Post-COVID Opportunities in Commercial Real Estate


Laurel Simmons: Hi everyone, I'm Laurel Simmons, a co-founder of the REITE Club, and I'm here with Sarah Larbi, my co-host and another co-founder. Hi Sarah, how are you doing?

Sarah Larbi: Very good. Anyways, today's guest, Ken Bekendam, he is just a wealth of knowledge and you guys probably have heard of him. He is one of the top people that do basement conversions or secondary suites legally. And we have some great conversations about not necessarily legalizing second suites, but how do you convert commercial to residential, how do you convert larger buildings? And I think that there's some really interesting conversations in there as well. Let's go on to our interview with Ken. Ken, welcome to the show. How are you?

Ken Bekendam: I'm doing fantastic. It's been quite a busy season for us in the second suite conversion, multi-family conversion business. Everybody is getting into it, which is awesome to see. And it's been fun. It's been a very interesting year for sure.

Sarah Larbi: Awesome. We're excited to have you on again. You've been a recurring guest on our podcast and a recurring partner of ours for the REITE Club for quite some time as well. And when I think of second suites, I think of you as, my thought of who is a great person to reach out to get some help on conversions and it doesn't necessarily have to be two units, but three units, four units. You've got a lot of experience. But before we get into that quick background, I'm just like your own portfolio, what that consists of and what your main strategy with your portfolio is.

Ken Bekendam: I've been investing in myself personally since 2010. Buying, started out with a condo and then we moved into some single family homes. Then got into, converting properties, duplexes, triplexes. I'm also part of a real estate family, so my dad and my brothers are also into this as well.

They're not into it As heavy as I am. But nonetheless, we do things, as a family. We do things individually as well. But yes. As far as the portfolio right now, I have 10 properties and 10 rental properties. All of 'em are duplexes. And then as a family, we have about 27 all altogether, and that's about 58 rental units.

Altogether. So that's where we're at right now. I'm involved a lot in the day-to-day management of those properties. I manage my own stuff, but then also, of course, because I'm doing it full-time, I'm the one who's gotta manage my dad's properties as well. So we've been doing it for a while.

I grew up in a, like I said, in a real estate investing family. Since I was a young kid, we've always had these properties around, renovating them over the years and cleaning them and stripping, wallpaper and all that kind of good stuff. We were doing a lot of renovations too over the years and, we were doing basement apartments 10 years, 15 years ago as well.

Because it made sense. But obviously they weren't legal at that time and it's only been the last five years here that we've been really able to legalize. And it's getting easier and easier every year. Yeah. So we're still buying . I'm on my fifth property this year, purchasing. This year's actually been a big big year for me as well. And I'm starting to get into some JV partnerships. I do use a lot of private lending as well to help fund my deals. But then, so that's on the personal side. And then on the business side, I'm helping a ton of, I don't even know.

I can't even keep track anymore. Probably this year alone I've helped conserve over a hundred investors easily this year on their portfolios. Helping them, increasing density and adding more units. Primarily it's still duplexes, adding legal basement apartments or secondary units.

I do have a number of ambassadors who do get into legal triplexes and legal fourplexes even as of late, getting into some even larger stuff, doing 12 unit and 16 unit conversions as well. Starting to see a lot of people get into the mixed use commercial, residential units in some of the downtown core areas and converting ground floor commercial into residential. Definitely seeing a trend in with the covid and all this kind of stuff and the trend of these older ground floor commercial units. Not being utilized really anymore. Definitely seeing a desire to convert those back into residential.

Laurel Simmons: Actually that's really interesting cuz I was thinking about that the other day where because of Covid and because of, everything that's happening with businesses not going back to their storefronts, basically, there's a lot of real estate that can be used and it sounds like clients and you are taking advantage of that. So can you talk a little bit more about, what are the challenges in converting say, storefronts or mixed use buildings into fully residential?

Ken Bekendam: As we get into some of these larger conversion projects there's definitely more things you have to comply with, right? It gets a bit more challenging, again just like when it comes to converting a bungalow into a second, into a two unit dwelling you still have to comply with zoning. So now a lot of these. Let's just focus on some of the downtown areas, the downtown corridors of some of these cities.

A lot of them have a mixed use zoning that does allow for a mix of commercial and residential development. But there can be restrictions on where that is, where are those residential dwell units located? Are they just above the first floor or are they allowed to be on the ground floor or are they allowed to be in the basement?

Some of these zonings, and this is where you have to be really specific to the property and the city and the actual zone that you're working in. Because some of these zones do not permit residential on the ground floor. They permit them up above. So when we're getting into converting these buildings, we're making these ground floor commercial Units into residential.

Sometimes there are minor variances involved in order to, and it depends on the zoning. Because some zonings are very specific where they say, a residential unit has to be 0.9 meters above grade. So that means all of a sudden, we have to apply for variance to go to basically zero meters above grade or at the existing floor level of that commercial unit.

It's not uncommon that we have to go for a variance, but as cities some cities are working on revamping their downtown zoning bylaws and they're allowing full residential, like where we can take this commercial mixed use building and we're permitted to do multi-dwelling multiple dwellings, which means we can convert the whole building. Again, there is again, we have to comply with parking. If there are even parking requirements in place. Some of these downtown corridor zones don't even require parking. Especially if we're under, if we're still under, 10, 12 dwelling units.

Obviously once we get into the larger stuff, Then parking does kick in again. We're still looking at smaller residential developments, four to 10 dwelling units. Some of these zones don't even require parking. But again, when we're converting commercial mixers into straight residential, we are changing occupancy of the building.

We have a commercial occupancy on the ground floor and we have a residential. Occupancy up on the upper levels. And we do get into obviously fire separation requirements, all the same types of things that the building code would require.

When it comes to building code, there is a big shift once we move from a house with two dwelling units. We now are into three dwelling units or more. The building code changes as far as how they're looking at this particular building, and it's now classified as a building and the building code when we have three or more dwelling units.

All of a sudden our fire separation requirements increase and our means of egress is different. Our ceiling height requirements are different. With the house, with two dwelling units, we're actually allowed a lot of reductions in requirements using part 11 compliance alternatives, which makes it easier to convert these houses.

Converting buildings through more units. It get more challenging, but it's all part of the investment strategy, right? No risk, no reward, right? The people who can overcome some of these challenges and be able to configure it out and convert these buildings can have a very good return on their investment.

Sarah Larbi: Absolutely. You've said so many really awesome things. I'm thinking somebody's listening to this, take some notes cause there's a lot of great information that was just shared with Ken, so thank you for that. And I think there's gonna be some opportunity, right? Wealth is created in those opportunities. Maybe people are afraid to go after that whole conversion piece of taking a mixed use or some type of commercial, changing it to residential I think is a great strategy for maybe not a complete beginner unless they have a team. And you've got the assistance there.

Can you just go back a little bit and let's just say somebody's looking at a mixed use commercial, residential mix. Maybe they have one already and they're not too sure what to do with the commercial unit. Like how do they even figure out if it's an option? Like where do they go? Who do they call? And then can you also afterwards just talk on what a variance means?

Ken Bekendam: It's no different than when we're looking at a residential property and whether or not we can convert it into two units, right? It just, we're looking at the zoning of this particular building, where it's situated, and what the zone, what the permitted use is of that zone, and what the re requirements are for that permitted use.

In a lot of these Commercial districts, they're gonna have a whole list of permitted uses. Could it be an artist, studio, office, micro brewery, multiple dwelling, dwelling units. And there's a difference between Multiple dwelling and dwelling units. Multiple dwelling means that the whole building is dwelling units.

You could have 10 dwelling units in the building as multiple dwelling units. When we have, when we see the description dwelling units, that typically means dwelling units in conjunction with commercial requirements. And so again, we're looking, we're trying to figure out what the permitted use is, right?

That we're permitted dwelling units, or multiple dwelling first and foremost, and, confirming that we don't require a commercial component to the building still as in order to enact one of these other permitted uses because some of the zoning does still require a commercial component in order to have dwelling units and some don't.

This is where it's really important to make sure that, we can go to all residential and get rid of this commercial aspect to the building, and then, under, so if, when you're reading through a typical bylaw, we'll see multiple dwellings as a permitted use. And then further down in the bylaw, there's gonna be requirements in order to meet that permitted juice. Could be a unit size could be a Height above grade requirement. Is it only permitted on the first or second floors? Is it permitted on the ground floor? Is it permitted in the basement, etc.

We have to figure out how we're gonna comply if we wanna get this permitted use, right? And like any bylaw, as soon as we have to go outside of the bylaw, we have to apply for a minor variance. So I have a couple applications right now actually. We've been getting into a bunch of commercial mix use conversion projects up and down the King Street corridor in Hamilton, downtown Hamilton, all up and down King Street, and there's a lot of these older.

Mixed use buildings there up and down. That corridor is a talk zone, which is a transit-oriented corridor zone. And part of that particular zone in that particular city is that they have a 0.9 meters above grade requirement for dwelling units for multiple dwelling. And anytime we're converting up and down that corridor, unless the ground floor of the particular building happens to be 0.9 meters, which is three feet above grade, we're applying for a variance for that.

Laurel Simmons: I'm just gonna jump in there. So that people really understand what a variance means. You have major variances and minor variances. And a minor variance, as far as I know, just means that there's a little bit of leeway. Like the planning committee of any city has some, or the zoning committee, whatever they call it, has some leeway in giving permission, right? So basically a group of people get together, look at the application for a minor variance and say yes or no, if it's really minor. They usually say yes, right? Not always, but usually. But then if it's major, then that goes into a whole different process. Is that correct?

Ken Bekendam: A major variance is almost getting into a rezoning, depending on how, what you're asking for, most times it's either minor. Or are rezoning because it's so major that you're not even fitting within the existing bylaw. A variance, like a minor variance is, you're making an application to a committee of community members, who will then discuss and rule on whether or not they're gonna grant you that reduction in the bylaw.

Laurel Simmons: Can I give an example here just so that people understand? So like on a single family unit of single family dwelling, if it's a single home and say you've bought a lot, and it's the zone that says that they, there has to be 50 foot frontage on the street and the lot is actually 49 feet. Then it's true, that's a one foot difference. And you would apply for a minor variance. Chances are. The committee, the city's gonna say, yeah, go ahead. It's rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things, right?

Ken Bekendam: Yes. It's a formal process we have to go through, and technically speaking, if we're a short one inch or a half a square foot on what the bylaw states, Technically we have to go through this formal process to have our dimensions recognized, and sometimes it seems like a pain in the butt, every city has to have, we have to have some sort of numbers as a baseline bottom line number for these requirements, right?

Like unit size for instance. Sometimes, our unit is 10 square feet smaller than what the bylaw states. And we're like, oh my goodness. This is ridiculous. It's only 10 square feet, the next guy might come along and his unit might be a hundred square feet smaller, or the next guy might come along and be like 300 square feet smaller. So if you have to have a baseline number and there are bylaws in order to have some sort of parameters to work within. But yeah, it can be a real annoyance when it's so minor. Yeah, you have to spend all this money and time to go through that process.

Sarah Larbi: Speaking of time as an example, so let's just say somebody's got something that they're interested in buying. Let's just say they have it under contract and they close in 30 to 45 days. Just thinking of the time and the process, when should somebody get you involved, as an example to start with the process, if they wanted to do some type of conversion.

Ken Bekendam: These days, especially with the way things are going right now at City Hall and the building and planning departments, we need more time. We need more time to get stuff done. The current environment of home purchases is a very competitive right, so people are buying properties quickly and closing quickly.

In order just to get the deal. But however, on the permit side, it's taking three times as long to get anything through the cities these days. So we have this huge gap between when we have the property. And then when we're actually getting our actual building permit. So we have to be getting started very early on in the process.

Like after you firm up, basically we should be in there right away taking measurements and starting the drawings. Cause any sort of permit application. Whether it's a building permit or a minor variance application, we still need a full set of drawings, architectural drawings for the property.

Depending on the architect's firm or the designer and their workload, those drawings could take two weeks. They could take four weeks or longer depending on the volume. So yeah, first and foremost, you have to get in there right away and get your drawings going because once we make a submission, it's still gonna be sitting in the city for weeks and weeks and or months. If we're getting into a variant situation.

Sarah Larbi: Are there like cities as an example that are faster than others that you're able to share? I know this is Ontario right now, that you're working with some areas, but are there some that are, like, these ones are more investor friendly and they like these conversion type of things, projects better than others or is it all the same in your opinion?

Ken Bekendam: It's all about the size of the building department. So obviously in a bigger city you're gonna have a bigger building department. There's more hands touching the application. There's more bureaucracy you have to go through typically, which just slows everything down.
In a smaller city, there may only be one building plan examiner who's reviewing residential applications and sometimes it can be relatively quick to go through the process depending on that city's volume of applications. In general though, the smaller cities that we smit in, the quicker the processes the bigger the city the longer it takes.

Again, sometimes the smaller cities are, again, because you're only working with one individual and you could be working with the same person over and over again. If you're doing a lot of work in that city, you really develop a relationship with this person. You know them on a first name basis, you can email them some of these planners and some of these days I have them on my phone, I have their cell phone.

I can just text them with a quick question if I have or a quick update to see how they're making out. But in general though, every city's process is the same. We still have to show compliance with building code and zoning bylaw with any sort of drawings that we submit.

Typically, whatever city we work in it's no different as far as what we're producing, what we have to submit to them. But it's a big difference in who's reviewing it, how many people are reviewing it, and what their different processes are. That could really speed up or slow down the applications.

Laurel Simmons: Can you just tell us a little bit about a typical person ? There is no such thing as a typical real estate investor, but anyway, someone comes to you and says, okay, I just put an offer in for this. Let's say it's a place in a downtown, any town, whatever medium size city, say 50, 75,000 people. It's in the downtown core on Main Street. It's probably an older building as a lot of them are in maybe certain parts of Ontario and smaller towns. Like what would be the first thing you would do?

They come to you and say, I wanna convert this into, I wanna get rid of the lower level commercial and turn this into a full residential building. What would be the very first thing that you would do when you went to look at the building?

Ken Bekendam: That's very it's a great thing you ask that because that happens all the time. People will send me an address or a listing and say, Hey this is what we want to do with this building. And then, like I said, first and foremost, we check zoning and make sure, find out what the permitted uses are. But then before we even get too far along the zoning process, we have to make sure that this building itself can comply with building code.

For what your intended use is going to be. And so we're converting commercial mix use properties into multiple dwellings. 10 outta 10 times, were not considered a house, right? We're considered a building and there's a whole different set of building code requirements, right? So somebody asked me the other day about converting this building into a legal triplex, right?

It has a commercial ground floor unit, and it has two residential units on the upper level. And I'm like before you even really go down the road of, a minor variant or rezoning or what whatever the zoning would require to comply, can this building even comply as a legal as far as building code?
They wanted to maybe use part of the basement, make the basement into a unit, the ground floor into a unit, and then have their existing. Two residential units on the upper level and we gotta make sure that we can, this basement of this old building can even meet building code for a dwelling unit.

Make sure we have our minimum ceiling heights down there because in a building our minimum ceiling heights are higher than what they would call for in a house or like a basement apartment in a house. And then sometimes that kind of stops the conversation right there because all of a sudden they realize just because the zoning permits me multiple, developing my particular building won't even comply with building code, without really substantial renovations.

Like I said, in the building code, everything is possible through renovations, but it may not be feasible to do everything right. So this is where it really depends on what you're buying and how much you're willing to put into it for renovations.

Sarah Larbi: Great advice, Ken. You've got tons of, great insights and I would just say if somebody is not sure, Ken will provide his information after to be able to, reach out to Ken and have Ken, do some walkthroughs or some videos or have discussions with you guys as you may come across different buildings that you have under contract.

Ken I wanna take a little bit of a turn and just ask you a different question just about, because you're an investor. You're a property manager, you have this role of doing conversions for many investors. Like how, and you have a cute little son as well. Like how do you manage your schedule to have a life at the end of the day as well?

Ken Bekendam: I guess that's the challenge of any entrepreneur, starting out building a business building your own real estate portfolio and then being in an industry that is rapidly growing and there's increasing demand for converting properties. Yeah, like my calendar and my day-to-day life is crazy.

Absolutely crazy. I find it very difficult to get a lot of to be very productive during the daytime because my phone rings all the time, I have a lot of emails that come in and I, I spend half a day just going through emails and then the other half the day on phone calls in between doing my consultations and site visits at properties.

I do find myself a lot actually working on drawings and reviewing drawings with my team. Into the evening, into the late evening. It's actually very common in the architectural world with designers and engineers that a lot of them do work into the evening quite late. It's not uncommon for me to be on the computer and it could be two o'clock in the morning.

I got five of my other designers online. Working on drawings and my engineer is up and he's working on stuff and we're going back and forth reviewing stuff, late into the evening because for a lot of us, that's the only time that we can really be productive and not have any distractions where we can actually focus on the actual work of drawings and design work.

I do have a four and a half year old little boy. He's in senior kindergarten this year. And obviously I'm a single parent. My wife passed away almost a year ago now in October here. She passed away in 2019, so it's coming up to a year. And so it's been a real challenging year trying to balance this growth in the company.

The increasing demand on design work and then being a single parent, I did have a nanny who was working full-time. Every day coming at eight o'clock in the morning till five o'clock, and just helping with just the day-to-day stuff of running a household, and raising a child.

Actually she recently actually got into a car accident. She's okay. Thank goodness, and thank, thankfully my son wasn't in the car. But she did total the car and she was right now home healing. But right now I don't have my nanny anymore to help. So I've been really relying on my family to help step in and help, thankfully with the way my scheduling goes as far as when I'm meeting clients at houses, I'm not typically meeting a client until nine o'clock or nine 30 in the morning anyways, so I can easily drive my son to school and get him off.

Then I do have lots of help as far as after school care, picking him up. I try to pick him up two days a week at least. And then the other days, I have different people stepping in to help pick him up. But I need to find more time to rest and relax. Actually, this weekend we're going up to the cottage. So our family just recently bought a family cottage up in Northern Ontario and so actually we just closed, we closed yesterday.

Sarah Larbi: Life changer to have a cottage I should get away to.

Ken Bekendam: Yes, so we're actually, this is our first weekend up there. We're going up there actually to do work on it, to clear it out, actually do a little bit of demolition work and we're actually gonna be tackling the renovation ourselves, actually like myself and some of my siblings. And we're gonna do it. Over weekends when we're up there, like we're so used to hiring everything out down here, right?

We hire it all up to trades and different things. But for the cottage, we're gonna try and lay our own flooring and do some, our own painting and stuff up there. So that'd be fun and be able to create new experiences up there at the cottage. But look I'm just like so many of our listeners and so many people out there, look I'm trying to build a life for myself too.

I'm trying to invest in real estate to build up my portfolio of properties to gain that financial freedom so that I can ultimately at some point really step back and be able to raise and care for my son. On a somewhat full-time basis. I'm thankful that I was able to, two years ago, quit my full-time job and really focus on this.

Real estate business and as my wife was getting sicker and sicker at the time, my investments in real estate at the time really afforded me the ability to step back when I needed to and even now, be able to have a somewhat flexible schedule to be able to bring my son to school, be able to pick him up from school a couple days a week, and create my own schedule.

My schedule is very tight. I have small windows of opportunity here and there, but that's the challenge. Great things in life don't come that easily all the time and you really have to work hard trying to achieve your goals. But I've been blessed to be able to really be focused or really be surrounded with a lot of other really active real estate investors.

Obviously through my business I get to connect with a lot of different investors like this year's, easily over a hundred people. Like we're gonna be up to 140 conversion permits by the time the year is out here and we've probably re renovated close to 30 houses.

Through that experience, I get to meet all sorts of different investors. I get to hear their stories. I get to find out. What types of investment strategies they like to focus on, what works for them? I'm an open book. I'm always looking to learn. And so if I can learn from any of these investors, this helps me better serve my other clients.

Right by sharing that knowledge and that information and those experiences. But yeah, it's obvious 2019 was a real challenging year for me, 2020 obviously with all this covid stuff has been challenging for many people, myself included. Thankfully, my business has continued to grow and we've been up 40% this year and I'm very thankful for that. Very blessed to be able to do that and continue to do that.

Sarah Larbi: Amazing. Thank you so much for that. We could keep talking cause you've got so much information, so much insight, so much knowledge. But we're going to go to our next part of the podcast, which is our lightning round. So Ken, you're going to give us the first answer that comes to mind. Laurel and I will take turns asking you questions. Are you ready?

Ken Bekendam: I'm ready.

Sarah Larbi: All right. Question number one. Ken, what is the best advice that you have ever received from another investor or in a networking event?

Ken Bekendam: The best advice that I've heard from another investor was obviously the person who deals with the most shit wins the person who deals with the most crap wins. And I see a lot like some of these investors who tackle some of these really problematic buildings and houses. They in the end can do very well.

Laurel Simmons: That's a really great answer. I love that. So what's your favorite resource for real estate investing, whether it's, book training, person, event, what is it?

Ken Bekendam: For me, obviously in this business it's bylaws, the zoning bylaws that the city's put out there and provide. That's our roadmap for development and converting that in combination with the building code. When we're looking at intensifying properties, those are our two big resources. The bylaws and the building code. It's our textbook for doing what we do. So it's the best resource I could think of that anybody should know.

Sarah Larbi: I always remember when you speak on stage, you've got like these huge binders with you. It's a lot.

Ken Bekendam: You see them right behind me there. They have it up on my filing cabinet.

Sarah Larbi: These binders are like half a foot each. All right. Next question number three. What is the one attribute that you would say has made you most successful?

Ken Bekendam: I think I have big goals and dreams for my own life as far as what I wanna be able to accomplish, and that really just keeps driving me forward. And I think you have to set, I think you have to set lofty goals for yourself. Whether you think they're realistic or not, you have to set a very high goal so that you always have something to work towards. And in this business or in life in general, like there's always another level to get to.

It doesn't matter what level you're at right now. If you don't own anything right now, while the next level is owning something, right? If you own five properties, while the next level is 10 properties, if you have 10, the next level is who knows, right? So I'm always looking at, okay where am I at? Like, where am I at right now? Where do I wanna be and how do I get there? That's what drives people, right? You have to have, you have to have good goals,

Laurel Simmons: It sounds like your why's really important to you. And as we all know, really good, strong, why you're gonna make it. And you've got it. So that's great. Ken, last question. What do you typically do on a Sunday morning?

Ken Bekendam: On a Sunday morning? I used to go to church on Sunday morning. Obviously, over the last couple years with my wife being sick, we weren't always able to get out. Like we would, we would want to, obviously with Covid and everything, a lot of church communities have closed down. They're starting to open a little bit, but, so yes, I would like to go more often on Sundays, but I don't, right now I do to stay home with my son. We get cozy up on the couch Sunday morning, have a nice cup of coffee or a cup of tea, and watch some morning cartoons.

Then typically after that, we're going out, trying to connect with some family. I'll go out to one of my sibling's places or my parents' place, and then have lunch. And just try and relax. I do find myself, sneaking into the office and trying to pump out some work in between, trying to stay up on top of things. But that's part of my life. It's a mix of home and work every day it seems. But like I said, I'm trying to find that balance. But it's tough. It's tough sometimes.

Sarah Larbi: Absolutely. Ken, where can the REITE Club Nation or listeners reach out if they want to learn more or speak to you?

Ken Bekendam: Obviously you can connect with me on Facebook. I do have a little Instagram thing up. I'm not, I haven't been great. I got one post. I'm not that great at Instagram, but definitely connect with me on Facebook. You can connect with me through my website

There's a contact form there that you can send me a contact or you can send me a Facebook message. Feel free to add me on Facebook. I always like connecting with more and more investors out there. So if you're listening to this, my Facebook is just my name, Ken Bekendam. I'm the only one out there that has the same name, so it should be easy to find. You can always Google me too. There's lots of stuff up on Google about me as well.

Sarah Larbi: Amazing. Sounds good, Ken. And any final last words of advice for the REITE club nation?

Ken Bekendam: I would say the trends right now are more units under one roof. Okay. So if you're out there looking at an investment opportunity and where you should be investing, look for those bigger buildings that you can add more dwelling units to because converting bungalows into two units and it's getting tougher with where prices are at and with where rents are at.

A duplex conversion is going the way of a single family home where it doesn't, it may not make sense anymore. There's still good opportunities. Don't get me wrong. You can still buy right? If you buy right. It can still be a great opportunity, but let's look at some of these larger projects. Triplex is fourplexes, you know what you have.

Sarah Larbi: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Ken, for being on our show. It was great to have you and listeners, REITE Club Nation, reach out to Ken. He is a wealth of knowledge and thank you for sharing what you did today.

Ken Bekendam: Thanks guys. I appreciate the opportunity to be on again.

Sarah Larbi: I love Ken. He is great. He's got so much information and he's also got a great portfolio himself. And I will tell you, he's so humble. He's humble, he's nice. He's wanting to help. And I will say that it's just incredible the growth that he's been able to do in the last few years on his own as well, but also all the help that he's helped with many investors, many REITE club members, just being able to convert correctly. Cause I'll tell you, if you find and you hire the wrong person for these you can waste a lot of time and a lot of money. I just love the idea of looking at commercials and figuring out a way to convert some of that into residential. I think that's brilliant. What's your takeaway, Laurel, from that?

Laurel Simmons: My takeaway is, oh, first of all, on a personal level, Ken, it's not easy, right? His wife has died. He has a little boy and he's trying to pull everything together and manage it. Thank goodness he has family around to help him. And as you heard in the podcast, who is now in a car accident, can't help him so much anymore.

It's really tough. That being said though, he's not letting it stop him. Is he? He's going on and he's determined to make a success and it's really cool to see how committed he is and he has dreams and goals. He's not giving up. And the conversation about commercial it's, yeah, like why not?
We see right now because of what's going on, a lot of storefronts closing. But this is valuable real estate. And we know that there are so many people who need housing. So this is a perfect opportunity. Is it easy? Not necessarily. Is it worth doing?

Sarah Larbi: Absolutely. Anyways, Laurel, it's always a pleasure to have you as my co-host club Nation. Thanks for tuning in again. And Laurel, what do we say to the REITE club nation?

Laurel Simmons: We say, come grow with us.

Sarah Larbi: Until next week.