brendan chin
brendan chin

It’s not enough to know about the next big thing. We pride ourselves on identifying what’s about to be hot and advising our community of investors on seizing opportunities early. We looked beyond Canada’s five biggest cities and identified three midsize cities with strong investment potential. Can you guess what they are?

Key Points

  • Is Canadian Real Estate an attractive investment?
  • Traditionally, what major Canadian cities are great investments?
  • What midsize Canadian cities have the potential to be good alternative investments?
  • How do I get started?

For the past several years, Canada’s real estate market has become a booming industry exhibiting attractive returns. Real estate investment is an ideal way to park your capital to watch your investment grow. It’s also a fantastic way to create an income-generating source, typically offers higher returns than fixed income products like mutual funds, and is historically less volatile than the stock market. So, where should you start?

The real estate market changes rapidly. Fundscraper is a world-class leader in finding the next next big thing. Our experienced team identified the top three “groundbreaking” Canadian cities that show promising growth and investment potential. Here’s what we found, plus our tips on how to invest in real estate in Ontario and beyond.

Is Canadian Real Estate an Attractive Investment?

Canada’s housing prices are some of the highest in the world. Housing prices are high because demand is high, and demand is high because 1. Population growth is high and 2. Income from Canadian job opportunities is high. When a high number of people have a high income that allows them to purchase and invest in properties with high prices, those properties become even more valuable over time. Thus, Canadian real estate is an attractive investment.

Fundscraper is a world-class leader in finding the next next big trend in real estate investing. We can answer your questions about where and how to invest in real estate.

Traditionally, what major Canadian cities are great investments?

We examined five major Canadian cities and their key performance indicators such as population, GDP per capita, employment, income, and housing prices. We then applied these key performance indicators to alternative Canadian cities to identify the top three “groundbreaking” cities that showcase promising growth and investment potential.

First, we looked at the five most populous and economically producing cities in Canada: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, and Edmonton. Not surprisingly, real estate demand is highest there — for now. Due to having less space available in these major cities, the higher average unit price paired with the smaller property sizes results in a much higher price per square foot and less space per dollar. This poses the question: What’s the next hottest place to invest in real estate?

The Fundscraper team identified three midsize Canadian cities with strong investment potential: Kelowna, Barrie, and Saskatoon.

How to invest RRSPs into private real estate

Once we have found something that is suitable for you, the next steps are setting up how you can acquire the private mortgage investment security with your current RRSP funds that are held by your bank or financial advisor. Those RRSP funds are likely tied up in mutual funds, exchange traded funds, and other RRSP eligible securities. We’ll help you with this process as much or as little as you need.

  1. Fund your investment. Liquidate a fraction of your RRSP holdings to the cash amount you need to make your new investment.
  2. Open a self-directed RRSP. Ask your financial institution (any Canadian chartered bank or trust company) to do this.
  3. Transfer your liquidated funds to your new account. You’ll complete a “transfer instruction” whereby your new financial institution will request that your current RRSP institution transfers the liquidated funds to your new self-directed RRSP account. Once all the forms are completed, they are filed with the originating institution instructing it to transfer your cash portion to your newly created self-directed RRSP account with the new financial institution.
  4. Wait for the funds to transfer. The transfer can take up to four weeks. In order to maintain RRSP eligibility, funds must move directly from one RRSP account to another. You cannot withdraw the funds yourself, take them to your financial institution, and deposit them.
  5. Invest your RRSPs into private real estate. Once the funds arrive in your self-directed RRSP account, tell the self-directed RRSP account to fund your investment in the private mortgage investment entity. You do that by way of delivering to the financial institution a “payment direction” — the financial institution has a standard form of payment direction that it will provide to you. The payment direction tells the financial institution to invest in the private mortgage investment entity for you through the newly created self-directed RRSP account for the amount set out in the direction.

Investing your RRSPs in private mortgages is easy! Nevertheless, it’s important to have your advisor orchestrate the process on your behalf, as there are moving pieces that have to be coordinated.

How do I get started?

Your registered account savings are your nest egg. Be careful with how you employ and invest these funds. Work closely with reputable dealers to first determine whether investing in private mortgage securities is suitable for you and, if so, what the best private mortgage investment products are for you at the time you want to make the investment.


The case for diversifying your investment portfolio

Too often, the traditional portfolio mix fails to achieve optimum performance because of the under-representation of direct real estate investing. Our thesis is simple: You’ll likely be more successful if you put more emphasis on solid direct real estate investing, while at the same time maintaining a high degree of safety.

Being risk averse is a good thing. We’re risk averse, too! Most people are naturally risk averse. We’re drawn to what we know and hesitant of what we don’t know. The average person knows more about traditional investments like stocks and bonds, so that’s where they put most of their money. But the investment environment, especially in the stock and bond markets, can be volatile. If you’re risk-averse, you should know that limiting your investments to only the public markets is one of the biggest investing risks of all.

Investing limited only to public markets risks the chance of devastation if the “bubble” precipitously bursts based on factors beyond our control, such as environmental disasters, inflation, or fluctuating interest rates. Common sense tells us to spread our money out into a diversity of pots, hoping the ups and downs will balance out and we will enjoy a somewhat stable, if unspectacular, return on our investments. As such, it’s a good idea to put a bigger emphasis on real estate investing.

Every investor’s goal should be to build a more perfect portfolio designed for maximum rewards and minimum risk.

Why is real estate an essential part of an investment portfolio?

Direct real estate investing fluctuates quite distinctly from other conventional asset groups like stocks and bonds. For instance, real estate is tangible and is what lawyers call an “immovable.” It’s not a substitute that should take the place of other assets in your portfolio, but rather an asset group all its own.

Unlike stocks and bonds, real estate trades privately based on local factors such as location, supply, demand, and investment lifespan. It is often scarce, particularly in growing areas, which translates to a history of appreciating value. In your portfolio, real estate investing is a channel to investments backed by real hard assets providing a regular income stream and long term growth coupled with the benefits of diversification.

You can enjoy superior performance and diversity at the same time. This is especially true if you’re maintaining and growing the value of your retirement portfolio. Smart real estate investing can only enhance the prospect of enjoying the benefits of things like reasonable leverage (typically as much as 4 or 5 times) and the miracle of compound interest over an extended period of time.

You can add real estate to your portfolio without actually buying property.

What are the benefits of real estate investment?

Meaningful real estate investing is essential for a well-rounded and successful investment package, and the benefits go well beyond diversification. The most obvious benefit of real estate investment is the financial one. Real estate earns attractive monthly returns and can provide a regular fixed income stream over a set time frame. Speaking of tangibility, that’s another benefit: Real estate is a hard permanent asset that can be easily securitized. It has value, and you can calculate that value at any given moment.

Take advantage of having solid real estate investing as a meaningful part of your portfolio. It’s a self-evident way to enjoy reasonable returns and balance out the vagaries and unpredictable fluctuations in public securities markets, both domestic and international. It’ll pay off in the long term while maintaining a high degree of safety.

Other benefits of real estate investment to note include:

  • The ability to take advantage of leverage
  • Tax deductions
  • A chance to create added value
  • An increased voice in the management of the asset

What is the 20% rule of investing?

Most of us never get a chance to participate directly in a major real estate project — usually grabbed up by big players, like private equity firms, banks, insurance companies, pension funds, and government institutions. We are mostly left to public mutual funds, real estate investment trusts (REITs), exchange traded funds (ETFs), and the like.

Consider the experience of and the lessons to be learned from the Yale University Endowment, which is one of the best performing investment portfolios in North America, having a current value in the range of $30 billion. The fund is known for its “20% rule” which recommends at least 20% be invested directly in private markets, such as real estate.

This invariably translates into significantly higher returns over time for a real estate investor over one who employs a more traditional allocation based in public markets. One can only conclude that it makes sense to piggyback onto a tried and true paradigm of real estate investing established by the major players.

Your investment portfolio can enjoy superior performance and diversity at the same time.

How do I get started?

If you’re new to real estate investing, the idea of adding such a large asset to your portfolio may seem intimidating. But it’s easier and more attainable than you might think.

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