Would you want to buy shares in a Kelowna real estate property? A Vancouver company is offering a new way to invest in a share of residential properties with no financial limitations. Photo: Capital News files

Micro-investing in B.C. real estate properties

Company launches opportunity to buy shares in property investments

A Vancouver entrepreneur believes he is at the forefront of revolutionizing how real estate is bought and sold.

Stephen Jagger, co-founder of IMBY Real Estate Corporation, says his company has created an investment pathway that eliminates any financial barriers for property investment.

“Anyone can invest for as little as $1 and take advantage of lucrative real estate investment opportunities in Vancouver and other secondary markets such as Kelowna, Kamloops, Victoria, Nanaimo that otherwise are limited to wealthy property developers,” Jagger said.

The concept behind IMBY is for the company to invest in a 51 per cent share in a rental property, and open the remaining 49 per cent to outside investors, similar in idea to investors buying stock in a company.

In turn, the outside investment can be used as financial leverage to expand a particular portfolio by buying other properties to increase the potential value of that initial share investment.

“You might start out with a house in Vancouver, but you can use that leverage from investors to buy another house in Kelowna and maybe a townhouse in Vernon,” he said.

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Speaking at the Okanagan chapter of the Urban Development Institute monthly luncheon at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna this week, Jagger explained the genesis behind IMBY’s business concept and how he feels it will transform the future of real estate transactions.

Jagger said other companies are already looking at IMBY’s idea, adding that a major New York City hotel has already made headlines in seeking to raise $400 million by selling off a 25 per cent share in the hotel at $100 per share.

The end result was the creation of IMBY (In My Back Yard), which Jagger says they believe was the first company to offer a share of ownership of a home, a $1.6 million property in Vancouver’s Trout Lake residential area.

The offering attracted a total of 287 investors to be part of that 49 per cent interest.

“The average investment was about $4,000 and 33 per cent of our investors were in the 19 to 35 age group,” Jagger said.

“Technology hasn’t really changed the real estate game in the past 20 years. But this concept will change the game.”

Jagger said what they learned from his first deal was a wide public interest to invest in real estate for a longer-term gain as there is a five and seven year locked-in share offering provision; people were interested less in Vancouver often and more in secondary markets like Kelowna, Victoria, Nanaimo and Kamloops; the renter for the Trout Lakehouse opted to invest himself in the property.

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“There is one benefit we see as each transaction is creating a rental opportunity to address that issue, but we see potential benefits in a renter who actually has a financial interest in the property, which gets away from that adversarial relationship between landlord and renter, and that may lend itself to the renter taking greater interest in the upkeep of the property,” he said.

Jagger said real estate agents would feel the greatest impact of this change, taking them out of the traditional equation of a house deal.

“There is good and bad in this for realtors. The big thing is we are no longer selling real estate, but selling shares in something, so the transaction doesn’t fall under real estate board rules but those of a securities commission. That changes the structure of the deal in a totally divergent way as it is governed by a totally different set of rules.”

On the plus side, Jagger thinks realtors under this deal structure would function more like a traditional stockbroker which would open other avenues for income potential to replace the traditional commission on the sale of a property.

“It would be different and a bit of a re-adjustment, but feel it will be a huge opportunity. I foresee the day when someone will want to invest $20,000 in Kelowna real estate shares, perhaps no more than $1,000 or $5,000 per property, and look to a realtor to utilize their knowledge of the local market to find those opportunities.”

Marv Beer, president of the Okanagan Mainline Real Estate Board, said he was familiar with Jagger’s business concept, saying it tends to fall under the guise of other property investment models rather than the traditional homeowner looking to buy or sell a house.

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“There is risk in looking for a short-return on buying and selling houses in a volatile market, especially when you see how the Vancouver market has tanked right now. I might be attractive for people with an appetite for risk on a smaller scale,” Beer said.

While technology has introduced changes in how people buy and sell homes, he said the role of the real estate agent has remained a central element of the transaction who helps guide buyers and sellers through the process.

“That’s what we do for a living and we are experts in that. A lot of people still want that person involved in a transaction because it offers some sense of security, ” Beer said.

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