. Nagy’s financial security strategy is based on property investment, and she owns six houses.
Lisa Nagy with her poodle Lucy in front of a house she owns in St. Catharines. Nagy’s financial security strategy is based on property investment, and she owns six houses.  (Michel Villeneuve)

“In three years, I’ve lived through bounced cheques, four basement floods (one caused $40,000 damage) and interest rate hikes,” she says of the various stress factors. “But there is a long game here and it is my future.”

Her first purchase as a newly single woman in 2014 was a $460,000 house in Mississauga she bought as her own residence with cash from her divorce settlement.

Rising home prices put buying a second house in Mississauga out of range, so in 2015 Nagy looked to more-affordable real estate in St. Catharines. She attended a Rent to Own (RTO), and wanted to try the concept of being a landlord with the option to sell in three years. With RTO, tenants either make a non-refundable deposit towards the purchase of the house, or pay a higher rent with a portion going toward the purchase.

Nagy found an older bungalow in St. Catharines and bought it for $270,222 in May, 2015, with five per cent down and a mortgage on the rest. (Investment properties now require a 20 per cent down payment.) She got 3,000 responses to her ads seeking a tenant and within eight days had rented the house to a woman who had gone through bankruptcy due to divorce and needed a place for her and her mother to live.

“The ideal RTO person is someone who maybe had a rough patch in their financial history and aren’t quite out of the rough yet, but in three years should be able to qualify for a mortgage,” says Nagy.

After consulting with her mortgage broker, Daniel Patton of Butler Mortgage in Toronto, she bought an $180,000 townhouse in Niagara Falls as an RTO, in September, 2015.

Both RTO tenants each gave her a non-refundable deposit of $5,000 to put toward the purchase of the houses at agreed-upon 2018 prices, based on 2015 Canadian Real Estate Association data that then projected a 4.5 per cent annual increase was reasonable for the Niagara area.

In 2016, Nagy bought a second St. Catharines bungalow for $319,000 putting the down payment on her line of credit and mortgaging the rest. This time, with her retirement finances in mind, she rented it to a long-term tenant while the property’s value climbed — similar houses in the area are now selling for $465,000.

“I call this the ‘GO Train house,’ because once the train goes to St. Catharines, the price of this house will skyrocket,” Nagy says.

In 2017, she researched other Ontario markets and found Windsor offered potential, with a new bridge under construction, a large new hospital and proposed high-speed train. She bought two homes in Windsor in 2017 for $187,000 and $167,000. She used her line of credit for the down payments and took out mortgages.

“The Windsor houses rent for $1,400 and $1,276 each,” she says of the properties she describes as “my most profitable homes.

“My mortgage payment (for both houses) is $700 a month, so I have an $800 surplus a month (after property management and insurance costs) that pays off the line of credit,” she says.

In St. Catharines, Nagy is selling her first RTO home after the tenants didn’t qualify to buy it. “Between when I bought it and now, the price has gone through the roof.”

When you sit down with your advisers, ask them: "If this was your money, what would you do?" recommends homeowner and property investor Lisa Nagy.
When you sit down with your advisers, ask them: “If this was your money, what would you do?” recommends homeowner and property investor Lisa Nagy.  (Dreamstime)

Her second RTO tenant qualified for a mortgage and Nagy turns ownership over to them this month, realizing a profit of more than $55,000.

“I’m happily looking forward to selling my second and third houses (the RTO purchases in St. Catharines and Niagara). My financial planner says the money from those sales are my fun money and I should buy whatever I want, as the remaining three properties will fund my retirement.

“So, I’m putting in a pool at my own house next year … and my daughter and I are going on a pretty fantastic trip.”

Nagy has two pieces of advice for others considering property investments: 1. Trust everything will be OK. “There is always fear; it’s like jumping off a cliff and trusting that your parachute will open;” and 2. Have people you trust, including your real estate agent, financial planner and mortgage broker. Ask them “If this was your money, what would you do?”

Nagy’s mortgage broker Daniel Patton says successful real estate investing starts with having a detailed meeting with a financial adviser to fully understand your finances and to get financing pre-approved. A banker or broker should explain about refinancing, lines of credit and the ins and outs of adding a mortgage.

“It is tougher to qualify for financing now, and you need to understand the differences between a banker and broker,” Patton explains.

Patton also notes that financial institutions have different views of rental income: one bank factors 50 per cent of rent as income when approving loans; other banks will look at 80 to 85 per cent.

Successfully owning multiple properties, Patton adds, is about having a passion for real estate and putting time into it. “If you work 40 hours a week at another job, you need people who are going to help manage your properties — but you are still doing to have to do your research. For any return, you have to put in some work.”

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Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre reopens for Mooseheads’ season opener

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The home of the Halifax Mooseheads will reopen next month to host the team’s season home opener, although the experience will be different as a result of COVID-19.

The Scotiabank Centre will reopen on Oct. 3, after its reopening framework was reviewed by Nova Scotia’s public health and occupational health and safety departments, the company operating the centre and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) team announced on Tuesday.

“We’re thrilled to be reopening and welcoming our fans back to Scotiabank Centre,” said Carrie Cussons, the president and CEO of Scotiabank Centre.

The centre will be following all standard health and safety guidelines related to the wearing of non-medical masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing and contact tracing, the company said.

But there will be additional protections put in place as well in order to limit any possible spread of the novel coronavirus.

Scotiabank Centre will be divided into separate zones of up to 200 people with set washrooms, concessions and entrance/exit points for each zone.

The organization also announced that tickets will be sold in groups of up to 10 within the same bubble, respecting the province’s guidelines on gatherings.

Fans and attendees will be required to wear a non-medical mask at all times, except when they are consuming food or beverages, the Scotiabank Centre said.

Tickets will also be mobile-only in order to minimize close contact between individuals.

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Candidate slate set for Halifax election as mayoral race grows to three candidates

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The slate of candidates for the Halifax Regional Municipality’s upcoming election has been finalized and it’s now officially a three-horse race for the municipality’s mayoral seat.

Incumbent mayor Mike Savage will face off against Coun. Matt Whitman, the current representative for the Hammonds Plains–St. Margarets, and political newcomer Max Taylor.

Whitman and Savage have previously announced their plans to run but Taylor’s inclusion in the race was a last minute surprise.

On his campaign’s Facebook page, the 22-year-old says his platform is “simple”

“Get out and vote. I don’t care who you vote for, I care that you vote,” he writes.

One of the more notable aspects of Taylor’s presence in the race is his status on social media platform Tik Tok.

He’s built a following of more than 600,000 people on the platform and his videos have generated more than 20.6 million likes.

What that will do for his candidacy is up in the air, but he’s sure to bring a youthful energy to the process.

 

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Here’s what Toronto’s new 57-storey skyscraper will look like

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The corner of Bay and Harbour may be getting a new 57-storey office tower perched atop the heritage Toronto Harbour Commission Building.

Updated plans for The Hub — a skyscraper from multinational corporation Oxford Properties — have been submitted, and if approved, will see a building designed by London-based firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to 30 Bay Street.

The project near Toronto’s waterfront which was initially proposed in 2018 will add around 1.4 million square feet of office space to the neighbourhood. The building’s west side will also be directly connected to The PATH network.

The Hub will also sit overtop (but only lightly touching) its next door neighbour: the six-storey Toronto Harbour Commission Building, which was built in 1917.

Nicknamed “The T”, the historic building was sold to Oxford in 2017 for $96 million. Fun fact: The T is also reportedly haunted by the ghost of a janitor.

It’s not entirely clear how the interior of the old Commission Building will play into The Hub’s commercial workspace, but the design of the 57-storey building shows the strategic use of four columns to allow for distance between the main building and The T.

The two buildings will be connected by a “finely detailed glazed atrium.”

Windows will stretch from floor to ceiling in the four-storey lobby, which will be home to restaurants, retail spaces, meeting and event spaces, and maybe a fitness facility.

Floors five to eight of the podium will see larger office floors.

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