Michael Dominguez joins Mike Cavaggioni on the 98th episode of the Average Joe Finances Podcast to talk about how he got the title of “Armchair Millionaire.”
Michael is an award-winning sales representative at RE/MAX Jazz Inc. Brokerage and the founder of Doors to Wealth Real Estate Group. He shares his journey to achieving financial freedom.
Average Joe Finances: Yeah, absolutely. Hey, the first thing I want to ask, how did this get started for you? Like we want to know it all.
Michael Dominguez: Yeah. I’ll give you a sort of the short version I think, but, I graduated a business degree back in the day and, did what everyone else does. And that is getting that nine to five job and working in middle management, getting promoted a couple of times, media girl get married, having a kid. And, and then I woke up pretty much in my late thirties are almost age 40 now divorced and had zero net worth to speak of. I did have a principal residence, but not a lot of equity. And, when I was back in high school and university, I was very entrepreneurial minded, but I lost that over my lifetime. And I was looking for an alternative way to get rolling. And it was honestly with more, a fluke scenario, I was looking to purchase my new principal residence, met a realtor who was also, a manager of a brokerage. And she said, Hey, you’d be a good realtor. And I said, oh yeah, I’m sure you say, that’s all the boys. And, but she was serious. And, I looked into it. It made a hell of a lot of sense. And then, fast forward, year or two, I had my license. I was getting rolling, back in my old days, I was a franchise manager for a pet food franchise here in, in Northern Canada and even part of the United States. And, and I found that I started to gravitate to my people, working with those investor minded wealth building type people and that worked out to be with investors and that’s how it went. And I started to grow from there. These guys were having some incredible success and I said, you know what? I should be doing some of that myself.
Average Joe Finances: 5:13 Yeah. I love that. I love that. And you’re, you’re your whole focus shifted and just change your whole mindset changed. Just talking about how you went from that. Being in that nine to five, we call it the rat race, being stuck in that world and just scraping by, and then, after a divorce, realizing like you had nothing left after that you had no net worth that you had no tangible assets to really call your own. Yeah, that’s a good turning point, I think, for anybody, but to do it in your early forties and in a 10 year period, just amass. The accomplishments that you have is very telling, for anybody that’s looking to get started, because I know people that are like, oh, I’m in my thirties. I feel like I should have started in my young twenties. Sure. If you would have started in your young twenties, you’d probably be really well off right now, but let me tell you something starting in your thirties is okay too. I started in my thirties, and it’s all about the effort you’re going to put into it, how much, what your passion and drive and desire is. That’s absolutely awesome. Yeah. I had to ask about the pet franchise thing, the pet food franchise. Cause you mentioned that like I’m sitting here taking notes, talking about how you got into real estate and then you said pet food franchise and it threw me off. I was like, wait a second. That’s something different. So really cool, man. I love that stuff. Okay. Now you started, you got your real estate license, around 42 43 and just started this journey, to, to building up this pathway to financial freedom, right? What made you decide, as a realtor to start investing in real estate. So what, you were out there representing other people and helping them buy real estate, but what made you want to actually get into buying your own properties as assets yourself?
Michael Dominguez: Yeah, it was twofold. The first thing I did and I don’t want to dismiss this, is I really started to take a lot of effort and attention to enhancing my financial education. And that was something that, I don’t want to dismiss as just, Yeah. Just said, oh yeah, I did that and throw it away, throw away comment, but I’ve made a concerted effort to really start to, to learn some of the masters out there. And, I know you’re, an advocate of Robert Kiyosaki, but, some of his mindset, as far as rich dad, poor dad was a huge component of changing my life. There’s a Canadian guy by the name of Don R Campbell, and he has a lot of, books on the subject that, and it’s. It’s investing in a much smarter way. And, one of his quotes that he says all the time is that he wants real estate to fund my life, not run my life. And, and that’s, it just became a different mindset shift in terms of building in terms of building wealth. And then as a realtor, what got me started was I’m going to be honest with you. A lot of it was as much as. Was, I felt it would make me a stronger realtor by understanding the product that much more. And it would give me more credibility. I enjoyed working with investors. I enjoyed, looking at investment properties and trying to determine ways of building someone’s somebody’s wealth, even when I didn’t have a lot myself. So that, that was my, that became my focus very early on in my real estate career. But I felt. To give myself the credibility I needed buying an investment property or two would be a great way to start. And then as I started to purchase, I quickly started to do a bit of a shift. I went from doing what everyone always talks about, and that is buying that undervalued property at a secondary market that. That really is. It needs a lot of work and, spending a lot of money for capital improvements to get it to where I want it to be. And it shifted over time to the mindset that I use now. And I talked about in my book, finding a quality property to quality neighborhood, seeking quality tenants and holding onto them long-term and making quality profits. And that mindset shift is what I teach a lot of my clients.
Average Joe Finances: 8:51 I want to talk about your actual, the properties that you invested in yourself. So when you started doing this, you have, what was it? 11, two unit dwellings, right? Now we call it to units. So we talked a little bit before we started, the, before we hit record. And we talked about, I had mentioned that they were duplexes, I was like, oh yeah. So you got 11 duplexes. Y’all know they’re not duplexes. And, so I want to talk about that for a second. So why are these two unit dwellings not duplexes. And why did you do it this way?
Michael Dominguez: Yeah. And in different markets, they’re called different things. In, in some parts of the United States, they’re also referred to as additional dwelling units or 80 use, to get a dwelling happens to be the term here in Ontario. But, essentially these are single-family home. That have had secondary suites added onto them, whether it be as a basement or as a loft or as an additional, unit, that’s either adjacent or at the back of a property, like a coach house, or a, or just simply an attached, a tiny home what have you, but that’s the difference is they were built a single family home. And then a secondary suite was added to it. And that’s the kind of property that I’ve found to be the most successful. I’ve been able to find incredible tenants that, that have, that had a future owner mindset versus the multiunit building. I do also talk about it a lot, but I’ve owned a six Plex and a nine Plex and a, and I still own the nine flex today. But, I find that the tenant profile that I’m dealing with on properties like that, even no matter how much I fixed up the units, I tend to get those B and C quality tenants because the A quality tenants just simply don’t want to live in a, in an apartment building, whereas, they’ll happily live in my single-family homes with their own backyard that stand their own, that they’re living their life. They’re living their best life. Yeah. They’re sharing the part of the dwelling with another, with another. But, I’m able to get great tenants. And the reason why I attract them as much as I do is because in many cases I can rent out the upper unit of a dwelling for about 20 to 25% lower than just a standard single family home.
Average Joe Finances: 14:13 Absolutely. I just want to point something out for all my listeners here real quick, because Michael did not come on here to talk about his book. I wanted to talk about it because in our pre interview conversation, one of the things that we talked about is just in the real estate community about helping other people and getting them to the level where they can have a little bit of financial freedom. As we’re saying, that’s the whole point of this podcast as well, is to help educate people and get them to that point.
Michael wrote this book and he even told me to, he’s oh, you don’t write books to make money off books. You don’t make money off books. Totally understand that he wrote the book to legitimately help people. And when you think about the context of the book and what it’s doing, and he’s talking about, he’s talking with these folks that have 1, 2, 3 helped to help you build, buy your first couple properties and that can change your life. It really can cause it doesn’t take much. It doesn’t, you don’t have to have a hundred plus doors to be at a point where you can be financially free. Other people have different priorities in their life and they’re doing other things. Not everybody needs to invest the same way, but what Michael is showing you is that there is a way that you can do it with just a few, even if it only helps you a little. It’s still something that’s going to help you out and build wealth towards your future. And that’s what I really appreciate it appreciate about it. And that’s why I wanted to bring up the book because it’s just absolutely amazing. And Michael, you yourself are absolutely amazing. Like I said, in our pre-interview conversation, just the chat we were having. We talked for 30 minutes before we even hit the record button. It was crazy. We were scheduled for 10 o’clock to come on and do this interview. And he’s Hey, I can go early. I said, cool, let’s go early. We got on half an hour early and we still didn’t start until 10 o’clock because we were just chatting it up. Absolutely love when I have conversations like this, because it just adds so much more value to the listeners, to me and just everyone. That’s a part of this journey.
So I just, I do want to say, I genuinely. Appreciate that Michael really awesome with what you’re doing. So I’m going to get off my little soap box here and get back new, and stop praising you because, we gotta get back to the interview, but I just wanted to point that out that this was not, he was coming out here to plug his book. It was legitimately, I wanted to ask about it because he is really helping people. And I just think that is just genuinely a really good thing and a really good quality in a person. Anyway, back to this. Absolutely. You’re welcome. Okay. Now besides real estate, I wanted to ask you if there was any other asset classes that you invest in. So I know you got the nine plex, you’ve got the 11 two unit dwellings. Is there anything else? Do you invest in like any paper stocks, like in the stock market crypto or any of that crazy stuff?
Michael Dominguez: Yeah. Crypto, I don’t know what this recording is going to come out, but, anybody who’s been invested in crypto in the later part of January has had a bit of a crying game right now because, there’s been about a 30, 40% decline in value in the last little bit. I do have a little bit, of crypto, more in the equity market is what I’ve got not a ton, but. I don’t know, 1.5, $2 million in that. But, I’m also doing private mortgages. I’ve recently sold my real tour business and so I’m getting a residual money for that. And I’m actually the beautiful thing of not being an active day-to-day realtor anymore is it’s allowing me to enhance my, just continue to enhance my knowledge and education. One thing I, it just occurred to me at the end of last year. Was, I analyze how much money I spent in terms of coaching and an education and 2021, actually, I spent more. On, on education than ever before yet, I’d already reached a certain level of financial freedom yet. Now I’ve had a chance to spend even more. I have hired a business coach to help me with my writing my book. I hired a, another coach that helped me with my equity trading, because it’s a, I just want to be the best I can be. And in all elements and have multiple streams of income.
Average Joe Finances: 19:08 First question is Michael. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?
Biggest mistake I ever made, I want to say we already touched on it, honestly. I had opportunities for wealth building in my twenties that I didn’t take advantage of because I was afraid to take action and, Even actually coincidentally, a real estate opportunity that would have been, that would have turned out to be a multimillion dollar deal. But, there was an element of risk. I, I would have had too much leveraging for my tastes at the time I was very risk adverse. And the old, if I knew now what I do then thing, or the other way round, if I do that, when I go now, that would have been a big mistake, but honestly, I look back on a lot of like early education and mistakes. And as, as honestly is like a giant university course that has led me to my level of knowledge today. And, it’s, it’s taught me to not sit around all the time and, there’s ready, fire aim sort of thing, instead of ready, aim fire, because if you don’t ever take action, you’re just not going to get ahead. So that would have been my mistake early on, but some of my early indecisions.
Average Joe Finances: What is something that you’ve learned that you wish you knew when you first started?
Michael Dominguez: This is something wanted to share with, some of your audience anyway. So this is a perfect lead in for that. One of the things which I should have done is bought a property and put an ADU in my place where I lived at the same time. The term today is called house hacking. That’s the modern take on it, but honestly, Having shared housing in your property, is something that’s been around forever. It’s just that it’s just got a bit of a new flavor to it. And that’s something that has made a huge difference in my life early on, but, I did what everyone else did. I bought my single family home and lived in it and enjoyed it, but had I had, I bought that duplex or that additional dwelling unit. That would have basically covered a large portion of my mortgage and set me forward. Huge. That would have been the one thing I would have done differently. And that’s what I recommend to anybody in their twenties and thirties today.
Average Joe Finances: Do you have any tips or tricks that you would recommend to someone who’s just getting started today?
Michael Dominguez: It’s not necessarily the most elaborate thing in the world, but one of the cool things about becoming a market expert is it’s not for the elite few. Anybody has the opportunity to become an expert and. We talk about this in my book, as far as finding the right type of market, I’m going to use Hawaii as an example. I love Hawaii. I’ve only been there once, but it was an incredible experience. And it’s an area that I could see myself living part of my life, the rest, as I get older, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great investment market. It might be, but it may not be. And so my advice to anyone who’s getting serious. About wealth building is try to become the smartest person in the room. And if not, at least be among the most intelligent people in the room. I used the reference if I’m sitting down at a poker table and I look around the poker table and everyone has more experience than I do, I get off of that poker table. And so I’m not a big fan of just throwing my money into some venture and hoping for the best and hoping that they treat me. I want to become an expert. And that includes finding the right type of market, the right type of property, and perhaps even the right type of tenant when it comes down to it. But the right type of property in the rights of a market is so imperative.