Michael Dominguez, shares his best and sometimes contrarian advice on what it takes to build a brand in real estate and a successful real estate investing business that can fund a life you want – your best life.

Why you’ve got to check out today’s episode:

  • Learn how to become the expert for a specific niche and have that name recall and become top of people’s minds.
  • Hear about marketing efforts that boost and reinforce your real estate personal investing brand.
  • Discover an ‘armchair investor framework’ that will help you retire early, create a lifestyle you want for yourself and your family, and can weather the worst of market downturns and economic reversals.

When you cater to all sorts of things, your messaging gets mixed up, confusing people with what they should come to you for.

~ REI Branded

03:50 – How he defines success with his stature now

Certainly, there’s always going to be an element of success that’s tied to money. And again, a lot of the old standbys of money doesn’t buy you happiness. But I’ve been poor and I’ve been wealthy and I can tell you I’m a lot happier as a wealthy person. But when I measure true success with now is I’m a bit of an event, bucket list kind of guy and I’m always setting goals of things I want to do and accomplish. C and B, it’s not necessarily tied with net worth. It’s tied with as many once in a lifetime experiences as I can obtain in my lifetime.

05:03 – Tax challenges he’s facing brought about by his dual citizenship

Well, it is it’s a bit of a pain in the ass from a taxation standpoint. When I wasn’t making any money, it was perfectly fine. But then as my growth happened in terms of net worth as well as income, it became a challenge. And I’ve been using some really good lawyers or lawyers and accountants that have been helping me out. But there’s a lot of complications. And as a matter of fact, there’s things even this week or last week that I was learning about. I’ve got a TFSA, as we all do, and TFSA’s are not recognised in the United States, and it creates a real tax issue. So I’m actually catching up my TFSA next week and I’m putting it all into one of my corporations because I can get much of the same tax benefits through that. So it’s complicated, but it’s a good thing, but it’s complicated. I’ve been a Dodger fan since I don’t know how many people are old. Well, my first favourite TV shows were Brady Bunch and Adam Twelve, and both took place in the Los Angeles area. And they had a lot of background scenes with palm trees and beaches, and I was enamoured with everything LA.

09:37 – Making things happen

I’m a goal setter and that’s something that I recommend for anyone to actually make. Not just ten year goals and five year goals in one day, I’ll do this and that’s, a bucket list of sorts, but to actually make time sensitive goals, and that’s something I applied to my business. It was very effective in doing that. I was setting, in many cases, one week goals, one month goals, three month goals and one year goals. And with the exception of weight loss, I did a really good job of accomplishing most of those goals. And net worth goals for sure, education goals for sure, and travel goals for sure. Those are things that I know it may sound simplistic, but unless you start making the steps and starting to do the research and actually calling a travel agent or going on the internet and sort of finding the actual day you want to go, it’s just never going to happen. So it’s one thing to wish and dream, but it’s the whole thing altogether is to actually start to take the steps to make it happen.

10:51 – A leap of faith in an uncertain time into real estate

 Paul – When you started in real estate, 2008 was not a great year. I mean, I know Canada didn’t get as affected as the US, but was that not kind of a crazy decision to go and look at real estate when the market was potentially going to disappear?

Michael – Well, to be fair, I made my decision at the end of seven, and the first half of 2008 was very successful, actually. It was so amusing. I basically started in real estate in March, April, and by May, I was actually the realtor of the month for my brokerage. And I’m thinking, Oh, man, this is easy. Come on. The realtor month on the second month of business? What the heck?

And then all of a sudden, October 2008 came along and everything just stopped.

And now I was in a bit of a better place than some people because I had a spouse that was making very good money, and we had built a plan that said, okay, we have some reserve funds, as well as a spouse who’s bringing in income. So even if my business failed completely, we’d be okay. And that comfort level made me a better salesperson because I wasn’t ever in a state of desperation. I was more trying to just offer the best service for my clients. So thankfully, the market wasn’t that long being destroyed. But actually, it taught me a really valuable lesson as well, as I just had started working with investors prior to when the slowdown happened.

And I didn’t have many investors in my database, but the ones that were really didn’t, they saw it as an opportunity versus a runaway sort of situation. And so actually, I did a couple of deals in the six months from October to March with investors, and I was thinking, well, jeez, they’re buying right now. And actually, I didn’t have a terrible six-month period as a result of that. And I was seeing the success that they were achieving and the cash flow that they were generating, and I just started thinking, that’s where I need to be, that’s where I need to go. Even though the market was a little slower, I used that as an opportunity to learn and educate. So it didn’t hit me as hard as it gets, for sure.

15:04 – Becoming more investor-focused now than a realtor

We rebranded our name to a company called Doors to Wealth and again, it was blatantly investor focused. And that’s what our brand is, it’s Doors to Wealth. And we’ve been very successful in helping hundreds of people in the Durham and Eastward region to buy cash flow generating and wealth building investment properties for both themselves and their families. So, absolutely I can tell you that I personally don’t do nearly as many deals as I used to. I’m in a position now where I can go away for a few months at a time. I have helped some of my long term clients, but at this point my goal is just to take all the education and the incredible wealth of knowledge that was taught to me by mentors that had really no need to share that knowledge because they had already reached their level of success, but yet they passed down to the next generation of investors and I just felt it’d be my obligation to do the same for the next generation as well.

21:22 – Branding lessons as a real estate investor and becoming an expert at what you do

Michael – So branding has been an integral part of my growth as an investor agent. And I learned a lesson really early on, which always is really valuable to me, is to make your business grow larger, make your focus smaller. And so I didn’t want to be the be all and end all for everything real estate related. If you came to me and was looking for a land deal or a cottage or trying to think of another thing, a warehouse, I’m not your guy. I was focused on multi unit residential real estate. That was my niche. That’s why I promoted, yeah, I can help somebody do a residential deal. As a matter of fact, my neighbour across the street is about to list their property and they’re listing with somebody else. And I’m okay with that because that’s not my niche. Where my niche was, I stayed within my lane. And all of my promotions, all of my efforts, the shirt I was wearing, everything was related to constantly promoting myself as being the expert.

And yes, there were times when I felt like I was an impostor, but I just put myself out there. I would speak as often as I could. I go to every meet up that I could possibly attend all over Ontario, Canada, for those that are in this area, and I would just always be known as the investor guy and focus more on the Durham region. And it changed my life. Once people recognise me as such, and I won awards for being such, even though I didn’t feel I knew that much, but people were saying, Oh, he’s the expert. And sometimes, as shocking as this is, I would attend to meet up and they’d say, Oh, Michael’s here. And sometimes I’d have four or five people standing in line waiting to talk to me, to give me their information because they wanted to work with me. And I feel that’s a pretty effective use or an ability to brand yourself in a certain way and put in the effort to become as knowledgeable as you can be and then pass that on to your clients.

Paul – And you’ve highlighted for me is the beauty of a good brand, is you get those people queuing up because the word has spread. Somebody said something about you when you weren’t there enough, that person trust, that referral or recommendation enough that they’re going to go and talk to you

27:07 – Becoming successful at real estate investing even with just one or two properties

It could be two, it could be one, one property if, let’s say, the wherewithal. And the avatar who I’m sort of reaching to in this book is either the millennial or the potential first time home buyer who is currently renting right now. So by house hacking and finding a property where they could live in one unit and rent out another is an incredible opportunity to build wealth. Yes. Not their dream house. It’s not the same house that mom and dad used to live in, but it’s a house that you can afford. It’s probably a better rental that you’re currently living in now and you’re building some really significant wealth. So I talk a lot about that. The other avatar is the couple that they both have a really solid nine to five income. They bought their house, they built some equity in their home, especially with the surge in values across North America in the last few years. So they’ve got a lot of equity. They realise that half to three quarters or more of their net worth has come as a result of their house. But they want to know the secret to buy the next property.

And my goal is to be good, even just three properties, because three properties in this country in good markets within ten years will make you a millionaire. 

33:38 – A strategy that doesn’t take as much time but will help you reach financial freedom

In my book, I actually use six case studies of clients of mine and one of the questions I’d ask is how many hours a month are they spending on their properties? And in many cases, they were spending less than 5 hours per month on their portfolio and maybe two to ten properties they were spending that much or that little amount of time. And meanwhile, that two to ten properties has essentially set them up in a position where the rest of their life, they’re financially stable, they’ve reached their financial freedom goals. So this side hustle, we’re not talking about driving for Uber eats or making scrunchies on the side. We’re talking about something that could build sustained long term wealth for both yourself and your family and hopefully your next generation.

37:03 – Advice to someone interested in flipping, getting into short-term and midterm rentals

In my experience, the flippers have done well, are doing a lot of themselves, and they’re being compensated for their efforts. So it’s basically elbow greases earned them the revenue that they’ve desired. I’m a huge supporter of people that do flipping. I happily bought a couple of properties that were renovated by people I know and trust. They’ve made their money on the renovation and they sold it, I bought it from them. And then that property has gone up a half a billion dollars in value. They made 50 grand, maybe I made a half million. They did all the work. I’m okay with that. So my advice to anybody who’s considering flipping is really run the numbers and see if it makes any sense.

44:24 – Building relationships in growing his real estate business

I’m a relationship guy, I really am. And when I was working more actively, I would actually, in some cases, talk people out of a property that I didn’t think was a good fit for them. I would say you’re not ready yet and or maybe this one is too much work for you. Let’s wait for the right one to come your way. But if you are just taking whatever deals are out there, you’re right, you could find a certain person that may not be someone through your database. It might be through your internet connections and stuff like that, and that’s fine, but that’s not the kind of business I want to grow with. I want to build relationships with people. I want to have long term. If there are blips along the way, I want to be working with them as a team. I may not have grown as quickly as the other guy, but I feel that the foundation of my portfolio is just simply so much stronger and the amount of work that I would have to do with my properties is less. So it allowed me to grow at a faster rate or a stronger rate.

50:33 – An old-school tool that has worked for him

I’ve got a notebook that actually has the title Plans for World Domination. And honestly, I’ve now got I think this is volume four, and I just make notes on this. So if I’m attending an event, I’m making notes. My things I need to do tomorrow as a task, I’m making notes. You talk to somebody who’s maybe 1520 years younger than me and they’re thinking, Oh, my God, put it all on your phone. But that didn’t work for me. I tried doing that. I can make little notes faster than I can work on my phone and as a result, I wasn’t writing stuff down. By having it all in one spot, I can refer back and it’s worked for me. It’s old school, but it doesn’t matter what it does, as long as you access the have things at your fingertips and have your list of things you want to do the next day and the next week, your goals, your objectives, I put it all in my book and I literally cross it off.

If I haven’t accomplished my goal, I put it on for the next day and the next day, next day, and I don’t let myself leave it off, I don’t just dismiss it, I just keep putting on there. All right, I’ll do it. Jeez, get off my list. And that’s been working for me.


People overestimate what can be done in one year, and underestimate what can be done in ten.