By Chris Lohnes
I am an aspiring real estate investor. I have spoken with others like me. We don’t always have the solution to a problem or even a clear vector on where we are going in the short term. It’s why at REIN you often hear that real estate investing is a long game. Perhaps we sometimes forget this in our excitement to acquire a new property and in the company of so many accomplished investors that we have the privilege of rubbing elbows with during our journey.
This year, when it came time for the ACRE event, I actually contemplated not going. I have a healthy portfolio of single-family and duplex homes, but I felt that as I had not purchased a property recently, I had nothing really to gain from or contribute to the event. After all, isn’t real estate investing all about action? “Are you an action taker?” I expected to be asked. How would I respond when confronted with this question? I had not purchased a property in two years. Two entire years! And I felt almost embarrassed among my peers.
Thankfully, in the face of doubt and hesitation, I pushed forward and attended ACRE in Toronto. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for, but I hoped that perhaps ACRE would be the catalyst to increasing my real estate portfolio. Once again, as in the previous year, I had a great time. The information reinvigorated me. I met many inspiring investors, some who had been investing for a long time, others who were just starting out. As an afterthought, I realized that we are all in a position to contribute to the REIN environment regardless of where we are in our investing journey.
I left the ACRE event with a bold vision. Through a couple of casual conversations with veteran REIN members that weekend (Rich Danby, Denise MacPherson, and Jennifer Hunt), I was able to shape my own vision, which turned out to be a six-year plan. To my mind, it is an ambitious but achievable plan, one that will push me outside my comfort zone and challenge me to grow as a coach and investor. I left ACRE feeling confident and ready to take action. I was off and running toward my vision—or was I?
Flash-forward eight weeks to our local Ottawa meeting in June. I set my goal for the event to network with at least 10 new investors and exchange business cards, perhaps even find a joint venture partner. As I walked around the meeting room and networked with fellow investors I was asked, “What have you been up to?” I answered, “Nothing much, really. I am essentially retired at the moment and enjoying time with family. Often fishing, cycling, and also walking my little girls to school.” We’d exchange pleasantries, but since my story did not involve any purchase of real estate, I felt like I had let myself down by having not taken any action.
Much like on the ACRE weekend, my a-ha moment came during the drive home. I reflected on whether I had made the best use of the event. And I had not. What was the issue? Why did I not feel like I could share any success? Why did I not tell anyone I was looking for financial joint venture partners? What had I actually been up to in the last two months to further my real estate journey?
And then it occurred to me. The issue lay fully in my narrow definition of “action.” So I wrote this article in hopes of helping other investors (experienced or not) to widen their definition of “action” and celebrate their steps, because this journey is a long term one—something we often forget.
When I widened my definition of “action” to “any step toward my real estate vision,” I was quite forgiving of myself and also quite proud. Here’s my list of actions, which I should have been proud to share with others at the REIN meeting:
Identifined my vision and set my intentional goals for the next six years, including:
- embarking on threejoint ventures with financial partners
- REIN coaching(assist six new investors to reach their goals)
- public speaking(at public and REIN events, about starting out as an investor)
- I registered and completed the Real Estate Investment Advisor program.
- I attended a Mister Ottawa bus tour to familiarize myself with the city and perhapsfurther consider investing there.
- I contacted and had coffee with Tony Miller, an Ottawa-based real estate agent and investor, to discuss how I would approach the Ottawa market and further solidify my goals.
- I networked and interviewed a contractor who specializes in creating basement suites in Ottawa bungalows for investors.
- I improved my existing portfolio by separating all properties out into their own accounts for mortgages, taxes, insurance, property management deposits,and so on.
- I sought out a virtual assistant and now have the tool as a means of capturing all financial details of my portfolio, creating awesome spreadsheets,and identifying any oddities to me in a timely fashion. (Note that this also improves my delegation skills à la Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek.)
- I read the book Magnetic Capitalby Victor Menasce (magneticcapitalbook.com).
- I read 30 back editions of Canadian Real Estate Wealth(donated to me by a random gentleman at McDs with whom I was sharing my real estate vision).
- I volunteered for the June Ottawa REIN meeting,helping with setup and working the door.