A Real Estate Agent’s Perspective

13 07 2009

By: Jackie Go

realestatehands

This week I met with a real estate agent from Coquitlam who has been working in the real estate industry for over 20 years. I presented our homeless sponsorship idea to him and asked him for his feedback from a realtor’s perspective. We had a lengthy discussion about the real estate industry and I would like to share some of the key concepts he wanted to contribute to our idea.

  • Foreclosures – this represents a great opportunity to obtain cheaper property. With the economic downturn, the number of foreclosures is increasing, and these are properties which can be bought very cheap. We will be looking for foreclosures that we can buy cheaply for the investment giving circle, or that need repairs. If the property needs repairs, we can ask local businesses and volunteers to donate their services (painting, renovations, etc.) in order to add value to the property in that way.
  • Land – he emphasized heavily that in the real estate industry, this is what has value and continues to appreciate, despite decreasing prices for buildings.
  • Economic Feasibility – he emphasized that housing each homeless client in a separate unit would be very costly. In comparison, if we were to buy a unit with 3 bedrooms and house 3 clients there, the costs per person go down a lot. Furthermore, he pointed out that the homeless clients that we are trying to help have low barriers and we can look at helping those who are capable of living with companions. From talking with a homeless person myself, Sally (pseudonym from Hannah’s “Eye-opener” post) she mentioned how hard it is to get out of homelessness due to the fact that the client is essentially leaving their entire life behind, including their circle of friends. Therefore living together with 1 or 2 other people going through the same thing can help the client form a community of support in order to successfully get out of homelessness.
  • Rental Units – he emphasized the difficulty of getting a landlord to rent to a homeless person. Potential renters have to fill out forms asking questions such as their previous address, their current job and other similar information which would be difficult for a homeless person to provide. Essentially renting to a homeless person would be more risky for the landlord compared to other tenants who have a job and a previous address. However, as we will discuss in other posts, we don’t want to rule out the rental model for funding the housing because this would require a lower investment from donors compared to the model which buys the property in order to generate a property investment. We will keep in contact with the realtor to see if we can find a landlord who would be willing to rent to a homeless person, or if we can find other people who may have empty basement suites. Please let us know if you might know of a philanthropic landlord or property owner who would be interested in helping the homeless, while also getting a steady flow of rent.
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