Question of the week:

Should I sell my first home or keep it as an investment?

As the title says I need some guidance on what to do with my properties.

I bought my first house in 2015 for 285k. There is 155k left on the mortgage at 1.95% with 1 year 7 months left on my term. 14 year 2 months remaining amortization.

My partner and I bought a 2nd property last year as we had a baby and needed an upgrade. There is 438k left on mortgage at 3.85% with 3 years 7 months left on term. 20 years 8 months remaining amortization.

First property is 580$ bi weekly mortgage with 520$ per month strata fees. Comes to 1680$ a month. We rent it out for 2500$ profiting 820$ per month.

2nd property is 1143 bi weekly mortgage with 612 Strata fee coming to 2898 a month.

I make roughly 70k a year. My partner working part time makes 40k a year. We are both in our mid 30s.

First property has obviously skyrocketed in value since 2015 with comps selling for 700-750k.

My question is should I sell off my first home and pay off my 2nd outright? Our plan was to try and keep both properties and sell one off when we retire to boost our retirement funds but we’re struggling to save anything now. We pay all our bills, groceries etc but don’t have anything left for savings afterward and with interests rates soaring when we need to renew it will be even worse.

Some other info:

1st property is a 1bed 1bath condo. 2nd property is 3 bed 2 bath.

Our 2nd property is a manufactured home (trailer) . We don’t own the land just the trailer so the 612$ a month includes renting the lot. My worry is we pay it off and the value plummets with it being a manufactured home and we lose all our equity.

The area both our properties are in is a top 5 ski destination worldwide so real estate is highly sought after. Also meaning very easy to rent because people will always want to live here.

Don’t know if I should sell first property and live mortgage free in our 2nd property and put any extra money into TFSA and RRSP or struggle now to make retirement easy.

Thanks in advance for any insight!

Nick Answers Reddit

Every week, Nick answers a Redditor’s question about buying, selling, renting, investing or living in Ottawa. Send Nick your own questions on the website, on Reddit or on a YouTube comment!

Nick's Response

I think that the points that you’ve made here would point towards keeping both properties for the time being, which a couple others have mentioned:

  • Investment property has great cash flow

  • Investment property (currently) has an excellent interest rate on the mortgage

  • Both properties are in an area where desirability should be evergreen

  • Principal residence is mobile, which doesn’t tend to pace the market as well in terms of appreciation.

Take advantage of the cash flow and low interest rate on your investment property, and reassess your needs closer to the renewal date for the investment. You’re not putting extra money aside, but your equity is working for you well in the investment property, so unless you can guarantee a similar income through investment or cost savings of paying your mortgage, you’re still progressing financially, even if it may not feel like it. In the meantime, a few factors may change in your favour (or not).

  • One or both of your incomes could change.

  • The resale value of one or both properties will increase

  • Your current tenant may move on, and you may be able to re-rent at a higher rate

  • Interest rates will likely change in a way that changes your cost equation

Because you’re in a desirable location, the value of your properties and rental rates are more likely to change in your favour than not.

What your question is about is risk versus certainty. I certainly understand the appeal of lessening risk by getting mortgage free now, but keep in mind that you can sell at any time down the road and there’s no rush right at the moment. Build yourself a spreadsheet where you can adjust a few of those variables mentioned above and compare.

Let us know what you decide! It’s an interesting question.

Source: I’m a Realtor in Ottawa, Ontario.

3 Things you should control for when buying an investment property?

1

Location – This is the single most important factor in whether your investment appreciates in value. Are you looking in an area that’s desirable and rent-able to good tenants?

2

Layout – “Quirky” shouldn’t be on your list when investing; ideally you’re looking for something that a lot of tenants can love, not just the unicorns.

3

Low-maintenance – Investing in property is not “mailbox money.” It’s a responsibility and it will take time and effort to be a good investor and landlord (and you should strive to be both). Huge yards and long driveways might be appealing to an owner, but many tenants see these as extra work, which can end up as a point of contention between you and a tenant.

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