Our Children’s Future Education: Using Real Estate Instead of RESPs

Our Children’s Future Education: Using Real Estate Instead of RESPs

It’s difficult for me to picture how I will be when this blog post is posted. My son, Bruce, will be a week old and I will be exhausted.

facebook_1435931769939Last blog post, I discussed how we got ourselves ready for our first baby, Robin. We purchased a house and moved into our new home one month before she was born. Crazy, isn’t it?

People said getting married, starting a new family, moving and having a new career are the most stressful events in life. It is suggested that you should NOT do more than one of these events in one year. And yet we did all of them in one year!

Like most new parents, we had no idea what to do with the new born. I wasn’t expecting how difficult breastfeeding could be and how exhausting my body would become when taking care of a new born. We didn’t know much about sleep training or white noise machines. We let Robin guide us through the new parenting experience.

As little as I knew about being a first-time parent, I did know a lot about real estate, which meant I could prepare Robin for the future. We bought a house for her when she was 3 months old.

We bought that house for her before we learned about swaddling and the white noise machine – both helped her fell asleep on her own and gave her five to six hours of sleep every night. It definitely is needed for those parents going through multiples stresses at once along with the sleepless nights, and perhaps I may have to use it for my newest son Bruce if the white noise machine is not successful in helping him sleep.

So when our expecting friends asked us how much we would put into the new born’s Registered Education Saving Plan (RESP), we told them we did nothing with the RESP.

Most RESPs in the market invest in mutual funds. We learned from Money Master the Game 7 Steps to Financial Freedom written by Tony Robbins that 96% of mutual funds don’t beat the market.

The majority of RESPs don’t make any financial sense to me.

The options to invest are limited. It is a registered plan and therefore is not allowed to invest in real estate directly.

The biggest return you get from putting money in the RESPs is to get a matching contribution from the government. However, you have to keep in mind that if your children do not go to qualified post-secondary schools, the government will take away the grant you get.

And of course, the grant will be taxed at your child’s hands and any return on investment will also be taxed at her hands when the money is taken out.

RESP contributions are not a tax deduction. Since you use after tax money to contribute to the plan, when your child takes out the original contribution to finance their education, no tax is paid on this amount.

This is equivalent to your initial investment in real estate. When you sell the house, you can take your initial investment out tax-free.

Now, back to our decision, we simply want to have this house to finance Robin’s post-secondary education. Who knows how much that would be in 18 years?!

All we know is that by the end of 18 years, without refinancing to purchase another property, this house will be mostly paid off.

All we need is to refinance the house, take out a portion of the equity for her education.

If we are lucky enough, there can be some appreciation on the house every year. For 18 years with 3% appreciation, this house can be worth $211K more than what it is worth today.

This house will also help her to fund her first house on her own. With detached Toronto houses worth over $1million today, it will be extremely difficult for the next generation to own a home by themselves. Unfortunately, that seems to be a trend everywhere. The younger generations are going to struggle to live in the future. House prices are constantly rising, meaning that people will have to settle for less in their first home. We’re lucky to have this current property to fund her first home when she’s older. As the house should be easy enough to purchase, she should only have to buy some other necessities before she can move in. For example, she’ll need to try and find an internet and phone provider when she moves into her first home in the future. They should be able to provide her with an internet connection and a phone. Of course, there are other necessities too! However, we don’t need to worry about those necessities just yet.

You do have to start planning when they are young though! 3 months old seems to be a perfect age to start.

So my friend’s argument is that she doesn’t have enough money to buy a house today. I do agree, if you don’t have a sufficient down payment, putting aside the minimum amount to get the maximum match pay from the government is a great start.

Any savings are better than no savings at all. Tony Robbins’ book can attest to this!

Just make sure you are putting the money into the right type of RESP account, one that allows you to invest in the index funds, rather than regular mutual funds that charge you an astronomical amount of fees.

Until next time, happy real estate investing.

Cherry Chan, CPA, CA

The real estate accountant

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[…] Previously, I discussed why we chose to invest in real estate for Robin’s future education rather than using Registered Education Saving Plan (RESP). […]

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