Why condo investors need to start looking at the luxury seniors housing market with Bruce Stewart of Traditions Senior Living
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Bruce Stewart has over 30 years of experience in the seniors housing market in Ontario and he joins the podcast today to talk about a unique opportunity for condo investors in Ottawa. Why is this segment of the real estate market ready to explode? Why should Toronto condo investors consider adding this type of housing to their portfolio? What is so special about this opportunity and how does it work exactly?
Andrew la Fleur: On today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about the luxury seniors housing market and why this market just might be the next hottest market in Canada. Stay tuned.
Speaker 2: Welcome to the True Condos podcast, with Andrew la Fleur, the place to get the truth on the Toronto condo market, and condo investing in Toronto.
Andrew la Fleur: Thanks for listening in to the show once again, Andrew la Fleur here, and we got a great interview for you today with Bruce Stewart from Traditions Seniors Housing. And has a very unique opportunity in Ottawa that we’ll get into but some interesting quick facts about the seniors market, the seniors demographic in Canada, which you may not realize, seniors, the 65 plus segment of the Canadian population is the fastest growing demographic in the country.
Andrew la Fleur: And something interesting happened, 2017 for the first time ever, the number of Canadians who are over the age of 65, that population is greater than the number of people who are under the age of 14. That has never happened before in the last 150 years of Canadian history.
Andrew la Fleur: So this is a new and dramatic change in the demographics of our country and it’s going to affect of course all real estate markets across the country. And so this is where guys like Bruce come in, and he’s been providing seniors housing for over 30 years, and he’s got a very unique opportunity for condo investors right now.
Andrew la Fleur: Another couple of facts by 2031, nearly a quarter of all Canadians will be over the age of 65, really makes you think. And over a 20 year period, so the population of seniors from 2011 population to 2033 population, it’s estimated that the seniors population will double in that time period, from about five million people to over ten million people in just a 20 year period.
Andrew la Fleur: So massive changes going on, that a lot of people are not thinking about or talking about but that creates huge problems but also huge opportunities for us as investors. So we have a very unique opportunity in Ottawa that Bruce is going to talk about, and we’re going to talk about on this episode.
Andrew la Fleur: So I don’t want to delay any longer, but if you’d like more information about this, just go ahead and send me an email, email@example.com or call me, 416-371-2333. And without further delay, here is the interview with Bruce Stewart.
Andrew la Fleur: It’s my pleasure to welcome to the show Bruce Stewart, he’s the President of Traditions senior housing. Bruce, welcome to the show.
Bruce Stewart: Thank you Andrew, my pleasure.
Andrew la Fleur: Great to have you here, Bruce, and looking forward to chatting with you about this really unique opportunity that you have here in Ottawa with the founders residences. Before we get into that specifically, maybe if you could just share a little bit about your story, always interesting and curious to hear how people got started in the real estate industry, and you’ve obviously got many decades of experience now, so how did it all start for you in terms of real estate?
Bruce Stewart: My passion for seniors housing began from a position I held following university, I was working on Bay Street, working with construction lenders. Back in those days it was primarily the trust industry, which is dried up now and it’s run by mostly just the banks now.
Bruce Stewart: But I worked my way up through a could of financial institutions and was doing national lending for construction projects, and started to learn all about seniors housing from a lenders point of view. And saw the future, looked at the demographics, I may have been a little early, this is in the 80s at this point. But I got a real passion for it and went out and started to develop and build my own seniors housing projects.
Bruce Stewart: Built about a half dozen of them around central Ontario and got my feet wet, and it was a great experience. But then in the 90s as the recession hit, most of us stepped away from construction. I had other business interests that I focused on. But in the later 90s came back to seniors housing again. And started to develop the Traditions brand at that point.
Bruce Stewart: The Traditions brand was unique in the sense that we were developing and building what was considered an upscale product from traditional seniors housing product. But it’s been a moving target for the last 20 years, seniors housing needs, seniors need, seniors housing requirements, it’s evolving very quickly based on the change and the attitude of the consumer.
Bruce Stewart: We started building and I partnered with a number of the large seniors housing providers including Chartwell, Rivera, Sienna Living and ultimately with the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Fund, I was their lead developer for their entry into the market and we did four project together, from Barry to Stony Creek, basically. Brampton, midland.
Bruce Stewart: I stepped away in ’14 because I didn’t like the direction that the relationship was going and how the, it became evident that if you were going to be in seniors housing you had to be a pretty large player and it’s been taken over primarily by the funds, like teachers for example is a pension fund and Omar’s has their entry into it, and so a lot of the seniors housing providers in Canada are all pension fund and very well funded obviously and have substantial balance sheets, with a recession of 2008, the banks started changing their approach to lending, and specifically on seniors housing. So there had to be a better way.
Bruce Stewart: So we created the Founders for a couple reasons. One was to upgrade what seniors housing is, what seniors expect, what they want and at the same time, take the narrative away from seniors housing as it relates to financial institutions and focus more on it being a residential condominium.
Bruce Stewart: This created a great opportunity for investors to participate in seniors housing. Historically, investors that want to invest in seniors housing have to do so through a fund, a rete, or whatever that may be marketed as, and the returns are in our opinion quite nominal.
Bruce Stewart: We saw an opportunity to bring the investors in more specifically to a named project rather than a pooled fund. And benefit from the fac that they’re entering into the development phase, they’re contracting during the development phase, and at the same time receiving the security of a long term revenue stream. With a pre negotiated exit strategy if they wish.
Bruce Stewart: If they want to just buy a condominium in our building and lease it out themselves, they’re welcome to do so. But the logic behind our approach I think will speak for most investors attitudes in the sense that they want to know how much they’re going to make, they want to understand how long they’re in an investment for and I think we’ve got a pretty interesting structure for them in the sense that rather than putting your money in a five year investment certificate, you can come into our project, earn a substantial rate of return and know when it comes due and have your funds positioned at that time to go into potentially another one of our projects or something else.
Andrew la Fleur: Right, yeah it’s very unique structure, as you’re starting to hint at, and we’ll certainly get into that in more detail. Just taking a step back and touching on the seniors housing market in general in Canada, again, most of the people listening to the podcast, probably not too familiar with the seniors housing market in Canada, and specifically in Ontario.
Andrew la Fleur: So what do investors need to know about this market? I mean, most investors listening are again, probably used to buying condos and single family home type investments in the GTA area for the most part, but so what are the sort of two or three things that investors really need to know and why is this a good market to get into in general in terms of seniors living?
Bruce Stewart: One of the key elements in investing in seniors housing is the strength of the demographic. Our residents are financially stable, have wealth, they’re living with us because-
Andrew la Fleur: Sorry Bruce, your voice got a little bit quieter there, I don’t know if you changed or stepped away from the mic or anything but, if you could-
Bruce Stewart: How about right now?
Andrew la Fleur: That’s great, yup.
Bruce Stewart: Okay.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, go ahead.
Bruce Stewart: One of the key elements in my mind is the strength and quality of my revenue stream. My residents are of wealth, they are with us for primarily one reason and that is, is that they require some level of supervision or care on a regular basis.
Bruce Stewart: They’ve potentially been at home, with home care, but no longer are they comfortable spending the evenings and overnights alone and it gets to the point where the family needs to make a decision about where best for mom or dad to be living.
Bruce Stewart: That quality of income is so stable especially in communities such as Ottawa, where many people have index pension revenue, they’ve got well priced homes that have accrued in price over their ownership period.
Bruce Stewart: It’s a very stable source of income vs. buying a condominium and renting it out to an unknown individual who may do whatever. Whether it’s move out, break a lease, damage the property, lose their job, [crosstalk 00:11:46]
Andrew la Fleur: Lose their job, or their income, stop paying.
Bruce Stewart: Lose their income, and next thing you know you’ve got a problem.
Andrew la Fleur: So you’re not kicking out too many delinquent tenants I’m guessing in your day to day.
Bruce Stewart: We never have, actually in all of my years, I have never, there was one person that moved out because they couldn’t afford to stay and I talked him into staying, and I reduced the rent because I just didn’t feel it was right for the family. And I don’t tell that to a lot of clients, keep that [inaudible 00:12:12].
Andrew la Fleur: It’s okay, it’s okay. I’ll keep that between us.
Bruce Stewart: Yeah, so the family were going to move their mother back into a garage that they’d converted into an apartment and I said no, no, no. She’s staying here. So yeah, in my history in the business I’ve done 13 buildings and operated six of them myself.
Bruce Stewart: So I’ve got a pretty good understanding for what quality the revenue is in these developments. And it speaks to the comfort level of the investor, that they know that these people are mature obviously of some net worth, and are there for a purpose.
Bruce Stewart: And I think that’s, we don’t have them moving out for any other reason that then their health has deteriorated beyond our ability to care for them.
Andrew la Fleur: Right.
Bruce Stewart: That’s when we lose our residents.
Andrew la Fleur: Right. And just in terms of demographically the trends, you probably know it so well but I mean again, you maybe educate the condo investor out there to understand a little bit the future potential of this market that you are targeting specifically with seniors living.
Bruce Stewart: Yeah the crazy thing about the stats are, they’re shocking. The seniors population is expanding at a greater rate than any other sector in Canada, well, in North America. And actually it’s worldwide because we were just talking with some people in China there in the last couple weeks, and their problem’s greater than ours. And it is a problem. It’s going to be a problem.
Bruce Stewart: The seniors in the next 20 years, the average age in Canada, that demographic of over 65 years old, doubles in the next 20 years. And we don’t have the infrastructure to care for this exploding population. The same problem exists in the U.S., even more so because they don’t have publicly funded healthcare and they don’t have the nursing home component that we do in Canada.
Bruce Stewart: But even with the nursing home component in Canada, what’s happening now in Canada is our nursing homes are being filled with people with dementia and then those who have other challenges have no place to go, or you have to, if you want a bed, you have to go wherever there is a bed available. So if you’re living in Oshawa, you may end up having to go to Thunder Bay to get your housing.
Bruce Stewart: And so, and these are problems. And we’re focusing on the healthy living aspects of seniors living, in the sense that we want to extend their lives through proper supervision, proper care, and that will again will speak back, kind of reflects back to the quality of the revenue. The other thing is, is that Canadian seniors now are outnumbering children for the first time in history.
Bruce Stewart: So it speaks to what we’re calling the Gray Wave, and the Gray Wave is approaching as I mentioned, the 65 plus, but you look at the 75 plus and the 85 plus, they’re all looking at doubling in size over the next 20 years. And we have no way of housing these people. You think about the number of seniors, if that current pattern stays, which no reason for it not to, there’s a need for 131,000 Canadian seniors are going to need housing in the next 20, 25 years.
Bruce Stewart: That’s a lot of construction, 131,000. I’ve been in this business on and off for the last 30 years and I’ve done 2,000 units. So you start thinking of 131,000, if an average buildings even a couple a hundred people, you’re talking about 6,000 buildings that need to be entered into the market to service what’s coming.
Andrew la Fleur: Wow.
Bruce Stewart: It boggles the mind how deep this market is but it also, what a problem this is going to be for Canadian seniors, and their families.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah. And obviously with problem is a flip side of it, is opportunity.
Bruce Stewart: Opportunity, absolutely.
Andrew la Fleur: And that’s where you come in and that’s where the founders residents come in here. Maybe you could touch on Ottawa specifically, what do investors need to know about the Ottawa market specifically? I’ve talked a lot about Ottawa on this podcast actually this year and it’s certainly one of my favorite markets, looking forward in a general sense as a real estate market, but I’m curious, what’s your take on Ottawa specifically, the real estate market specifically but and then getting into the seniors market, seniors opportunity in Ottawa specifically.
Bruce Stewart: Ottawa is such an exciting market for us. I think Money Sense magazine has rated it the number one place to live in Canada for the last two years, so that kind of caught my attention right out of the gate.
Bruce Stewart: And I’d been to Ottawa and I always thought, what a pretty city. But then when I started to focus in on seniors and I started to realize the depth of the seniors market in Ottawa, it was fantastic.
Bruce Stewart: And again as I mentioned earlier, the quality of the income in Ottawa was so great, so much index, government pensions, housing prices had increased, not crazy like some areas around the GTA, but solidly, without, it was tracking on a straight line, just plugging along.
Andrew la Fleur: Right, in a linear market you don’t get the ups and downs like you do in Toronto and Vancouver, it’s a very linear market.
Bruce Stewart: And specifically when we looked at Westboro area, Westboro caught my eye because it was an enclave of people that had all grown up there and they’d stayed there and they’d aged there, and it’s a solid housing market, very strong numbers. I think the average house price in Westboro’s $750,000.
Bruce Stewart: So you start talking about those people that are selling those homes and have that kind of capital available to them, they have the wherewithal, and they want to live somewhere close to home and they want to live somewhere nice.
Bruce Stewart: And that’s what we’re doing. We’re creating a product unlike the other seniors housing providers. Our units are, as you know, through condominiums, are fully self contained dwelling units, with full kitchens, with washer dryers, with full balconies.
Bruce Stewart: The vast majority of the units face to the north overlooking the Ottawa River and the Gatineau Hills. We got views from basically the third floor and up because there’s nothing out there higher than a tree, unless we spot downtown Westboro where there’s a few condominium high rises. But it’s a fantastic setting in such a unique are of Ottawa, we were very lucky to have found this site.
Andrew la Fleur: And talk to us about the building itself. So you touched on the founders and your experience as a developer. You’ve touched on location. What do we need to know about the building itself and the amenities and the services available to the residents?
Bruce Stewart: The building, imagine yourself walking into a luxury hotel and you look across at a living wall and a 12 foot ceiling and a concierge desk that greets you, she walks to you and greets you and basically will guide you through your visit or connect you with your relative within the building.
Bruce Stewart: It’s an ambiance that we’ve created that is what we refer to as the wow factor. And the building offers a full array of typical seniors housing amenities but we also offer an indoor pool, we have so many unique areas we offer arts and crafts area, there’s a potting area, there’s, heck, there’s even a pet spa in the parking garage.
Bruce Stewart: So it’s got all sorts of, all the things you would expect in a retirement home, but then it’s got all those little extras that you would expect in a quality resort style residence.
Andrew la Fleur: Right, and in terms of the services available, how does it sort of differentiate itself from just a regular condo building vs. it’s a luxury seniors living, so in terms of meals and healthcare and other things, how does that work for the residents?
Bruce Stewart: Yeah, what our residents, we have three levels of basically what we call three levels of care within the building. We’ve got fully independent living and then we have what we call independent supported living, and then we have assisted living. All of the residents will pay a base rent fee to their manager and then on an incremental basis will pay for various services that they may wish to engage.
Bruce Stewart: Such as meal plans, massage, health care issues that may arise if they need assistance, mobility assistance. It’s all the things that you see that happen within a retirement residence that we don’t want you paying for. If you’re not using them you shouldn’t be paying for them.
Bruce Stewart: And a lot of my hang ups with the other seniors housing providers in this industry is that, that’s what they’ll do, is they’ll charge you a rate that includes a lot of things that residents don’t need.
Bruce Stewart: And we want to price ourselves such that as same as again, as you were staying in a luxury hotel, you pay your rack rate for your room and then you contract whatever it is that you want to do that day, and it’s charged accordingly.
Bruce Stewart: But we can reduce the cost of seniors housing by doing that, and it doesn’t affect me as a manager, because I know that I can charge for my services incrementally that I have a cost base to and it protects both parties.
Bruce Stewart: It’s about providing a lifestyle to these seniors that is unlike what the competition offers, and it’s a smooth transition from their own independent lifestyle, potentially in their own home into a slightly different environment.
Andrew la Fleur: So let’s talk about the specific program that you have, because it’s a very unique program you touched on it earlier, so what exactly are the key components of what you’re offering the investor who’s looking at this opportunity and saying, how does this work, what’s in it for me? Could you maybe give us the sort of quick overview on how it works?
Bruce Stewart: Yeah, as I mentioned earlier, we offer the building for sale to investors who may choose to rent the unit themselves or as an option, they enter into a lease with Traditions seniors housing.
Bruce Stewart: Traditions seniors housing enters into a five year lease with that investor, condo purchaser, and within that lease they can pick two exit strategies. So the end of that five year lease, we’re going to buy their condominium back from them. So the question is, at what price.
Bruce Stewart: We offer a current price that will generate 16 to 16 and a half percent return to the investor or we offer a market exit strategy wherein the value of the unit is appraised by an AECI appraiser at the expiration of the lease to establish value, and that’s what we would buy the unit back at. So a lot of buyers choose fixed but a lot of buyers are choosing what we call market.
Bruce Stewart: The market will yield what the market will yield, we don’t know. But a lot of, if you look at potentially a four percent inflation rate and you apply that to the condo value, it means that the returns are in the mid to high 20s.
Bruce Stewart: So it’s pretty substantial but that’s an assumption I don’t promote, it’s a decision that each investor needs to make on their own, because we don’t know. We don’t know where values are going to be in seven years.
Andrew la Fleur: Sure.
Bruce Stewart: I know where my revenue stream is going to be in seven years because my revenue stream within my seniors housing operation is not directly affected by trends of housing prices. It’s far more stable, as you said, linear kind of track.
Andrew la Fleur: Predictable.
Bruce Stewart: Revenue track, exactly.
Andrew la Fleur: Right.
Bruce Stewart: The nice thing is that for the investors is this is a totally passive investment in regard to ownership. The only thing that these purchasers need to do is pay their mortgage and pay their property taxes.
Bruce Stewart: We take care of everything else, doesn’t matter what it is. It’s all handled within the lease. If there’s damage it’s our responsibility to repair it, if there’s damage and turnover or something like that. Because one of the things we do is when a resident leaves, we go in and we repaint.
Bruce Stewart: Every unit gets painted and so there’s a constant upgrading. One of the things that’s important, they need to understand in seniors housing business is that we’re constantly marketing. Doesn’t matter once you’re full, because you have turnover. Seniors, their health will fail and they need to move out.
Bruce Stewart: While it means that you’re constantly marketing, which means you’re constantly showing your best face. Whether that’s from walking up the sidewalk, swinging open the front door, walking into the lobby, or visiting any of the numerous amenities or touring the suites. They always will look their best. And I can’t say that for a lot of other condominium investments.
Andrew la Fleur: Right, right. So again, just to recap the offer as you’ve outlined, just so to catch everybody up to speed, as the investor, you come in, you can buy one of these condominium units, you have the option as you say to take a lease back from Traditions senior, seniors, which is the property management company.
Andrew la Fleur: They will lease it from you for five years, a fixed five year term and they will also purchase the unit back from you at the end of the five years, and as you said you can either take a fixed set appreciation rate, which is probably lower than the historical norms but will still give you a very healthy return.
Andrew la Fleur: If you’re looking for that security. Or you can take the market appreciation rate, whatever it may be at the time, which as you said we have no idea what it might be, but looking at historical norms you have a pretty good idea of where it’s likely going to be.
Andrew la Fleur: And so yeah, it is a, we’ve seen other programs from investment opportunities with rental guarantees of two and sometimes three years. This one, obviously is offering five years which is very unique and this one is also offering this buy back at the end of the five years as well, so like you said, you have your exit strategy clearly marked out right from the get go.
Bruce Stewart: Yeah, I think that’s, I look at this project in its entirety and I say, what are the exciting points about this. This is one. The investment opportunity is such an exciting feature.
Bruce Stewart: The second is the unique design and fact that seniors can now live in fully self contained condominiums rather than being shelved in 300 and 400 square foot closets, without kitchens, with a microwave and a sink.
Bruce Stewart: My care about this comes from not just being in the industry for all these years but watching my own parents through aging, and you know what? The reason why this industry’s changing is because of guys like us who are raising the standard for all others to perform to.
Bruce Stewart: And I think that’s one of the things I really believe strongly is that we want to create living environments for these residents that you and I would live in and would be happy living in. And that to me is so important.
Andrew la Fleur: That’s great. So some of the questions I just want to sort of put on my skeptical investor hat if you’ll bear with me and just, obviously a lot of people listening, it almost sounds too good to be true Bruce, so maybe you could just touch on some of these questions that people are certainly thinking about, which is, one of them is just simply the rents.
Andrew la Fleur: You’re guaranteeing rents for five years with the property management program if people choose that. And the rents are looking very strong, they’re actually projecting very good positive cash flows, which is getting harder and harder to find of course in Toronto, positive cash flow investments, so how realistic are these rents? Will you actually be able to pay investors these rents for these five years?
Bruce Stewart: Our rents that we perform it within our own operations are actually set at below current market analysis. Seniors housing is hold on just a minute. Seniors housing is an expensive venture for local residents, especially in Ottawa, in any of the big cities.
Bruce Stewart: We have engaged consultants and performed studies to ensure that there is solid demand in our market, because we understand, it’s our responsibility to fill the building. It’s our responsibility to keep the building full. Now we’ve already spoken about demographics and demand, we know we have those in our corner, so now what is the next question, is your product good? Our product’s the best. It’s not just good.
Bruce Stewart: So how long is it going to take me to fill the building? My guess is it will probably take us a year to fill the building. But that’s, again, is an exciting fill rate for seniors housing. A lot of performances of some of the buildings that aren’t being built in the right markets are longer than that. So the investor needs to understand that we have done our job to get comfortable with our guarantee back to them as to the amount of the rent.
Bruce Stewart: And as to the strength of that market. And we are again very excited that Ottawa, especially in Westboro, yields all those key elements in making us comfortable with what we’re agreeing to pay in rent to the investor.
Andrew la Fleur: So what happens if the unit is empty? What if you can’t find a tenant for my unit if I buy a unit from you? Will you still pay me?
Bruce Stewart: Yes, it doesn’t matter whether your unit’s occupied or not, as I said, the lease up time for the building is one year which means 50% of the building is going to be empty during the first year of operation.
Bruce Stewart: We budget for that. We set aside funds from the condominium sales to make sure that there are sufficient financing available for us to meet that rent up guarantee.
Andrew la Fleur: So what am I responsible for exactly? You touched on it, as the investor, what do I pay every month and then what do I get back? Who’s responsible for what? In terms of expenses.
Bruce Stewart: You’re going to pay your mortgage and you’re going to pay your property taxes.
Andrew la Fleur: What about utilities, maintenance fees, repairs?
Bruce Stewart: We cover it all. Everything you could imagine, even if there was the unlikely event of an assessment which would be unlikely on a new building, but who knows. We cover everything that is out of pocket on the operation of the building. Property taxes, heat, light, water, maintenance, insurance, and as you mentioned, utilities.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, what if there’s damages or things that need to be repaired in the unit, appliances that break down?
Bruce Stewart: We carry a warranty on all the appliances, they all have extended warrantees beyond the term of the lease, we’re talking all new quality appliances, stainless steel appliances in all the units.
Bruce Stewart: If there’s damage, we have a regular maintenance program and as I said earlier when there’s turnover of a suite, units are thoroughly cleaned and repainted.
Andrew la Fleur: Me as the investor, I’m not paying for any of that?
Bruce Stewart: You pay for nothing. It’s all part of our costs of delivering our product to our clients, the seniors.
Andrew la Fleur: Wow. Now the project is scheduled to start construction I believe pretty soon and it’s going to be completed in approximately two years from now, is that right?
Bruce Stewart: Yes, we’re hoping to demolition on the property, we’re going to be doing a second release of units in the spring because we have an additional building that we’re going to add to the plan and it’s a 27 unit free standing independent living building at the back of our property.
Bruce Stewart: We’re going to be launching that with a spring relaunch of our product and I hope when we’re relaunching that in April we’ll have hoarding up and we’ll be demolishing. Because we want to be, once the frost is out of the ground we want to be in the ground. So Ottawa, depending on the winter, Ottawa does get rather cold.
Andrew la Fleur: Yup, sure.
Bruce Stewart: I would imagine that we may not get into the ground until May, but it will all depend on what kind of winter we have. So if we start in May, we’ll finishing May of 2019, we’ll finish by the end of 2020, give us three months to get the condominium registered and then we would close with all our buyers in the spring of 2021.
Andrew la Fleur: Now one of the issues with condos in Toronto obviously, you’re buying in 50, 60 story buildings often here, there can be significant delays. What would happen in this case if there are delays here? I know you have some, you’re offering investors something unique with regards to their deposits and the time until it’s built.
Bruce Stewart: Yes there’s always that element of the unknown when you’re developing and building, and one of the offerings that we’ve made to all of our purchasers to this point is to pay them interest on their deposit funds.
Bruce Stewart: And the interest rate on the deposit funds is greater than that of what they would get on deposit at their bank. On one year certificates. Potentially I think maybe even on two year, I haven’t looked recently but yeah, you can’t predict what happens in this world as to delays.
Bruce Stewart: Certainly I think we extended our outside closing date until the end of 2021 in the event there are delays. However, I’ve done 13 of these in the past and I have always been on time and I’ve always been on budget.
Bruce Stewart: And with our partnership with Thomas Fuller Construction in Ottawa, that’s our builder, I feel confident with their history, 148 years in Ottawa, their history. They are the reason why we will finish on time and we will finish on budget.
Andrew la Fleur: That’s a great track record, certainly good to know. And obviously it is, you’re not dealing with a 50 story building, you’re not dealing with five underground levels or anything like that.
Bruce Stewart: No, it’s not a difficult building to erect.
Andrew la Fleur: It’s not a six year build here.
Bruce Stewart: No. No we’re not going at Young and Board.
Andrew la Fleur: Yeah, exactly. So ultimately Bruce, you touched on a lot of the points of the project, unique aspects to it but ultimately, how would you sum it up in terms of again, speaking to that GTA condo investor specifically who is buying condos typically in Toronto, but they’re hearing about this opportunity they’re intrigued by it, but they’re asking themselves ultimately the question of, why should I invest here in the founders residence in Ottawa as opposed to what I’m used to doing, investing in a condo in Toronto? What would you say to that?
Bruce Stewart: I think my first comment would be back to them would be, to look at the opportunities going forward in what I would call a mid market community vs. the GTA. There’s schools of thought on this, but has Toronto actually maxed itself out with the price per square foot, is there really that type of return available to invest in a Toronto condominium? Whereas now I can look at going into an Ottawa market which again, I call is a mid market opportunity, and know that I’m going to make X. Guaranteed X.
Bruce Stewart: And whereas I can’t say that to anything else. I think, having positive cash flow is such a huge advantage over anything I could do in Toronto and just the comfort that the passive nature of this investment can offer an investor.
Bruce Stewart: You’re basically putting your money in a deposit and getting a super return. Now you can play the market if you want, again, wouldn’t be my choice but a lot of people are choosing it. We’ve had huge success in our sales efforts to this point but I’m from Toronto, my friends are from Toronto.
Bruce Stewart: When we talk about this, everyone gets really excited because Ottawa is such an exciting city that’s got so much going for it that as I said about Money Sense magazine and everyone, the articles, we have some on our website, posted articles supporting investment in Ottawa is so great.
Bruce Stewart: That you know what? I like it. I like the thought of going into Ottawa vs. the potential issues I might have in the GTA.
Andrew la Fleur: Great. Bruce, thank you so much for your time today, really appreciate it, thanks for your insights. And obviously wish you all the best, and looking forward to working with you on this project, the founders residences.
Bruce Stewart: Andrew, I really appreciate you spending the time with me and I’m happy to address any of your concerns or questions going forward with this exciting opportunity.
Andrew la Fleur: Awesome. Great.
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