I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last fifteen years of my life—my motto is ‘Once Today is Gone You Can Never Get It Back’.
How can a person ensure that once today is gone that their time was wisely invested towards achieving their goals? Well, first they need to figure out what their goals are before they can reach them.
People are capable of extraordinary feats if they’ll just focus on completing one ordinary task at a time.
Brent Mondoux, The Future is NOW
What are my long term goals?
I want to achieve financial freedom so that one day I’ll be able to work because I want to not because I have to. Now don’t get me wrong – I love my work. Waking up every morning brings a smile to my face. My clients are great people and I enjoy being able to help them grow their enterprises.
But like most entrepreneurs, every time I get an opportunity to brainstorm about new things, I get an adrenaline rush. I know that I have the chance to change the world; I just need more resources to do it.
Why did I pick real estate?
Real estate is helping me achieve financial freedom sooner rather than later while experiencing a relatively low level of risk.
How’d I get into it?
Over the last 15 years, I’ve invested thousands of hours and millions of dollars in building and running an Ottawa-based web design and development firm, N-VisionIT Interactive. My business partner, Reid Ivens and I have passed many milestones along the way. We’ve weathered lots of challenges not least of which were the dot-com bust, the US banking meltdown and real estate market catastrophe. These challenges reinforced something my father told me – ‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.’
One evening in 2001, I was flipping channels when an infomercial came on. A fellow by the name of Carleton Sheets was selling his ‘No Money Down’ real estate course. I’ve never purchased anything from an infomercial but for some reason, I decided to take a chance. I’m glad I did though—I finished his course in a few weeks. One drawback was that all his materials were primarily geared for US legal and taxation systems.
For the next nine years, I worked forty to sixty hours a week growing N-VisionIT Interactive into the company it is today. At the same time, I continued to learn about real estate investing – I took additional courses by Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad), Donald Trump (needs no introduction) and Don Campbell (one of Canada’s leading real estate investment educators).
In 2010, I finally bought my first property. I simply realized that I’d invested hundreds of hours in education so it was time. I gave myself an ultimatum, one that gave me the psychological push to take my chances and buy my first multi-res investment property.
Where do I invest?
While my real estate investments are not tied to a specific geography, most of it is in Gatineau, Quebec. My strategy is simple. I invest unemotionally in properties that havepositive cashflow. If it doesn’t cashflow, under no circumstances will I consider purchasing it.
It’s a simple concept and it doesn’t take me a lot of time to assess a property. Less than 1 in 20 opportunities that I see get more than a few minutes of consideration so it doesn’t negatively impact on my personal time either.
Why do I invest in Gatineau and not Ottawa? Don’t properties appreciate faster in Ottawa? What about political risk—like separation? Almost every investor reacts negatively to the political situation in Quebec. Consequently, they spend significantly more on down payments on their real estate investments in Ottawa before their properties will cashflow. Their weakness though is my competitive advantage.
How do I ensure good tenants?
There’s no sure way to guarantee good tenants but you can minimize your risks. Even if you’re under pressure because of an extended vacancy, don’t bend your rules, you’ll regret it. So what are our processes? For every tenant who applies, first we perform both a credit check and background verification.
We also set up multiple viewings at the same time. It not only creates competition but also weeds out bad tenants. How come? Well, they know that we will likely receive multiple applications so they simply opt not to apply.
Moreover, our lease-signing process includes an initial inspection that requires everytenant to sign off on the move-in condition of the property.
We also make sure that we take good care of our tenants. If you don’t have the time to do that, find a quality property manager who will do it for you.
Today, after only two years, my business partner and I have grown our investment from a single multiplex to 18 units.
Each and every month that passes, our tenants pay down part of our mortgage for us while our properties appreciate. All of them generate positive cashflow. They are helping us build a nest-egg since we don’t require any of the cash we generate from real estate for day-to-day expenses. Finally, in Canada, real estate depreciation provides us with significant tax advantages.
My most valuable lessons?
1. If you let fear stand in your way, you will never achieve anything.
2. Educate yourself but don’t wait until a perfect time arrives—it never will.