invested in one house, kept it for a year and then sold it with a \$10,000 profit, Mary acquired 10 houses, kept them one year, and then sold them for a \$100,000 profit. Both started out with \$100,000, but after a year John has only got \$110,000 while Mary \$90,000 more. The numbers are simplified in this example, but they decisively demonstrate the magic of leverage. Reason #3 is taxes. In most tax zones costs incurred on investment real estate is comes off income. And, you can generally incur depreciation expense on the structure that in effect are paper losses that reduce the tax burden. Depreciation works like this: we know that the value of a durable item, like a structure, decreases with the years. Even if the property is maintained perfectly, an old house is not worth the same amount of money as a new house. This loss is depreciation, and you can use that depreciation loss to decrease the total tax payable. Of course, when we invest in income property we expect that it will go up in price, and over the long run it often does. What occurs with the depreciation in that case? The tax collector was told the property fell in price through depreciation, but at the end of the process we sold at a profit. The taxman usually says that you've "re-captured" the depreciation and levy tax. Re-capture is no fun. It's like discovering that you've already spent the money that you intended on spending in the future. There is a great solution. When you buy the investment you cut up the original investment between the building value and the property value. Without cheating you set the value of the land as low as possible and the structure as high as reasonable (do the math and you'll see it pays to be reasonable on your splits). When the property goes up in price and you liquidate, you tell the taxman that you didn't recapture any depreciation since the structure did depreciate, while the land increased in value. This profit is capital gain, and capital gain is usually taxed at lower rates than income like...rent. You depreciate the money you make when you earn it as rent, and pay tax on it when it comes from capital gain. Owning income producing property also enables you to write off the costs of things that you might have bought anyway, from office supplies to a trip to see the property. Reason #4 is capital gain. Capital gain doesn't always happen, but it often does. As we've seen with leverage, the capital gain can be leveraged. Even better, the capital gain can, sometimes, be greater than what some folks earn in a year of work. Reason #5 puts everything together by combining cash flow, leverage, and tax planning. Rental real estate generate cash flow. Initially the cash flow could be neutral or even negative, but after some time it will often becomes positive. When it does you need to pay income tax on the excess rent. The solution for that is to re-mortgage and incur additional interest cost, reducing your taxes. You also re-leverage your initial property. The next step is to take that money and buy another income property. You pay no income tax, incur more depreciation, and still earn a capital gain. Better yet, with two properties you spread the risk, and when the time comes to sell you can stretch out the timeline and sell the properties in different years to minimize tax. It can't be repeated enough that you need to buy income property wisely. You need to know the location and the potential tenant. Properties that are desirable and are in a desirable area stay rented. "Desirable" doesn't have to be "mansion", but warm, clean, dry and well priced are critical.

Rob Chipman is broker owner of Coronet Realty Ltd, a Vancouver BC, area real estate and property management company specializing in residential rental real estate and non-resident taxation.

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