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Making the jump to real estate

Hamilton investor Shawn Maher, founder of GS Maher Solutions Inc., shares why he left a successful career in film to become a full-time real estate investor.


Video transcript below:

Shawn Maher, Founder, G.S. Maher Solutions Inc.

Definitely leaving the film industry left a little bit, you know I loved the industry and I had passion, but I also have a passion for real estate and I think to be real, if you are going to go into this business, you gotta make sure you have a passion for it, because if you are not passionate about what you do, I don’t think investing in real estate would be a great option. I think you really have to be passionate, whether it’s stocks, bonds, whatever you find in life that’s going to be something that you really want to work hard at.

I think you know it will all come natural depending on what you like and I think real estate is a great opportunity for people, specially Hamilton. I think Hamilton just beginning to those starting to understand it. I have got a portfolio of around 14 properties now in Hamilton. I started off very very small and I am ready to take this full time.

The main thing, the reason I made the switch into real estate investing, I knew that that’s where I wanted to go is I didn’t want to have anybody else have control over my business. I, you know being in the film industry I have a lot of success and you know we were nominated [before] you know to one of the East Coast Musical Awards, we were the premier film company in Toronto for shooting music videos.

But somebody else had control over my business whether you [didn’t want] a music DMG, RCA and their business dictated my business. So when I felt the industry starting to kind of collapse and fall apart, my gut told me that Shawn you got to build a business that’s going to be your own and you control. And stocks and bonds were a great investment but I am not sure that you have full control always over those and you know we have seen it in the market meltdown.

You know it’s a great opportunity to buy when stocks are beat up like this, I agree it’s a great time. Probably the only time I would ever buy and there was recession in Hamilton when went back and properties were very very very cheap and I knew that if I could get myself going with the little money I had that I would eventually build it and I would have full control over that portfolio.

Back then the rules were a little bit different when I got into my first property. You needed a little less down, but you know there is lots of avenues for financing out there even for your first property. Lenders want to lend money for property and you know I really believe that you know there is a lot of great private, you can get private money now at 5% and paying 5% for a property isn’t a big deal. People were paying 8% you know 8 years ago for the same kind of properties.

So I mean you are not going to get that you know 1.85 and below prime interest rate. But you know what take a chance, if you have to pay 5% and go to a private lender, talk to a mortgage broker. Some of these guys work magic, they really really do. If you got good credit that’s the main thing. I say guard your beacon scores, that’s the most important thing you can do. Don’t give anybody your sim number, don’t let anybody pull a credit check, you need to guard that. That’s your tool to financing and financing is the key for this business. So really in the beginning make sure you got clean credit, pay your bills on time and if you got clean credit and you find a good deal, someone is going to give you the money for it.

You know I did not feel any problems during the recession. I thought what’s the problem. The rent checks just kept coming in and so for real estate I think you know what, as long as you buy for cash flow, forget about the capital gain. I think it’s great when you are rewarded with a capital gain for doing something and holding a property. That’s another advice I give, I never ever ever sell a property. From day one I have been having properties to my portfolio, I just don’t sell. It does not make sense to sell, because you can always borrow against your property. So if you are selling it to get just the money, it just means you have that property now that’s not giving you cash flow.

You know, I get, I am going to back to my last bit of advice is don’t sell the property to cash for retirement, enjoy the cash flow. What happens as you build your portfolio, it starts paying you money on a monthly basis, it’s no different than stocks pay dividend, so if you have the right portfolio built up over years and years and years of investing you are going to have a lot of equity.

So if you need a large amount of cash, you can always leverage out of your portfolio property to take cash out, which if you need a big ticket fine, but if you build up a portfolio, you see you get to a point where you have a million dollars, you should, you know should be bringing in $80,000 a year gross. I mean depending on your lifestyle and how much you need you build your portfolio to that, which is another way of retirement. I think there have been a lot of people that retire, I know a lot of people that retired with real estate portfolios and don’t have any stocks at all in the market.


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