"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas A. Edison

"Get off that couch and go buy that rundown duplex" - me

Friday, May 29, 2015

It's Not About The Number Of Doors...

Focus on the benefits!

Lets do the math : you can minimize issues with tenants and buildings through good management, but you will always have a (hopefully small) percentage of tenants/buildings with problems.

The more doors you own, the more problems you will have. It boils down to simple math. fewer doors=fewer problems.

Pipes leak, furnaces die, tenants stop paying rent. It happens.

Also, some investments are more management intensive than others by their very nature, like rooming houses and student rentals. Some markets are as well, like low income towns vs downtown big city.

The key is finding a balance between the benefits you want (income for me!) and the type of investing you do. There are many ways to skin a cat in this business,  and number of doors shouldn't be your only yardstick to measure your success. What are your goals? High income? Net worth? Retirement? Taylor your strategy to achieve your goals.

I know real estate investors holding only one door (their house!) that have huge incomes and tons of net worth as note holders and hard money lenders.

It's not about the size of your real estate portfolio, it's what you do with it! (or what it does for you...)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Renos are like onions...

When you reno a unit, it is tempting to gut the whole thing and do it to "your" standards...say move a wall for a more open layout with better flow. While in certain circumstances this may be desirable (eg to correct a big problem with the unit and add value) generally this may not be such a good plan.

When you do this you get into the "where do I stop" cycle...you tear down that wall for better flow, then find the knob and tube wiring, or galvanized water lines, then you see the lack of insulation where the removed wall joined the outside wall, or maybe you started the plaster to loosen on the ceiling, or discoved the uneven subfloor, or you find the hidden asbestos in the HVAC, or discoved that non-load bearing wall had some point load, etc, etc, etc... Best case scenario, you will have to patch, re-floor, and paint.

Unless you are already planning a big reno or gut job with flooring, painting, etc., I would recommend keeping the original layout.

The best moneymakers are the properties needing only clean-up and paint anyways. A gutted house brings in no rents! Besides, are you a contractor or a real estate investor? You have to ask yourself how much more rent will the reno bring in? I like fixin' houses, but not so much that I do it for free!

Renos are like onions...the more layers you take off, the more you want to cry!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Flip AND Flop...

Can you make any money doing flips? It is possible...but not easy! Unless you buy a place for nothing, do most (or all!) of the work yourself, be in a good market, and are in an "up" market cycle, it may not turn out the way you want. If you do manage to make any profit, the taxman may take any profit you make, taxing it as "business income" (100% taxable), rather than as a "capital gain" (50% taxable). 

A much better strategy is to buy and hold a rental unit. You can still make quick money - buying fix-up places, putting in your "sweat equity", and refinancing. The difference is the money you make when you refinance is TAX FREE! Not only that, but you now own a cash flowing asset. You can take full advantage of appreciation, mortgage pay down, and tax write offs.

At best, flipping can give you a wage. Buying cash-flow rentals generate wealth!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Jump in!

Read a great post titled "How to invest in real estate while earning minimum wage" by Tracy Royce

She describes some "out of the box" ways to get into the game with little or no money or income.

"Say you’re too shy, don’t know anyone in your area, or no one’s giving you the time of day after many attempts. Still want to break into real estate investing? If you’re passionate about being involved in some way, the second option is to get a job in some segment of real estate that requires day to day office work. I specifically don’t say “get your license” because once you have your license, you’re a free agent and can easily slack off. I’m talking about getting a position where you’re being paid to learn, listen to lingo, and make connections. Often these jobs are low on the totem pole, but are great for getting your foot in the proverbial door.
Some positions that are fantastic to target are administrative assistant, front office assistant, office manager, to name a few. These positions tend to advance up the ladder in medium to larger companies, so that might mean more to you as well. Heck, I’ve had friends in corporate positions at RE companies that keep their jobs there, use the W2 income to buy a property (or few), and their connections to get good deals, discounted title fees, and good contractors." 
I would add construction to the list. Not only will you learn alot of skills from working, but you can also make excellent contacts in the trades. Talk to everyone (while working hard, don't be a slacker!) and see how things operate on a construction site. Seeing a building going up from top to bottom is an education in itself.

Why flip burgers when you can be involved in the industry that can make you rich?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Be a Grinch!

We get feedback from landlords all the time who say they have trouble collecting rents in the Christmas season. Their January rent payments are spotty at best, with late payments the norm.

This can be for several different reasons, but mostly it's because of overspending this time of the year, especially by families with kids.

While we don't recommend being totally heartless, you do have to treat rent collection as a business function that is key to your survival...

If you feel it is unfair to demand rent when tenants have overspent, think of it in business  terms. You need income to survive, and for your rental business to succeed.

Can you call the bank, utilities, property tax collectors, etc. and ask to pay late because you overspent? How would that go over? Why should your tenant expect any different from you? Possibly because you have trained them to pay late...

Have you ever in the past ignored late payments? Accepted excuses for late payments? Not taken any action?

You don't have to be a complete hardass, but giving firm expectations is very important. If the 2nd rolls around and no payment has been received, we send a notice outlining the severity of the situation and the possibility of eviction. If they fail to act in the specified time (local landlord/tenant regulations vary) the eviction process is begun. Consistency is the key here.

This shows that you are professional, mean business, and late rent is unacceptable. Even with compelling excuses (when are they not compelling!) we send the notices. Sorry your cat had to have emergency surgery, but the mortgage comes out on the second, and the mean old bank don't care about any excuses!

Tenants will quickly realize it's just business. It won't  make them resent you any more. They understand they have to pay for the merchandise and won't hate the clerk who gives them their bill...      

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Grass Is Always Greener...

I get a kick out of these "experts" who recommend buying real estate far away from home, or even in another country.

Many advise buying without looking at the buildings or going to the neighborhood! They are speculators. They tell you to buy in an area that is "hot". They believe that the other lawn is always greener...

I would never buy a place sight unseen, or in a place where I would have to bring my passport to visit!

You can never really get a "feel" for a place till' you've been inside and walked around. Tasted the air. Smelled it, felt it. Pictures can hide bad layouts, excess moisture, mold, fire separation issues, life left in major systems, appliances, roof, etc., etc...

And what about the location, location, location? Ever look on Google street view and see a completely different impression when you actually stood on the street? Also, things can change very rapidly in the short amount of time since the streetview car had last been by...

Also, there is the issue of management. Are you going to trust these managers you have never met in person? How can you "check up" on them? Who are they renting to? Who are they hiring as contractors? (try and find a good one yourself, it's not that easy!)

Unless you live in the middle of the arctic circle, you can find good deals nearby. You know the idiosyncrasies of the area. You know the tenant profile. You know the reputable people to work with. You can check out your places whenever you want. Just jump in the car...

And besides, if you truly think your area is no good, why are you living there?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ain't no housing bubble here...

As housing affordability increases, we are reminded that the real value of something is what people will pay for it...


November 2014: Housing affordability predominantly improved
across Canada in the third quarter of 2014
Despite generally increasing home prices, home ownership became more affordable
in most of Canada (albeit slightly so) in the third quarter of 2014.
Carrying the costs of ownership became a little lighter for the majority of
housing types thanks to small reductions in utility costs in many parts of the
country, low and steady interest rates, and broadly rising household income.
Even markets such as Toronto, where affordability eroded persistently in the
past four years, saw some relief. The same could not be said for Canada’s
other currently ‘hot’ markets, Vancouver and Calgary, however—although in
the case of Calgary, housing affordability remains quite attractive. At the national
level, RBC’s affordability measures eased in two of three housing categories:
decreasing by 0.2 percentage points to 47.8% for two storey homes and
0.3 percentage points to 27.1% for condominium apartments, and inching
higher by 0.1 percentage point to 42.6% for detached bungalows (a decrease
represents an improvement in affordability).

And another thing to keep in mind about rising house prices: the cost of a 2x4 ain't gettin' cheaper!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Careful of free advice, sometimes its worthless...

I just read a post on one of the leading real estate organization's forum. A poster was asking for feedback on his 5 year investment strategy. It was to buy cash-flowing income properties, with "gross income of about 10% and cap rate of 7%"

The responding posters indicated that this plan was flawed, as cash-flowing properties were impossible to find, save in "high risk, resource dependent small towns in (the north) or low growth US towns".

First of all, these numbers aren't that good, and I probably would pass up those kind of deals, unless I knew I could significantly raise the income (ie adding another unit).  

There are tons of great, cash flowing properties just about everywhere you look. And exactly what is "high risk"? Some of these "towns" are our best cash cows, and have been for years. They have also been for years before we bought the buildings as well. In some cases for over 100 years!

Sure, there are some one horse towns that are too far for commuting and have no local jobs, but for the most part, those are already ghost towns. As we recommend investing locally, you already know which towns are good and which are bad.

People need places to live, even in "towns"!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

...but it beats working for a livin'!

Here's a great article by Robert McLeod, CEO of McLeod Project Marketing:

As someone who’s interested in investing in real-estate, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about all of the wonderful things that owning cash flowing real estate can do for you. 

Maybe you want it to provide you with some passive income that you can use to pay for vacations. 

Maybe you want it to supplement your retirement savings and CPP so that you can really enjoy those golden years. 

Or maybe you even want it to replace your income entirely so you can walk away from work and disappear to some island in the Caribbean. 

But here’s something you should spend more time thinking about: What you can do for it.

Why? Because, to be blunt, real estate investing isn’t as easy as it looks - not, at least, if you want to do it right. What do I mean by doing it right? I mean, if you’re the kind of person who isn’t just interested in buying a property here or a property there, but instead believes in its ability to change lives and build wealth. And it can - but there’s a quid pro quo there, and it’s one that a lot of newer investors haven’t grappled with yet. 

Real estate rarely is a set-it-and-forget-it proposition. It’s a labour of love - and trust me, if you’re not blessed with a paid-off mortgage, a trust fund or a spouse that works as a neurosurgeon, there’s a lot of labour involved.

When I started buying real estate more than a decade ago, I didn’t have any of those things going for me. In my first few years as a Realtor® I was making $45,000 to $50,000 - no more than anyone else, and probably a lot less. I was definitely making less than some other investors that were around back then. 

But it didn’t matter, I wasn’t used to more; I used the little bit of money that I’d been able to save, I bought cheaper units and I poured in a bunch of sweat equity to make up the balance. 

If I had to work nights to paint the unit, clean the grout or replace the light fixtures, well, so be it. And while I could easily pay someone to do that work today, it’s still something that I find myself doing now and then. 

It’s a habit. When it comes to investing in real estate, you have to be willing to sacrifice something in order to get where, and what, you want.

It’s not a habit that many people have, either. I run into a lot of people who say they’d like to invest in real estate but can’t scrape together the money for the down payment but still own two cars, travel to Cuba ever year and have the super-premium cable package. In other words, they want the benefits of investing in real estate without paying the costs. And let me tell you, there are always costs. 

For the first six years that I was buying investment real estate, I didn’t travel. I drove the same car. I moved once. I worked seven days a week. I blew through several relationships. Those are the sacrifices I made. I paid the price. Heck, I even got fired from the job that was, at that point, giving me the ability to do what I was doing. Oh, and work-life balance? Forget about it. If you have balance, either you’re not working hard enough or you’re not challenging yourself. People don’t grow in positions of balance. You grow when you’re at the extreme. 

And for those 10 years that I was building my portfolio, I was at the extreme - either making a bunch of money or barely able to pay my bills. But I was like an addict when it came to real estate - I always had to have more.

With prospective investors, few of them want to pay a price. But isn’t that what you have to do when you’re buying something of value - pay a price? I often hear people say that they want to buy something that’s “guaranteed.” Well, friend, that’s called a GIC. 

In real estate, there are no guarantees. As my grandfather told me, if you want a guarantee, buy a toaster. More importantly, nobody that is a sophisticated investor or who takes risks and is successful says, “I want a guarantee.” They understand the risk, and figure out whether it justifies the reward.

And here’s the thing: if you think that you can put in the time and make the sacrifices for a little while and then ride off into the sunset with your spoils, you are sadly mistaken. Well, I suppose it’s theoretically possible - but I’ve never seen it happen. 

I don’t know a single investor that’s able to shut it off and walk away. I know a lot that are successful and slow down, that go on extended holidays and that have more fun. But I’ll tell you this: while they’re on those holidays, while they’re away, while they’re golfing, the first thing they think about every morning and the last thing they think about before they go to bed is: will the tenant pay this month, or will my unit be okay? 

It’s what makes you money, and you take care of what makes you money. If you have good employees who make you money, you take care of them. If you have equipment that’s key to your business, you take care of it. And it’s the same with your real estate. 

People who say they want to be in a position where they can ignore it? Well, they just haven’t been there, and they’re kidding themselves. 

It’s always going to take work.

That’s the tough talk. 

Now, here’s the good news: if you’re willing to put in the time and make a few sacrifices, you can be a successful real estate investor. As hard as it can be, it’s also not nearly as complicated as some people make it out to be. And boy, do some of them make it seem complicated - before you know it, you’ve spent $20,000 on books, seminars and boot camps without having bought a single property. 

Just remember: some educators are in the business of selling books, seminars and boot camps - not educating you on creating wealth through real estate. 

Real estate isn’t as hard as some make it out to be - but it’s not as easy, either. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monkeys Running The Zoo...

The triplex looked good.  Decent location, solid building, new roof...but we offered 25% lower than the asking price, which was also very low to begin with. Why? Well, besides the deferred maintenance, fire code issues, smell, and layout (one of the shower stalls was in a bedroom closet!), the reason we needed a further discount was the tenants.
This place was obviously run by them. Don't let this happen to you! Not only will they give you a management headache, but when you sell, if you can at all, the buyers will want deep discounts.
You don't have to be a tyrant, but set rules and enforce them. They may not like you, but they will respect you. You probably didn't get into real estate investing to make new buddies!
Inherited tenants can be tricky. They are used to running the place, and you probably will have some issues. We find a businesslike, firm approach works well. Setting rules, and enforcing them may turn some of your inherited tenants into keepers!  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wanna Get Lucky?

Here's an interesting article by Stephanie Vozza titled "4 Habits of Lucky People"

I wholeheartedly agree with this ar
ticle. You can chose to be lucky or unlucky. You make your own luck!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wanted: units with nose blind tenants!

I think the deepest discounts we get are smelly units. You know, the ones with multiple pets, heavy smokers, garbage hoarders, etc. Best ones: all of the above!
When we find a stinker, it smells like money to us. Not only do we know we are getting a deeeep discount, but we know there won't be any competition, either!
When you find a foreclosure stinker, it is even better. Bankers can't seem to stand smelly units. It goes against their sense of "order", as well as their sense of "odor"! They just want to get rid of it ASAP, and since yours is probably their only offer, they'll probably take it.
Getting rid of foul odor really isn't that difficult. Just removing the source goes a long way. Bit of scrubbing, and paint will complete the job. Make sure to use a sealing primer, like Kilz or Zinzer. We use an oil based primer for real stinkers. Make sure to cover all sufaces, including subfloor. You may need new sub-floor in some areas. Sometimes if urine is left to accumulate it can completely rot it out.
The difference you can make with this clean and paint is astounding. You can force up the value by tens of thousands! This will give you instant equity in a building, and give you a real head start in your investing if done with your first few places. You can then start buying "sweet smelling" units if you want.
Of course, after your first few, the stinkers will start to smell much better. they smell...kinda like money!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Life's a Beach...

The most valuable commodity in this world is time. So why do we waste so much of it? Our brain lives in the moment, and can't really understand or comprehend the length of time available in our lives. Even if it could, who can say how long we get to walk the earth? One positive thing that happens in a life threatening situation (or old age!) is that you realize the preciousness of time.

What can you do to use your time more effectively? Focus. Focus on the things that are the best use of your time.

What part of the day is the most productive? Morning? Get up earlier. Sit around on the couch and watch TV at night? Do something more productive. Read, spend quality time with family, go for a run.

What are the things that give you the most "bang for your buck" in business? Concentrate on these! Skip or delegate the non-necessary activities.

It's kinda like when you go on a short vacation...do you sit in the hotel and watch TV? No, you pack all that you can into each day.

So live life like you are on a short vacation. Because really, that's all it is...

"Time can be an ally or an enemy. What it becomes depends entirely upon you, your goals, and your determination to use every available minute."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Apple seeds and rundown duplexes...

Tiny events can spark huge outcomes...look at an apple seed - one tiny seed takes hold and creates a tree that produces great wasteful abundance. An idea in the head of Henry Ford or Thomas Edison eventually creates great inventions and massive wealth. The beginning of the universe for that matter, began with a single point...
It seems all events are small when they begin, easily thwarted and fragile. The key is persistence. Just hold on stubbornly and don't give up.
The success or failure in real estate investing, and just about everything else, depends on surviving those fragile first few years. If you can hold on, you will probably do OK. This is why we recommend buy and hold cash flow properties, at least as your first few investments. You might want to diversify later, but if you have gotten into the habit of eating every day you are going to need solid, cash flowing assets in the beginning.
So go ahead...plant that seed!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

There's a new sheriff in town...

We have done well buying in towns. These apartments can provide better cash flow than just about anything else out there. Yes, rents are lower than in the city, but not relative to the building purchase price. Building prices here are 1/3 the price if in the city, but rents are only 25% less...you do the math!
The key is to find good sized towns (say, ones with a Wal-Mart!) within commuting distance (say one hour) of the city you are closest to. Look for depressed home values. Not all towns are created the same! Some are bedroom type communities where property values are close to city levels. Why buy there when you could just buy in the city and reap the higher rents?
What you are looking for are towns that have depressed values for local reasons, ie the local manufacturing plant shut down. If you buy the types of units we recommend (inexpensive) this probably won't effect vacancy very much. In fact, your vacancy will probably be lower! Generally, people will stay in their town if they can, and will commute to a job in the city. Also, city people will move out to the town for better quality of life and cheaper rents.
There can be some disadvantages though. You will be considered an "out of town owner", and in the minds of some of the locals a "slum lord". You can generally avoid this by keeping your properties maintained and looking good. Also, there is a definite "old boys network" which you have to deal with, and you are considered an outsider to some. If you can find a good local real estate agent, this problem will be lessened. They are your local representatives, and can help you out with local issues, trades, etc. A good local agent is gold, treat them well!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Take a NEWS diet...

...to stay positive.

Do you really need to know who was beheaded this week? Or what mass murder happened half way around the world? Or what plane crashed?

Will knowing these things have any effect on your life, other than giving you a negative outlook and losing your faith in humanity? Is this knowledge key to your survival?

The news media makes money by manipulating a primitive part of your brain. It's the part that evolved that makes you want knowledge of danger so you can avoid it and survive. This is the same part of your brain that makes you slow down at an accident and look. News media (or rubbernecking!) will not help your survivability.

Take a NEWS diet. Try it for a week and see how much better you feel. You must control what goes in. Feed your brain negativity and you will think negatively.

Now, I'm not saying you should live with your head in the sand. Trust me, major events will filter down to you, and I still look at the weather forecast, interest rate levels, employment numbers, etc. because these things DO affect me. But do I really have to know that:

California authorities hunt albino cobra in upscale neighborhood! 

Unless of course I own some rentals there...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

There may be no "i" in "team", but...

...there is an "i" in "rich". There's three in "millionaire". There are four "i"s in "multi Millionaire"! That's a lotta "i"'s...
I'm not saying you don't need help to be successful in real estate, because you do. But I don't agree with this whole "team" thing. Just about everyone out there says you need a team, build a team first, I don't have a team in place yet.
You don't need a team! Other people don't care about you getting rich, unless it's making them money as well. Don't leave it up to anyone else if you want to be successful in real estate or anything else for that matter! Nobody else will care as much as you do whether you succeed or not...
Now, this isn't to say you can do it all by yourself, because you can't. You need real estate agents, lawyers, accountants, plumbers, contractors, handy men, etc. Just remember these people are not teammates, they're EMPLOYEES! You should listen to their advice and recommendations, but YOU are the boss and should make all the final decisions. You gotta live with your decisions, not them! They all get paid regardless of whether you make money or not...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

No money down is possible...

But you always gotta pay somehow!
We have done many zero down deals, but they always seem to cost the most! Time, effort, fix-up costs, interest, they will cost you somewhere.
Not that that's necessarily a bad business model. If done right, it can be the perfect solution for broke investors (what other kind is there when starting out?) to substitute something else for cash down.
Just make sure you can get CASH FLOW. Without it it's a false economy. You aren't putting any immediate cash down, but you will be every single month! That is not path to financial freedom. I like real estate, but not enough to pay every month to own it...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Great time to be a landlord!

People always make excuses as to why it's not the right time to buy rental property...the economy is too bad, the economy is too good, interest rates are too low, interest rates are too high...
Fact is, we have found it's always a good time to be a landlord! Ya, sometimes vacancy is higher or lower at one time or another, but there are so many factors involved don't over think it.
Boils down to this: people are always going to need somewhere to live! There are millions of people out there that can't/won't or aren't ready for home ownership. If you own quality, inexpensive rentals you will always have customers wanting your product.
One of the more recent developments are the "Millennials" Check out "5 Reasons Why Millennials Would Rather Rent Than Buy" and "Apartment living becoming ideal for millennials".
Gear some units to this group! Smells like opportunity!

Sunday, August 10, 2014


People ask me all the time "what about finding tenants?" Well, If you chose the right kind of properties in the right areas you will never have a shortage of good tenants who want to rent your units. If your units are clean, safe, updated, you will be ahead of most of them out there. Even in times of high vacancy, yours will fill up first, and will stay filled the longest.

Remember, buy with the eyes of a tenant. Ignore the things you know you can fix, but look at each unit as if you will be moving in. I'm talking here mostly about neighborhoods and layouts. Picture the unit after fix-up. Would you want to live in it? Is it functional? Or are there hard to fix layout problems, like a bathroom that you have to access through a bedroom (though should be fine in a smaller one bedroom or bachelor), or a kitchen with the sink or refrigerator in another room?

Remember, you don't wan't a place where you have to do major renos to fix layout issues (unless it's a screamin' deal!)

Saturday, July 26, 2014


Not every fixer is a diamond in the rough! Some places just can't give you the benefits you need to make money. Some owners will think think the value is much higher than you do, or they owe too much on the property to sell at a reasonable price. Some places just aren't layed out right, are structurally unsound, or are in an area that won't attract decent tenants. Some places just don't justify the fix-up costs for the return.
The ideal property needs no major layout change, is functioning presently as a rental, and just needs updating, a good cleaning, and possibly new tenants. These are things easily fixed, that almost anyone can do themselves without a contractor or permits.
We also look for basements, separated utilities, parking, and good fire separation between units. Bonuses are big ticket items that are already done, such as roofs, HVAC, electrical, etc., that can kill the budget!
We are not beyond major reno's if the return is worth it, but remember, you are a real estate investor not a contractor!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Run Down? Check!


Dirty? Check.
Smelly? Check.
Ugly? Double check (tenants and property!).
This property seemed to have the right things wrong to make a good cash flow deal. Good location and layout are secondary (but still important) to a great buy, but ugly and dirty are what is going to get you flexibility in price and terms.
You need to learn the skill of looking beyond the dirt, need for updating, and deferred maintenance to see what it will look like after fix-up. This takes practice, but once you have this ability you are well on your way to getting ahead in the cash-flow game!
This is from Julie Broad, in my opinion one of the best "Gurus" we have here in Canada:

the biggest goldmine for you as a buyer … you (hopefully) can see what a clean up and a little updating can do to a place. Few other buyers can.

Friday, July 18, 2014

I Love Tenants

No, that is not sarcasm. Our tenants make us rich. And they ask so little in return (well, most of them anyways...), a clean, safe, maintained place to live.
Your landlording skills are probably the most important skills to learn to become financially independent, ahead of choosing properties, negotiating, etc.
Not learning good landlording skills can destroy your real estate investing dreams (and your property!) pretty quick. If you absolutely can't deal with tenants, you could hire a property manager, but I recommend managing your first few by yourself. This way you see what it's all about and who knows, you just might realize it's not so bad after all! Your fear quickly disappears when you become familiar with it, and learn the applicable landlord-tenant legislation for your area.
Or you can do what I did - marry an awesome property manager!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Don't Be A Slum Lord!

Not that I don't love slum lords...It's because of them I've found some of my best deals! Namely power of sales and huge discounts due to huge problems with both the tenants and the property.
Milking a property by accepting the income but not putting anything back in is not only bad for business, but gives all landlords a bad name.
When you wan't to sell, (or are forced to!) you will have to sell at a discount due to the properties problems, that is if you can sell at all!
When I say I buy crappy fixer rentals, I don't mean they stay that way. We fix the issues (tenant and building) and can get decent rents because we make it a decent place to live. We usually figure on 10-20% of purchase for fix-up costs.
You can't get something for nothing...if you are going to accept the rents, accept the responsibilities as well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I was in my early 30's on my way to my middle management job when suddenly I can't talk. Everything seemed like it was a foreign language that I couldn't speak or understand. What the hell? Drove myself to the hospital emergency and stared at the receptionist until she walked me in to an exam room. Doc checks me out, and orders an MRI. Brain tumor.
Stay at home wife, four kids, no life insurance, no savings, no RRSP...
I needed the quickest (legal) way to increase my almost non-existent net worth and provide an income for my family, and I only had a few years to do it in (my predicted lifespan). After looking into the most obvious choice, real estate, I formulated a plan.
I would buy dirty, crappy fixer rental units, clean and fix them up, rent them out to good tenants, and refinance them so I could buy more.
Why buy fixer rentals? Lotsa reasons, but the best one is THE MONEY! Ya, the reason we all got into real estate investing is all about, like Kevin O'Leary always says, "the Money".
The reason you can make lots of money with fix-up rentals is that you can buy 'em cheap! You can also get all kinds of great terms from the seller (mostly because nobody else wants to buy them!). Were talking heavy discounts, owner financing, flexible closings, etc. If you're the only offer the seller has had, chances are good he'll take what he can get! You can then force up the value, and make huge amounts of instant equity which you can then refinance.
Well I did it! 14 years later and still going strong (thanks in large part to my ultra low carb diet!) and enough cash flow to not just survive, but to enjoy life, as well as a portfolio of properties valued in the millions. I won't say it was easy, but with motivation, it is possible!