The REITE Club Co-Founders Reflect on 5 Years


Can you believe it has been 5 years? Neither can we. But as they say, time flies when you are having fun and boy have we been having fun. Five years ago we invited you to Come Grow With Us and that is exactly what happened:

Our members learned and grew, traveled and even retired early!

The REITE Club expanded coast to coast, to coast.

New strategies took hold and tried and tested approaches flourished.

Investing for our members went beyond our borders.

Our sponsors made new connections and took on new clients.

Overall the past 5 years have been exciting to see how real estate investing can make such a difference to so many.

Now for the next 5 years, we are inviting you to stick around and Customize Your Life.

Which we are sure will prove to be equally exciting, surprising and rewarding.

Join the REITE Club Co-Founders - Laurel Simmons, Daniel St. Jean, Sarah Larbi and Alfonso Salemi for the 5th Anniversary National Event as they reflect on the last 5 years and take stock of where things are right now.

Daniel: Five years ago, I was doing a lot of networking at all different events around the GTA. I realized at one point that there was no group of quality in the Burlington, Hamilton area. I thought, okay, why don't we start something that was October, 2016. A week later, I'm setting for a whole weekend with brilliant Alfonso Salemi at his table, pure luck. There were a hundred people in the room and I happened to sit with Alfonso. During the breaks we were talking, and then I tell them about this idea and Alfonso was all over it. We said, okay, Let's do this.

A week before that, actually we used to run small events in our office in Stony Creek. One of those events, Sarah Larbi came and she talked for about eight minutes about something she did that blew everybody's mind in the room. I thought, whoa, this is a smart cookie. I called Sarah. I told her about the plan. She came and met with Alfonso and I, and that's pretty much how it started.

We started to make plans and everything else. At one point we were spinning our wheels. Laurel by total accident happened to be in the same room and she overheard us and said, okay, you guys need systems. You need order, you need direction. She came on board and that's why we call the four of us here now, the co-founders. Our first event was March 27th, 2017. It's five years, one month ago. We started with 81 people. The last event we had just before COVID came, we had 305, which was actually five people over the capacity of the ballroom at the Holiday Inn, but who's counting.

They asked me, very briefly, to tell people what has happened to us here in those five years with The REITE Club. What I can tell you is that our network has probably doubled or tripled over those five years, and that has enabled us to find more freedom of time, more freedom of money. Really customize our lives the way we want to. The live events were all the way up to February 2020 and then something happened. And then what did we do about it, Sarah?

Sarah: Obviously, the pandemic hit and then we decided to actually take The REITE club and make it really national, coast to coast, like you say. We pivoted to the zoom online virtual platforms, and it just allowed everybody from across the country to be able to tune in whether it was from Vancouver, BC, or Alberta or Ontario or wherever even in Thunder Bay. From the comfort of their couches and their desks, to be able to learn and grow as well.

In the fall, we went to five to eight virtual events a month from regional market updates, national updates, real estate, investment strategies, opportunities, just everything that you can think of. We actually edited up and in the past five years, I don't know if you guys can believe this. The last five years we've actually had over 150 events in five years and over 600 experts that were able to help our REITE club nation in their REI business, which is amazing.

Laurel: What's even cooler is that all of that is on the website, like the videos and all of these events are recorded. You can go in and look at them, you just go on their search and you'll find all kinds of great information. There's just so much there online. We have been working hard on that. Take advantage of it. It's a really great resource for you because something's changed.

Yes, of course they do like federal budgets, but a lot of it is basic stuff that we all need to know. And every time I go in, I learn something new. That's just the way it is. There's so much to learn about real estate. It's really a great place to find the other resources that you need.

Daniel: What is the cost of the membership?

Laurel: It's free.

Alfonso: Something that we started before the pandemic and Sarah really had spearheaded and pulled me by the ears on not doing what was the podcast. That gets released every single week. We talk about the over 600 experts that doesn't even include all the podcasts interviews and amazing guests updates and information that's shared on the podcast released every single Friday.

This Friday, we're going to be releasing our 171st episode. We're getting close to that 200 mark. Turn your Netflix off and turn on your REITE club podcast to start listening. We were actually recently identified as one of the top 1.5% most popular podcasts. That's out of over 2 million, closer to 3 million podcasts globally listened to. That's a huge accomplishment that I'm super proud of.

I know Laurel and Daniel and Sarah as well as Katherine have made an appearance there. We've had so many amazing guests, some of our guests that are at our events as well as just amazing experts in the real estate.

Daniel: Anybody who has been around us for a while knows that we are, our timeline has come to grow with us. It's not just us. We have grown with the club. Now, we have from the four people at the top here, the four co-founders. Now, we have Paul Copcutt who is for example tonight, he's there behind the scene, pulling all the strings and making sure everything goes well. He's our marketing and branding guru.

Francois Lanthier, who does a lot with the sponsorship and also comes up with all kinds of brilliant ideas. We have Katherine who is our operations manager. She used to be a director of TV shows. Like nanoseconds, so she's on our case all the time to be on time. We appreciate that because otherwise people like me pick half an hour to do something that we shouldn't actually take.

And then of course we have Lanze and his team of assistance who are the website wizards and with the help of all these people again, we're creating freedom of money and freedom of time so we can customize our lives. Come to the website and do that too. Laurel, what are we doing right now to customize?

Laurel: We're doing a lot more traveling. We can travel again. Daniel said something about a little earlier that I insisted on systems, but for anybody who's in real estate investing and actually anything, any business, lives and grows and dies depending on the systems you have set up. It's not that I like doing systems. I really don't, but systems are what we use to work more efficiently and just get a lot more done with, as fast as we can so that we can go off and do the things we want. That's what we want to do.

That's why we're investing in real estate investing. Go and do what we want. Some of us here have a new child, not us. You gotta have time to do the things you want. Not just the things you have to do. That's what we're doing. We're traveling, I'm going back into wineries. I'm actually starting podcasts called wine behind the scenes. I'll tell you guys about that later, but we're just having much, our lives are freeing up. What about you, Sarah? What's happening with you

Sarah: I've taken a little mini time off. And starting a Victoria Day up until labor day, I actually shut down anything that involves me being indoors, podcasts and webinars. When I look at my schedule, it'll free up about 80% of my schedule. And then I can essentially just do the urgent things along the way. I like to take the summers off. I'm like a kid at heart that gets your summers and summer is so short and Canada. That is something I'm doing. But obviously since leaving the nine to five, I actually didn't know what I was doing next, but I've actually been really busy.

I've partnered with a couple experienced investors as well. I think this is our fifth purchase in the last. We just bought something today, as well as four or five weeks. One's actually a 15,000 square foot commercial space that we're converting into 22 residential units. We're to come on that, but there's some really cool things happening. On top of that, the resort and I'm planning my retreat. If you guys haven't got your tickets yet, have your cake and eat it too, retreats at the resort that we are putting together is going to be amazing.

Aside from that, continuing with the short-term, mid-term stuff. I love the midterm strategy. I started working with a rev tour. Some of you guys might know of CHCH for the everyday investor I'm actually producing, we're having a great time doing it. They're passion projects. You leave the nine to five job and now you can decide what you want to work on. It doesn't feel like work when you're enjoying it.

It is customizing a life on your terms. But for me, I love the cottage. I love the dock. I love the summer. That's really what I'm going to shut it down for this year. I'm thinking of my trip next year. Matt is actually taking a complete year off. Maybe he'll go back and start next week from his career. It just frees up both of our times finally, which is really fun.

Laurel: That's cool. Daniel, I just got back from Costa Rica where we bought some properties down there, so there's so much going on right now. Alfonso, what would you like to tell people, what's growing in your life?

Alfonso: You know what, that's been an amazing journey becoming a parent. My baby is just over six months old, he turned six at the beginning of the month and is actually going to be seven months in a week. That's been an amazing journey. My partner Amanda and I just have been enjoying these small moments, just seeing the joy in his face when he sees you. You started to recognize us now and see our face and feel that. I can't compare it to anything else in my life.

It's been so much joy that it's brought to me for those parents that are out there and put those long-term parents, maybe have teenagers, or even post teenagers that you're like, oh my God. It only gets harder. The best thing I've heard so far is that the days are long but the years are short and I'm really enjoying being a dad, being there in those moments.

I know it's not going to be like this all the time and life is gonna throw criticism, crazy curve balls, and it always does, but I'm really enjoying that time and being a father. There's been some amazing growth as well too with JAAG Properties. We have a team now of 10 people. We've just brought on our marketing manager. I'm super excited to work with him and put together some systems. Like you mentioned, Laurel is putting together some plans.

I'm going to talk about it a little later tonight about rent to own in the federal budget. When we were starting this club four or five years ago, I know Daniel, you were familiar with rent to own and that's what really connected us at the beginning. But it was an outside strategy, not a lot of people knew about or had details and it was really confusing. Now, with the federal government actually announcing.
There are plans and putting it there in black and white about rent to own is super exciting. We've been busier than ever. More and more people coming through our doors, helping more people achieve home ownership, working with amazing professionals that realtors and brokers has been amazing.

I'm really looking forward to the future. Watching my little guy grow up again, creating that time freedom so that again, we all have to do the things that we need to but having that time to share and I don't even tonight is a little bit of serendipity or I guess a little bit of out of I guess the pros and cons of the little guy he's here, he's home, but we're tonight on the REITE club celebrating five years.
I love spending every single moment that I can with him, but I loved being here at The REITE Club community, looking forward to seeing everybody in person in the future as well, too. It's been a wild ride. The last couple of years, less five years completely changed where I've been at now to parenthood and to growing a team when it was just myself and Adam, and now we have a full team, so really looking forward to what the future holds.

Daniel: By the way, a little parenthesis here. Earlier, Sarah, you mentioned that we've had 600 experts talk about different topics over the years. You know, where the people listening to this now, probably half, at least a quarter, if not half of these were suggestions from people in the surveys. At the end, when we send you the survey please. We invest a lot of time to prepare for these events. Please invest four minutes, five minutes to answer our survey and make custom suggestions because we pay attention.