I’ve always hated this word, truth be told. I’ve tried to avoid using it for forever. The further I go into my business, and the more I speak with my wife at home about our life goals, it keeps popping up into the conversation, inevitably. This damn word: Plan. It comes up everywhere I turn these days. It’s even in some of favourite sayings, like “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.” Damn you.
I’m literally writing this from an airplane seat, en route from Barcelona to Athens (and no, I’m not in first-class). If my wife and I hadn’t have - um - planned for this trip, I wouldn’t be airborne over the Mediterranean Sea with my family. So, yes, I get the need to plan. It makes things happen. It provides purpose, and motivation, through the use of intention. I just don’t love living my life with a plan. I’ve resisted for as long as I can. Though the best things in my life took time, and a plan, to come to be what they are today.
Let me switch gears and go back in time, and maybe paint a picture of the deeper “me”. I’m really easy-going. I almost feel like a real-life Winnie the Pooh, in all fairness. I don’t every really feel high-highs, or low-lows. I’m almost always in the same mood. If you know me, you may have recognized that I’m always in a good mood, never really angry or sad. Always steady. I think that comes part and parcel with my reluctance to plan. I don’t feel like I’ve let myself down often. I don’t overthink things. What feels right, I’ll do. If it doesn’t, I won’t. To quote my boy Dwight Shrute from “The Office”, “When facing a decision, I ask ‘would an idiot do this’. If the answer is yes, I don’t do it.” In not planning out much of my life, I was able to not worry about not meeting expectations, simply because I had no expectations! Maybe, just maybe, my personality has taken the form it has BECAUSE I didn’t plan? Sounds like a theory to test out, perhaps in a future blog ;)
Not planning, though, has it’s drawbacks. Especially for a business owner, and for someone’s Daddy. So that part of my life is officially over. It’s not easy for me to say good bye to that. It hurts, truth be told. Planning makes my wife happy, and therefore, me happy. Another saying: “happy wife, happy life” is basically the mantra through my 30s and into my 40s.
So, from this point forward, my path is a planned one. It’s one driven by intention only. And here’s what I expect..
Our family vacations will be great, and they’ll be long
My real estate team will grow, and we’ll rock it. We’ll do so, not by counting the number of sales we make (ew!), but by counting the number of lives we’ve made better
The number of solutions I offer to clients increases, because what we focus on expands
I’ll be able to retire by the time I’m 50, with passive income streams I’ve planned for and built (I can do this for you too, by the way)
My kids will not have to worry about renting or figuring out how to buy their first home. Because Daddy has planned for that, and solved their biggest financial problem in their adulthood.
Congrats PLAN. You win.
Your newest fan.
“This article will make you hundreds of thousands of dollars, so read this.”
- Signed by your Future Self.
This is part 2 of my article. Click here to read part 1.
I ended part 1 of this article by introducing what I call Investing 2.0. Basically, I am trying to create awareness towards real estate investing as the (much) smarter alternative to what we’ve been doing. Real estate makes you money in several ways. Let’s get into that next.
THE 3 WAYS
Let’s chat about real estate investing and how real estate pays you in 3 different ways. Go ahead, name another investment that does that. <pause> When you own an investment property, you’ll make money through:
Cash flow when revenues exceed expenses
Principal (mortgage) paydown
Appreciation of the property
I want to elaborate on each of these in isolation, then I’ll combine them.
Money-Making Category 1
I live in Toronto. My city, admittedly, doesn’t offer a lot of investment properties that have amazing positive cash flow on a monthly basis. Unless you’re putting down a lot more than the minimum required to buy a property, you’re not coming out ahead with hundreds or thousands each month in this category. Not right away, anyways. That cash flow will come in the future, it’s just not great on day 1. For me, personally, I’m ok to expect no positive (or negative) cash flow when I buy property. I’m not concerned about category 1 at the beginning (categories 2 and 3 more than make up for the difference, that’s coming up).
Money-Making Category 2 (AKA the guaranteed money)
When you’re making your mortgage payment, you are GUARANTEED to pay down the mortgage. This GUARANTEED return isn’t even low! If you buy a place with 20% down payment, and get a mortgage at 3.5% for 25 years (which is typical as of time of writing) - your return on your investment is 10.2% IN THE FIRST YEAR, just by paying down your mortgage! AND -> the return is higher every year after the one before it. Boom.
With each mortgage payment I make I’m paying down my loan on the property, thanks to my tenants that are providing me with all of the money to make those payments. If I do this long enough, the property will be paid off, and all of it by the tenants. I might have made the initial 20% down payment on the property, but my tenants will have paid the remaining 80% over the years, thank you very much.
Money-Making Category 3
This is where home runs are hit, and anxiety is destroyed. Home prices really do increase over the years. Property values rise, and far more predictably than stock markets. You won’t see the 50% gains in a year that a stock market may make, and we certainly haven’t come across the 50% drops in value that a stock market can have. The peaks and valleys are muted in real estate pricing. Though through the years, nobody can deny that real estate appreciates.
Look at this chart we plotted. We’re comparing the Toronto Stock Exchange TSXS&P60 (aka: “the stock market”) against home prices from the Toronto Real Estate Board since 1996. The slow-and-steady real estate investment closely matches the trend of the stock market - though with none of the anxiety of down years. I mean, look at the prices in 2006 to 2008. What if you HAD to sell your stock or mutual funds in 2007 or 2008, you would have lost a ton of money. If you HAD to sell your real estate investment, though, you’d have been just fine at the time.
If you’re having a hard time getting through this post, hang on just a bit longer! I want to hit my very last point on why owning an investment property crushes the alternatives…
When you buy a stock, you’re paying the full price of that stock. If it’s a $1,000 stock, you pay $1,000. With real estate, you’re typically only going to need to fund 20% (NOT 100%) of the value of the property. Though the appreciation of the property happens at 100% of its value. What does this mean, in plain English? For every 1% the property appreciates, your return on your investment is 5%. If property prices go up 5%, you’re up 25% return on your investment. Isn’t that crazy?!!! That, my friends, is the power of leverage.
Remember that chart I showed above, comparing Toronto real estate prices to the stock market? Let’s look at that again - and consider that we’re making all of that appreciation based on 100% of the home price, and knowing that we’re only putting down 20% of the price to buy it. Look at that chart again now (you have permission to say “WOW”):
what are the Real world results?
After my initial down payment, what have I created? A never-ending stream of cash flow. AND as it’s paying me this cash flow every month, I’m doing nothing to devalue the actual investment. I don’t need to worry from month to month about continuing to fund my investment with my paycheque. I’m paying down the mortgage without any of my own money. The investment keeps growing and growing with appreciation. Can you do all of this with stocks and mutual funds? Nope. And, sure, if I needed a massive amount of money I could totally sell and see a huge immediate sum of money. Or I could access some equity by refinancing. The point is, I have wonderful options. All of which are better than the scenario described up at the top of this page.
I really do feel that many of us know better than to only consider the traditional investment options. I think a lot of us believe mutual funds or stocks are our only investment options because the cost to play in that game is so low when you play it this way. It’s only $100 - or whatever - at a time. It’s easy. It’s accessible. In fact, I’d say that pretty much all of us consider this the only accessible investment available to us. I used to think that. But now I know better, and I’ll never go back to only considering those inferior options. It’s real estate all the way for this guy.
You probably knew all of this, you just didn’t see the pieces of the puzzle presented like this in your mind. Nothing new here. All of the wealthiest people around own lots and lots of property. The question is, now that you’ve seen this and realized the truths of this, what are you going to do with this knowledge?
Thanks for reading, I hope this was as rewarding for you to read as it was for me to write.
“This article will make you hundreds of thousands of dollars, so read this.”
- Signed by your Future Self.
First off - let’s just eliminate that this is a bias-piece. It’s not. I will most certainly speak about how real estate investing is marvellous and how much it’s done for me, personally. Though, just because I am also a real estate broker, it doesn’t change my opinion (or the fact) that wealth building through real estate simply rocks. I am so enamoured and obsessed with real estate investing, that I’ve turned it into my job. Again, no bias here - I work in real estate BECAUSE I love the investing angle of real estate. Working in real estate has not given me rose-coloured lenses from which to view investments through.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s get into a rad discussion on investing, shall we? :) I’d like to share a lot of what I talk about these days, with ladies and gentlemen just like you. I have taken meeting request after meeting request - and happily, I should let you know - from wonderful people that are simply dissatisfied with their past investment choices. We all kinda thought we’d be “there” by now, and yet many of us are still living paycheque to paycheque. Am I right? It’s because we’re living that way that we feel that we’re not in control. If someone - HEAVEN FORBID!! - decides to take away our paycheque (Google: downsizing/outsourcing/business realignment/focus on core business/etc. for some examples of how that could happen), where would that leave you? I’ll help you with that answer -> you’re probably approaching panic mode when you realize you can’t pay your own mortgage or daycare fees, let alone keeping up with the Joneses.
So we invest. With each paycheque, we’re prudent and knowledgeable and intentional and savvy, we put aside some of our earnings for a rainy day. We invest. We meet with a financial advisor (or not) and we set aside some money. We really, really believe that in 10 years, or 20 years, or by retirement - we’re going to be swimming in a sea of our own money. It’ll be glorious.
10 years later, you look at your balances in these investment accounts and think: well, I’m still young. I was told that the market goes up and goes down. It’s normal. It’s fine. We didn’t make a lot of money these 10 years, but we gained some knowledge. We’re wiser. We’re better. At year 20, you’ll probably not be too far off the pace from the first 10 years - if history is any indicator. You’re certainly in better shape. You lived through some ups and downs, again. It’s still ok. Though you realize now that you aren’t really going to be set up for the next 20 years if you stopped earning and stopped contributing. Uh-oh. You’ve been putting money into this investment account for a while. You’ve been feeding IT. IT has not been feeding you. When you’re finally at the point where you need money from a source outside of your job, this will get you that big lump sum of money. Though when you sell your investment, it’s now gone. It won’t make you any more money.
In this world, if we don’t continue to feed the investment, the investment doesn’t work. We’ll spend most of our adult life - our earning years - continuing to pour money into these investments, with the expectation that one day we can stop, and that one day those investments will take care of us the way that we took care of them. But when we stop putting money into those investments, we usually have to take money out of those same investments. And they’ll devalue from that point on, forever. Until all the money is gone. We’ll just have to hope that this happens after we die, of course.
You see, I feel like this is not what an investment should look like. And so do many of my real estate investor peers.
I want to shift gears and talk about a smarter kind of investment. One that is nothing like the horror movie I described above. I have no idea why this is a secret, but real estate is the greatest investment type. Deep down, I think we all kind of know this, though we never talk about it. I’m so confused that more people aren’t engaged in this world. Commercial after commercial talks about financial planners and financial instruments. And yet, the big bucks are absolutely in real estate investing for regular folks like us. And, no, they are not out of our reach.
Want to learn why real estate investing rocks? Then, let’s proceed to part 2 of this article.