Thursday, November 28, 2013

The expected downside of property ownership

I like property as an asset class - security, leverage, cash flow. It helps that all of my property investments have done well (with the exception of one lemon purchased in the 1990s). But like all investments it has its downside and I am experiencing some issues:

1. house in New Zealand: this has been a great investment, It has (probably) at least doubled in value, my current tenants have been there for about six years now (I think) and it has always been cash flow positive. But ... it's a house and houses have roofs and roofs need to be repaired from time to time and for this house that time is now (some other work will be done at the same time). In synch with the roof needing repairs, a water pipe burst and I have go a repair bill for that as well. None of this is covered by insurance. The bottom line - most of the net rent between now and March will be used to settle these bills. The good news is that the tenants wish to stay while this is being done. The better news is that rents have been rising in Auckland so I should be able to get a rent increase early 2014 once the work has been done.

2. window inspection on apartments in Hong Kong: two units have received notices for mandatory window inspection. The cost for the first one is $600. The second one will be a bit more as it is a larger unit. If I have to replace any windows, that would potentially cost HK$10-15,000 depending on which window(s) need to be done. Rather oddly, I have not received a notice for my oldest unit - I assume the government is doing some kind of roster and I will get one in due course.

3. vacancies: the bane of every property investor's existence. I have been very fortunate to have gone for such a long period without a vacancy. I was particularly fortunate that the tenant of one property agreed to stay on at a reduced rental while building renovation work was being carried on. That happy state of affairs will come to an end in mid-February 2014 as a tenant has just exercised her right of early termination (nothing to do with rent levels). I will find out then how far rents have fallen.

In the overall scheme of things, these are trivial matters and ones which every property investor needs to allow for when making investment decisions.

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