Cal Ewing grew up on a cattle ranch in Alberta, Canada. Being the son of a business owner, Cal developed a longing to work for himself and follow in the footsteps of his entrepreneur Father.
Good morning everybody, unblind Cohen the host of investing across borders, I am a lawyer in Canada and the US, a realtor and call myself a cross border expert as others would say, I specialize in helping people invest live, work, and play across borders because I believe at the end of the day that you should be able to be anywhere you want to be and run your business from anywhere you want. Today we have a very special guest, a new good friend of mine Cal Ewing Cal comes to us from the very cold city right now of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, what is the temperature there in Fahrenheit if you can translate in Fahrenheit or now I’m gonna have to get my phone I told me in Celsius or minus 15 Celsius here minus 15 Celsius okay let’s just say it’s cold. Okay that’s snow and yeah there’s snow and frost outside so I don’t want to be outside, but you don’t have to because the beauty of what you’re doing, Carl is that you are running your business remotely from Canada in the US you’re running your house flipping and subject to and investment business and finding wealth and wealth creation, from your home in Canada, you don’t even have to leave, other than to get your kids to school right. Absolutely, yeah I get to stay warm no commuting don’t have to be outside pounding nails on houses or run from inside, you know, Amanda, tell me So you came from a cattle ranch background. Okay, now, I would think in cattle ranching you’ll have to be outside you can’t stay inside all day. Right. Yeah. Why do you think I chose this business, spent enough time out freezing my butt off on a horse in the snow and told my dad that yeah I don’t want to take over the ranch I think I have other plans. And so many of your sisters or brothers to take over the ranch. Yeah, my sister and her husband are actually in the process of doing that, and I wish them well. I’ve always I’ve never been a cowboy. I never really, I always felt like kind of the black sheep in the family. I was always interested in other things, and I see, like real estate and I wanted to be in the city I like living in the city. And so I’ve been here for a while, man, wait too long, but yeah and growing my adult life in Calgary looking at the real estate market here, and even just learning the whole process of real estate investing. There’s a lot of instructors and gurus and, you know, traveling, real estate investment isn’t everybody a guru. Yeah, there’s so much of it, but all of it almost is Canadian is American content right right so they come up here and they teach people how to do deals, the American way. You can’t do it here. Now, and, and the numbers even on the houses here in town. They just don’t make as much sense as the numbers in the states and so I’ve been investing in the US for probably 12 years now. So let’s talk about that for a second. So, you know, I am very involved in Calgary real estate more so than in Toronto real estate my hometown, and I see a lot of there’s a lot of upside down homes because people bought them during the height of the oil, you know, Russian oil rush and everything and then of course people move out and they were upside down on their homes and they bought over market, which is not the case in my hometown of Toronto or in Vancouver other cities Calgary is a unique city so a lot of people are investing in property in Calgary and Edmonton, and all of that. What was the reason that you decided not to invest locally. Well, yeah. Number one is, I got my training, and I tried doing some of the strategies like I mentioned here, and it just wasn’t working, and digging a little deeper, I just realized that you can’t do them here legally, like the laws are different. The numbers don’t work, maybe the home values are higher here versus rents that kind of thing. And I just got frustrated trying to make these strategies work. When they couldn’t, and obviously they do. And then the other thing is the data here, because of the privacy of Information Policy here in Canada. It’s great that all of our information is kept private as a citizen I like that. But it makes it a lot more difficult to find people that are motivated sellers that need to sell their home. Because all that data is private so you have to just blanket everyone with your letters or however you’re trying to reach people. And it just harder to find deals up here as well. So, the low hanging fruit to me is in the US. And so, once I got wind of how to do it and started learning it just it’s made sense to me the whole time, you invested right now in almost 100% in Texas. Texas all over Texas or specifically in Houston or Houston, San Antonio and Austin. Okay, cool, cool and I know that you have a business partner that you invest with right who’s on the ground. I do I have boots on the ground I think that’s definitely really important as a as anyone investing outside of their own city is to have boots on the ground in the market that you’re working in. Yes. To manage things and so you can do like the more admin stuff, the more the things that you can do more from your computer as opposed to having to go and visit with the hammer and nails, like you said, and it’s super important to have that that partner So, tell me what prompted you 12 years ago to look south of the border, because obviously it does become more complicated as you do look south of the border and also, how did you find your partner. Sure, to two stories. So I met a gentleman actually the guy that introduced, you and I together Mike Wolfe, I met him, and he’s a calgarian as well and at the time he was investing heavily in Las Vegas. Even before the market crashed in 2009, he was in, he was investing there. And so he was actually working with Canadians, and so I met him and so he’s sort of held my hand as a mentor, as far as how to do it. Connect me connected me to the right people, structuring the right entities and that kind of thing. And so, I had him as a mentor and that’s how I got started. And once I learned, like I was brand new fresh I hadn’t even bought a house in Calgary at the time or in Canada, so I had a clean slate. And so I was just learning the American way of doing things from day one. So it was easy. It wasn’t like a transition, it was just, you know, I was learning as I went, how to be an a US investor, right, like now I don’t even know how to buy like I have my own house but I don’t know a lot about investing in Canada because I’ve never done it. And to answer your other question about my business partner. I’ve actually had a few boots on the ground type people that I’ve worked with, and my current partner, my best one of my best friends growing up here in Alberta. We rode the bus together and everything she ended up marrying a guy down in Texas, and just through her we started talking and they wanted to get involved in real estate and I said, Well, I would love to work with you and have you as someone I can trust in Texas, amazing houses. And so her husband Clint him and I just hit off like Danny. Well, and your name is investing in Texas, you must get that get that a lot about dying in Texas, well yeah I’m trying to put the Ewing name back into Texas. Not cattle ranch, not cattle and oil but it was that it’s not funny that that’s where you came from. Yeah. So for those of you that don’t know she’s talking about the show Dallas Ewing’s word. Some people that are young, and don’t know about that show that would not be me I grew up with it and I would not literally would plan my night, my Friday night around that show. It was the highlight of my week. Put that Expo. That is, it was a good show. It was at show, and then so anyway so you in was the big name and I’m sure most people probably have heard something about it. Who shot jr and all the fat but right it’s it’s ironic that cow comes from that cattle ranching background, oil and gas to school to study, oil and gas and all the way through school, you can say, I’m just doing this to get to the real estate investing you were just kind of going through the motions right. I’m actually privately funded by Jay Are you in debt but okay. Whatever works. this that’s your secret told me open now is your dad’s name Jr. It’s not. Alright, well anyway enough let’s see I mean it’s important, but it’s and it’s, it’s actually kind of funny I don’t know why I was, I was at an appointment before and on the TV with Daniel levy for us from, you know, Eugene Levy son from shits Creek and shits Creek really put a lot of funny things about Canada on the map, even though nobody was quite sure if it was Canada or the US, but it’s so ironic how there are so many differences and yet so many similarities between the two countries. Right. Yeah, I agree. In general I feel like we’re all the same people. I mean I know a lot of Americans obviously I know a lot of Canadians we’re all the same. We have, you know, slight, slight little differences but in general. As far as investing down there I find it so easy. You know, we’re culturally we’re basically the same, the nuances are very subtle. I agree on. However, one of the key things and one of the things like Carolyn for example and I spoke about because she had invested in the US, in the past and had invested with a US company, as opposed to taking the Canadian, you know, taking a Canadian and investing in the US when you’re a Canadian investing with a US company in turnkey in a turnkey investment model. You may not be getting the right guidance because at the end of the day it’s not, it is the same but again it’s not the same. And what works in the US, such as 1031 exchange which is when you exchange for like unclaimed property and you can transfer, you can basically defer capital gains. That’s it. People don’t realize that there’s a very big difference it is available in the US, but it’s challenging, at best, to be able to keep those benefits in Canada. And so one of the things that keeps bringing up keeps coming up during this podcast is the fact that as similar as the countries are the differences are super important to really understand, and in order to really understand that you need that team of accountants and lawyers and specialists and realtors perhaps that understand the nuances and the specific details, because without that without the proper professional guidance that really understands like if you had an accountant, that was clearly Canadian or purely American and didn’t really deal with the cross border issues your guidance would probably not be nearly as beneficial or useful as it is and so as a result, you’ve built a very successful business in America that eventually you can use if you so choose to get an a visa to live and work in the US, or to just work and run your business, because the challenge for Canadians is. Although Cal is able to draw income from dividends and from the flips and from the money that comes into the business from profits. He can’t actually draw a salary in Canada for his work with the American business so he can’t be an employee in Canada, of the US business. However, he can get a visa to have that employment opportunity whether or not he moves to the US as my good friend Jason says, who got his visa two weeks ago is never planning to move to the US because he says my kids play hockey, and he wouldn’t be able to build those cars that he built, but you know it’s important that you have those options available and as Canadians the beautiful thing is that you do have those options and you don’t have to move. And I think a lot of people don’t realize that and when we talked before we weren’t really sure about where, you know, whether or not you wanted to move you have a life in Calgary you have a wife and two children and probably upgrading them isn’t so feasible when this pandemic is eventually over, God willing, you will be traveling again and issues can and do happen and it’s always better to have that protection in place so I just wanted to kind of mention that the fact that the cow has taken it upon himself as a as an astute business person, not only to have a trusted partner, which is so challenging to get, but also to have trusted advisors and I give you huge credit for knowing that if you, if you were doing this yourself, you would not be able to do it without physically being here at some point, unless you had that American partner. So there’s a lot of a lot of things to consider taxes. I mean, you know, you don’t want advice from a US tax advisor right though I’m gonna help you know you bring up some really important points. And this is the biggest pushback I get from Canadians I talked to you who are hearing what I do as far as investing in the states and maybe thinking about it, maybe they’re not because they’re completely against it but it’s that pushback as far as not knowing what to do, not knowing what the rules are as a Canadian. And I tell people that it’s really not that hard, and all you need is what you said Lauren is you need trusted advisors that understand what you’re trying to do and it’s no different in any investment that you’re doing you need advisors. And so, yeah I built a team of people that understand cross border issues and concerns that we would face in terms of taxes entity structuring. You know you and I have talked as far as getting a visa set up in the future so that’s amazing that that’s an option. It’s something I hadn’t really even looked into much until I met you. It’s great that we have all of those luxuries it’s just building the team around what you need to accomplish. And as a Canadian that’s all you have to do and that’s if you’re plugged into this podcast you’ve already accessed. You know, resources and ways of building your team, whether it’s directly through you Lauren, or, you know, connecting reaching out to either of us we can connect you with people to help build that team so that you can be successful cross border. And that’s really all there is to it. And once your team’s there, they handle the heavy lifting as far as explaining what to do, setting up the structure that you need so that you can just go ahead and do what you’re supposed to do which is find deals grow your wealth to business and rely on them to take care of all the nuance and knowledge that you don’t have. You can’t have it all, you it’s not possible to be all those things, it doesn’t you know I’m not gonna advise you on taxes and I get asked by clients all the time. But the beauty is that if you work with somebody like myself, or cow in a different capacity. I am going, I have the team members available. Cal mentioned his CPA who’s in Calgary does cross border. I know of him I’m not connected with him, but love to be connected it’s another resource. Yeah. Excuse me. It’s another resource for myself and for my clients, because at the end of the day, what my ultimate goal is, is to have a network of vetted professionals that can provide services, time and time again consistently to my clients, so that everybody is getting what they need, handled at the time they needed handled. And I think that that’s a big misconception that people have, because you’ll, you’ll need a quarterback to manage all of these moving parts for you. And if you try to go online and find, you know, who paid the most for the Google ads. That doesn’t mean they’re the best at what they do, or that they’re even gonna going to look after you. Like a lot of lawyers don’t, a lot of Immigration Lawyers for that matter, don’t help people get visas unless they’re planning to move. Well that’s silly. You don’t need to move, there’s options available. Let’s find you the best option so you can go back and forth and transverse those borders without issues, so you can achieve the goal of investing living, working and playing across borders. So, tell us what excites you most about investing in the US. Well I just feel like there’s so much potential, so much opportunity out there like if you compare the two countries. Number one, and this is just speaking for real estate, but number one look at the population difference. I mean I don’t even know how many what the actual difference in population times. Yeah. So, if you have that many people, how many houses and buildings and, you know, are there down there right way way way way way more than we have here in Canada. Yeah. And so, just right there there’s way more opportunity. Compared to Canada, right. Some of the laws and the way things are set up down in the states it’s so much easier to buy properties, do different structures and strategies, whether that’s you know rental properties fixin flips wholesaling rent to own ones there’s just so many different strategies based on the different laws and things like that they have down there that we can’t do here. So there’s a lot of ways you can do deals when you find one. Yeah. And then the other thing is just the amount of information that we have access to online down there. So, because of the population there are all kinds of systems that you can subscribe to platforms for, you know, finding leads CRM software for tracking your leads like it’s just such. That’s where people are investing their money and so you can hire these companies and services to make your life easier and they don’t have them here. Companies down there they don’t do Canada. So, we’re kind of a step up my mother it’s too small, unfortunately, yeah it’s too small. So in Canada, I feel like you have a lot bigger struggle trying to find the deals, trying to get them done trying to make them profit, as compared to the states and they’re just so much more low hanging fruit, as I say, right. Oh, I love it. Yeah, and I totally agree and one of the things, and I know you do some you invest in some subject to so this is going to be huge, huge we’ve talked about this on the podcast a few times. Unlike in Canada here in the US, there was forbearance for re mortgage, not forgiveness forbearance means kind of like a balloon. And at the end of your forbearance period, six months, eight months, whatever, all of a sudden all those payments are due, not like in Canada where they go on the back end. Okay. And a lot of people are not going to be able to make six or eight mortgage payments at once they don’t even have 10,000 or $20,000. So what’s going to happen there’s going to be a huge influx of properties that are going on the market, or not even on the market where you can have an opportunity to buy the mortgage out take over the mortgage payments and not have to qualify for the mortgage and be able to access properties at a huge discount off of their regular you know market value, and that’s gonna really open a lot of doors for a lot of our clients, a lot of you know your clients and your opportunities and I think it’s just going to really have a huge impact. And it’s also going to allow us to give to help the people the homeowners out of a situation because if they go into foreclosure, their credit is done, and knew exactly everything else. Well, I checked last year in October, this is, we’re recording this in November 2020. There were 3 million people in the US, that were at least 90 days behind on their mortgage student food COVID prior, primarily, I don’t know if all of them are in forbearance, but a lot of them are, and eventually this dam of pending foreclosures is going to burst. Absolutely. And I feel that we were looking at one of the best opportunities as a real estate investor to invest in us real estate that we’ve seen in at least a decade, if not more. Since the last market crash. And so that’s what I’m preparing for is to be able to. Number one, there’s an opportunity to be had, but like you say, helping people. There’s a lot of ways we can help people in tough situations that are not their fault down there and like you say we can actually do deals, will be called subject to where you can actually take over their mortgage payment, even if you’re Canadian. Yeah, and actually buy the house, start making payments on the sellers mortgage and acquire properties that way that cash flow. Or you can buy them cash fix and flip, or buy them even at the auctions if they do go to foreclosure there’s just so many ways and they start them again. Yeah, so. Yeah, and I just don’t see that opportunity coming here, it just it can’t it just can’t it’s always about, you’ve got volume, you’ve got supply and demand and, you know, 30 million people versus 300 million. It just, it just can’t measure up as as a lawyer in Canada and the US, and as a former student. Remember in school and call it political science I was a poli sci major, we will always be learning about the US and the US that and mass communications ahead of national indications minor and everything was about the US and, you know, our Canada’s main trading partners, the US we would not survive without the US I don’t like to say that but it’s just a fact. And so as a result. My mother was literally glued to the TV for the through this election, she’s still going to the TV show like when you coming home I don’t know, but it’s it’s been an interesting time and certainly seeing the differences in the way that the countries have handled COVID are not handled it, in some cases, we won’t go down that road but cow, tell us a couple of tips that you would like to share with our audience about how to invest in real estate, what are your top three tips, let’s say, as a Canadian as a Canadian or us as a US real estate investor, potentially from anywhere. Yeah. Well, I mean, number one, unless you’re investing in your own city number one is you need boots on the ground. That’s the biggest challenge I think you face as a Canadian or just someone investing out of your city right. You need someone reliable. So if you can figure out that piece, you’re set. okay so that’s number one other tips though, like I say as a Canadian it’s harder to get us mortgages, right, especially at really good interest rates. So if you’re trying to acquire properties. Obviously there are options for mortgages in the US as a Canadian, but like I was saying if you can do deals where you can buy the sellers house, get the deed get the ownership of the property, but the mortgage stays in the sellers name. They don’t, they’re not looking at your credit they don’t look at your citizenship, they don’t look at any of that. And so you’re able to acquire a portfolio of cash flowing properties as rentals or however you want to do I rent to own whatever without having to get mortgages as a Canadian and so that’s huge for us. That’s a huge strategy that we can take advantage of as my eating so that those are the two, I mean, I’m trying to think unless we went specifically into a strategy it’s part of the tips, but that’s why the team one I think that you mentioned you know how it’s so important that you have a team that you can rely on and, and, yeah, the other that team and don’t don’t skirt professionals, don’t, don’t work around professionals because if you do like if you try to write up documents on your own or something like that, or try to guess at your tax situation, you’re going to end up paying the price as Cal said at the beginning of the podcast, my four favorite words are stay in your lane which is basically what he was saying so you can focus on investing in properties, building your portfolio renting them out, making money, having cash flow. You don’t want to focus on the things that aren’t in your wheelhouse. So, yesterday somebody asked me about reviewing the non compete for an inept in DC. I’m like, you know what I could do this I can give you my opinion but I’m not a VC lawyer and this is not specifically in my wheelhouse I’m not comfortable giving guidance on it. But that’s important to understand is that people, you know you don’t know everything. You’re going to be much more successful if you acknowledge that and reach out to people like cow that knows how to invest in these properties and understands the importance. One of the things that I would add to what you said is having a US partner with us, or a partner that has existing relationships with us lenders will also help you to access financing. So there are a lot of Canadians that have extensive experience like how with investing in the US, that are open to joint venture partnerships and relationships that can help you to access those properties and at least build your portfolio until eventually until eventually you create those relationships on your own. So, yeah like I think my success, I think I don’t know how many deals I’ve done now I’m getting close to 50 us deals, and my success has been building the team around me so I don’t like accounting I don’t like bookkeeping, I don’t like legal entity structuring I hate it I can’t stand it I don’t like banking. So I’ve got really great advisors around me that handle that so I don’t have to worry about that because that’s just stress, and that’s just clutter that I don’t need in my brain. Okay, so that’s number one building your team. After you’ve got that team built, you’re just you’re on the same playing field as the American investors. So you got to obviously figure out how to acquire properties and do the deals. And that’s where I mean, my us Real Estate Attorneys that I’ve used, they’re the number one people on my team because they know how to do the paperwork they know how to do all the deals. And so I rely on them to structure it correctly. I just have to go and find the seller and negotiate the deal. So I have that part of my team. And as I was learning strategies like wholesaling rentals flips all of those different strategies. I had mentors along the way so either partnering with other investors that have the experience or, you know, finding a mentor in the US that’s in the market doing that strategy and that’s what I’ve used in order to grow a confidence in my knowledge in the various strategies that I do. So it’s all just teamwork. And if you’re scared to invest in the US. If you have the right team there’s no fear, there’s no worries, if you’re trying to handle it all yourself and learn it all yourself. Yeah, that’s where you’re gonna fail. Yeah. I have one last question your partner. Does he have a real estate license. No. So you’re doing all of these off market. Like I have realtors on my team but most of the deals we’ve done have been off market deals. And you go directly to sellers. Got it. Do you plan to stick, specifically within Texas or do you plan to expand outside of that. Yeah, I love Texas. There’s a lot of reasons that I’d prefer to stay in Texas. Yeah, one state you may as well stick with it if it works and yeah the more spread out you are then the more teams you need the more you know different rules and taxation and it’s just harder. So, I feel like stick pick a market and stick with it. Just like pick pick a strategy and stick with it, and squirrels it’s the same thing. How do people reach you and by the way you mentioned your Facebook group please which is yeah yeah I’ve got a private real estate Facebook group that you can join. It’s Facebook slash real estate wealth creators and maybe Lauren you can put that in the show notes real estate, real estate. Absolutely. Yep. So that’s the best way to reach out to me and I post a lot of content and training and you can interact with other people in the group that are investing in. It’s both US and Canadian investors so you can get a good mix of both. And we talked about topics on both sides of the border and of course Lauren you’re in there too so that’s the best way. And, I think, yeah, I’ll just leave it at that. That’s the best way to reach me for now. Calm thank you for your time today. Thank you for accommodating my schedule and Oh that’s great. Glad to be here and I’m glad that you have this platform that specifically talks about cross border issues because there’s not a lot of that out there for people to get information. It’s either all Canadian or it’s all us and most of it’s all us and it’s hard for us to bridge that gap. Most of us imagine this dwarfing constantly to work. Listen, it’s a it’s a pleasure I mean, what I do is so unique, because there’s not a lot of people that, that are focused on cross border, even those that are licensed in more than one country like myself, there’s still not focused on cross border and I really love it especially working with Canadian for obvious reasons you know I am one mixed. And as you can see the Canadian flag is the predominant one in my background. Also my podcast start so, so it’s great to have you here, cow. I look forward to speaking with you further of course but many. And um, any parting words. Yeah, I was just gonna say for those that are listening, listening, please reach out to both of us because I feel like we because we specialize in this cross border thing I feel like both of us can really help you achieve your goals and in getting started or get to the next level so just reach out, either way to Lauren or myself, we’d be happy to help. Alright, thanks Lauren.