Adventures in real estate investing

My name is Alymer Ng, and this is my wife, Suan. We have gotten into real estate investing through friends and contacts. That’s how I was first introduced to Michael. I think it was really an educational experience that makes a difference. They got you involved in starting on your first property and real estate investing.

Now, Michael and his team at Doors To Wealth are known for their property tours. Do you guys go on them on a regular basis?

Yes. At the beginning, we used to. For that, I really think it’s fundamental to getting into real estate as an investment because what you start to look out for is more than just looking at aesthetics, but you’re looking at the bones of the building. You’re looking at what you can do to legalize the place. I think that’s the thing that we actually really learned a lot from all these property tours. Talking to other investors as well was really useful because you share ideas on what would you do if I got this place. Some of them, they had different views. Some would really get the whole place. There were others that say, “It’s okay, it just needs a little bit of cosmetic stuff and then that’s it. It’s good to go.” That was really useful for us. Then I would share on those with Suan and bounce that out, I was like, “Oh, should we really get involved in this or not?” That was really a learning experience for us.

You go on the property tours. If you were just out and about throughout the day, do you also look at neighbourhoods as to where you potentially may want to get another rental property?

Yes, I definitely do check out the neighbourhoods. I think knowing the neighbourhoods and what kind of rents they get and what kind of clientele, because I see real estate investments is you’re looking at a property, not just for aesthetics or the house itself, but you’re looking at what’s the rental income. It’s like a business. I do want to see there are some neighbourhoods the houses are cheaper. The tenants are also demanding less rent, but it’s a different class of tenants too. We have a mix, like in our properties, we have a mix between the two. We have some properties on the south side which started out as not so great and desirable neighbourhoods, but it actually did pretty well over the last couple of months and even a year. Then, of course, there are some that you pay more premiums with the north side. Definitely, of course, also the property prices are higher.
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Now, you mentioned looking at the “bones” of the properties. Have you ever gotten those dreaded midnight calls where something’s gone wrong?

For me, thank goodness, I didn’t have really midnight, but close to it. We had locks that got stuck just after Christmas. They’ll call you. You have to have a handy book of people that you can rely on, and we are in Toronto. It will take us a while to get to the property anyway. We had to kind of device the best methods in getting best people there and helping resolve. We thought of lock boxes, we have put lock boxes on the properties so that people can go there when the tenants are not there if it is an emergency situation. You want it fixed, so you’ll be that.

If someone was thinking about getting into real estate investing, what advice would you want to give them?

I think, like Mike’s property tours, give a very good platform for you to even learn and understand what you’re up against. Even if you are just contemplating on picking up a property, there are things that you should always find out. For example, what are the regulations regarding legalization, what height requirements are in the basement, do you need fire safety inspections and aluminium wiring? A lot of stuff that I have is invaluable that I picked up on the tour. That’s the difference as compared to others where they are just giving you listings of properties and you have to figure the rest on your own. I think it’s really invaluable. That’s one thing. The second thing is I guess also going out to some of these rain events, going to our discussion forums so that you can hear what are the questions people have. Some of them, they are asking like, how do you evict a tenant, what do you do with the tenants that don’t pay. All that experience and all that things that other people go through is a learning curve for you.