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By Altus Group | April 23, 2020

This article was originally published on January 29, 2018. It was updated by the author on April 23, 2020.


Most property owners have a general idea of the “current value” of their property.

Few owners, however, have an understanding of the “potential value” of their property.

Property owners and managers are faced with an endless number of decisions relating to the ongoing operation of real estate assets. Occasionally the question ‘What should I do with the property’ arises.

Below are some options to consider:

  • Sell the property.
  • Continue to properly maintain and hold the property on an “as is where is” basis.
  • Undertake minor upgrades and renovations to the existing improvements.
  • Undertake major upgrades and renovations to the existing improvements.
  • Convert the existing improvements into another use.
  • Expand the existing improvements.
  • Demolish the existing improvements and re-develop under the existing zoning designation.
  • Re-zone the property to allow for a higher density or an alternate use.
  • Assemble the property with adjacent lands.

Determining which is the ‘best and/or most appropriate option’ can be a complex exercise with many factors, risks, and variables to consider. At Altus Group, the general process that we undertake to assist our clients with making these important decisions is as follows:

Retention and Renovation of the Existing Improvements:

1. Review of the market in which the property is located. For income properties, this would include:

  • An Economic Overview – A review of the main economic indicators, both historical and projected, is required in order to determine if the future outlook of the local market and surrounding areas is positive or negative.
  • A Competition and Leasing Market Overview – In order to estimate the future earnings potential of a property, an analysis of any competing properties and the rental rates which are being achieved in these properties is required. In addition, a review of new and any proposed developments in the area needs to be conducted.
  • An Investment Market Overview – An analysis of investment demand, investor preferences, and a survey of current and forecasted valuation parameters will assist in estimating potential revenues as well as estimating the properties ‘liquidity rating’. In other words, ‘how difficult will it be to re-sell the property in the future if required to do so’.


2. Prepare a legal review of the property. This includes:

  • A title search and a summary of all charges registered on title.
  • An opinion of any impact on value with respect to the charges which are registered on title.
  • A review of the heritage site registry. A ‘Protected Property’ or a property which is on the heritage list could affect the properties future development potential.
  • A review of the properties specific zoning and official community plan designation, and any other municipal regulations. This is required in order to determine if the property conforms to current municipal requirements as well as to assist in identifying the future development potential of the property.
  • A review of the business licenses to determine if the building operations on the property are in good standing.
  • A review of the most recent Fire Marshall and Health Department inspections to determine if there are any outstanding orders.


3. Estimate the current market value of the asset “as is where is” with no renovations.


4. Prepare a physical and environmental review of the improvements. This includes a review of:

  • The structural soundness of the improvements and the services to the improvements.
  • The condition of the roof, electrical and mechanical facilities, elevators, and air quality.
  • The presence of any environmentally hazardous substances (such as asbestos).
  • The presence of any insect and rodent infestation.
  • The presence of any soils contamination.
  • The overall type and condition of the soils, and their overall stability with regard to the existing improvements and any future development.
  • Any potential of flooding.


5. Quantify and estimate the costs of any recommended upgrades and renovations.


6. Prepare a financial feasibility analysis which will outline the costs, revenues, timelines, risks, and returns associated with any suggested minor or major building upgrades, renovations, conversions to alternate uses, or expansions. This would involve an estimate of the market value of the property upon completion of all recommended changes to the building.

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