Leasehold; Too Cheap To Be True?

Leasehold; Too Cheap To Be True?

In the first three weeks of working with new clients in the Vancouver market, like clock work; they'll send me an amazing property that popped up in their budget. "Is this place for real? Ideal location, 2 balconies and we'd have a guest room! Tell us this is for real!"

Short Answer: Let’s jump on a call.

Long Answer: It is for real but it may not be for you…

These properties are almost always Leasehold Pre-paid Strata which differ from your typical style of ownership in BC (Freehold or Freehold Strata). Freehold is where you own the land and improvements or Freehold Strata where you own your unit and your share of the common assets (see Strata Finances 101 for more).

When you purchase a leasehold strata; you do not own the land or the building but are purchasing the rights to exclusively occupy your unit or home through a lease granted by the landlord. The initial length of the term can vary but is typically 99 years and can be bought or sold like any other home up until the expiration date. The landlord could be the City of Vancouver like the publicly owned land in South False Creek and the River District or privately owned land.

The lease may be pre-paid or not pre-paid and due monthly along with your monthly maintenance fees. Upon expiration of the lease, the leaseholder and landlord will either renegotiate a new term or an end to the tenancy depending on the details of the lease.

The positives; Leasehold properties are valued below Freehold properties giving buyers with smaller budgets the opportunity to avoid a commute, stay close to the neighbourhoods they’ve previously rented in and afford a home that is bigger with room to grow for a family. Also, if rentals are allowed then, depending on the area and your downpayment, you may be able to turn a leasehold into a cash-flowing asset*.

The negatives; Leasehold properties will not appreciate at the same rate as Freehold. Where Freehold properties in Vancouver have doubled since 2015, some Leasehold properties with longer terms have seen appreciation from 20-50% while those nearing their expiration in False Creek have seen modest appreciation and even a possible loss with the uncertainty of renewal and the cost of renewal. Leaseholds are also harder to sell as not every buyer is interested in that product.

Barriers; financing is more difficult with leaseholds than freehold. Your lender may have different minimums for downpayment as well as maximum amortization terms (the length of your mortgage) equalling higher payments. Chat with your Mortgage Broker about whether your finances line-up for a Leasehold **

With the above in mind, buyers with a healthy budget that are looking for a way into the market to move up the property ladder or investors looking to leverage credit for equity short-term instead of long term cash-flow should stick with Freehold. But, Buyers with a tighter budget who have location and size as the top priorities should take a serious look at leasehold properties. Your mortgage payments are contributing to your principal and your equity is growing year-over-year even with modest appreciation so they are still a much better alternative to renting.

As always, get a hold of me with any questions by filling in the Let's Connect form below or text/call me directly at 604-401-9199 and let's talk freehold vs. leasehold.

- Kade Lacasse | Vancouver Realtor

* A Cash-flowing asset is one in which the revenue (rent) exceeds the expenses (mortgage+fees)

** If you don’t have a great broker that you can ask about how leaseholds may or may not work for you financially, send me a text at 604-401-9199 and I’ll get you connected Because You Deserve a Knowledgable Mortgage Broker!


No comments

Post Your Comment:

Your email will not be published
Reciprocity Logo The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Greater Vancouver REALTORS® (GVR), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB.