My real estate clients often ask my opinion about purchasing rental properties. I am definitely a fan of owning rental properties that make sense, ideally ones that are fairly low maintenance, very easy to rent and allow you to pay down your mortgage with
 someone else’s money.

Even if you are just breaking even every 
month, you are still
 building your equity in
 what is historically a great long-term investment.

Most buyers considering a rental property look at purchasing in their home city or town, since that is what they know best. 
But purchasing a recreational property outside your hometown can be a great opportunity and is one worth considering.

Last summer, I purchased 
a condo in Canmore, Alta., in the Rocky Mountains. I have always loved Canmore and bought
 with the intention of enjoying skiing and hiking getaways there. However, I wanted to offset my expenses with rental income. There are several online accommodation management communities that connect property owners with travellers seeking a place to stay, but I have been using the website www. vrbo.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and wanted to share my experience.

I carefully deliberated where I wanted to purchase for months before making my decision. Destinations in the U.S. such as Arizona or Hawaii have their obvious appeal for the warmer temperatures and low pricing (especially if the loonie is high versus the U.S. dollar). Many B.C. towns in the Interior or on the Island have great weather and natural beauty. Even Vancouver was a consideration as it is one of my favourite places in the world and a city I visit frequently. Of course, there are many options farther east such as Lake Winnipeg or cottage country in Ontario.

But what drew me to Canmore was the four-season appeal, both for future buyers and for current renters, as well as the abundance of wealthy renters in very close proximity (the majority of my weekend renters are from Calgary). After selecting Canmore, I began to watch a few condo buildings that I liked to see what listed and sold. When I felt the time was right, I purchased a top-floor, two-bedroom unit with underground parking and spectacular views.

After taking possession in July 2014, I spent the summer getting it painted, furnished, decorated and ready to rent. I hit the button on my VRBO listing on Aug. 25 and had my first rental booked for
 the upcoming weekend within 24 hours! The next four weeks had 14 days booked.

In the following five months, only three weekends were not booked. December brought in premium rates before, during and after Christmas. I have virtually all of June through September booked and paid for this year.

Although there is more maintenance with a vacation rental compared to a long-term residential rental, once your systems are in place, it is really quite easy and the money just starts showing up in your bank account. Plus, you can book your property for your own vacation use any time you want it.

Obtaining mortgage financing for a recreational property can 
be more complicated than a traditional mortgage on your primary residence so be sure to talk to your mortgage broker to find the best way to finance your purchase.

Amie Hautz is one of Calgary’s top-producing realtors.

She can be reached at 403-852-0262 or Amie@RiverLifeRealEstate.com. Visit www.RiverLifeRealEstate to learn more.