Lauren: Hi this is Lauren Cohen on election day in the US, God help us
all! I am with my good friend Maria Rekrut from Niagara Falls, Ontario,
Canada, the flag is on the top behind me, right, notice it's on the top.
Okay, we won't go there. So, I remember I don't know, a year and a bit ago
I think on Facebook.
Maria: Yes, because you were very kind to me, and Maria, Maria is like the
person that all of us epitomize to be like, because she was ahead of the
curve, especially as a woman that invested in real estate, when women
didn't invest in real estate. I mean, it's a big deal so Maria, and my
Lauren: It was a big deal, my mom was in real estate but only invested in
one or two properties, so I grew up in real estate Maria. So, my mom was
in real estate in Toronto forever. I wish she had never gotten out of it,
now that I’m with eXp and eXp is making such amazing strides, but absolute
truth is that your, your dad. So, let's backtrack a bit to introduce you
because we could just talk.
Maria: I'd love to try this right, because a lot of stuff comes out that
you can talk and talk to us Canadian girls.
Lauren: My name is Lauren Cohen, and I am the host of this podcast
Investing Across Borders. I am a cross border lawyer from Ontario, Maria's
home province, now living and serving clients in South Florida, which is a
beautiful place to be at this time of year despite the coronavirus. I am
also a licensed Realtor and I help people find ways to invest, live, work
and play across borders, and I met Maria through a women's group or
something about real estate, and I was just so blown away because she was
literally ahead of her time. Really how many women, well even now, I mean,
women like you now much younger than me in their 20s, and they're like
real estate is so foreign and men just take it for granted. Yes, I was
doing EB5 for a long time which is commercial real estate in the US, it's
basically raising money from foreign nationals, and I will tell you that
the number of female developers is like nil, 1%. Maria, tell us a little
bit. Tell us like, what, how, where did this all come from? I know your
dad always taught you this; it's like monopoly, we must get real estate
together, get rich right.
Maria: Absolutely. My dad was an immigrant after the Second World War, my
mom and my dad came from Europe after the Second World War, they had
nothing, they had 25 cents in their pocket, and they moved out to Winnipeg
so I'm guessing from October, I'm a Westerner okay. I didn't know one of
your best friends is out in Alberta, right. So, my dad you know he didn't
even understand the language or speak the language, they started from the
bottom up, and then my dad started to buy real estate. I remember watching
him fixing and cleaning and building with his immigrant friends, and he
always said you know, how do you think I'm taking care of you Bambino, you
know he loved us there was five of us bambinos. He says because of real
estate, he said, because he had a regular job, you know and then he was
building and working on real estate, he was an investor. And so, he says
that's how I've made my money you've got to get into that too.
And I remember when I was in New York City, I had a business in New York
City Lauren, you can understand that and everything in New York City was
supposed to have been done yesterday, right. So, the pace is so fast. What
did you learn about business, you know, and I remember going to a seminar,
I don't know, which group gave it and they taught you how to buy your
first property with no money down? I thought, wow, how do I do that right?
So that kept in the back of my mind and I kept reading about it. And then
I moved to Canada and I noticed the Niagara region because my parents were
here. And, I thought my father says you've got to buy real estate, I said
yes, but where am I going to get the money Poppy, you know, can you lend
me some money, he says no, I said okay so I went to the credit union, and
I applied there, like premiums are great if you're starting out. Yeah,
they said yes.
Lauren: Let me just interrupt you for one minute. Credit Union. So, what
is the difference, Maria between a credit union especially in Canada
because in Canada, you know their banks are connected to the government,
there's charter banks, it's a very different banking system. So, tell me
why, what is different about a credit union in Canada?
Maria: Well first you're a member, so they treat you better they remember
your name they know who you are, I mean I do transactions on my phone
because they know who I am by price. I don't have to go in and it's the
same people there for 30 years or 40 years, so they're not changing over
like the banks Lauren, the first advantage. Next of all they're trying to
support and help small businesses or real estate investors or whatever, so
that I would say that's the biggest difference and they have great service
they don't charge you an arm and leg. So, I would say that for me that's
why I chose my credit union. I still have my major account; this account
is with the credit union. Because I'm loyal to them since listen to this,
Lauren: They're still in business that's a big deal.
Maria: Yes of course well we don't have banks go under like you do, we
don't have that. So that's the first thing. So, they gave me a first
mortgage, they gave me a second mortgage and then I borrowed money from a
family member, but at the end of it all, after many years of fun, it was
my father who gave it to the family member to lend to me, and my mom, it
was tricky to become independent and then I had $5,000 down so I put it
down, so I bought my first house in 1988. After looking for two and a half
years putting in multiple offers not getting it. And I finally got my
first house and I lived in there for 12 years, paid off my third mortgage
which was, my family members, my dad, paid off my second mortgage and I
had only one mortgage, and then in 2000 I wanted to buy more properties
and again I said pappy can you lend me money. He said no again, so what I
did is, I went and found out what the value was, I refinanced my property,
put down a ton of money and bought my second house, then had enough money
as a down payment to buy two more properties within a year, two years,
three properties. Out of my old little house that had so much equity. So
that's how we started, I've been doing it I still refinance, I just
refinanced one property in August, I'm refinancing another property this
month. And so that's how somebody can gain money and equity when you're
gaining after you buy a good piece of property or gaining equity; take the
money out and buy another property with it.
Lauren: It's like, the same thing with gambling. Okay it's not, it's not
risky like gambling but one of the things, you know I'm not a gambler. But
when you go to Vegas or something which hasn't happened in a while, or
Niagara Falls. You take 100 bucks or a couple, or a couple of 1000,
whatever it is, and long as you put that original investment back in your
pocket. You just keep reinvesting, and then you're, you're always going to
be increasing your wealth and that's really what it is.
Maria, That's exactly what it is you increase your wealth through the
properties that you own already. You don't even have to go to a bank if
you don't want to right!
Lauren: You always buy, tell me about what your favorite model of real
estate investing. Is it buy and hold, buy and flip?
Maria: Buy and hold for I've done, I've done burrs, I've done fix and
flips, but like the one I like the most is buying and hold, because of the
gains in equity, I can pull the money out is tax free, and I can invest it
again. So that's my strategy basically is hold on to good properties get
great tenants in there that pay above market rent, because I make sure
about that. I don't just rent to anybody; it takes me months before I find
the right tenants or guests. Once I've got them in there it’s problem
free, and then I just work on refinancing or looking for another piece of
property but that's pretty much the way I've done it all these years.
Lauren: Now, you have children, right?
Maria: No, I have not, that helps a lot.
Lauren: Oh, I was going to say are your kids in real estate? Ah ha.
Well, you know what though you have so many people that you're teaching as
their mentor, right. So, so what. So, most of your properties, all your
properties, all your investments are in Canada.
Lauren: But that's because that's where you started that was always your
focus, but I know we talked a little before the show about how anybody
that's developing their portfolio or profile, especially now because the
US market is opening, should invest in the US. So, tell us a little bit
about why you think that?
Maria: Oh absolutely. I mean, if I could go back 20 years I'd be
investing in the United States, but that's okay it is what it is right
now. I'll tell you many advantages, and you've got so many states that
have different laws, so you can always find a state where you can buy
purchase property for $40,000, $30,000 and do a burr with that right, you
can do that back you can do a fix and flip, rent to owns with them,
because it's such a low threshold to get into the business. Therefore, I
would suggest to anyone to start investing in the United States, but be
careful where you invest, do your research, because I know a lot of
investors from Canada, before I met a lot of them that were investing in
the United States, in the Niagara Falls, New York, and in Rochester. They
bought in the wrong areas. Yeah. So, they went belly up, or they must sell
or whatever, you really, it doesn't matter where you're purchasing, make
sure you buy in great neighborhoods, and I know you'll agree with this
Lauren location, location, location. You've got to because the United
States have streets that are different, they change from one side of the
street to another side.
Lauren: Like Canada.
Maria: No, not at all.
Lauren: Like in Boca Raton, which is where I live, there are parts of Boca
that you don't want to be in, and people don't like. You can literally
drive a half a kilometer, and you're in a not good area. And there's crack
houses and all kinds of stuff and you don’t want to be there. It's very,
very interesting how different it is.
Maria: It is, it is. The other thing that I noticed when I was traveling
to the United States when I used to go down to Florida, it’s a year, I
would go through towns that were completely abandoned. Don't have here,
right? I would go through, and I thought, why did they abandon this town
right? completely abandoned.
Lauren: Unless you watch Schitts Creek.
Maria: Ha ha ha! I’m missing that program. Obviously, there's a big
difference but there's lots of opportunities, and I would suggest that if
anyone's going to invest in the United States, that they partner up with
somebody who knows the laws, right, a lawyer like yourself that can, get
people in and out, understand the legalities, running a real estate
business the United States right? The other thing too is, where are you
going to get the funds for it? I mean I hope in the future, quite frankly,
Lauren, that the banks will start investing with Canadian investors who
pump United States and will take us seriously because we have you know if
you have an investor from Canada that has done well, like myself 20 years
right, when I enter a market even a new market, I'm not going to make
foolish mistakes. If I haven't made foolish mistakes in 20 years in
Canada, why would I make a foolish mistake in the United States? So, I
think the bankers on your side, or anybody else who wants to go into
partnerships with us, should be looking at us as good potential
businesspeople, that will always give you a return on your investment.
because we're forced to do that. We're forced in this country, to take
care of the return on investments right. We just can't walk away from
houses and leave them, or not pay taxes for years on end, we don't get
away with stuff like that. In the United States they can, right?
Laure: So, one of the other options there is to partner up with somebody
that does have a banking relationship, or does have that access to the
funds and create a joint venture which is what a lot of Canadians do?
Canadians partner with other Canadians that have already invested in the
US, or Canadians partnering with the US, with people that are in the US.
So, another thing that I strongly recommend, and this is obviously a
little self-serving because I am a realtor, but when you're an investor,
you want to invest with a realtor, because if you don't use a realtor, you
will end up in those areas that you don't want to be and, you know, you
must be super careful because you are investing across borders and that
brings me to another thing. Investing across borders also brings into play
a lot of potential like you said legality issues, but like then there's
also issues about what happens when you are Canadian investor investing in
the US? What happens to you in Canada?
Maria: Yes, exactly.
Lauren: And a lot of us and a lot of Canadian investors in the US have
been misguided because they're advised on what works in the US, but it
doesn't mean it works in Canada. And this is true, let's talk about the
1031 exchange which I love.
Maria: I love that idea I wish we had that in Canada.
Lauren: Right. I mean everybody does. It's a great way to be an investor,
you basically buy property you sell the property, and you take that
investment and invest in another property within a certain period. We've
talked about this on the other shows I've had. Now, anybody from any
country can potentially qualify for this you don't have to be a US
resident or citizen or even hold a visa. The problem with Canadians is
that the CRA discounts it. Okay, because they don't like it. Otherwise,
they'd have it right.
Maria: The money, they want the money, don't need the money.
Lauren: Show me the money right! So, but there are ways to be creative
about it, it's all about having that right guidance, and if you are going
to be investing in real estate or in any business in Canada or the US, you
do not want to do it alone. No, you can't. You can't. There's no way you
can do it anymore.
Maria: No, especially in a different country. I mean especially.
Lauren: You need to work with people that you can trust to guide you
through the process and Maria now you are launching some masterminds. Why
don't you tell us a little about that?
Maria: Yes, I just had one mastermind it's for real estate investors and
landlords who want to learn more about being able to get more equity out
of your homes and getting better tenants. We talked about the short-term
rentals, we talked about how to find a good lawyer or paralegal, what kind
of insurance you should be getting. My masterminds are all related as to
how to become a stronger businessperson. And what's interesting Lauren is
that most of the people in my group are women. So, I'm happy to see more
women getting into real estate, because that truly is the only way a woman
can become self-sufficient is through real estate and I know you'll agree
Lauren: 100%, My mom always taught me that you're never going to get rich
from having a job.
Maria: No, never.
Lauren: I had a law degree as a backup to make sure that I would always be
okay, There was no way I wasn't going to get an advanced degree, she
didn't want me to ever be dependent on a man.
Lauren: That’s the moral of the story.
Maria: I know.
Lauren: Another time, another story for another podcast. But the reality
is that as women, we have, we ultimately have responsibility for our
families and for our futures, and we must take control of that and the
best way to do that is by investing in real estate.
Lauren: And investing in real estate, not only in Canada where the market
is so limited, but in the US. Now, that also applies to Americans that are
interested in investing in Canada, because the dollar is going to go
further, and the opportunity is opening. Especially, who knows what's
going to happen today, but that's another story. But with that being said,
the truth is that there's a lot of considerations that you must think
about when you're investing in real estate, especially across borders, and
having that right guidance and making sure that you have the right
financing in place and the right partners in place, the right documents in
place to set up your corporate structure properly. This is important for
you, whether you're investing domestically or across borders and you
really need to have that, that structure and guidance. So, Maria tell us a
little bit about all the places where people can find you.
Maria: Oh, and on the social media Facebook under Maria Rekrut, I'm on
Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn, everywhere you
can find me I have my website, realwealthrealestate.com. So, I look
forward, I mean if anyone wants to know more about investing in Canada,
and if anyone wants to know more about investing in the US, I'm going to
send them to Lauren, but I'm going to probably have you as one of my
Mastermind guests to come on and talk about investing in the USA, because
we must start looking outside of our area. Ontario has become so
ridiculous it's crazy.
Lauren: It’s so ridiculous now prices are crazy the taxes are insane.
Maria: But it's not worth it. It's just not worth, all these multiple
offers for what, for what?
Lauren: My mom is always, Lauren you need to move home especially over
this whole COVID thing. Where would I live, where would I live? I live in
a nice home in Boca Raton it's not very expensive. If I bought this house
in Toronto would be $3 million.
Maria: Of course, it would, just stay where you are, you've got the
beautiful weather. You've got the better weather than we have. I mean, I
enjoy the weather here I don't mind it anymore because I'm working on my
computer all the time, I'm inside, so especially now with the COVID
otherwise I'd be out networking right. I really enjoyed having this time
working on my business and the Mastermind you know, I'm looking forward to
getting more women involved with that, and I'm going to have online
courses in the future I have oh I have a YouTube video, a YouTube channel,
If people want to find me under my name or Real Wealth Real Estate, you
can find me there on YouTube. I have a podcast, anchor podcast, where we
recruit, I'm on three radio stations. So, if you go on Facebook, you'll
see me where I am.
Lauren: Maria is out there; you can connect to a wealth of knowledge and
information and I thank you so much for joining us today.
Maria: My pleasure.
Lauren: You're one of my launch, I'm launching tomorrow, so you're one of
my launch party so there you go. Thank you, Maria you have a great rest of
your day and we will speak very soon.