Monthly Archives: May 2009

Rental Property Renovations … a diary of sorts

My brothers working on the new stairs - all part of the big rental property renovation!

My brothers working on the new stairs - all part of the big rental property renovation!

Sometimes you have to just bite the bullet and put some money and sweat equity into a property … and that’s what we’ve found with one of our units we own in Nanaimo. As it began to look like we’d have a vacant unit on our hands for a third month in a row, we decided to tackle a bit of a fix up. As we got into it, we realized that a little bit of yard work and paint probably wasn’t enough … so we’re putting in new floors, counter tops, a couple of new sinks and a few other little finishing pieces here and there. As we added things like cleaning the siding on the house and buying a new fridge the budget started to grow to the point of a mid sized renovation project. To cut our costs significantly we decided to dedicate a bunch of time to doing the work ourselves and we called in the family helpers! We’re lucky that most of both of our families live within a few hours of this property!

For fun, I thought I would do a little video diary of our progress so you can see what we’re doing and what it looks like at the start and finish.

Day One of the Rental Property Renovation:

My Mom and I arrive at the property to get things set up and start tackling some of the outside work and painting prep work before Dave and my two brothers arrive on Saturday to really get some big work done.

Day Two of the Rental Property Renovation – let the big work begin:

Reinforcements in the form of my two brothers and my husband arrive on the scene. As they begin to tackle the front steps, my Mom and I carry on with painting doors, walls and getting the windows cleaned. Oh – and we had a prospective tenant come by and look at the place. All the activity out front was getting a lot of attention!

Day Three of the Rental Property Renovations – we’ll call this one the STANDOFF

The outside of the property is slowly coming along … it took Dave nearly 3 hours to tackle the jungle of grass, weeds and twigs that had accumulated all around the property, but we’re making great progress. With one brother gone from the scene until Friday, my other brother moved inside to take on the kitchen! It’s the first time I have seen his work in person (I’ve just seen pictures in the past), and I am so impressed! We’re very fortunate that he’s had the time to dedicate to our project right now. If you are in the Victoria, BC area and need an experienced and hard working carpenter just let me know and I will get you in touch with Wes, my brother.

Day Four of the Rental Property Renovations – we’ll call this video MISSING!

Exhausted from all of the work, and rushing to wrap up the work until Friday, I forgot to film our progress. When we get there Friday morning I will film first thing because it’s really starting to look incredible! And – my brother Wes has been there working away for most of this week.

Oh, by the way, we’ve secured new tenants for our unit! Mission accomplished – but we’re going to keep going to finish things up!

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Filed under Property Management, real estate, Video

Investigating the Real Estate Market in Austin, Texas

Austin State Capitol Building

Austin State Capitol Building

Austin is the capital city of Texas so not surprisingly, the government is a major employer in Austin. It’s also the home of Dell, the flagship Whole Foods store and a host of other good sized companies. The University also hosts 40,000 students which creates an additional boost to the population and to the services required to service these students!

This economic diversity makes it an appealing place for a real estate investor to buy a property.  It’s also weathered the economic storm gracefully. Texas as a whole has not been hit as hard as many states, but Austin has felt the crunch even less. House prices have come down, rental rates have come down, but overall it’s really holding pretty steady. Yet another good indicator for an investor.

Before heading to Austin, I did quite a bit of online research on the City. I basically followed our Location Research Checklist and looked at the trends … and tried to understand the driving forces behind them. When we arrived in Austin, we hit the ground running … looking at areas and talking to experts. Two of the people we sat down with are Steve & Sylvia Crossland of the Crossland Team at Keller Williams.

Steve runs the property management side of their business and Sylvia is the realtor. They are a great team and full of great information for investors! We had the pleasure of learning from them for about 90 minutes … then we set out and saw the sites around Austin … the real estate sites that is.

First, we spoke to them generally about their experience. Steve has a couple of great tips for real estate investors in general in this video:

Then we got into the juicy numbers of the Austin real estate market … what’s happening with the sales, the price per square foot, rent rates and more:

So, why Austin, and why now? And what specifically should you know about real estate investing in the Austin market right now?

We then set out doing a walking tour of several of the areas around Austin which is something we always recommend an investor do. If you’re thinking of buying in an area, go out there and walk it. Imagine you were your tenant … where would you work? Where would your kids go to school? How would you travel to and from work? Where will you shop? How easy is it to live there and do all of these things? Drive around and get a sense of which streets seem better … it really doesn’t take much time to get a feeling for an area and identify potential opportunities. Of course, finding good resources for your team like Steve and Sylvia would be helpful as well!

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Get's Rev N You's Free Real Estate Investing Newsletter

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Law of Attraction and Real Estate

Michael Losier Law of AttractionI’ve been super frustrated with the never ending problems we’ve been having with a property we have in Toronto. We spent nearly $10,000 doing the roof, repairing a ceiling, and then painting. It felt good to get the roof fixed and do the repairs to the ceiling but the company I hired has been a nightmare to work with. While doing the work,  the roofers threw a shingle off the roof so hard it actually busted my  neighbour’s window (the houses are only a few feet a part). The roofers never bothered to help our neighbour with the repair, so he did it himself and we just paid him for it. Then, once everything was done, we got a call from our tenants and the ceiling in the one room is leaking again!!It took weeks to get in touch with the company to get them out there. And, even then, they never actually went in the property. They just showed up, jumped on the roof, scared the heck out of our tenant who wasn’t expecting a man on her roof, and left without telling me.

Long story short – the roofer is now telling us it’s the eaves troughs that need replacing. If that is, in fact, true then we have a $3500 bill coming our way plus we have to fix the ceiling AGAIN. This is all happening while my main floor tenant of five years, and long time friend and property manager, is moving out. I am in the middle of finding a new tenant for the main floor and hiring a professional property management company.

I have been so wrapped up swearing about it all that I haven’t even been enjoying the fact that we’re paying 1.45% on our mortgage … and our payments are actually $1000/month less than they were 18 months ago. We have more cashflow on this property each month than ever before – so after a few months I will have all these problems paid for!I started to see the bright side and focus on the good things after doing the exercises in Michael J. Losier’s book called Law of Attraction.

I even found myself smiling as I went through the worksheets. I started to see solutions and figure out how exactly I can turn the situation around. I felt more in control of the situation. That is what a few exercises from his book did – so I really am excited that Tuesday night I’m going to sit down with Michael J. Losier and learn from him directly.

We don’t usually publicly post our Rev N You reader events – but we are so excited about this one that we wanted to invite anyone interested in real estate to sit in. We’re only charging a nominal fee to cover our costs … and there’s still about a dozen spots left on the live call (or you can just order the replay and transcripts) … so please join us!!

I don’t want to give away Michael Losier’s secrets because you will learn them on the call (or from his great book) – but I can tell you that I won’t be wallowing in my problems anymore. Next time I find myself swearing over a property I will use one of the simple tools Michael teaches to turn my thinking and my situation around.


Filed under investing, Law of Attraction, Personal Development, real estate

You Get What You Focus On – In Real Estate and Mountain Biking

Julie's first Single Track Mountain Bike Ride Ever on Seymour Mountain

Julie's first Single Track Mountain Bike Ride Ever on Seymour Mountain

Ok – I know that rock doesn’t look very scary in this picture, but I can assure you it is a big rock! This picture was taken on my very FIRST single track mountain bike ride in the north shore mountains in Vancouver. I’d probably only been mountain biking two or three other times in my entire life, and there I was heading face first down a rock face.

I made it safely over this rock face. My friends wouldn’t let me focus on my fear and lack of skill. Instead they talked me through what I had to do, and put my focus on the path ahead of the rock.

I quickly signed up for a mountain biking clinic and bought a better bike after this ride, but that’s because I knew I needed better skills and tools to make future rides successful.  Overall, this ride on Seymour Mountain was a great experience – I had a blast and was ready to become a better single track rider. I also began to learn an important lesson that applies in real estate and in mountain biking …  you will get what you focus on.

If you are focused on the challenges you face in real estate investing – that is what you’ll face. If you focus on the root ahead on the trail – that is what you’ll hit.

I wrote about this in more detail and told another mountain biking story over at Must Know Investing. To learn the trick to overcoming real estate investing obstacles, head on over to the post I wrote for Patrick Riddle’s blog. (Thanks Patrick for sharing my article with your readers!! As always I am proud to be a part of your great blog).

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Filed under Guest Articles, investing, real estate

Researching the Location for Your Next Rental Property

While researching Kelowna, BC as a potential market to purchase investment properties in, I recorded a short video to help explain what I look for in a market. In this video, I focus on just one of the elements within our Location Research Checklist: Healthy Housing Economy.

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Filed under investing, real estate, rental property locations

You Only Need to Get Good at Two Things in Real Estate

Today we are sharing a special article with you from fellow Canadian real estate investors and investing experts Nick & Tom Karadza. We’ve often shared stories about the $20,000 we spent on real estate programs early on in our investing days … and we thought that the advice Nick and Tom are offering here is exceptional.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Tom Karadza recently about lease option investing. You can get a copy of the transcript and the call replay here –  if you’re interesting in learning how you can make a single family home generate more rental income AND give you money in your pocket from day 1, then you MUST listen to the call.

So… now… here’s today’s post from Nick and Tom Karadza of Rock Star Real Estate.

You Only Need to Get Good at Two Things in Real Estate

Recently we’ve been running into more and more old friends – not really sure why, maybe it’s fate or maybe it’s Facebook. Either way it’s really cool.

And as luck would have it several of them are spending time learning about real estate investing. A few have recently been spending big money on various real estate investing boot camps. We’re talking $20,000 to $30,000 dollars.

We’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on various real estate seminars and continue to spend on business and marketing seminars. We must be approaching the $100,000 mark.

Sheesh, I would have called you a flat out liar if you would have told me back in University that we’d be spending “six figures” to sit in banquet halls to get more education.

But here we are.

Anyway, once our old friends learn we’re into real estate investing in a pretty big way they’ll call us after they attend a seminar and share a whole whack of stuff.

By the end of their seminar they’ve heard all about assignments, sandwich lease options, vendor take backs, commercial properties, land development, sub-dividing, “highest and best use”, net operating income, mortgage products, hard money and a whole load of stuff about buying properties for pennies on the dollar.

Many Real Estate Seminars Teach you TOO much - FOCUS is the Answer

Many Real Estate Seminars Teach you TOO much - FOCUS is the Answer

And they’ve also been offered at least six other advanced courses in each subject by five different instructors.

At that point it’s obvious they’re in total overwhelm. Frozen like a deer staring into headlights.

We feel for them. They initially took the seminars to “break free” from the rat race and now they’re faced with creating income from the rat race to buy the next “must have” course.

It’s all a little upside down and backwards.

We could sit and chat with them for days about the finer points of each area but with their heads just about ready to explode … they don’t need to hear any more.

But this situation has become so common that we’ve been trying to figure out a way to make things clear for our friends in this situation.

And we’ve boiled it down to offering two pieces of advice.

First, before you dive into any real estate deals research it thoroughly. Research the people who are already doing what you’re thinking of doing. How are they doing it? What markets are they in? Make sure there is money to be made before jumping in head first.

And second…

You only need to get really good at two things:

1. ONE type of property.

2. ONE marketing system that generates customers (tenants) for the property.

Why? Because there are literally dozens of ways to make money in real estate. If you know a little bit about foreclosures in Florida and a bit about condos in Vancouver and a little about oil towns in Alberata and a bit about student rentals in Waterloo you’re a master of none.

You don’t want to be a generalist, you want to be a specialist. That’s where the money is.

And there are tons of ways to get people into properties. There’s classified ads, online ads, YouTube videos, Twitter alerts, voice mail blasts, postcards, flyers, direct mail, email lists, bag signs, directional signs and so on. Spending too much time on all of these virtually guarantees you’ll get no where.

We see it all the time.

The person who “kind of knows” a lot of stuff but is an expert in nothing.

We tell everyone who asks, we are good at two things: Finding good single family homes and making them cash flow.

Our money says this -> if you’re just getting started or have been trying to get started for many years, you’re likely paying attention to too many things.

You believe that the “magic money making silver bullet” is around the next corner and you don’t want to miss it.

Stop that..

Stop it now.

Get good at two things. One type of property and one type of way of profiting from it.

Everything else will fall into place.

So let’s say apartment buildings are your thing. You were born to manage large properties. You’re a natural at it.

Then focus all your time of finding buildings and making them produce profit.

That’s it, end of story.

Or, let’s say you are a handy man and you’re born to swing a hammer. You can’t stand talk of “capitalization rates” and endless number crunching spreadsheets.

Then, maybe, you’re a builder. You find a property, turn it into a masterpiece and sell or rent it for top dollar. Maybe that’s your cup of tea.

Avoid distractions at all costs.

Seriously, stop running around in a circle.

For example, if reading our emails and website helps you get you closer to achieving your “two things” then stick around. Keep reading, we’ve got lots to share.

But if we’re distracting you form your goals then don’t return to our website and unsubscribe from our emails.

Yes, we’re serious.

Here’s a challenge for you. Look through your inbox and examine all those email lists you’re on. Pick the vital few and get rid of the rest.

Next, look through all the MLS numbers you’ve been collecting. Dump all the ones that are outside “your one property type”.

Seriously, start to F-O-C-U-S.

Remember, you’re looking for two things.

One type of property. One way to get customers for it. It’s a very profitable strategy.

Don’t complicate things. There’s big bucks in simple, efficient business processes.

One type of property.

One type of marketing system.

It’s a very simple and extremely profitable business model.

Time to go off and create yours.

Until next time … be a Renegade!

This article courtesy of Real Estate entrepreneurs Tom & Nick Karadza who publish a popular weekly newsletter, “Renegade Real Estate”, which you can sign-up for by visiting:

To download a copy of the transcript and the MP3 file from our teleseminar with Tom Karadza, and learn the secrets to lease option investing please go here:

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Filed under investing, lease option investing, real estate