How are you showing up in your Real Estate projects?

Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Let’s find out!

I had the opportunity to interview Canadian Real Estate personality, Russell Westcott in a recent episode of the Real Estate Investors’ Club Podcast. With twenty plus years experience in investing and in motivating and coaching others, this master of sound-bites and West Coast wisdom has some great nuggets for both the more- and less experienced.

I’m going to share one really meaningful one here.

(For the rest, you’ll have to actually watch or listen to the episode!)

Russell relates a little fable to make his point.

The story begins with a teenage boy who’s down about the vicissitudes of life in the COVID moment. He comes into his mom’s kitchen shoulders slumped and begins complaining about the slings and arrows he’s facing.

His mother tells him: “Son, I’m going to show you something. Get three pots of water.”

The woman puts the three pots of water on the stove.

Once they’re boiling, she instructs her son:

“Go get me some carrots, some eggs and some coffee beans.”

The boy does this, and she has him throw each ingredient in a separate pot of boiling water.

After ten minutes, the woman says: “Let’s see what happened to what’s in the pots!”

First, they look at the carrots.

“They went in hard, now they’re all soft and mushy,” says the boy.

“What about the eggs?” asks his mother.

“They went in soft on the inside, and they came out hard.”

“Now what about the coffee beans?” she asks.

“Oh coffee!” exclaims the boy. “I love coffee.”

“You see?” says his mother. “The coffee beans changed the environment. The other two let hot water change them! All three had the same stimulus: boiling water. But only the coffee beans changed the state of the water, instead of being changed.”

Concludes Russell: “Every day, you have a choice. You can let the pressure make you hard. You can let the pressure make you soft. Or you can change the environment. You choose what you want to be – a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean!”

For the rest of the interview, click here to Watch  or listen to the episode.

CONDO MANAGER’S INVESTMENT SECRETS: 5 EASY-TO-SPOT RED FLAGS & GREEN LIGHTS

In Episode 9 of the Real Estate Investor’s Club podcast, we spoke to condo manager and CEO of the up-and-coming management firm Apex Solutions. We probed Alex on the secrets of condo management, getting some inside info on red flags and green lights.

Here are Alex’s top 5 pieces of advice.

1. Understand what you’re buying.

According to Alex, the first major mistake folks make is to think like they’re buying just one unit. This isn’t strictly true and long term it’s thinking that can hurt you. When you purchase exclusive rights to your portion (AKA the condo itself), you’re actually becoming a co-owner of a slice of a bigger animal: the whole building. You’ll be responsible for maintaining the roof, the foundation, the windows, the facade.

Alex’s tip: You’re investing in more than just your unit. Green light to do due diligence on the state of the whole property before closing.

2. Budgets & Meeting Minutes

Since you’re purchasing a portion of a larger organism, how can you verify it’s overall health?

In two words: budgets and meeting minutes. Yearly meetings of co-owners are documented. You can request meeting minutes and budgets when you’re going through the sales process. In these documents, you’ll see any maintenance problems, lawsuits or other issues. You’ll learn the size of the reserve fund and to see if any major expenses are coming.

Alex’s tip: Green light to request and scrutinize meeting minutes and budgets going back at least 3 years. If there are red flags in the budget or maintenance, you’ll find them.

3.  Declaration of Co-Ownership

Long, boring and hard to read, yes, but the declaration of co-ownership is a must-read before you close on a condo. Maybe you can’t rent your fraction or perhaps dogs aren’t allowed. Might be better to know this ahead of time!

Alex’s tip: If you don’t read legalese, get help. Watch for any red flags when it comes to renting the unit, especially if you’re buying it as an investment.

4. Understand the syndicate

Condo syndicates are living organisms. The syndicate is composed of co-owners who elect board members to represent them for major decisions pertaining to maintenance, insurance and administration. Did you know you can reach out to the president of the association to get a feel for the vibe on the board? Don’t be shy!

Alex’s tip: Boards that turn over a lot are a big red flag. It takes time to get to know the financial statements and ins-and-outs of administering a building. If the board members are cycling through every year, it’s a sign of poor management.

5. Get help

Condo’s are more complex than they appear. Your long term investment is tied up with a creature you will not have full control over, the administration of which should be of prime interest to you. Assess the syndicate and the whole building when deciding whether or not to purchase a unit and at what price.

Alex’s tip: Green light to be represented by a Real Estate Agent who is used to dealing with condo purchases. You could also pay a condo manager a consulting fee to sniff around and provide recommendations. If you’re making the decision to get into the condo market, make sure you have someone on your team who understands co-ownership.

Want to learn more? Listen to the podcast here or watch the full episode here.

You can also reach out to Alex via his company email: alex@solutionapex.com

5 TECHNOLOGY TIPS FOR REAL ESTATE INVESTORS

A year ago, who lived on Zoom meetings, Uber Eats and Amazon? Now we all do.

Technological change has reached a fever-pitch, and this isn’t likely to change soon.

As Real Estate Investors, we need to be mindful of how we and our businesses interact with technology, to be able to adapt to a chancing ecosystem.

How can we leverage the technological explosion to save time and be more efficient?

In the app jungle, what tools are the most useful and relevant for us?

What’s the best mindset to adopt in the face of rapid technological change?

Here are a few tips & products that were highlighted in our recent Special Panel on Technology, an Episode of the Real Estate Investor’s Podcast.

1 – Advertise your units with platforms that post to multiple platforms and allow Facebook syndication.

If you ever want sacrifice peace of mind, post your rental units on Facebook marketplace (Is it still available? Yes, otherwise why would I be advertising it?) while bumping up your free Kijiji or Craig’s List units. It’s a ticket to the millennial-chatting nuthouse.   

Imagine if there was a service that allowed you to post the Ad ONCE, and then receive leads with emails and phone numbers.

Guess what?! These services now exist. We like:

Rentals.ca

Syncs to Facebook & provides phone/email leads. This service offers a free account with a certain number of Ads included. Ads appear on the Rentals.ca platform and Facebook marketplace.

**bonus for a user-friendly interface & rental stats & reports (they have access to great data)

Zumper.com

An American platform that hasn’t fully rolled out its multifamily service in Canada, Zumper generates great visibility because it posts to Facebook. It also posts Ads on its own platform.

**free account possible, but be prepared for some of the irritation of Facebook chatting

Rentsync

Allows you to post to multiple platforms (and I mean multiple platforms – Kijiji, Facebook, Rentals.ca, Louer.ca, etc. etc)

**their back-end is a bit hard to understand and their leads a bit expensive, but this service is really the top of the line when it comes to advertising rental units.

2 – Serve notice electronically.

The casinos are closed, but registered mail services have taken up their market share this year. When you send a registered letter now you’re actually buying a lottery ticket: will there be a signature? Will they deliver the mail at all? Will they leave your documents in the mailbox like any other “normal” letter making it impossible to determine if anyone actually signed for it?

Who needs this headache when there are electronic delivery services to serve notice that is legally valid.

We like Pronotif . There are others. A little Googling will pay dividends here. Also, don’t forget to have your tenants opt in to receive documents electronically.

3 – Integrate your solutions.

What if there were a way to integrate different platforms and apps? What if getting an email triggered saving attachments to Dropbox? What if someone who uses Dropbox and someone who uses OneDrive could seamlessly share files?

There are now ways to integrate out-of-scope tasks between apps and to get ecosystems to interface with one another.

We like Zapier. To discover it’s true power, check it out here

4 – Become a gardener.

This is a mindset issue.

We, myself included, tend to approach technology as a series of solutions that we implement and expect to remain stable across time. But technology is evolving faster than Covid-variants. You can’t hope to choose apps and systems once and for all.  

But what gardener expects to plant a garden once and for all? That’s not how gardens work. Horticulture is a careful process of pruning, weeding, raking leaves, mowing lawns, watering, adjusting for weather conditions and sunlight. There is an art to plant care.

Managing technological ecosystems in today’s rapidly evolving environment is similar. You choose your platforms and your apps and your services one day, but the next day might bring something new. As in gardening, you may tomorrow discover a new variety of seeds that are better suited to your unique climate and garden-conditions. You may be able to find a more comprehensive platform that does more. Don’t expect to plant your technological garden once and for all. You have to update and tinker with your solutions, learning about them, much like you would see how your tomato plants do in one place.

Adopt a gardener’s approach to technology. Don’t expect for it to stay fixed!

5 – Surround yourself with people who know how to leverage technology.

Turns out that getting good at technology responds to the same success laws as everything else.

Who knew?!

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said: “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Therefore, if you want more success, surround yourself with successful people.

The same applies to technology. Your ability to navigate technology is correlated to your network. So, love your geek! Find one (or two) and don’t let him (or her) go. Beyond that, if you communicate with other tech-savvy investors, ask them about their systems. You might learn something!

If you’re a technophobe or over 35, don’t despair! Technological literacy and efficiency responds to the same rules as anything else: your network, growth mindset and openness to new things go a long way.

Yours in Real Estate Investing,

Terrie