Want to Invest in Real Estate? Not Sure How? Get Started in 5 Easy Steps

An Antidote to Confusion About Where to Start

Lao Tzu wrote: “The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”

Ah, but which step? There’s the rub! Start with the wrong one, and you may travel 1000 miles in the wrong direction!

It’s precisely this fear that kills dreams in their infancy. Don’t let this confusion end your real estate dreams!

Here are some really simple steps you can take to begin your journey.

Educate Yourself

This doesn’t mean talking about your project to Uncle So-and-So who once owned a duplex, or Aunt Thingamajig who wrote her Real Estate exam, unless they were successful at what they did in a way you’d want to repeat. Seek out resources who have a proven track record. Before launching a networking offensive, either read some books, watch some videos, or take a cheap online course. With a base level of knowledge about Real Estate Investment strategies you’ll have more useful conversations.

As you branch out and start shaking hands and making calls, you’ll be happy that you took the time to understand some basic concepts and terminology.

One caveat : expensive Real Estate courses, while often of some value, sell information and coaching at a very, very high mark-up. If you’re willing to apply a little discipline and do some work on your own, you can easily educate yourself without signing five-figure cheques or paying thousands of dollars for mentorship or classes. Why spend your down-payment money on Real Estate classes when the information is available at a very low cost? Try these resources first.

Where to seek affordable education?

  • You can check out the Recommended Readings on my website. Pay particular attention to the “Real Estate Investing” section, where you will find good “starter” books.
  • Consult online education platforms like Teachable or Udemy. Both have Real Estate sections. Online courses sell for a either tens- or a few hundreds of dollars. They’re easy to follow and are usually consumed on demand. You can go through the material at your own pace, in the comfort of home, and even follow a few different subjects that outline the major strategies for making money in Real Estate (Flipping, Buy-and-Hold etc.)
  • Organizations like the Real Estate Investors Club sell in-person/classroom or webinar training for a few hundred dollars.

 

You really shouldn’t pay any more that this.

Book An Appointment With a Banker or Mortgage Broker

Your mortgage banker or broker is a bit like a general practitioner in medicine. He or she will be able to give you a general bill of your financial health. Is your credit any good? What’s your borrowing capacity based on your current revenues? Very few of us know the answers to these questions, especially when we start out in the real estate game. Before defining your project, it may be a good idea to have a professional analyze your file.

Even if you’re sure you won’t qualify right now, it’s best to know what you need to do in the future in order to obtain financing. This will allow you to build a plan to get there. There are a million strategies! But, like that fateful visit to the doctor, if you don’t know where you stand, it’s very hard to move forward. Don’t let fear of bad news stop you! You need to know your starting position in order to plan your journey.

Bad credit? No down-payment money or insufficient revenues for conventional financing?

Okay. In this case, AFTER you’ve spoken to a conventional financing person and they’ve told you what you need to do to become creditworthy, go back to Step 1. There are a ton of resources out there to learn what’s called “Creative Finance”.

Network With Other Investors & Professionals

Remember what I said about Uncle So-and-So and Aunt Thingamajig?

Talking to them about their Real Estate debacles is NOT networking. If you want to succeed at something, learn from someone who is where you want to be.

I’ll repeat myself because this is really important: Take advice only from people who stand where you want to be! If you don’t yet know such people, no problem! It’s time to leave the house and start building your network.

You can join my Meet-Up to attend networking events in the Montreal area. The Real Estate Investors Club also hosts monthly networking events.

If you want to learn more about how to network effectively, check out my blog article on How to network effectively.

You could also check out anything by author Ivan Misner, founder of BNI (Buisness Networking International).

Find A Mentor

A few months ago, a woman approached me at one of my workshops. She offered to take me to lunch.

“I want to learn from you,” she told me. Naturally I was flattered and I accepted. We went to lunch, and as we were chatting, she had another interesting offer.

“Let me work for you for free for some months,” she proposed. “I’ll do anything, I just want to learn the business.”

What do you think I said?

This situation is now a total win-win. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for private mentorship, my new intern has access to me 24/7. Her boots are on the ground meeting tenants, seeing construction problems, talking to every real estate professional around: contractors, notaries, mortgage people – everyone who is involved in my business.

Do you think I’ll give her free advice on her own investment decisions now? Of course!

Not only is she learning for free and building her own network in an organized way, she works maybe two evenings a week and an hour or two on the weekend. If she was taking a (paid) class, she’d have to devote the same time and IN ADDITION pay.

You’d be surprised how accessible successful- and knowledgeable people are when approached with a little flattery. An offer for lunch or a coffee might be all it takes. Try it!

 

Fail Forward

Above all – don’t be afraid to look silly or make a few mistakes. Everyone who’s built success over many years remembers how little they knew at the beginning.

I tell my clients this, when they’re shy to ask what they think is a silly, basic question.

“We all start in the same place! With a dream and no bloody idea of how to make it happen.”

Anyone successful who’s acting puffed-up is doing so just because they want to feel big, NOT because you’re somehow unworthy or stupid. Don’t feel ashamed to be where you are.

“The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”

person doing puzzle

Giving Back to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve: Holiday Food Drive

Charity does not decrease wealth

– Hadith

I’ve been managing properties in the Montreal district of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve for over fifteen years now. The district has been good both to me as an investor, and to my clients who own rental units in the area. Property values have appreciated and gentrification has raised our rents.

These changes are not without their consequences, especially for poorer residents in the area. Hochelaga has become more diverse as higher-income tenants have begun to move in, and the amount of affordable housing has decreased.

Many of Hochelaga’s low-income residents have not benefited over the same time-period. 32% of households were considered low-income by the latest Canadian census. Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is also one of the districts with the highest rate of elementary school students living in poverty.

 

A Complex Issue

I’ll be honest: I don’t have a magic-bullet solution to propose to these problems.

Real estate investors have done well in Hochelaga. The area is close to downtown. As rents in the downtown core have appreciated, the rental market has changed in HoMa. Foreign- and local students have moved in. So have young families and young professionals fleeing the now-expensive areas of the Plateau and Rosemont. Investors have been all to happy to accommodate them: renovating crumbling properties that were in need of some love and increasing the rent accordingly.

These profits haven’t been shared with many of the local residents. Gentrification has changed the types of stores that serve the area: fancy and expensive cafés and local fruit markets have replaced pawn- and discount shops. Low income tenants now have less places to shop. The number of affordable apartments is decreasing every year. Given the choice, landlords move out low-income residents when they can, raising their profits in the process and avoiding many social issues common with very low-income tenants.

It’s not easy to know what to do with this if you want to have a social conscience and make money in real estate.

 

Analysis-Paralysis

Is the solution to somehow stop investing in Ho-Ma? To impose tighter rent control? This will discourage investors and perhaps gentrification, but it will have the same effect as rent control more generally in Quebec. The Regie’s policies for raising rent creates disincentive for property-owners to invest in maintaining their units. As a real estate professional working in Quebec, I can tell you this unintended consequence of rent-control is ubiquitous. No owner will invest to redo a unit to see a 10$ increase in rent. It makes no economic sense. The result is our buildings crumble, and low-income tenants live in ramshackle and decaying apartments that no landlord will invest to fix.

My gut instinct would be to say we need more social housing and perhaps higher municipal taxes to help finance them. This might increase the overall standard of housing available and benefit everyone – investors and lower-income families – alike. But I’m no sociologist.

 

Give Back to Ho-Ma’s Low-Income Families

Just because we don’t have a magic bullet doesn’t mean we should do nothing. That’s analysis-paralysis. Politics and large-scale, top-down solutions are important, but we don’t have to stand by while the politicians create them. There are simple and politically uncomplicated ways to make a difference. This holiday season, we’ve chosen to support CAP St-Barnabé, a charity organization that aims to fight poverty and increase the standard of living of theHo-Ma’s low-income residents. CAP St-Barnabé has a year-round food bank and special initiatives for the holiday season.

You can send cash donations here: https://www.canadahelps.org/fr/organismesdebienfaisance/carrefour-dalimentation-et-de-partage-st-barnabe-inc/

This holiday season we’ve set up donation-points for non-perishable food items that will go to their food bank. You can find the drop-off boxes at our two locations before December 13th :

3835, Wellington Street (Verdun) & 3965, Saint-Catherine Est (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve) during office hours.

Just find these boxes & drop off your donations.

decorated box

 

 

Montreal Real Estate blog

Real Estate Blog

Terrie Schauer

A mug on a desk with hustle written on it.

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