From 0 to 300 doors: How to get there


James: Slow and steady wins the race. If you rush things, it's easy to make mistakes or to have your risk tolerance go higher than your actual risk tolerance, etc.

Alfonso: Welcome back The REITE Club community to another episode of the REITE Club podcast. I'm Alfonso Salemi and I'm here today with my co-host Laurel Simmons. How are you today, Laurel?

We're back with another episode here and we have an amazing guest James Knull, if you haven't seen him in our REITE Club community or at other events, you're in for a treat today, James. I love how he said it as young.

In human years, but very aged in real estate, he has a lot of experience out in Western Canada, originally from Edmonton and yeah, amazing experience of how he's been able to grow his portfolio, help others grow their portfolio. It just sounds like a very, just calm approach, an understanding approach.

There's a lot to unpack in this podcast. I hope everybody enjoys it and there's plenty more of this as well, too. Laurel we know we have so much content information for the whole REITE Club Community.

Laurel: I think that James really got a lot of quiet wisdom is the way I think I would put it right. Just quiet wisdom. You can tell that. Yeah, it hasn't always been smooth sailing, but he's done really well. And Hey, that's what we all aim for. You just put one foot in front of the other, you have a plan and you work it and you don't rush it. I think that was his big message. Don't rush things cause there's no reason to.

Alfonso: Absolutely. Anything worth having is worth waiting for and setting it up properly. Sometimes you don't use the old adage. Measure twice and cut once. You know what to measure several times, cause it's always better to do that due diligence check with others.

That's what this community's all about. Maybe it is something that you think is gonna be great. Then you talk to a few people and maybe it's not all that it's cracked up to be. It has to be your own personal choice, your personal preference, what you love doing, what you enjoy. Today is a great conversation on that. For more of these conversations, check out If you like today's chat, rate review our podcast.

We just found out we are in the top 1.5% of podcasts in the world of all podcasts ever made in the whole world. Thank you to all those that are listening that are rating, reviewing us, sharing with friends, family colleagues and it's helping us get that message out there that you can customize your life. We hope you enjoy the podcast.

Laurel: Yeah, it gives us a little bit of encouragement to keep on going too. Because we all like to hear good things, especially right now in the state of the world, so thanks to our listeners. We are right up there. But anyway, Alfonso, I think it's time to go to the podcast.
Don't you? To the interview.

Alfonso: Let's do it.

Laurel: Okay. James, now welcome to the REITE Club podcast. How are you doing?

James: I'm doing fantastic. Thank you guys so much for having me on your show today.

Laurel: You're out in the wild west, right?

James: That's right. We've got offices all over Western Canada. We've got a presence in Edmonton, Vancouver and Colonna.
I'm in the Vancouver office today during this broadcast and we do business all over Western.

Laurel: We should just let people know that when you say the office, you are a realtor. I don't wanna say your nine to five job cause I know there is no such thing as a nine to five job when you're a realtor, but I also from what I know of you, it's more than a career it's like a passion.

If you like you're so enthusiastic about it. I think one of the reasons why you're so enthusiastic about it and correct me if I'm wrong, but it's how you got started, right? When you were just Babe in arms . And so what did you tell everybody about how you got started as a real estate investor and what happened after that?

James: It really is a fun story because I didn't really have many aspirations about getting into real estate when I was in junior high school, etc. It really happened in university. I went to university and as I was graduating, I was just chatting with my dad and talking about what was next. And he said, Hey, are you thinking you're gonna stick around Edmonton for a while?

I said, yeah, I don't really see myself going anywhere else. And he said if you're living in a room, In a house with a bunch of your buddies. I bet you could buy a house and rent out the rooms to your buddies, and then you own the house and you're making a little bit of money and building some net worth for yourself.

Maybe you should give that a go see if that'll work. And I said, sure, sure enough, I was approved for a mortgage. I had some cash kicking around because it was a primary residence. It was only 5% down.

That was accessible to me at the time. And boy, it just went so well that I thought, Hey, I bet I could duplicate this and found a way to scrape together the money to buy another house on the block.

For that chunk of time, it was like we had our own private frat house. It was me and my friends living in a house and they were paying the rent and it was causing my cost of living to be lower. We had a great time. And that just sparked my love of real estate.

I started reading real estate books, going to real estate, meetup events, going to real estate conferences, just digesting, whatever information I could. By the way, that was before YouTube and Facebook were invented.

It really was all about the books and conferences back then. I did everything I could to learn as much as I could, and just started buying a few more places, flipping the odd house here and there. Gosh, I just loved it so darn much that I needed to get in even further. I got my real estate license and started a real estate practice and that's served me very well to get to where I am today.

Alfonso: That initial that you were living and that initial property that you were living in, you said you had bought it or you were already living there, or how did you walk us through that? Like you were living in the property?

James: I was living in a house with a couple of buddies that we were renting.

Alfonso: Okay.

James: I thought, okay well. I need to buy one. I went to the bank, got my pre approval. Made sure I had the buying power in place to make it happen. Then I pulled the friends and said, Hey, if I found a different house for us to live in, would you guys still wanna be my roommates? And they said, yeah, we're having a great time.

They even got to have a little bit of input in the house. I narrowed it down to two finalists and it was a group of 20 year old dudes touring, a couple a house, and we had a team vote and they had a decision making influence in the one that I picked as the final choice.
Everybody was happy. We just had a moving day altogether.

Laurel: Is that a strategy that you would recommend? I don't particularly know people in their early twenties now.

James: I think it's a fabulous strategy because it allows you to use the primary residents, CMHC allowance. You put a little bit less down and a lot of young people don't have a ton of equity and net worth yet. Putting 5% down can really be a huge advantage. Cohabitating is more popular now than ever. People like living with roommates. It's like having your second family.

If you're living with friends, you really enjoy it. It's a great way to live. It's very fun to have people around. As the owner of the house, there's perks, your mortgage gets paid down. If you organize it correctly, you might be able to cash flow a little bit or at least decrease your personal monthly budget.

If that property goes up in value, then you get the reward and benefit of being the one who took the risk of buying the house in the first place. I just think it's a great way to get started because it allows you to do a lot in the investing world with a relatively small amount of resources as a new investor.

Alfonso: That's great advice. You were acting as a realtor for your friends, for that first property and kind of had it in the blood right off the start. When you bought that second one, obviously you had the confidence that the first one went really well. And then you went on to the second one, walk us through, in that meantime, you got your license, what were some of the wins that you were picking up along the way? That gained your confidence to say, Hey, this could be a strategy that I could continue to grow on. Was it continued to be student housing or did you branch off into other strategies?

James: I started dabbling after the second property was for a group of friends. I wanted to try flipping houses. I bought a few beat up houses and tried my hand at flipping. That one probably wasn't my most successful venture. I'm not particularly handy. My renovation skills are quite poor, I didn't do the best job. As a result the houses didn't fetch top dollar and, while we didn't lose money, we definitely didn't make a lot of money either flipping those houses.

At that point I said, okay, maybe the buy and hold game is a lot more in line. The way that I like to do things. I just started picking away at houses with secondary suites in the basement so that there were two rental incomes coming from one property instead of just one rental income coming from one property. For about six years, seven years, that was all I bought was houses with secondary suites in the basement and built a portfolio of houses like that.

Laurel: And where did you do that? Was that in Vancouver or in Edmonton?

James: It was all in Edmonton at first. I'm born and raised in Edmonton. I went to the university of Alberta and my career for the first 10 years of my career was all about Edmonton Alberta.

Now, the reason that we made the inroads to Vancouver and Colonna. Edmonton is actually a very popular spot in the Canada landscape to invest in income properties. We started building connections with people all across Western Canada, telling them why Edmonton was a great place to invest.

The more connections we made, the more business opportunities presented themselves in other markets. It just was a positive feedback loop. I just kept going through the doors of opportunity that presented themselves and that's led us now to having our head office in Edmonton and then our BC office in Vancouver.

Alfonso: Obviously, you acquired the many properties in Edmonton and you were, did you start working with property managers where you managed themselves? You mentioned you weren't handy. If there's maintenance or issues, how were you handling those? Cause I know as you start scaling one or two, maybe you can handle, as you started requiring all those, how did you handle it? The work, the constant management of these properties.

James: As a younger person, I had a lot of energy and a lot of time on my hands and was perfectly happy to do the management myself. Probably the first three years or four years, I did all the property management, myself, anything that was super basic painting or mending things, changing door handles, that kind of stuff.

I was able to do it myself. Anything that required any degree of complexity. I had a handyman who was just great, we had a great relationship and anytime anything was broken, I'd call him up to fix it. I trusted his pricing. He was a really friendly, nice person and was able to have a good rapport with the tenants.

Ultimately that was how I managed it first. I hit a certain point in my growth where I was so busy as a realtor, I had so many properties that I thought okay. I'm gonna take the plunge into hiring an actual property management firm to manage these properties on my behalf. And I've had property management pretty much ever since.

Laurel: What would you say then in terms of, at least up to now, were you happiest about in terms of your real estate investing career? Actually how many tools do you have right now?

James: My portfolio is just over 250 units. That's a mix now of houses, a few Airbnb properties houses with secondary suites side by side duplexes with secondary suites. So like a fourplex. I've got a collection of multifamily apartment buildings as well in my portfolio.

Laurel: Okay. What would you say then was your biggest win looking back? What are you proudest of? What did you do? Wow. I am so glad I did that.

James: I think that making the jump into multifamily was a huge milestone for me, because I had to learn how commercial financing worked. I had to learn how to analyze commercial buildings.

I got to use a lot of the skills and knowledge that I built in the single family world to level up, but multifamily was a whole new ball game to be playing in. It was really exciting to be a part of that. So that first apartment building, I was quite proud of. Cause we bid off a heck of a lot to chew. Not only did we buy the apartment building, but it was also a repositioning project. We had to manage the renovation of an entire 12 unit apartment, building all the suites, roof, windows, siding, hallways, and the works. It was a massive project budget and a lot of moving parts. We did a really nice job.

We got a couple hundred thousand dollars of equity at the back end when we repositioned the rents and refinanced. That was a pretty cool feeling to do a fairly ambitious first multifamily and have it still work out quite well for us.

Alfonso: That's phenomenal. I guess, when people might hear, okay, I have 250 doors, multiple apartment buildings, side by side fourplexes.
Some people might get a little bit of anxiety and go, oh my gosh, I'm maybe looking for my first property. Or there are those investors that are looking to scale and say, Hey, I have those duplexes and plexes. Now I want to get into that larger multifamily.
What advice would you give them? I have a follow up question. What advice would you do for going to the residential into the large multi..

James: I guess my first piece of advice is that slow and steady wins the race. If you rush things it's easy to make mistakes or to have your risk tolerance go higher than your actual risk tolerance, etc.

I may be young in human years, but in real estate years, I've been at this for over a decade and a half. I say to anybody who's just getting started, give yourself 15 years. It doesn't all have to happen overnight. Sometimes, you'll have a perfect opportunity that you were being patient will show up.

For us, we acquired a two unit portfolio that added 80 doors to my personal portfolio in one acquisition. It doesn't all happen at an easy predictable pace either. It's all about just being focused and measured and consistently working towards your goals and waiting for opportunities that make sense.

You can't stress out about somebody who's been doing something for a very long time. If you're just getting started in terms of making the jump from single family to multi-family it's there's two schools of thought. If you're listening to this and you're a high net worth individual who just happens to have never dabbled in real estate, maybe going straight into multi-family makes sense.

If you are a new investor and you're using a lot of other people's money through joint ventures and private lending and whatnot, smaller properties represent smaller risk because there's less money in play. The cost of doing transactions in a single family, significantly less. For example, if you're buying a single family property, a home inspection nowadays runs you let's call it 750 bucks.

If it doesn't work out. Be it, if you want to get a building condition, assessment, engineering, and environmental report on a 12 unit department building that can be a five to $7,000 report, you have to pay for the appraiser, the bank doesn't pay for the appraiser. That's another few thousand dollars. Often you have to pay the mortgage broker's lending fee.

Whereas in residential, the bank pays the mortgage brokers lending fee. That's another few thousand bucks, there's, you can easily spend $10,000, $10,000 on a building that you decide not to buy in multifamily. Whereas in a single family, you might spend a couple thousand bucks. In addition to that, the reserve fund on a $500,000 house is very different from the reserve fund you'll need on a $5 million building.

A lot of people look at investing in real estate and say, oh, I need 20% down. Okay. They just calculate it at 20% down. But in the commercial world, Even you wanna budget almost 10% of the price of the building just for contingency and closing costs. The first thing I would say is just make sure that it's something you've got the resources for because it's very capital intensive.

It can go very poorly if you have just the bare minimum for just your down payment, with no buffers for anything else. The second thing I would say is really understand and take the time to level up your math game because multi-family evaluation is really just an exercise in running the budget on the property to come up with the net operating income.

If you're listening to this and you don't like spreadsheets and you don't like math, then I would say, Figure out how to, take a spoonful of sugar to make that medicine go down or partner with somebody who is very inclined on running the numbers. Because it's much more intensive on the mathematical relationship between the rents, the expenses and the prevailing capitalization rate in a marketplace to derive building value.

Whereas in single family it's more so both the neighbors sold for 500, I'm worth 500. If my rent is higher than my expenses, I'm good at math. That's about as far as it gets, which is still fairly complex math, but the math involved in being confident in multifamily is in order of magnitude higher. Whatever process, one needs to go through to learn and be comfortable with how that math works. That's a very critical first step in my opinion.

Laurel: To paraphrase that a bit, it's like, it sounds like you're saying if you're comfortable in working in the world of comparables, right?
Because you compare this house without a house down the street, the same number of beds. Basically the same neighborhood. If you're comfortable with that and you like it, then there's, unless there's a driving reason to go to a multi-family and that could be any reason doesn't really matter.

You're probably just as good to stay where you are. Because you brought up some really interesting points about the math and the amount of money that you have to have behind you. Because a lot of people think that, oh, I can go to a multi-family building and it's commercial.

Now I don't have to worry about my income and there's all kinds of things, but not understanding that just because you're not, maybe the bank isn't looking at you as a person buying a home. There's still going to be a lot of questions about the value of the property, what you can do with it, how you can get the lift in the property and all of those things.

James: Totally. Yeah. It's a lot, it's complex, but I wouldn't describe myself as a math guy, so I feel like if I can learn it, anybody can learn it. Everybody's gonna learn at a different pace. Again, don't rush yourself, it might take you six months of research and learning and understanding, and then all of a sudden the rate opportunity pops up and there you have it. You're ready to make the acquisition.

Alfonso: We're talking about the numbers, you mentioned a little bit in your explanation of, we're using other people's money and partners and the benefits. Maybe walk us through, you said you acquired 80 units in one swoop. We talk about commercial lending.

How have you been able to join it to create successful joint venture partnerships? What's something that your partners can expect with you? What's something that you expect from your partners? How do you prescribe the ultimate marriage when it comes to joint venture partnerships in your business?

James: Oh that's a great question about joint ventures and there's a few layers to it. I'll try to get into it. I'd say the first kind of the balancing act that always exists with joint ventures is, do you find the deal first or do you find the partner first? I personally think that both of those things should happen on a tangent.

Because if the perfect deal, as they say, often attracts money, but you still wanna have an idea and a list and a collection of people who at least have put up their hand and said, Hey, if a cool real estate deal comes up, I'd love to talk about it. I would say that, if you're serious about building a real estate portfolio with joint ventures, just start talking to everybody you network with, and measure their temperature.

Are they interested in real estate? Are they interested in doing a deal? How much capital would they have? What kind of deals are they interested in doing? And just create a little database of who's interested in what, and then start, finding deals that match their criteria of yourself and the majority of the investors that you've talked to.

For example, you've talked to five people who are interested in multi-families all under 2 million, they've all got a couple hundred thousand to invest. They'd like something in an up and coming neighborhood in Edmonton. Okay. I've got five people. I'm gonna go out and find a building that's under 2 million, that's in an up and coming area that doesn't require more capital than I have access to.

It's all about getting that property tied up. You're off to the races to find a joint venture partner. For me, one of the more important criteria for my joint venture partner is number one, understanding what involvement they want in the property.

If you're going to be the managing partner, it's really redundant to have people who claim to be cash partners, actually wanting to have decision making authority every week, every month, having a conversation about everything that happens wanting an update every couple of days. It's all about setting good boundaries of, if it's a quarterly update, they get a quarterly update. They want an annual report. You give them an annual report, but just making sure that we're not stepping on each other's toes and we can have a good working vibe.

The other piece that I really wanna make sure is in alignment is the exit strategy. For example, I don't want a partner who thinks that they want to sell and get their money back in two years, if the project's gonna take a minimum of five years, the reason five years is such a nice, neat number is because your average mortgage term is a five year term.

Operating joint ventures on success of five year terms is just nice, easy math, that lines up with how the banks operate. Again, you want joint venture partners that share your vision of how the property's gonna go. For example, we have a property that's on a very large piece of land. It's a very small apartment building and it's in a growth area that will be having a major infrastructure project happen in about five years.

We're building a new Metro line through that part of town. I say, we the city of Edmonton, I'm a citizen. I'll take it as a we, and we know that probably 10 years down the road, we've got a nice big piece of land with an older building on it. That'll make very good sense to build maybe a low rise tower with a podium, or maybe a wood frame building or something neat.

Who knows what. The market will tell us in that timeframe, what makes sense to build on that? If we have partners who want out in five years, having a 10 year to 15 year vision of buy hold, build equity and redevelop isn't in alignment.

It's nice to have those conversations up front. To summarize the answer, number one expectations on reporting, communication and workflow, and number two expectations on exit strategy is a really good place to start to see if there's a good fit for partners because they have money and want to buy real estate. Isn't the only reason you should partner with somebody.

Laurel: Okay. I wanna follow up on that then. What are other reasons to partner? Cause if it's not just money, what are other reasons? Why would you bring somebody in as a joint venture? If it wasn't about the money.

James: That's, that's a great question. For me, when I do joint ventures, I always operate as a managing partner. I wanna make sure I'm partnering with people who have capital to invest. On the flip side of the coin, if you have capital to invest, then you want somebody that fills gaps that you have.

The typical ingredients that go into a good joint venture dealer. Number one. Cash involved. Somebody's gotta have equity. Number two, typically borrowing power, usually the bank or some other lender is going to be party to the transaction they're going to have criteria upon which they lend.
You need to make sure that the partnership or at least at a key part of that partnership has the borrowing power to match those criteria. Someone to do the ongoing management of the property. At a very basic level, that's making sure that the place always has tenants who are paying rent and that the property's in a good state of repair on a more complex transaction.

Maybe there's a renovation required at the onset of the project, or maybe there's some redevelopment associated with the project. Someone who can manage whatever stuff needs to happen. And the fourth ingredient is just the subject property, finding the deal. Architect, who's gonna be a part of . Now, usually there's one partner who brings cash.

There's one partner who is in management and deal acquisition. The borrowing power I find often can go either way. Sometimes it's one partner that brings it, sometimes both do it together. That one's usually a blend of what the prevailing lending rules of the day are and who the partners are in terms of their collective borrowing power.

Alfonso: Great explanation of, the equity, the financing, the management, and the actual property. Guys if you have been able to pick up on this. James has done this plenty of times and it makes it sound very simple and a nice calm and soothing voice as well, too. What are your future plans? You seem you've done this for, you said, almost, 15 years you've acquired almost, you said 250 doors.

You're continuing to find great properties, great areas, partnering with people so that they can go and expand their portfolios. What gets you up every day? What makes you motivated and to continue to do this and what, where do you see as you move forward?

James: Going forward in the future. My plans are existing on two parallel tracks. Track number one is as a realtor with a real estate career. We really wanna solidify a presence in Western Canada. Over the next five years, we want to have a functioning team office in all the major cities, Edmonton, Calgary, Colonna, Vancouver, Victoria.

If we have a nice solid foothold in each of those markets, it should solidify our place as one of the top real estate firms in Western Canada for investors is a huge focus of ours, but also, regular people buying and selling their homes. That's expansion track number one on the portfolio side, on the real estate investor side I a good analogy would be in my portfolios like a garden.

At this point it's more about maintenance of that garden, as opposed to trying to grow it bigger and bigger. What things that I'll be doing is number one de-leveraging. It's very popular when you know you're starting out your portfolio to get higher leverage.

Make more acquisitions, maybe take a few risks for the sake of growth. At this point, I've got the amount of property that I want. I'm trying to deleverage that property, more equity, less debt. Remove some of the underperforming properties from my portfolio and only very selectively add ones that are like, 11 out of 10 in terms of criteria. Knowing that I very selectively picked properties on pieces of land that will make sense to develop one day.

I don't want to have to go through another round of partnership and capital raising to find the funds to develop by the time it makes sense to develop most of those properties. I'd like them to be. Either debt free or close to debt free so that we can use the equity in the properties as the capital for developing them.

The next round is just letting the market grow the way that it needs to grow. It will let us know when it's time to look at redeveloping some of these properties, because the opportunities are just gonna make sense. That's the two trajectories for the two main pillars of my career: to grow our real estate team.

Find great realtors in the major cities that want to be a part of our organization that match our culture and that love helping people buy investment properties and then, take my portfolio and just let that leverage deleverage itself, replace debt with equity. When the time is right, start looking at redeveloping some of these pieces of property that I have.

Laurel: It sounds to me like when you were talking about the de-leveraging strategy and everything else that you talked about around joint going into joint ventures and all the rest of it. Doesn't really matter whether you're talking about a multifamily like a large multifamily resident, or 12 or 24 or whatever, 50 units or single family homes. Cause really when push comes to shelf, you are talking about the same thing. You can deleverage your single family holdings, correct?

James: Absolutely. Ones that I've definitely deeded to the houses as well. Every property I call it is a bit of an old school way of thinking because especially with interest rates being as inexpensive as they are, a lot of people are like, oh, the money's so cheap, they borrow more of it.

I'm thinking, oh, the money's so cheap. I can pay down the mortgage faster. It's definitely a different way of thinking, but I personally feel that, the, one of the safest places to be from a wealth creation perspective is to own top quality assets and top quality locations with no debt on them.
That's what I'm pushing towards.

Laurel: In another 15 years, if we come to talk to James, you're gonna be sitting in your, I don't know, you're ski resort. Cause I know you're a skier, right?

James: Very likely, yeah. I even got my little ski mountain right here.

Laurel: I saw that in the background. If you're listening to this, you don't see it, but James has a picture of his mountains in the, on the back of it, in his office. You're gonna be skiing from the resort that you own in one of these I don't know, somewhere out in BC or Alberta or wherever it is, maybe it's Austria, I don't know. You're just like, you have little debt in you're enjoying life.

James: I sure hope so. I'm also a big believer in, COVID was a wacky time and a lot of bad things happened, but one of the good things that happened is it taught us how to work remotely a lot more effectively, especially in the real estate space, which is traditionally something that.
It was assumed, had to be done, to live in person face to face. Right now we're using zoom and other camera related technologies. I see another five to 10 years and using tools like Matterport to take virtual walkthroughs of spaces. In addition to putting on VR goggles in the metaverse.

Even the real estate profession is gonna become more and more remote. I'm really looking forward from a lifestyle by design perspective, not really stepping away from real estate, but making my real estate career as a practicing real estate professional, not location specific as often as it currently needs to be. I'm very bullish on the future of technology in that way and the positive implications it's gonna have on our industry from a lifestyle perspective.

Alfonso: Definitely the technology is getting better and better. The selfie video walking through properties is gonna continue to improve by actually being there in person versus, just on your health to handheld cell phones. James, a great insight. I think we've reached the point of the podcast that we're gonna do our lightning round. So James, are you ready for the lightning round??

James: Hit me with it. .

Laurel: Okay. All you have to do is give us the first answer that comes off the top of your head. It's not hard. What's the best advice you've ever received from another investor or at a networking event?

James: I would say that the best advice I've ever received is beware. Leverage. It's very easy to say, oh, I have a thousand percent ROI because I put next to no money down on this property, but more debt always means more risk. The more debt you take on the more payments you're making and the more exposure you have. Just because you can leverage something more highly doesn't necessarily mean you should.

Alfonso: Okay great perspective, which is counterintuitive to what the common advice is out there these days. That's really great advice. All right. Question number two. What is your favorite resource for real estate investing?

James: My favorite resource for real estate investing. I typically really enjoy books. Actually. I like to be able to sit back and read something, reread something. I went to school at a time where we didn't have laptops in school or iPads or anything like that. Like we had to rate our, we had to scribble our nose down in a coil ring binder.

Just having a physical book to write notes in the margins and highlight pages that's how my brain operates. I find that's a really good resource because typically, if someone's going to the effort to put a book together, it's often a very well curated piece of content where you know something that's on YouTube or a lot of pre-recorded stuff for people speaking off the cuff.

I find books typically put a little bit more thought into them and it gives you a chance to read something, reread it, think about it, reread it.
I also like books that are almost written like workbooks or textbooks. There's a lot of really good real estate books out there where they'll have spreadsheets or flow charts or process charts, and to really help you wrap your head around the bits and bites of the business of real estate.

Alfonso: All right. I have to ask for any suggestions, top two, top three. That you would put out there.

James: I would say from a mindset piece, rich dad, poor dad, understanding the quote unquote cashflow quadrant is a really important aha moment that I think all investors need to wrap their head around.

One of the classics would be 97 tips for real estate investors by Don Campbell. A lot of the advice he gives is still relevant to this day, even though the book is pushing 20 years old now.

Laurel: Yeah, those are really good books. They're almost like they're really good reference books that you can go back and read them again and again.
The thing about books like that is that if they're really well written every time you dip into them, you come away with something new, a different perspective, a different thought, something that caught your attention than it didn't before. Yeah, I agree with you. I have dozens and dozens of books. All right. Question number three. What is the attribute? What's the one attribute that you think has made you successful?

James: I think it understanding that it's important to take care of yourself. I've really learned into that throughout my entire career is I was doing self-care before people started talking about self-care. I think it's really important that another way of thinking about it is nobody wants to do business with somebody that's cranky, grumpy, tired, unmotivated, tell me what's going on.

How's it going? It's going. Sometimes it's challenging to put on that positive energy and that happy face, unless you've invested in yourself to put yourself in a good head space. I think the most important investment you can make of time is in yourself. Because if you invest in yourself to be in a positive mindset, if you invest in yourself to be, generally happier and more joyful, if you invest in yourself to be more enthusiastic and energetic, and if you're well rested, you can actually bring your best self to the table.

There's a much higher likelihood that a joint venture partner is gonna say yes. When you have a conversation coming from that place, it's much more likely that realtors want to put you on their A-list because you seem like the kind of person who can close a deal, etc.

The key to it isn't, Doing some mental gymnastics to force yourself to be in a good mood. When you feel like crap, it's actually going a level deeper and nurturing yourself, taking care of yourself and putting standing appointments in your calendar where you do the sorts of things that put you in that head space.

That's something that served me incredibly well is understanding that if I show up as my best self that's when the magic happens. I need to invest in being my best self first, so that I show up in that way.

Alfonso: That's very profound, great advice. For those that are listening to this hit rewind, listen to that again.
That's fantastic advice. It leads into the last question. Question number four of the lightning round, what are you typically doing on a Sunday morning?

James: Going for brunch. If it's season on and we're watching NFL while we're having that Sunday brunch, and if this it's season off, then probably eating brunch and then hitting the ski hill.

Laurel: Good for you. That's the way to do it, right? Enjoy life. Cause why are we doing this all? If it isn't to enjoy life.

James: Absolutely. Some people talk about work, life balance. I'm more of a work life integration. For example, I just got back from three days at big white and the people I was skiing with were a real estate developer who were looking at project marketing for a couple of past clients who were with their friends who were very likely gonna become future clients and cross paths with one of my business partners on Sunday, on our way back from the mountain.

I was doing the thing I love the most, which is skiing and yet fostering and nurturing relationships, which have, and will lead to business opportunities as well. I think that's the real beauty of it. If you do the things you like to do and you do them with other people, Chances are those relationships will lead to opportunity at some point

Laurel: I agree with you 100%. I use the term work life harmony but it's the same thing. It means exist. The same thing.
Harmony is a perfect word. Cause like you, I don't believe in work life balance. It's just like a croc. It doesn't exist. If you're in harmony, if everything's integrated, then things work smoothly and you attract what you need to attract.

James: It's so true. When you put out positive vibes, people will get attracted to them.

Laurel: That's great. James, where can people reach you? How can they reach you?

James: Yeah. We're all plugged in on social media. If you check my name out on any of the channels, you'll find me but the quickest and easiest way to initiate a conversation would be
If you don't want us to have a conversation, you just wanna check out what we're up to. Check out our website, or at moguls on any channel you can imagine or on all of them.

Laurel: That's great. Thank you very much.

James: Hey, it's been my pleasure. This has been a great conversation.
It's gotten me excited all over again about real estate. Every time I talk about it with people who has plugged in as you guys, it just gives me energy. Thank you for the chance to chat.

Laurel: Okay. Great. There's a lot to think about there. Isn't there? I'm gonna ask you what your biggest takeaway is, but I'm gonna just jump in there and tell you what my biggest takeaway was.

That was at the very end, when he talked about being the best person he can be to show up. Once you do that, Then everything just falls in place. Funny how that works, if you're the very best person you can be, it doesn't mean you have to be perfect, but just the best person that you can be, then the magic happens.

Alfonso: Absolutely. He mentioned alignment with partners and joint ventures, but I think alignment with self alignment, with what you want to achieve, those personal goals of that sense of peace. Everybody wants that in their own life. Nobody wants to be hectic. Yeah, sure. Some moments, some excitement getting the heart rate up.

That's always fun. He's also a skier, so I'm sure there's adrenaline that goes through when you're going down those Hills, but you have to have a plan on how you get to the bottom of that mountain. You can't just close your eyes and hope for the best. That's not usually a good plan.
I'm definitely not skiing and definitely not in real estate investing. My biggest takeaway is, setting the boundaries with joint venture partners, right? He says it's redundant. If both wanna be managing partners. What did you call two things that are the same one too many, right?

You have to have those different strengths to make a great partnership. The four pieces of the equity, the financing, the management, and the actual. Project itself, the actual deal itself, putting those in order and getting that all aligned, I think was my biggest takeaway of course, with aligning yourself making sure that you are in that best position. Great conversation. We're gonna be definitely talking to James a lot more in the future on The REITE Club Community, probably have back for another podcast and yeah, and just continue to learn from the amazing people in our community. And James is no different.

Laurel: Absolutely. Everybody, please go to the website of, sign up, get our newsletter, check out our videos, and go and listen to podcasts that you haven't listened to before.
There's all kinds of resources there. It's there for you. Go grab it, and have help. We wanna help you make that great life. In fact, we wanna help you customize your life.

Alfonso: Yes, we'll see you next time. Thanks so much for listening. Have a great day everyone.

DJ: Thanks for listening to The REITE Club podcast and joining our community of real estate investors online at where the focus is about helping you grow. We look forward to seeing you again next week. Thanks from your hosts, Sarah Larbi and Alfonso Salemi.