Monthly Archives: September 2009

Engage Today 2009 I am an expert at one thing

Bryan Adams at Engage Today ConcertEngage Today Day 1

I’m an expert at one thing – and that is being me” – Sean Stephenson

It’s late…  and I should be asleep but I am energized. Today was a gift. A gift I wish I could somehow share with everyone that wasn’t here to share in this spectacular event.

After listening to F.W. DeKlerk speak of the change he inspired in South Africa (he freed Nelson Mandela), hearing Stephen Covey speak about finding your voice and the 8th Habit, being moved to tears by Lynne Twists story of the women in Ethiopia who had lost their children to starvation, applauding the inspirational words of Sean Stephenson as he challenged us all to stop saying “but” and letting fear and insecurity rule our lives, to the thoughts of Janet Bray Atwood about finding our passion….

The day was incredible. It moved me. And it inspired me.

And it wrapped up with a concert by K.D. Lang and Bryan Adams.  K.D. Lang’s voice was beautiful and powerful … and I really didn’t think the night could get any better. But it did, Sandra Oh joined Mark Tewksbury on stage and told a funny story about Mark having no pants to wear 10 minutes before he was supposed to M.C. the event at the Calgary Saddledome with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

momarAnd then… to make the night perfect K.D. Lang and Bryan Adam’s sang a duet …  I felt proud to be a Canadian. I felt proud that we could call these talented, humble and entertaining people our own.

So this post was going to be all about our MOMAR race and how once again I find the pleasure and pain of adventure racing so similar to the pleasure, pain and preparation required in real estate investing. And, of course, about how we pushed through the pain to find the finish and how I’ve never had so much fun in a race … especially one that took us 7 hrs 36 minutes to finish …

But instead I think I will just ask you a question that was asked of us today:

Think back to a time when you were young… what did you love to do and what were you really good at?

The answer may surprise and inspire you.

Today has been a gift, and I expect tomorrow to be even more incredible as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama takes the stage at Engage Today 2009. I promise to do a better job of sharing it with you in the next few days.

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You Can Make a Million Dollars in 90 Days

real estate guru

My Dad had been listening to a real estate guru presentation he’d ordered on a CD and he told me that this guy:

… owes the banks $25 million dollars on commercial properties he owns, didn’t put in a penny of his own cash and he only works 5 hours a week on his real estate business!

I just nodded and asked if he started out working 5 hours a week or if he thought that perhaps this guy worked 80 hours a week  in the beginning and then eventually started hiring people and building systems to reduce the time he’s involved?

My Dad laughed and said that he supposes that is probably true!! And I said … yes, it’s just like I read in Nick Cifonie’s report called “Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Mo: Which Technique Will Make Me Dough“. Nick says:

You can make $1 Million Dollars in Real Estate in 90 days. It just won’t be your first 90 days.

It’s true … but why do so few people tell you that?! Because it doesn’t sell programs! We promote that you can buy $1 Million worth of real estate in 12 months … even if you have no money, have never even bought your own home and you have no money to start! Do you think we sell as many program  as the people who promise you’ll make enough money to leave your job in the next 60 days?

No we don’t. But, I can sleep at night knowing that what we promise is 100% achievable for the average real estate investor. You see, when you’re a new real estate investor, you should learn the different real estate techniques and choose one that works for your goals. You should gain an understanding of the fundamentals of real estate investing … then, and only then, you can safely build a real estate portfolio that makes you very wealthy and financial free.

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Want to learn all about the different real estate investing techniques and get a copy of Nick’s report: Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Mo: Which Technique Will Make Me Dough?

Join us on September 23rd at 6pm PST for a teleconference on Real Estate Investing Techniques.

Real Estate Investing Techniques Call Info

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Thinking of Flipping Real Estate? Here’s a few things to consider…

Awhile back we shared the video diary of our rental property renovation project …  I was just clearing out some videos and found this little clip we hadn’t shared. It’s not that it’s a really exciting video – it’s not. That is probably why I didn’t include it in the video diary in the first place.

But, if you followed our project you might recall that we cut up a kitchen counter to make it fit in the bathroom and then cut a hole in it for the sink… only to find out the sink leaked. And then when we tried to find a new sink in that same size – they didn’t make them anymore! We were really stuck.

We learned quite a few lessons during that project. These lessons apply to any renovation project where time is of the essence – which is EVERY renovation project because every day costs you money!

Here’s the top 3 lessons we learned:

  1. Plan your project before you begin. A big part of the planning project includes shopping for the items you’re going to need. For example, we could have saved ourselves a lot of hassle had we expanded our counter search beyond Home Depot, the local lumber yard, and custom kitchen stores (as you’ll hear in this video). We needed an item in stock because there wasn’t time to order, but had we spent a day of shopping FIRST we would have saved ourselves 1/2 days pay that we paid my brother to custom cut the kitchen counter to the size of a vanity counter top.
  2. Factor in travel time for product returns, exchanges and forgotten items. Even the best planned aspects of the project still resulted in an extra trip to the lumber yard or a quick run to Home Depot. This easily added in a day of work for the project. Home Depot was 15 minutes away … so every trip was at least an hour … and that’s if Home Depot staff were actually easy to find. The lumber yard was only about 10 minutes away but it was still a 40 minute trip.

  3. Get copies of the menus of the local delivery and take out places. Instead of stopping the whole crew to go for lunch, have a menu handy so you can take orders and pick up everyone’s food or have it delivered. Unless the property is right beside a Quizno’s you’ll find that meal breaks will really eat into your productive time. Doing this saved us hours over the course of the week.

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Do We Need Another Real Estate Search Site?

Real estate market imageI’ve said it before … I am jealous of the fabulous sites that our American neighbours have for searching real estate. For example, I love Trulia.com.

I often find myself searching U.S. properties just because I enjoy being on the site.

We have nothing that compares in Canada … and every time I hear of a new application hitting the web waves I feel excited. Could this be the site that gives me a Trulia-like experience when I search for properties?

Today I had that same feeling when I learned of the newly launched Streetseed. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be much more than a simpler search engine. Granted, just about anything is going to be easier to use than Realtor.ca is …

Streetseed includes for rent and for sale properties. Even if you didn’t know an area well you’d be able to see very quickly that the for sale listings are very limited. And the ‘for rent’ side of the site barely exists. I didn’t find anything for rent in Medicine Hat. And there were only 2 properties for rent in Burnaby. With slim pickings like that the site has a long way to go before it’s useful. I exited the site disappointed.

So… my hope for a Trulia experience in Canada rests with zoocasa.com. I like the site… it’s simple to use and it has some very strong features like:

  • Search by neighbourhood,
  • It saves your searches so next time you are back on the site you’ll see updated search results,
  • It has a school search function – which includes that school’s ratings. This feature is very useful for home buyers and real estate investors who want to make sure their home is located near a good quality school.
  • It has a research tab which you can click for more information on the City you’re searching. It’s integrated with Wikipedia.

But, my go to site is still realtor.ca for the moment. It’s not that I enjoy my experience on realtor.ca, but it’s about the quality of results.

Zoocasa could make me a raving fan with a few improvements or integrations… for example, I’d love to see them:

  • Ramp up their listings … it’s still very weak … On Pender Street in Burnaby between Gilmore and Boundary there are 7 for sale signs … and they show zero listings. (Realtor.ca shows 6 listings).  Bottom line is that a big chunk of listings are still missing which means I still have to use realtor.ca to find listings.
  • Integrate with Walkscore!! Walk score is a fabulous application that tells you all about the area of the property. It goes beyond schools and tells you about the grocery stores, restaurants, recreation and other amenities in the area. It’s not perfect… when I search an address in Burnaby Heights on Pender Street it says the closest Hardware store is Home Depot 1.8km away but there is a Home Hardware about 50m away from the address so it’s not accurate. It also doesn’t say anything about Valley Bakery or Cioffi’s deli which are practically institutions in the Heights they are so famous … but as a general guide it’s good.
  • Integrate with What Customers Say – if this site expands beyond Edmonton, having the integration of this site would be great. Although, I do understand that there could be some challenges.
  • Provide area stats … this is my favourite part of Trulia. And while I realize the stats can be challenging to come by given the real estate board’s ownership of most of the numbers, I’m creating a wish list and it’s on it!
  • Include OPEN HOUSE listings!!
  • Include information about New Home developments in the area. This is probably realtor.ca’s biggest void. They only have new homes when a builder has listed them. To truly know what is in an area and get a complete real estate shopping experience you need to know what new projects are selling units (or about to sell units in an area).

Wouldn’t it be fabulous to be able to search an area like ‘The Heights’ in Burnaby and learn what properties are listed, what amenities are in the area, the average sale price, days on market and other stats for the area, AND be able to find out what homes are open for viewing on the weekend??And then to also be able to see what options are in the area for new developments.

It’s progress… and I am thrilled to see some entrants into the space in Canada but for the moment I am still longing for realtor.ca to be more intuitive or for Trulia to come to Canada.

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Use the Right Real Estate Investing Technique for YOU!

Early on as real estate investors our only objective was to find properties we could buy for no money down with tons of cash flow…  And while we always put in a few dollars to the properties here and there, we found some really good ones. One property we bought generated nearly $1000/month in positive cash flow … at least it did at first!

In the end, that property cost us over $20,000. We spent even more in our own time trying to deal with it.

Before we’d bought the property, we didn’t sit down and think about the time, money and energy we were willing and able to invest – and as a result several of the properties we owned didn’t work at all for our lives nor our long term objectives!

That’s why we always tell new real estate investors to think about what they want to do … and make a plan. We suggest they consider the money, the time, the knowledge and energy they have to devote to their investments and plan to buy properties that fit within their lives and their goals.

But, sometimes, a new investor doesn’t really know what types of properties or investment strategies are right for them! And this is where it’s helpful to learn strategies and real estate investing techniques from someone that’s tried them all!

That’s why we’re super excited to get Nick Cifonie on the line on September 23rd.

nickcifonie real estate  investing techniquesNick’s the host of the online t.v. show Real Estate Investor T.V. and long time real estate investor.

Nick’s going to take us through all the different real estate investing techniques from wholesaling to flipping to lease option investing and share his experiences, and his thoughts on how much risk, reward and investment is required for each.

There’s no sales pitch on this call… this is a content only call! And you’re going to learn a lot.

And the two best parts about this call:

  1. Nick is going to hold an UNLIMITED Q&A session at the end of the call. Ask him any real estate investing question you’ve got! He’s going to stay on the line until the callers run out of questions!
  2. Everyone that registers for the call is going to get a copy of Nick’s report called: Eenie, Menie, Minie, Moe: Which Technique Will Make Me Dough?

The call is going to be available through webcast or the telephone … you will receive a link and the call after you register.

Sign Me Up for Real Estate Investing Techniques Teleseminar

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Rental Ad Scams and Spam

Rental Ad ScamSometimes when you place an ad on Craigslist or Kijiji for a rental property you never know what kind of responses you’ll get. Sometimes you get a simple one line response from a prospective tenant saying:

“When can I see it?”

Other times you’ll get someone’s life story. I received a lovely email from a couple in Saskatchewan that were going to be retiring to the area of my property. They told me about their nephew that would be coming to view the place and how they are looking forward to the change in climate and being near many of their family members who’d also left Saskatchewan for the beauty of BC. And of course, there are the emails that make your scam bells ring.

The first time I received an email like the one I am about to share, I actually responded to it. It didn’t mention anything specific about my property so I was a little suspicious it was a rental ad scam. The element of a foreign visitor made it sound a bit off, yet you could appreciate the challenge of trying to find a place to live from another country. So even though I was pretty sure it was a scam I wasn’t 100% positive. So, I said:

“We will require you to complete a rental application. I can forward one to you if you’d like. We also will require you to provide some references in Canada. If you do not know anybody here then you could provide us with some proof that you’ll be employed or going to school once you arrive in Canada.”

Of course, I never received a response. And since then, I’ve received a similar email for different property ads I’ve placed. Whether it was a furnished 3 bedroom in Burnaby or a single family home in Kelowna it didn’t seem to matter. And then my brother received this email for his basement in Victoria:

My name is David Timi from United Kingdom. I am
interested in your room for rent and i am willing to have it
for my 23yrs Son who just got through with his college in Uk
and just gained admission in Canada..

I am interested in making the bookings of your room for the
duration of a year though the dates is not yet fixed for him
but i will keep you informed as soon as the dates is
confirmed but i am planning to make him come over as soon as
you have the room available.

I will be making advanced payments by check for the first
month starting from the time you have it available so as to
get it booked then i will pay the rest monthly..I am really
okay with the details of your apartment  i got from the web
site and its really my taste and i am sure my Son will also
like it. Really just to let you know that as for the payment
i will be paying with a Certified cheque.  As for the price
i will want to let you know that am okay with the price  so
kindly get back to me if you are willing to let it out  to
me so that the payment can be arranged and sent.

If you are okay with me, then you can mail me back and let
us conclude on everything today.

Regards
Mr David Timi

My brother sent this on to us because he was pretty sure it was a scam, but like me, he wasn’t sure. I knew for certain it was a scam now … unless David Timi is looking to live in three cities at the same time!!

If you suspect it’s a scam it’s better not to reply at all. But, if the email sounds fishy but possible, you can always ask them to complete a rental application and let them know you’re going to check their credit and their references. You should be doing this for every single rental anyway! Telling someone that you require a rental application to be completed and that you check credit and references often scares away bad tenants as well as the scam artists!

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Buy Real Estate and Wait – The Old Saying is True

As we were doing a final walk around the area of one of the properties we were about to close on in Kelowna, BC I wanted to stop and record this short video. You see … the old saying really is true:

Don’t wait to buy real estate. Buy real estate and wait.

We keep learning that lesson over and over again in our investments.

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