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Georges El Masri [00:00:00] Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of the Well Off podcast, and I’m your host, George El Masri today. I interviewed Rene Masse. I called him Masse at first, but he told he told me he likes Masse better. So anyways. Vinnie has been investing in real estate since 2009. He focused on growing his cash flow and was successful in doing so. He actually started off as a contractor. He was. He’s been a contractor or in the business for about 30 years. But we talked a lot about investing in the Kingston Market. We did. We discussed how he finds deals today, what tips he has for people that are looking to get a joint venture partner. Kind of get started doing that and then also his competitive advantage as a real estate investor. Lots of good stuff in here. I know you guys are going to enjoy it, especially if you’re interested in exploring the Kingston Market or just talking to someone who’s been investing for a long time. His dad was also a real estate investor, so he’s got a lot of neat tips and tricks for you guys. So there you go. I hope you’ll enjoy the episode, and if you do, I always ask you to leave us a five star review on the Apple Podcasts platform and make sure to share this with a friend or family member who may benefit. I appreciate all of your support. I always appreciate hearing your comments as well. So if you want to reach out to me, you can go to well-off dossier and contact me there or book a call and I’d love to connect. Enjoy the episode! Welcome to the World podcast, where the goal is to motivate, inspire and share success principles. I’m here with Rene Masse. I guess that’s how you would it if you wanted to say it properly. I don’t know if you have a different English pronunciation, but we’ll just go with that. That works. I’ve been called worse. All right. Perfect. So, yeah, the Rene is obviously a real estate investor. Be doing it a long time. I like to start off by asking you a little bit about your childhood where you grew up and maybe one or two things you remember.
Rene Masse [00:01:53] You’re going deep. I like that, Georges. Yeah, I was born and raised in Toronto, basically Woodbine Danforth area from a French family speaking household. I learned French there and then learned all my tricks the trades in in Toronto.
Georges El Masri [00:02:11] Well, where’s your family’s safety?
Rene Masse [00:02:14] My family, I buy my mother’s from Lake Rimouski, my father’s from St. J.S. But there was there was an exodus of Quebeckers who left Quebec back in the 60s and early 50s. In fact, my grandmother was born in in the states. It was very common.
Georges El Masri [00:02:35] Yeah, cool. That’s interesting. I wasn’t even I wasn’t really aware of that. I don’t know if you know this, but I actually went to a French school growing up. So if I speak French, I went to well. When I was young in Mississauga, I went to level four and then later on went to Saint Sami and Mississauga as well. So think,
Rene Masse [00:02:55] yeah, it’s really, it’s quite well hidden these French schools in Toronto. I speak French thanks to these French schools that were pure French, but you went to the recess. We all spoke English, so you exactly tell. Yeah, yeah, definitely.
Georges El Masri [00:03:09] Cool. So let’s talk a little bit about your journey as a real estate investor. I think you started in 2009. Tell us how you got into it, why you started investing.
Rene Masse [00:03:20] I got into it because I quit my teaching job. After three months, I was like, I don’t want this. Yeah, I didn’t like it. And I jumped in and I became a contractor, which wasn’t the most glorious endeavor, especially starting off. People thought I was on drugs, quitting a nice teaching job because I just wasn’t happy doing it. Teaching French, especially, I just didn’t care for it. And then I knew that there was a lot of potential real estate. I saw my father do it. Back in Toronto in the 80s, we had benefited immensely for private school out of traveling. So it was it was a natural course of it. I was born to do this.
Georges El Masri [00:03:56] Definitely awesome. So you were you were kind of on track to becoming a teacher. You worked in the field for a few months and you said, This isn’t for me, this isn’t what I want to do. And then you change careers. Totally. And how did you start? Like, what was your first properties, your mother?
Rene Masse [00:04:14] Let’s put it, let’s put it this way. You know, people have a journey and there’s doors along that journey and there was one door, it said security and another door says freedom. And I ran to that door that said freedom. It was so important for me to have freedom. The last job I’ve ever had was when I was 21, so I’ve really never I’ve never really had a job for, say, I’ve kind of jumped into some positions because I felt that was the need to go into that route. But ultimately, I’ve always been a business owner and entrepreneur and investor from day one.
Georges El Masri [00:04:49] That’s awesome. And so many people will take the other route, take the security. I love the way you put that security versus freedom, and because that’s what we’re taught to do, that’s what we’re told is the right thing to do and the and the safe thing to do. And if you go in the other direction, sometimes parents get frustrated with you or they’re not happy, but you decided to do it, and I think it worked out pretty well for you.
Rene Masse [00:05:11] Well, it has so two years after quitting my teaching job. My father would still tell his friends that was teaching. It wasn’t. It wasn’t one of those. Yeah, it’s not. You people want the idea of presenting yourself as a business owner. It’s very vague. Most people, when they talk to each other, you meet somebody new. There’s like often they’ll say, Where do you work? That’s the natural course of things. Yeah, for some reason, I never went that that route, and I’m very happy doing so.
Georges El Masri [00:05:43] So how did you go from being a contractor? Are you a full time investor at this point in?
Rene Masse [00:05:48] your full time investor? Yeah, we have. We have several departments in our in our endeavor. We’ve got a property management company that we manage your own portfolio, but also the portfolio are the joint venture partners that we have. We felt the need that every time I did pass on the property management to others, it just wasn’t done to the right liking. So we created systems and procedures. We hired it on board and we’ve been doing so ever since.
Georges El Masri [00:06:17] Can you tell me a little bit about that? What does your property management structure look like? I’m assuming it’s not too complex because you’re basically looking after your own portfolio. You’re not managing other people’s assets.
Rene Masse [00:06:28] Yeah, it’s not like 200 units. And in fact, I don’t necessarily represent myself as a property manager. But within as you grow portfolio and as you work with other JV partners, it’s important to have a good team in place. And when I say a good team, I’m not talking about somebody like an account who’s like five, you know, five hours away from you. You want someone close by. And I felt having a good, clean, tight team is ideally what you’re looking for. That involves renovations and property management. I mean, with real estate, it’s a beautiful system and there’s a lot of wealth that could be created all but ultimately, these buildings need to be taken care of. And., I feel that my stage there’s plenty of opportunities where I live in my own backyard. As long as I keep on searching for them and I’ve got the team in place, those who renovate and those who could take care of the properties are already in place. Yeah.
Georges El Masri [00:07:27] So who do you have on your property management team? You just have like a full time employee or do you have a couple of people?
Rene Masse [00:07:33] So with the I have my renovation company’s more developed than the property management company. So the renovation company, I have two guys, two three guys that work full time. They do renovations all year round. And then from that team, there’s an electrician who I’ve known for 10 years. In fact, he was. I encouraged him to join to go independent and that over the course of 10 years, he’s now having three or four employees and does electricians for us. So when he wouldn’t, typically when we need him there, he’s there. For us, that helps immensely. He knows what we’re doing. He helped us out. Then there’s the plumber and the plumbers and independent plumber as well. And there’s an H-back guy. And then sometimes we use a roofer occasionally. But overall, a lot could be done without having too many guys who do painting, carpentry, framing drywall, which is which. If you’re being in the business for 25 years doing renovations, it’s you should be able to be to hang drywall in. But it’s so, so necessary in renovations and framing isn’t too complicated. So these two guys after a, you know, after a few duplex conversions or building renovations, they know their stuff. One of them was a with me for 10 years, so I believe I’ve shaped them along the way. So yeah, they are basically you don’t need an extensive team, but a team that works closely with you is definitely beneficial.
Georges El Masri [00:09:07] Mm-Hmm. Okay. So you got your team, you’ve been working together for a few years, so you know exactly what to expect from everyone. What are you investing in today? Are you looking at duplexes, triplexes, apartment buildings, single family?
Rene Masse [00:09:23] So I started off with sort of rentals because I was a suit. I and I had met people who were doing very well with sort of rentals and the numbers worked back, you know, 10, 15 years ago now and then we got into duplex conversions and now we’re getting into multiplexes. It’s just the natural course of growth, both as an investor. I mean, I know people who jump into property into a multiplexes right away. I felt this was a natural growth for my. For my journey.
Georges El Masri [00:09:59] So what type of projects are you looking at these days? We’re looking at four units.
Rene Masse [00:10:06] It’s multiple. It’s multiplexes or duplex conversions or anything that we could flip. Mm-Hmm. OK, cool in the Kingston area and about like Bellville, Brockville. Mm-Hmm. And we’re working with JV partners, debt investors, equity investors combination.
Georges El Masri [00:10:23] OK. Why Kingston have you always been in Kingston or is this something that you recently started looking at?
Rene Masse [00:10:30] Rob Break kicks off for 30 years now. I know that I don’t. I don’t quite well. I know I know the buildings quite well. I know the streets quite well. And I understand that there’s people who obviously, you know, maybe certain areas, it’s not as favorable. I’m a firm believer that if one looks for opportunities, you will find them. You may not be easier, but it’s they’re out there and there’s still cash like geeks that it’s still cash flows.
Georges El Masri [00:10:57] Yeah, absolutely. Kingston has been a hot market like kind of one of those trendy markets like Sudbury was a little bit last year. I think a lot of people started looking for stuff in Kingston, especially because the price point and then also that kind of cash flow that you get there. I was
Rene Masse [00:11:15] sorry. Go ahead. Sorry. Here’s what I tell people because a lot people from Toronto or Durham area or Hamilton, areas that no longer cash flows are now looking for other places. Yeah. Right now, we saw a huge uplift in in Kingston in a matter of 18 months. I mean, we went from 299 to now 399. Is this 399? Nothing sells at 399 now. I mean, you put this is this happens all over Ontario, southern Ontario. So what I tell people now is that they missed the boat on that. Well, yes, no. But keep in mind, I’ve been going to Durham and checking out other areas of Ontario, and I am a firm believer that we are four years behind Durham. So Durham no longer cashflows. The numbers are so high it doesn’t balance out kinks and still cash flows. How long will the cash flow? Maybe four or five years? Yeah, but there’s going to be a point where it no longer has shown that people are going to look elsewhere.
Georges El Masri [00:12:18] Yeah, absolutely. It’s just going to. Well, I mean, there’s always ways to make things cash flow like, for example, I know some people that they started to add some short term rentals to their units, like maybe one of the units. They do a short term rental and that helps them cash flow in that sense. So there’s always creative ways to do it. But I see what you’re saying. It gets to a point where the price is so high that it’s just you can’t just fill the units and an expected cash flow. You have to get more creative.
Rene Masse [00:12:45] Definitely. Creativity is very important. And second point would be adding value. I see a lot of people who they want to invest in real estate and then they start talking to a few people and then they jump into a developer’s site. Are developers email. Then all of a sudden, they jump into the developers, what they’re developing, what they’re missing out is. The adding value component, because I’m a firm believer of if you’re adding value to anything, then the money flows to it. If you’re just buying something that’s already built already, you’re just. You’re all your cards on the appreciation side of things. And sure, there may be a lift, but overall you’re missing out on having him having bought something at a low value, adding value through renovations or changing use of it from a do it from a single family to a duplex or for better turnover. Yeah, the added value so essential for sure.
Georges El Masri [00:13:44] And for some people, they are OK with just buying something that’s brand new or whatever, and that works for them. That’s their style. They don’t want to spend too much time managing contractors or whatever, and they don’t want to do a joint venture. And that’s perfectly fine. So I guess it all depends on what your goals are, what you’re trying to achieve. And I agree with you 100 percent that adding value can accelerate your growth substantially and allow you to refinance much sooner.
Rene Masse [00:14:11] That’s the key. A savvy investor will rotate the capital. Mm hmm. Yeah, a novice investor doesn’t think about that.
Georges El Masri [00:14:18] Yeah, yeah, that’s true. So speaking of JV partners, what tips do you have having done a few joint ventures yourself? What tips do you have for people that are looking to get into joint ventures and they have some expertize? They have some abilities to find better opportunities or whatever else, and they’re looking for partners.
Rene Masse [00:14:39] I’d say no one would be understand the developer or the realtor or the investor, understand them if you get along with them. If you have similar values, that makes a huge difference. I found people who come to me, they want to do the do you want to be with me? And they jump in right away. They like I want in. Seldom do they actually follow through with it. It’s a slow process that takes a bit of time to get to know the person. But if you feel comfortable with them, you like their attitude and you like their values and you get to know them on a personal level and you see them in there. They showed some of their weaknesses in a way like what happens when everything goes wrong? How do you deal with that? That’s important to know.
Georges El Masri [00:15:26] Yeah, absolutely. And now on the other side of things, for the people that don’t want to be active, they want to be on the passive side. What are some of the benefits for them, in your opinion, to working with the joint venture partner?
Rene Masse [00:15:39] They get to enjoy life, not have any stress. They can invest in real estate in an asset and such as real estate and not be painting and fixing toilets on the weekend. Mm-Hmm. I baffles me that people who they think they could, they need to invest in real estate. And then they’re sacrificing their own lives to do so. There’s no need to do it.
Georges El Masri [00:16:03] Yeah, you. Absolutely, because people on the active side, well, certain people, they commit a lot of their lives towards becoming experts at this exact type of thing, just like a professional baseball player or any other person, a professional athlete, you’re committing all of your time. You’re doing the right things for your body. You’re studying the game, doing all that stuff to become the best player you can be. And that’s what real estate investors do. So for somebody who has no experience in investing in real estate, you can’t expect to get the same results as an expert. And by working together, you guys can both share and benefit from the growth of this type of investment.
Rene Masse [00:16:44] I couldn’t agree more. George, you said it so eloquently. I work with JV partners and we do a couple. We do a deal or two together. And then next thing you know, they want to do it on their own. Yeah, I respect that. I make it look easy. I’ve got 30 years of contracting behind me, 15 years as a realtor, 10 years as a property manager. You know, there’s things that I don’t even realize are ingrained in me. So I make it look easy. I tell a lot of investors; I make it look easy. Yeah, yeah, not necessarily easy. It’s a simple step, but when it comes difficult, it can be challenging.
Georges El Masri [00:17:21] Yeah, and stressful sometimes,
Rene Masse [00:17:23] and it can be very stressful as well. It’s not for everybody like the life of an entrepreneur. It doesn’t end. I’ve chosen it early on and I’m glad I chose. It was for me as a person. It did. It works for my personality and my lifestyle, and I enjoy it. I like to find it challenging, but it’s not for everybody because there’s the stressful situations it. There’s no nine to five. It doesn’t stop and a lot of flexibility, I say. But sometimes there’s things that that bite to me on the weekends or at night. I’m going, I need to do this and deal with that. But it’s I find it. I’m honored when people do see the value in what I’ve been building over time and are able to jump on board with a winning team and then have success with real estate.
Georges El Masri [00:18:11] Yeah, and a big part of the success in investing is finding a great deal. So how do you find great deals?
Rene Masse [00:18:18] Hmm. It’s a good question. So I work with wholesalers. I work with realtors. And sometimes we have campaigns for off market deals. OK. It’s hard. Not going thing.
Georges El Masri [00:18:30] Have you purchased from a wholesaler before? Because I get a lot of emails from wholesalers and I have yet to buy anything from them. Not to say that the deals aren’t good, but I’m just wondering, have you bought? Yeah, you have. Can you tell us a little bit about your experiences working with wholesalers?
Rene Masse [00:18:46] They know their game and they’re on top of it. It’s, you know, as a realtor me, we are regulated, as you know, charged your realtor regulations, wholesalers, there’s no regulations. They do what they want to do. Sometimes it works out. I wouldn’t want to be all sellers, put it that way. Yeah, it’s a tough game. And they’re also dealing with homeowners who at times I’ve seen some off market deals and I’ve I’m by nature, I’m a sensitive individual when I see somebody in poverty. It’s not pleasant. They own a home, but they’re living in poverty for two or three years and for numerous reasons. Yeah. Not doing well. It’s not a good situation to be in and trying to help them out. I’m not a wholesaler in that in that regard.
Georges El Masri [00:19:36] Yeah, there are obviously wholesalers that maybe don’t have the best intentions in mind, but there are some that actually look to help others and there’s always ways to do that. So yes.
Rene Masse [00:19:47] Yeah, I think they do help. Yeah, but it has to be at their price. And from what I’ve seen, we’ve picked up some good deals and. I’m just saying I feel really Rob the Rob they Rob the owner like I’m saying like, how do you sleep at night? Lay Rob the completely. We got to get the idea for sure. Sometimes.
Georges El Masri [00:20:08] OK, so what’s your competitive advantage as a real estate investor?
Rene Masse [00:20:14] Good question. We’re a full package. We got the as a realtor, property manager renovations, my renovation is probably the most extensive part of it. Having employees on staff keep the prices low and we could spew out more deals quicker, more elegantly. I’m told some, some investors, they take six to nine months and for certain deals, it may take six to nine months. But ultimately, if it’s well-planned, dealt with the right team in place ready to go. You could do so much in one month or two, like even prior to purchasing. We’re planning it out. We got the plans of the city and the moment even before getting a permit. The place closes the next day. We got the dumpster in the front on a Friday. Where we dump it out, we got what needs to be gutted. And on that Monday or even that Friday afternoon, it’s gone. And then we’re ready to start framing on that Monday so you can get a lot done if it’s well planned.
Georges El Masri [00:21:21] Oh yeah. So it sounds. So what I hear you say is that the fact that you have employees on staff for your renovations keeps your costs low and you have systems in place that help you get the renovations done quickly so that as soon as you close on the property, everything’s ready to go. You start demo, you start framing and you have a whole procedure in place
Rene Masse [00:21:41] systems and procedures. That’s the key to any business without system procedures. You’re reinventing the wheel and you’re telling people what to do. They know what to do from the start. And planning it out is critical. So and everyone needs to be on board. So that’s one thing I’ve implemented over the course of two three years is creating more the systems and procedures on papers and then they know how to go about it. Yeah, there’s one more thing that about investing is a lot of people talk about investing in in real estate, which is great. But as a business owner for close to 30 years, I’ve had to invest in people. And by investing in people, only then does the business grow even further. Mm hmm.
Georges El Masri [00:22:29] Cool. Yeah. Obviously, after a long time of investing you, you have to make some adjustments. You get burned once or twice and then you, you figure out what you need to do and things work out. So that’s great. Before we move on to the next section, I wanted to ask you about the landlord credit bureau. Have you been using that lately for any of your rentals?
Rene Masse [00:22:51] No, I haven’t. OK. So choosing and working with tenants is an art and a science. I’ve been given this this over the course I grew up with tenants. Let me tell you a story, George. I ran away from the household when I was four. I had my bag by a bit of close water at a book, guess who I left with? It was a tenant. Wow. My parents were my mother was a concerned. It was just going to go do his laundry, be back that far. This is what I was told. I left with a tenant. I grew up with tenants, my background, extensive tenants. So choosing the right tenants. Now I go from a personal level of it, I do. We still verify credentials, I may not be the one doing so, but when it comes down to choosing a tenant, I do get a phone call. I do talk to the tenant just to make sure everything’s fine because we’ve all been there where we’ve had bad tenants. It’s part of the game and it just makes everything hellish. So having that one phone call, they’ve already been vetted by my, by my staff. I couldn’t just figure out by their attitude and their communication style. Yeah, with that, those two elements, I can get a sense if they’re going to be, if they’re going to be able to work well with us because as you know, George Tenet’s are lovely. They work well, but they only contact us when there’s problems. So how do they deal with those problems? Are they yelling or are they’re furious if we don’t get back to them? How are they dealing with it? Yeah. So that that’s makes a huge imports. Verification is done as a last resort. Mm hmm.
Georges El Masri [00:24:40] OK, awesome. And that’s obviously worked for you.
Rene Masse [00:24:43] So that is my forte. My forte is choosing people and working with people, hiring people. And when I hire people, I’ve been hiring people for 30 years. Hiring people and choosing tenets is very similar. Yeah, and I don’t suggest anyone jump in and do their own property management. But if you do, so have procedures and you also have to tell the tenant how this works, how this operates, because once they get in, if they’re if they don’t know what’s going, how it’s going on, they’re just going to do whatever they want.
Georges El Masri [00:25:20] Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So that’s I think we covered a lot here and I wanted to jump into the random five. So I’m going to ask you five seconds, you tell me the first thing that comes to mind. Number one, love it. What’s something you like to do the old fashioned way?
Rene Masse [00:25:37] God, I’m cooking, I’m cooking the old fashioned cooking, cooking the old fashioned way, just as much as I like restaurants, home cooked meal. Love it. Yeah, just eat better, better company. Yeah, yeah, it’s the cheaper and it’s easier on the belly, you know?
Georges El Masri [00:25:57] Yeah, yeah. Yeah, for sure. OK, cool. Number two, what’s something that you completely don’t understand?
Rene Masse [00:26:03] Those who cling on to security cling on to hold on to things. Mm hmm. What? I understand it. I’ve been there, but sometimes it’s important to let things go. Yeah, if a proper doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work in your portfolio or it’s or it’s losing money, just let it go. Yeah, sure. Yeah. So it’s not a question of not standing it. It’s a question of you got to let go if you think, Yeah,
Georges El Masri [00:26:27] yeah, for sure. OK, number three, what’s your current philosophy about money?
Rene Masse [00:26:32] It’s a tool. Money is a tool, it’s always been a tool, it is created sitting there. And those wealthy individuals use it as a tool. Mm-Hmm.
Georges El Masri [00:26:44] Cool. It’s awesome. Number four. What do you wish you had spent more time doing when you were younger?
Rene Masse [00:26:51] I have no regrets. I needed to go. I needed to go through all the difficulties in the past. I need to do. For some reason, I struggled a lot in the contracting side of things. I did way too much. And what I what I focused on one thing it worked out even better. Yeah, maybe read a bit more and had more of a focus for long term. But when you tell that to 21 year olds, they don’t care. Yeah, I was thinking about when I was fifth high school. I remember my mother when I was 22 23, my mother turned 50 and I was like, Wow, it’s so old and it goes so fast. I know it’s my next step, you know, like, yeah, yeah. So, so it’s hard to say those is those questions, you know? Yeah. Looking back, yeah, I would look. I talked to myself when I was 21, 22 say, let’s make a goal. What do you want to get out of it? But ultimately, I just wanted to have fun like most 21 year olds.
Georges El Masri [00:27:48] Oh yeah, for sure. Yeah. And number five, what thing from childhood do you still enjoy to this day?
Rene Masse [00:27:55] Oh, I like that one. So what? I went to my grandparents place. We had a cabin in the forest, and we would build it to this day, I still like building. I still like taking something, fixing it up or demolishing it. Not that I’m involved with the day to day activities of it but popping by seeing how it’s coming along and going from before and after pictures. And also, I have a lot of say on how it looks afterwards that I’ve always enjoyed doing cool. I’m a hands on kind of guy.
Georges El Masri [00:28:28] Yeah, yeah, that’s great. I feel the same way. I like doing that, too. So to finish things off? How do people contact you and what services do you provide?
Rene Masse [00:28:39] So I provide as a realtor, I find properties for poor people. I also provide coaching for those who feel the need to develop their business and grow with their portfolio. I’m more than happy as a background. I’m teaching. I enjoy the coaching aspect of things. I and I do also enjoy working with passive investors who want to invest in real estate in Kingston and want the full deal.
Georges El Masri [00:29:11] Do you also like as a realtor; do you sell in Kingston or are you covering another area?
Rene Masse [00:29:17] It was a case that you OK.
Georges El Masri [00:29:18] Yeah. Perfect. Yeah, so real estate coaching and passive income opportunities?
Rene Masse [00:29:25] That’s right.
Georges El Masri [00:29:26] Great. And how do people treat you?
Rene Masse [00:29:29] Just Renee Mass on Facebook, I just googled my name, everything comes up,
Georges El Masri [00:29:34] OK, so you say mass, you don’t see masses.
Rene Masse [00:29:38] True. So I say mass. Yes. Yeah.
Georges El Masri [00:29:41] OK, just making sure because sometimes the exact degree doesn’t appear on.
Rene Masse [00:29:47] I do have church. I do appreciate it. You say my name in French, which is pretty rare. Yeah, I do. I do respond quite well to my name. Yeah, but I say bass. My brother does say Marseilles, but OK, they must say anyway.
Georges El Masri [00:30:00] All right. OK, sounds good. All righties. Thanks a lot for doing this. I wish you all the best and looking forward to seeing you at a real estate events.
Rene Masse [00:30:08] It sounds good. Thank you.
Georges El Masri [00:30:10] As always, thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed the content. And if you did, I ask you to share this with a friend, with a family member, somebody who might benefit. And it’s always appreciated. If you could leave us a review, especially if you’re listening to it on the Apple Podcasts app or if you’re on YouTube, give us a like subscribe comment and your support is always. Appreciate it. Thank you very much.