Interested in investing in multi-family properties? Daniel St-Jean of The REITE Club finds out why Cyndi Gould chose that strategy and has stayed with it.
TRC: Cindy, I've known you for quite a while. When did you get involved in real estate investing?
Cyndi Gould: I actually got started in 2012. Getting my education in the spring of that year, built, started building my team and then actually bought two duplexes in Hamilton in September 2012.
TRC: Why did you get involved in real estate investing?
Cyndi Gould: In a nutshell, I had pretty bad results in the stock market, as I'm sure many people did in that time, two years before that.
And a friend of mine gave me the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. And it seems like common sense, but the message of passive income blew my mind, resonated with me so greatly at that time. And I just knew there had to be a better way to reach retirement or provide for my family. So I figured real estate would be a good place to start.
TRC: Yes. And there is something really cool about going to sleep at night and waking up the next morning, because your properties have all increased in value and people paid the rent on overnight. And all of a sudden you have more money in your bank account.
Cyndi Gould: Yeah, for sure.
TRC: Tell us how and where did you start? What was your first strategy? I know you mentioned buying some properties, some income properties quickly.
Cyndi Gould: My first mandate was researching places that I could get educated. Just reading that book, obviously.
The book didn't tell me how to go about doing things very much... just the end game is what it taught me. I found an organization, got educated in the spring. Like I mentioned, I went to one of their meetings and was basically hooked. Everything made sense, analyzing the properties was logical. So I started in Hamilton, Ontario and built my team around that area.
But multi-family always has been my strategy since day one, just because I figured it was more stable, maybe a little safer. If I lost one tenant, I still had others to fall back on.
TRC: So you're still using that same strategy. And on many levels, it's a strategy that makes sense. And a lot of investors are not considering all of the pluses. For example, you have say six tenants paying rent, but you only have one insurance policy. You only have one roof. You only have one tax and you only have one property manager instead of having six separate houses. So it's a very smart strategy.
Cyndi Gould: Yes. It's definitely worked well for me. I know the model really well, and like I said, I'm pretty busy day to day. And the other strategies in my mind really take a lot of energy from me. I just don't have that time, at least not right.
TRC: How are things going right now in your real estate journey?
Cyndi Gould: It has been great. It's going very well. Always of course, ups and downs and curve balls throughout the years, but overall very happy, successful. I've sold a couple this year and we've done very well.
TRC: Okay. So what would you say worked very well for you and that you're happy about.
Cyndi Gould: Right from the start, treat your real estate investing as a business, even with one property and manage your managers.
Especially for me, because I started out of town. I live in Ottawa and my investing at least originally was in Hamilton and Brantford. So managing your managers, especially property managers, is really important because they can make or break you sometimes. And don’t get lazy.
So I think treating it as a business has been the right way to go. That's worked well. And it's been pretty good. Like I said, there are always issues and you get smarter as you go along and you meet great people like you, and other like-minded people. Learn from them is also a benefit especially in the early years of going in and meeting with people.
TRC: And of course, the next question is what didn't work so well?
Cyndi Gould: Don’t get complacent because I did. I went through a bad experience just quickly with a realtor, fighting inspection issues such as boiler issues at a six-plex I purchased.
Who's left holding the bag with property management issues? I got complacent, trusted them too much, and then all of a sudden I've got deadbeat tenants, people on drugs. I don't want to pigeonhole people, people on a government program, but most, a lot of them are good, but then others aren’t.
I had crack heads, and it cost a lot of money and stress and headaches. So I've been smarter, anything can happen, but I think I'm in a good spot now. I've got a good guy in my corner. So again, never be complacent and let property managers take over, because it wasn't a good idea for me anyway.
TRC: Okay. So I heard a property manager. I heard realtor. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but probably one of the things that worked well for you is you were really good at building a good team around you.
Cyndi Gould: Yes, absolutely. And I still use the same realtors. I used them for years and depending on the area I'm going into, they were always pretty steady. My lawyer has been the same since day one and a mortgage broker. I've had a couple, but not too many.
It's really the property managers that have been the ones that turn over a little bit more often. They're great at the beginning, but then again, they get too comfortable maybe as well.
So I find a refresh every few years seems to work.
TRC: All right. So if you were talking to someone today who was just getting started, what would be one piece of advice you'd give them.
Cyndi Gould: I would say again, focus around your team, ensure everyone on your team really understands real estate as an investor themselves.
Ideally everyone understands cashflow, and by that I mean the realtor, the mortgage broker, the lawyer, and the property manager because it's a business and you're in it to make money. So everyone understanding that mindset is very important.
I find, right from the get-go that the realtor is key, so they know what you're looking for.
TRC: Okay. And again, not wanting to put words in your mouth, but you mentioned something really important here. You said it's a business, and I know you, and I know are really specific. You are precise, you are in at everything you do. Am I right in thinking that you don't let your emotions run things? You don't buy on emotion? You buy on numbers.
Cyndi Gould: Absolutely. Sorry. I guess I take that for granted being a finance person. So yeah. I have never seen a property until the offer is accepted. Honestly, the numbers have to work put in the offer to get it great. And then your due diligence, right? Buying is a big rush. I love this. I love analyzing and seeing how great it could be, but absolutely never really look at a property seriously unless the numbers work for it.
TRC: There are going to be quite a few Canadian real estate investors listening to your recording or reading the transcript at some point. What last word of advice and wisdom would you give to these people?
Cyndi Gould: If you're just starting, I'd say it seems cliche, the best time to get involved really was yesterday.
The second best time is today, get educated, join a group of like-minded people and start analyzing properties.
Get organized, set up your system. I've got a great spreadsheet that I've used almost from day one as well.
Cause when that property comes to you or, when something hits, you'll be ready. Get pre-approved and know what you can afford. If you're going to joint venture get all that stuff sorted out, get all organized, get all your ducks in a row. So when something does come along, you're ready to go.
TRC: And so as a piece of advice, if people get their ducks in a row, they will be recognized as people that are fun and easy and pleasant to deal with. And then the deals will come to them.
Cyndi Gould: Yeah. It's less stressful. You can put in better offers, less conditions, just cause you're more comfortable. The first deal is always going to be insane, but it's a great rush. And then when it's settled down and it's great, it's fun. It's been a great ride for the last almost 10 years.
About Cyndi Gould
Cyndi Gould has been investing in multi-family properties since 2012. She believes that getting lazy and complacent about managing your team (especially your property managers) is one of the best ways to run into trouble with your properties. Use "Find a Friend" here on our website to find Cyndi and to reach out to her.
- September 06, 2021
This is so encouraging. I am just starting by reading onfo the TRC.
Cindy's story is my very 1st one that I've read. One has to start somewhere and this is where the pavement hits the road.
I'm looking forward to reading and asking questions on the way.