Cash-flow focused investors will be attracted to Carlington for the superior capitalization its rental properties produce. However, the potential pit-falls are noteworthy. Appreciation has favoured some areas of the neighbourhood more than others, with some areas appreciating at one third the rate of others. Delinquency, while relatively low on a national basis, is the highest in Ottawa.
Careful consideration of the data will help investors realize robust cash-flow and appreciation while minimizing the risk of delinquency. To help investors in their research, this article has aggregated the relevant data and paired it with context and insight.
Neighbourhood at a Glance
|Real Appreciation Since 2010*||38%||41%|
|Average Credit Rating||759||703|
Prospective Tenant Statistics & Insight
Do tenants miss payments?
In so much as credit scores indicate reliability, the data suggest that residents reliably pay their rent. The average TransUnion credit score, for neighbourhood residents, is 703. In comparison, the average score for the city is 759, and 655 for all of Canada. 703 is within the high end of the range deemed average.
It may be tempting to chalk up the lower credit score to some correlation between credit scores and rental housing. In Ottawa, that correlation is not especially clear. The average credit score in many of the neighbourhoods where rental dwellings are prevalent is within a single percent of the city’s average.
That said, Carlington’s score is the lowest in Ottawa. Although only within a few points of other neighbourhoods with similar socioeconomic characteristics.
Are tenants able to afford their units?
For the most part, they are.
According to the 2016 census, median household employment income in Carlington ( $48,570) is 55% lower than in the rest of the city ($65,546). Despite that difference, the percentage of renting households spending over a third of their income on shelter is comparable to the rest of the city: 35% in Carlington vs 38% in Ottawa.
There is a distinct difference between the incomes of households west of Merivale ($36,857k) compared to those of households east of Merivale ($59,930). However, despite that difference, the number of renting households spending over a third of their income on shelter is, for all intents and purposes, the same on both sides of Merivale: 35.5% in the east and 36% in the west. That ostensible inconsistency is attributable to the significant number of social-housing units in the south-west of the neighbourhood.
How prevalent is fraud?
Overall, defrauding landlords is difficult. The number of ways to do so is limited, and is easily recognized by any manager with even minimal experience. Nevertheless, some investors contemplating an investment in a high-crime area may be concerned about the risk of fraud. Those investors will be happy to learn that the rate of fraud in the neighbourhood (1/3030) residents) is 25% lower than the rate for the city (1/2272).
How can I ensure that I get good tenants?
Do all your homework. Check credit; get proof of current employment, and proof of current, and previous, income; call the applicant’s current, and previous, employers; call the applicant’s current, and previous, landlords. Verify that the reference contact information they provided was in fact their actual landlord or employer: check land registries, call the number on their employer’s website (not the one provided), and so on. Alternatively, you can check with your property manager to ensure that she’s taking these steps in screening tenants. Alternatively, some real estate brokers (e.g. yours truly) offer this service add a no-charge value add for their investor clients.
If you’re renting to students, obtain as much of the foregoing as possible as well as a guarantee, and credit check, from a full-time income earner (e.g. their parents).
Residents are capable of affording their rent. Credit checks are the lowest in our exceptionally credit-worthy city; thorough background checks should all but eliminate risk.Crime affecting tenants is higher, but crime that may affect non-resident landlords is minimal.
Supply and Demand Indicators
Are there many vacancies?
The rate of vacancy in Carlington is (1.74%) is similar to the vacancy rate throughout the city (1.8%). However, there is a marked difference between the vacancy rates in the east (0.8%), and the west (2.7%), sides of the neighbourhood. The lower vacancy rate in the east is driven by student demand and does not stand out when compared to other nearby student neighbourhoods.
Is there new supply coming online?
Since 2019, there have been five new housing starts. None of which were apartment units.
How many residents rent their house or apartment?
Residents of the neighbourhood are twice as likely to rent their dwellings as residents of the city are: 68% of Carlington residents reside in rented dwellings vs 34% of Ottawa residents. The proportion of renters in the west of Carlington (77%) is higher than in the east (60%).
Prospective Appreciation: Statistics & Insight
How quickly are properties in Carlington appreciating?
Between Q2 2010 and Q2 2020 properties in Carlington appreciated, on average, 41%; whereas, properties across the city appreciated, on average 38%. Carlington’s appreciation is dichotomous: the fastest appreciation (84%) occurred in the east of the neighbourhood; the west of the neighbourhood appreciated at just 28%.
Data: Differences between average real estate sale prices in 2010 and 2020 expressed as an annualized change.
There is no reason to believe that the character of Carlington will begin to change significantly within the foreseeable future: there are few infill projects and the neighbourhood barely creates a blip on Council’s radar. However, that does not mean that appreciation will be lackluster. It only means that there is no reason for us to expect it to be any higher than what it might be should the status quo persist.
That said, the status quo looks promising: there is an abundance of cheap (under $500k) freehold properties, which are rare in Ottawa’s market. Across the city, fast rising home prices have added demand for the cheap properties (no matter how modest the structures are). Consequently, the bottom of the Ottawa market has enjoyed greater appreciation than other market segments.
The corollary here is that the appreciation enjoyed by the west of the neighbourhood is not so much a result of demand for any of the neighbourhood’s features, but rather a result of the prevalence of inexpensive properties within the neighbourhood.
How to Effectively Invest in Carlington
Buy and hold a multi-family property
Each year, about two multi-family (6+ units) trade hands in Carlington. Most are near Merivale. However, there is a smattering of them near Fisher. The properties near Fisher enjoy the lowest vacancies and the highest multi-year capitalization rates.
Speculate on value
The abundance of inexpensive freehold homes presents plenty of opportunities to benefit from the effect that the shortage of inexpensive properties is having on the values of the least expensive properties in the city. Look for small single family homes under $450k.
The management challenges related to Carlington’s socioeconomic issues are more pronounced than elsewhere in the city. Nevertheless, diligent managers will have no difficulty guarding their investments against those challenges. By most measures, investment performance correlates with proximity to Fisher Ave. However, there are excellent investment options throughout the neighbourhood. For assistance locating and acquiring a superior investment in this neighbourhood contact John Castle or another expert investment real estate advisor.