7 More Lessons From The CRE Investor Forum

Last week I posted an article describing my experiences and lessons learned on Day 1 of the the Canadian Real Estate Investor Forum in Toronto. If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to check it out… there were lots of great speakers and lessons learned.

This article is about what I learned on the second day…


Saturday (Day 2)

Day 2 started a bit easier than Day 1.  The night before was my second time in a new bed, and as usual, I slept better than on night #1.

I had spoken with one of the organizers at Canadian Real Estate magazine a few days beforehand, and she said they were expecting 600 (!) on Saturday, so I wanted to be there early in case the place was packed.

Amazingly, the crowd was nowhere near that size… at least initially.  So I got a great seat and prepare for another day’s worth of education and networking.


Ron LeGrand

The first speaker of the day was Ron LeGrand, a U.S. real estate investor with many decades of experience.  It’s one thing to read about someone online or in a book,  but yet an entirely different experience to see them in person.  Seeing Ron live really hit this message home for me (it reminded me why I like to see people live at events like this).

Ron has been investing for many decades in U.S. real estate, and his focus is on controlling assets (real estate) that create positive cash flow, but without risking your own money or credit to do it.  Pretty cool stuff.

He compressed a 4 hour presentation into 1 hour, so he was really whipping through the information.  If it hadn’t been for much of my past real estate experience, I may have been lost at times (as I’m sure others were). However, I followed along and was impressed with his knowledge and his sincere desire to help investors succeed.

Lesson #1: While there was a lot I learned (or re-learned) listening to Ron, probably the most important thing was…

If you rely on banks, eventually they will leave you –

Your life is built on a house of cards

When you invest in real estate using traditional methods (e.g. qualifying for a mortgage), the lender makes all the rules and has all the power over you.  You should always know how to put deals together using alternative ways of financing (e.g. vendor take back mortgages, RRSP mortgages, private lenders).

If you don’t, big banks will always squeeze you for every penny they can and you might end up like this guy in BC who paid a crazy penalty.


Russell Westcott

I hadn’t seen Russell speak in many years, but he definitely hadn’t lost his touch.  I missed the beginning of his presentation, but I came in just as he was describing  how to raise investment capital to fund your real estate deals.  He also included a 44-page handout to show people how to get started.  Very cool.

While I already knew much of what Russell explained, such as how to filter out suspects from prospects (in other words, don’t chase money!), my favourite lesson actually had nothing to do with real estate!

Lesson #2: He talked about how he subscribes to a magazine called the Robb Report, so he can see the latest cars and gadgets that the rich use.  That way, when he’s talking with someone he knows has money (and he wants to recruit them as a joint venture partner), he can strike up a conversation about the latest model BMW or Porsche.  Very smart!

On a side note, this is also a great way to get pictures of high-end homes and products to add to your vision board (you do have a vision board with pictures of your goals, don’t you?).


George Dube

George is a good friend of mine and has been my accountant for many years.  He’s also an author and speaker at many real estate events across the country.

Imagine my surprise when he started his presentation by SHOUTING to the audience!  It sounded like something from Shakespeare or some other play (sorry George, I didn’t get the reference), and it definitely got people’s attention.

I’ve had countless conversations with George on taxation issues, and I’ve learned a TON from him. But there always seems to be more to learn (thanks CRA!) and this time was no exception.

He addressed the most common question – Should I incorporate to hold real estate? – and it basically boiled down to… it depends.  Yes, there are a lot of variables to consider (both accounting and legal) and he doesn’t recommend a cut and dried answer for everyone.  You have to talk to your accountant and lawyer about it before making the move… because in some cases, it can be a bad thing to do.

Lesson #3: For those interested in investing in the U.S, he talked about withholding tax requirements for the IRS and how to work around them with the proper paperwork (those of you buying property down south, take note! Talk to an accountant for details… better yet, talk to George and let him know I referred you). 


Scott McGillivray

Scott is star of the hit TV show Income Property on HGTV.  He actually spoke on both Day 1 and 2, but I thought I’d combine it all into Day 2, as I felt get gave more ‘nuts and bolts’ details the second time.

His first presentation on day 1 focused on creating ‘cashflow for life’ — buying, fixing up, renting and holding onto properties for the long term.  His second presentation was a Q&A session that allowed him to get into more detail about his specific investment methods.

I haven’t seen the TV show, but it turns out Scott focuses on student rental properties.  While most people think student rentals would be a nightmare to manage, he’s figured out a great system that works for him to get maximum income with minimum hassles from his tenants.

For rentals with multiple students on the lease (or tenants if you have a traditional rental), if someone leaves, often times the remaining students will go ahead and find a replacement.

Lesson #4: If they don’t, here is Scott’s approach… he tells them no problem, but if they don’t find a friend to replace the person who left, he’ll just end up putting in ‘a random’ (a random person) and there’s no guarantee they’ll get along.  That is usually enough motivation to get the students to find a replacement.  Great idea!


Mortgage Broker Q&A Panel

This was a panel of 4 mortgage brokers, one of whom is my mortgage broker – Chad Robinson from VERICO Best Interest Mortgages.

There were a lot of things discussed and lots of questions asked.  I found it interesting that 71% of consumers will break their mortgages (did you know that?) so they should consider this when taking a long mortgage term.

Also, job and income history can stay on a lender’s records for a long time, so if you’re self-employed and applying for a stated income mortgage, if you apply to the same lender multiple times and they see the numbers jump too much, they might deny your application.

But probably the biggest lesson I learned was the fact that big banks (like TD, RBC, Scotia, etc.) have posted vs. discounted rates (I knew about this), while wholesale or ‘B’ lenders typically do not (I didn’t know about this).  Why does this matter?

Lesson #5: Well, if you’re like the guy in BC who got a huge penalty, it can be because your mortgage was signed for a discounted rate, but if you decide to break it, the penalty is calculated on the POSTED rate, not the discounted one!  Wow.  There should be laws against that sort of gouging.



Sunil Tulsiani

Sunil is an ex-police officer to decide to leave his career and find his fortune in real estate.  Most of his presentation was his personal story of getting started in real estate, and how he struggled against preconceived notions against it that were instilled by his father.  He also described his first experiences with buying investor educational programs and the hard-sell tactics some of them use.

Lesson #6: Probably the most interesting statement he made is that…

Most people are not hardwired to earn passive income

He stated that people are ‘programmed’ to think they have to work hard to earn income, but that programming can be changed.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Sunil has taken Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) courses, as some of what he described sounded exactly like what is taught in those programs.

Two more good tips he gave for realtors that I thought I would pass on (he also owns a realty company)… He never shows a property until the client drives by property first!  That way he knows they are actually interested in the deal.  He also only schedules viewings between 9am and 5pm.  For those realtors out there who work 24/7, I thought this was an interesting way to do business and still have some personal time for yourself.


Paul Hecht

The last speaker of the day was Paul Hecht.  I had actually heard of Paul before because my wife met him a few years back.  I also had read his book “Everyday Real Estate Millionaires” and enjoyed the personal stories of average people who had successfully invested in real estate.

During the presentation, Paul described his personal story of how he went from bankruptcy to millionaire in only 2 years.  He outlined some of the methods he used to do it, including his rules for investing, but I think my favourite part was the following…

Lesson #7: At one point, he pointed out that 80% of millionaires are self-made, and that successful people fail 10x more than the average person.  It’s not whether you get knocked down, but whether you get back up. He went on to say…

The next time you fail and you complain about it…

Suck it up princess!

Ouch.  We’ve ALL failed at something in our lives, and we’ve ALL complained about it (yes, even me).  What he said made me chuckle at bit at first, but it also stuck right into me.  After hearing that, I decided that the next time I complain about something, I would remember this quote, quit complaining, brush myself off, and get back to work on my goal.


Anyways, that’s it for the Day 2 summary, but that’s NOT it for the event (at least in my mind).

My main reason for attending was to network with people I hadn’t seen in a long time and introduce myself to a few people that I wanted to meet.  I made some great connections that weekend, and since that time, I’ve been continuing those connections with the same people and others on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and email.  I hope to keep in touch with everybody in the future and see them again at future events (I hear CRE is already planning 2 more!)

UPDATE: I forgot to mention, one of my subscribers who bought one of the discounted tickets I negotiated for this event won a trip to the Barbados in a draw! Congratulations Anna!!  I think you owe me more than just a coffee now 😉


How about you?

Do you attend conferences primarily to learn or to network? Which is more valuable to you?

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  • Benjamin says:

    I have attended professional conferences before, but this was my first conference based on my interest. I went to learn and listen. My wife and I will be ready to begin RE investing soon, and I am by nature a stategic planner, so I thought going would help finalise our plans. Because I spend hours every week researching and learning anything and everything to do with finance, real estate, tax policy and economics, I was confident I was well informed on RE investing. But I learned so many new little things! RE investing is almost fractal like, the deeper you dive into one finite aspect, the more there seems to be to learn. That suits me just fine 🙂
    Happy Investing!

    • Paul Blacquiere says:

      Glad to hear you enjoyed the conference.

      I’ve been learning about real estate since my early 20s, and I STILL learn new things at every conference I attend, every book I read, from people I talk to, etc.

      The subject of real estate is so big, you can take a lifetime learning everything. But the good news is, you don’t need to know everything to get started. You just need to know enough to keep yourself out of trouble.


  • Eva says:

    To learn, but the networking is a great bonus! I love meeting new people and making connections.

    • Paul Blacquiere says:

      Interesting… I’ve always found that learning is usually best done in quiet environments, unless it’s a group exercise.

      When I go to a conference or a meeting, I try to focus on networking and a bit of learning usually happens as a side effect while listening to the speakers.

      Often times, it’s more cost effective to learn in your own home than it is to travel across the country, but you definitely don’t get the networking experience.

  • Art Kingma says:


    I couldn’t agree more – (about attending live events). I love to read books, but it’s another dimension to review, discuss, interact etc. I had the priveledge of hearing Richard Duncan (author of the Dollar Crisis) live here in Winnipeg last month. Without my prior studying, experience & of course reading of this good book, I would have missed this opportunity to meet him in person, ask questions & get more new perspective!

    Art Kingma

    • Paul Blacquiere says:

      Richard Duncan would have been great to see live… very smart guy.

      I think books and courses provide a good groundwork for learning something, but where the real wisdom comes from is by applying what you learned, making mistakes, learning from mistakes and moving forward.

      Interacting with others at live events is great because there’s this energy that comes from talking with people, learning from them, asking your own unique questions, etc., that you just don’t get from books and courses. You feel connected with others and more motivated to push forward with your goals.

      I think both are good to have — books/courses for individual learning, and networking for building up energy, creating excitement and making connections.

      BTW, how are you doing with your rental? Did you get your last unit filled up?

      • Art Kingma says:

        Hi Paul,

        I agree (again) that the reading, interacting & learning are all great, but relatively useless if you never apply any of what you learn. That’s where the live events and networking help to keep you active (not just passive)

        Thanks for asking, I just had another showing this afternoon (sunday) and looks like the place will be fully rented in short order. I’ll email you a youtube link to the project.

        Best regards,

  • George Dube says:

    Good evening Paul,

    Thanks for the comments on a great event. Good to know I got your attention with “Charge of the Light Brigade”!

    Warm regards…

    • Paul Blacquiere says:

      I think you got EVERYBODY’S attention! The entire room was silent as you were performing 🙂


  • Edna Keep says:

    Like you I attend events to learn and network. It is so amazing to be in the same room with like minded individuals.

  • Anna says:

    I had a great vacation thanks to Paul!

    • Paul Blacquiere says:

      For those who don’t know, Anna won a vacation trip while attending this event.

      Anna – feel free to bring me along next time! 🙂


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