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Georges El Masri [00:00:00] Thank you for tuning in. This is the well-off podcast, I’m your host, Georges El Masri, and today I interviewed Irwin Zito for those that don’t know Irwin. He is a realtor who focuses on investment properties. He is the owner of over 40 properties, and he is also the owner of three separate companies. So on this episode, we talked about why he started investing in real estate, why he does it, do any joint ventures or very few joint ventures, I should say. We also talked about advice he has for new realtors and how he basically starting out by started out by developing a niche. We talked about the marketing systems that he follows for his businesses. As you guys know, he’s not only a successful realtor, he’s a successful investor and he’s got a very successful podcast. So his marketing tips are going to be valuable to a lot of people. And then we also touched on his charity, so there’s a lot of good stuff in here for anyone who’s who doesn’t know Irwin story. We break that down a little bit. There’s a lot to learn, so I hope you guys are going to enjoy it. And if you do, I ask you to share this episode with somebody you know that would benefit somebody who is maybe interested in real estate investing or who would just like to get started in investing. So I hope you guys will share it and leave us a review on the Apple podcast platform and on YouTube. Make sure to subscribe. Thank you so much for all your support. I truly appreciate everything you guys do, and if you guys want to connect with me, then I encourage you to reach out to me on Instagram. My ticker or whatever you call it, I forget it’s a well off ex, well off and the letter X and you can chat with me on Instagram. I look forward to connecting. Enjoy the episode! Welcome to The Wall podcast, where the goal is to motivate, inspire and share success principles. I’m here with Irwin Zito today, Irwin and me. I actually met through rock star real estate. As some of you guys know, I used to work there. Irwin’s there. He’s known or was. I don’t know if you still are known as Mr. Hamilton, but yeah, that’s a little bit of our history. So thank you for you for joining me today.
Erwin Szeto [00:02:08] Well, thanks for having me. It’s an honor to be on the show. Great.
Georges El Masri [00:02:12] So I know there is a lot that you do. You have your own podcast. You are. You run a real estate team. There’s all sorts of stuff. So I just like to start off a little bit by asking about your childhood if you want to tell me a bit about where you grew up in one or two memories.
Erwin Szeto [00:02:30] You know, I’m a child of immigrants and didn’t have much support here, specifically in the Toronto area, so we didn’t grow up in the best areas. Yeah, my earliest memories are from growing up in a bad part of Scarborough, near a bunch of government housing because houses were cheap and it’s not really a memory of mine. But I was told to me later that the home that we lived in a little tiny one and a half storey, we had my family have three mortgages on it. OK. Like it was, it was something they bought for, I think like eighty grand. Hmm. Right. It’s just times were different back then. Yeah. And when I remember this was I didn’t. It came back to me later that my mom operated an Airbnb in our home. All right, while we lived there so people would rent out rooms, pay per night and she make them breakfast and there’d be strangers in my house having breakfast with us in the morning. So, so I used that as a memory.
Georges El Masri [00:03:28] Oh, cool. Well, that’s interesting. Airbnb American Hustle, man. Yeah, yeah. OK, so tell me a bit about your journey because obviously now you are. You’re doing well, you’ve done well for yourself the last few years. You you’re investing real estate, renting a real estate team, doing all sorts of different things. So tell me a bit about your journey. How did you end up kind of quickly? How did you end up where you are today?
Erwin Szeto [00:03:52] It’s always been all stems from me being lazy. I want things quick, done quickly and efficiently. So the problem I had was a graduate school during nine eleven, right? I was I was in my final year expecting to get a really nice job. Maybe make six figures, at least get a really good starting pay. Is a graduate from business school. Nine eleven happened awful, awful event. Graduated to a terrible job market. My first couple of jobs did not do well for me. I remember Rob Break what I pay stub and seeing how much, how little I had. And then around the age of twenty five, I realized I had to do something else. The job was never going to get me rich. I’ve always wanted to be rich, so the job wasn’t going to do it. And, you know, that’s kind of where we started buying houses. And then the whole journey has been largely around finding ways to be more efficient with both my time and capital to be successful.
Georges El Masri [00:04:56] Mm-Hmm. So I know at this point, like I’ve mentioned, you’ve got quite a bit going on. So how do you divide your time today between releasing the investments that you have between everything else that you have going on in your life?
Erwin Szeto [00:05:14] So I don’t like talking about these things because I’m not someone who likes to show off or anything like that or be seen as someone who’s showing off. I am a part owner and three seven figure companies that are owned between my wife and me. And we have an eight figure four real estate portfolio and we only have one property as joint venture. So it is owned by the rest, is 100 percent owned by Chery, me and the bank. Yeah. So we do have a lot going on with two young kids like my oldest is eight, right? My youngest is six and we don’t want to spend that much time away from them or. So how do I do my time? Mainly, most of my time is divided 50-50 between my real estate business and my stockbroker business. And then then, of course, I have to make time for my portfolio at times my real estate portfolio and also like the stock tracking that I do and which includes, like crypto investing. Yeah, yeah. And then of course, there’s all the other stuff family trying to exercise. Yeah.
Georges El Masri [00:06:17] Yeah, see, people. That’s the that’s the tough part because we just had our first child, our son was born in October.
Erwin Szeto [00:06:27] So congratulations.
Georges El Masri [00:06:28] Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. So I’m like, it’s already kind of hard to make time for myself with him being so young. Mm-Hmm. And I also invest kind of like you. But I guess the challenge right now is trying to figure out how I make time to do all the things that I want to do, like be in the gym or workout, stay healthy. I take care of the rental portfolio, take care of everything, and I know you’ve been doing this for a while. So do you have any tips on how you’ve been able to do that successfully?
Erwin Szeto [00:07:02] For your young listeners, I would say hustle as hard as you can before you have kids. Mm-Hmm. All right. I actually suffer from burnout in my early 30s. I was I have scars on my face from coming out with shingles. So my body failed me. If my body can no longer handle the level of stress, I was applying to it, yeah, I was hustling that hard. Like, doctors are like, We don’t see this, right? Like, hmm, I thought it was. I thought I could work harder. So definitely I would recommend to folks. Yeah, a lot of things. Probably I could have probably improved despite sleeping and resting more and not and still been successful and not burnt out. I also have a full time nanny. I’ve had a full time nanny since my daughter was one years old to ever live in, and she’s still with us and my plan is to keep her as long as possible and she still live in. And that gets me a lot of our freedom back. But my wife also works and enjoys working. I know for myself, I’m not the person. I’m not meant to be full time with my kids. So the nanny works for us. Yeah, and it’s worked out really well, especially with all the virtual schooling and lockdowns and stuff.
Georges El Masri [00:08:12] Yeah. Oh for sure. OK, so tell me, I know you said you don’t really love to talk about your holdings or whatever, and not that you have to like dove in and tell me in detail but tell me a little bit about how you started building your portfolio and kind of like just an overview of how you’ve been able to grow it.
Erwin Szeto [00:08:32] Mm-Hmm. Let’s just started with my ex-girlfriend at the time. She got that. She graduated the year before I did, so she was already in the path like, OK, this job stuff isn’t enough. So she bought the first investment property that I thought was a terrible idea. I thought stocks were the other way to financial freedom, from massive bottom worth and net wealth and all these other things. And then the 2008 financial crisis hit my stocks and whacked, and at the same time, our real estate did fantastic because it was a credit crisis. Credit crisis has meant people could not get mortgages, so everyone had to rent. So then, like our rental business, is doing fantastic. And at that point we had around five properties and it was kind of like, Okay, let’s focus on the stock stuff. Let’s grow this real estate portfolio. And then from then. So I, when I do something, I’m like both feet in. Go at it hard, right? So I joined a real estate network and network regularly. I like never miss meetings in 10 years. I think I missed it when I was like the first eight years. I think I missed maybe three meetings at eight years. So that’s eight times eight years times, 12 meetings per year. Some of those meetings were like three over three days. Right. I was just so intentional about being the best that I could at this business, right? So I networked heavily, read several books on the subject. Got that familiar. I thankfully went to school. I did two years of economics when I was in school, and that really all really helped in getting this all going. And then it’s kind of like whenever I have cash available, so either from job or work or savings, then we will go buy a house. We’re not that complicated in the way that we invest, just because we have so many other things going on. I don’t want my investing to take over or when there’s or when our mortgages come, do or when or when, when, when we realize one of our houses has gone up so much in value, we’ll go get a new mortgage and take the proceeds from that and go buy another house. Mm-Hmm. Right. And right now, focus is largely duplexes. I did recently. I did buy a studio rental just two years ago as well.
Georges El Masri [00:10:41] Yeah, you kind of touched on how your portfolio is mostly just you and your wife. You haven’t really done joint ventures just out of curiosity. Is that just a personal preference or was there like some sort of reasoning behind it?
Erwin Szeto [00:10:56] Personal preference? You know, I have enough people in my life that depend on me. You know, I, you know, I have two businesses, each one between the two of them. I have one in 10 employees, a business on top of outside contractors. You know, our real estate business, we have well over 100 clients. You know, enough people, enough people rely on me and I don’t. And part of why I do what I do like I just have a job. I work for IBM for seven years. Part of the reason I couldn’t have a job was, I don’t think of myself as being employable. I have skills, but I don’t like answering to anyone. This is part of my nature. Yeah. So a joint venture partner to me would be someone that I have, and I have a duty of care to more than almost anyone else in my life besides my wife, my kids. All right. And that wasn’t something I was really interested in. I didn’t really want people that would what people who are trying to hold me accountable to anything. Yeah, right. Because I’m a bit of a free wheeler. Yeah. So and then.
Georges El Masri [00:12:03] Yeah, yeah, I think a lot of real estate investors and real estate agents to some extent are like that as well, especially if you’re a combination of both. You don’t really like being told what to do or how to do it or whatever else.
Erwin Szeto [00:12:15] Yeah, I think that’s a lot of real estate investors are exactly that, which is why and entrepreneurs of very some, I don’t want to be told what to do. Yeah. They don’t want to be controlled by anything. And then I’m not saying poo on joint ventures or, you know, I have lots of clients or joint venture most because they want to scale much larger than I have. Yeah. Right. Or they don’t have a capital or credit. Yeah. Right. So it’s like, you know, you run into a hard place. You do what you got to do.
Georges El Masri [00:12:43] So cool. I’m curious about your real estate sales side that the sales business. So first of all, do you still go by Mr. Hamilton or that’s done?
Erwin Szeto [00:12:56] No, it. We don’t give it enough credit as I should. Yeah, because it got me off the ground. I think it’s a good point to bring up because I’m getting a lot of questions are from New York state people, new real estate agents. So I can’t tell them what to do. They always like, what should I do? I can’t tell you what to do. This is what I did, right? I, first of all, when I got my license just to support myself and my family to invest in real estate, it was always meant to be like a private side thing. I’m not an outgoing person, I’m actually an introvert. I wasn’t going to be a natural realtor who could, you know, be a good people person like shake hands, kiss babies and like, Hey, you want to buy, sell or invest in real estate doorknocking and that sort of stuff I could call like that was never me. Hmm. Right? But at the networks I belong to friends of mine that I met through the networking Rob Break. Hey, I heard you get your license. And I’d like to have what you have. Could you help me? And like all, we’re cool. Like, you know, you and I are cool. Like, one of them was Andy Tran, actually. And they came at our cool like, Yeah, I’ll help you, right? We’re friends, right? And then, yeah, and then and then more and more people kept asking for my help, like everything referrals without any marketing. And then, you know, then I realized when I set my date, when I got my day job, I then started realizing, I mean, I like a little per person, which most investors are. I could calculate that it was costing me more money to be at the job than it would be to be a practicing realtor. Mm hmm. But also, I come from a business background. I went to business school, so something that I have to understand the business case because I abhor risk. I don’t gamble. I don’t Sportsbet. I don’t sit down on casino tables, right? Maybe, maybe it’s a very small amount, but I’m willing to lose. But that’s it. I hate losing money, so I looked at it from a risk perspective and a business perspective. And at the time, no one, no, there was no sound funny to you because it’s completely different now. But at the time, there was no real estate agent who focused on real estate investors in the city of Hamilton, Ontario. Yeah.
Georges El Masri [00:15:04] When was there? By the way,
Erwin Szeto [00:15:06] this was 2010 2010, OK? 2009 2010. That’s the time I was doing my license. That’s when I got licensed. Yeah, so I made the business decision like this. There’s a there’s a gap of service for this niche. So that’s why I made a decision like, OK, that could be you make a business out of this, right? Versus like you and I now can easily name 10 people within 30 seconds who are, say, they’re a Hamilton real estate investment experts. Right. And at the time, there were people that said they were X experts. But if you actually looked at their transactions, there are at least 90 percent regular vanilla residential. Why sell someone’s home? Yeah, right. So in my so in my estimation, it was really different to be able to service an investor from an analytical standpoint versus to help someone buy and sell a home. Yeah, that answers your question. How did I answer your question?
Georges El Masri [00:16:00] A follow up to that would be because I know you have like a bunch of team members now. Your team has grown over the years. So how did you grow that business? You went from being the investor specialist in Hamilton, where there were very few doing what you were doing to growing a big team and being experts and basically an investor focused team.
Erwin Szeto [00:16:23] Mm-Hmm. I just kept you busy. You know, my first my first full calendar year, I did 30 deals, which is not which is not common for a brand new realtor, right? And I wasn’t even that good on the marketing side. Yeah, I was actually pretty poor at it. On the flip side, I wasn’t even that good either. In my opinion, I’m pretty hard on myself. Folks can’t tell. And then I had a client of mine, James Maggs. He actually said he was actually asking me, and we did. We did. And I helped them buy five properties, and I’m about like my second or third year into being a realtor. And he bought five properties off new one year I helped them acquire. And for anyone doesn’t know he’s rich now, but I sold him stuff. Yes. Yet I wish I owned his properties instead of selling it, making a tiny, little measly commission. Yeah, but he came to me and said, Hey, I’m looking in getting to business. Property management makes sense to me because his recurring income. And I said to him, Hey, I think I can save you a lot of heartache. It’s probably the same amount of work it is to sell it is to manage it. And the realtor to pay a lot better. Yeah. So why don’t you join me instead? And so then he joined me and I threw him to the fire. I had all these business to deal with, and then and then his first calendar year. He also did 30 deals. So I did 30 deals. He did 30 deals like we were going crazy and then it kept going from there. I had an assistant. He had an assistant. His assistant actually worked at to be Tami de Tomaso. Who’s now one of the top agents at Rock Star Real Estate? Yeah, yeah. So she says she got herself license as well, having gone through the hoops of being an assistant and understanding how you operate a business, she immersed herself into our world. She actually became academically. She was actually better at a lot of the stuff than we did. Mm hmm. Right. Like A. Train, for example. So he’s like the leading experts on building editions, which, in his own words, were a Tamie knows zoning better than any real tree she’s ever met before. He’s never met before. Yeah. And I was a bit of a slight to me because I was, he was my client before. Yes, it’s actually fair comment. Yes. Yeah. So Tammy worked her butt off and she did 43 deals last year. Nice. 43 deals. That’s awesome. Yeah. Entertainment doesn’t know Tammy’s part of my team as well. And now again, she’s one of the top realtors at Rockstar Real Estate as well.
Georges El Masri [00:18:44] Yeah. And the cool thing about that is she probably, if not all, I’m guessing, a very, very big chunk of those forty three deals were with investors. Almost entirely. So that’s pretty well, it will be your most, most transactions are not for investors. If you look at the overall market, you know, most sales are like regular homeowners that are moving. So for her to say, OK, I will do forty three deals and I’m just going to focus on that minority of people that are investing. It’s pretty cool.
Erwin Szeto [00:19:16] That’s pretty crazy. Yeah, you know. You know, I don’t spend much time looking back and like reminiscing or appreciating what, what, what’s happened. But yeah, now that you put, you put it that way, it’s yeah, it’s pretty crazy.
Georges El Masri [00:19:29] Yeah, I know one thing
Erwin Szeto [00:19:32] I don’t know if you know, but when before time you became James, the sister she ran and she ran a home detention business? Oh, cool. So it’s like, it’s like, like waxing. Yeah, yeah. I don’t know what women do. Women I don’t like, you know, like waxing stuff like bikini wax, for example. Yeah, that stuff she would do right like that. And that’s that. And then now she’s become. One of the most successful realtors in all of Canada.
Georges El Masri [00:19:58] Yeah, yeah. 43 are on your own. That’s a pretty big number to do four deals. Yeah, that’s good.
Erwin Szeto [00:20:07] And then on top of that, we’ve we hired we have three other full time agents and we just hired another one as well.
Georges El Masri [00:20:12] Cool. Awesome. I know one of the things you do well as a team and throughout your businesses is marketing, and you touched on it a little bit earlier. How did you develop? How did you become a good marketer? Where did you learn what like, are there any systems that you follow? Do you have any tips on marketing?
Erwin Szeto [00:20:31] So one of the best pieces of advice I got from my mentors, Tom, who owned Rockstar Real Estate, was So yeah, so how’s this all sound good about me? I graduated from business school like other top business schools in Canada, so I was like, Oh, as I as I had a meeting with Nick is like, Oh, I studied marketing in school. I know my stuff and Nick is super humble, right? So it’s like, That’s good. That’s good. And but he’s like, from our experience, the most important thing is to be the bring in leads at all times like crap. I don’t think it taught us that instead of a lot of what we saw in schools, what was your brand advertising? Yeah, right. Yeah. I think a brand like for a small business; a brand is largely about what people think about you. Yeah, right. But if no one knows who I am and no one else, anyone and no one knows you the no. No, there’s no point in brand advertising. Yeah, for sure, right? So then so then I went down this whole path of direct response marketing. So I’ve studied Dan Kennedy. I’ve gone to his events and then I followed him, many of his disciples as well, like Russell Brunson. That’s the name of the company. So, yeah, Russell Brunson bought some of the Canadian products and digital marketer. So Ryan, I, we’ve purchased involved a lot of his stuff as well. Yeah. And of course, Rockstar Real Estate Simon Nick, you know, since author, entrepreneur, bootcamp, I’ve been to every one of them. Yeah, yeah. It’s just constant learning, always constant learning, a little bit of Gary Vee, you know. And uh, you always, always just be learning, observing. Yeah, understand that. You know, I’ve been at this for a while and had lost. So I it. I still don’t think I know 90 percent. Mm hmm. Right. So always reading or is consuming or
Georges El Masri [00:22:22] Sandy, why so are you kind of taking the lead on the marketing for all of your businesses or have you delegated? You have somebody in charge of marketing
Erwin Szeto [00:22:33] used to use to for a for especially the real estate side. And about half of the stock hacker academy business. We’ve actually starting last year; we actually did a reorganization. So Cherry is actually basically our chief marketing officer now. So she we have a marketing department. And even know how many employees we have some around 10 people, a marketing department of Rob, a 10 people. So it’s almost as if we have a marketing agency in in-house that supports three businesses. Yeah, yeah. So Cherry is she’s academically very strong too, which makes her and she enjoys marketing. She enjoys creative side of it and the scientific side of it. So, yeah, so she she’s been she and she loves to read. And her ability to take in theory and apply is just as faster than I can do it. So it was a natural fit for her. I am the I’m more like what we call a visionary. I come up with crazy ideas. I talked to people work on relationships. Yeah, a little bit when I can.
Georges El Masri [00:23:49] Yeah, awesome. I have a couple. Well, speaking of podcasts, which was one of the things I want to ask you about. So how did you start your podcast? Why did you start it and how were you able to grow it to where it is today?
Erwin Szeto [00:24:05] and don’t have any good answers because I don’t even know when. So it started with a blog. First off, in 2010, when I got license, I started blogging as well because I was one of the things I learned from Tom and sample. It was to put our educational content and then asked people for their email addresses. Right? So actually started with writing a blog. Some weren’t mostly for the for the most part, I was just sharing. I love to learn and I love to share. So it was natural for me to always be reading news or reading news, local news, especially specific to Hamilton. So I saw my website was Mr. Hamilton is still there. Mm-Hmm. I would. I’d read articles and then I’d just, you know, and I and I have blog posts and it’d be like, I’d really give like three bullet points and implications to real estate investing. And then here’s the article Go read for yourself, right? And I said and also, I said, if you’re if you want to get this in your email inbox, a senior newsletter for free along with other people that I’ve been sending us to, which was really the newsletter was just the blog post. Yeah. So it was the same content. Yeah. So but just that we would send it to your inbox. You’d get it every week and it did that for six years. And then my stats were trailing like it was less interest each week in the blog post. And then so again, always learning, always that they’re interested in doing something new. So part. So I actually looked at first before I podcasting actually looked into getting a radio show, right? It’s pretty cost-prohibitive, right, to just produce a really local radio show. It’s quite cost prohibitive. And then this whole podcasting thing started this 2016, so it wasn’t that big. It wasn’t that big back then. Right. And again, in the real estate space, there was only really one big one popular podcast for comedians in the real estate space. That’s my buddy Rob Break, right? And he started 2014. I started 2016, and then it was just more of the same. You know, I’m not an expert, so I always invite guests on to share. You know, I always say again, somebody was always wants to learn. I’d invite guests on from people I want to learn from. Hmm. Right. So, for example, like my first. So my first guests were like Rock, Don Campbell. So the all-time bestselling author then in the real estate space for Canada among Canadians in the night Julie brought on who was a very, very successful real estate coach and an author and two teaching authors at the time. And then I had written for Tato on pretty early as well. Is like one of the best high end flippers I’ve ever met in my life. Yeah, right? Yeah. And again, it was just it was just out of. I think this show has been successful just because I’m curious. And if people appreciate the questions that I ask. And the funny thing is, I don’t prepare anything for shows. Yeah. People ask for the questions in advance and like, no one gets their questions in advance. Yeah, but I’ve had this. I’ve had this come up a couple of times and the feedback that I get from people is like, Oh, I’m so glad you asked that question because I had the exact same question. Mm-Hmm. And like, well, I had the question because really, you and I of the same person, we have the same interests. Yeah, right. We’re like minded. So yeah, and I think that’s why the podcasts have been successful. We don’t do any paid promotions or anything like that. We don’t have any people like push it out.
Georges El Masri [00:27:45] I was just going to ask you, what kind of marketing have you done for it or has it just it’s just grown. People have shared it, and that’s it.
Erwin Szeto [00:27:52] It’s like the real estate market. The market’s just
Georges El Masri [00:27:54] grown. Yeah, right.
Erwin Szeto [00:27:56] I know people share it, and I do make an effort to offer a variety. And again, always stay ahead of the curve. Right? I guess, for example, two weeks ago, I had an episode out which I’m sure will upset a lot of mortgage people. Once I had a gentleman from a stage away lender who can offer mortgages to folks who have who invest in corporations and like reps. I can almost hear talked about this before. Yeah. Right. Yeah. You know, like, we’ve been at this for a while, right? Yeah. Oh, I didn’t know that, and he’s like, I didn’t know that either. That’s why I joined, that’s why I joined in. He works for the, you know, the bank that you know, so has Halifax Halifax’s The Capital. You know that one? I don’t know from the other day names that I want to sell, but I want to promote anyone either. That’s OK. But I but I gather feedback on that because like people like, it’s funny because like, like serious real estate investors, civil realtors messaged me like, Yo, that episode was awesome. I had no idea. Yeah, right? Other real estate professionals did not know and like, Yeah, no, no, I didn’t know either. That’s why they did it, and
Georges El Masri [00:29:05] they didn’t know that. Basically, you’re talking about Scotiabank that that you can get financing through a corporation through Scotiabank.
Erwin Szeto [00:29:12] Yes, but you have to go direct to them.
Georges El Masri [00:29:14] Yes, right. That’s the thing. Because broker, if you go to a mortgage broker, they’ll often say, No, we can’t do it through Scotiabank. But there is like all these workarounds that they can do and whatever else. But they don’t tell you that if you go straight to the bank or to a rep from the bank, you can get it done. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, yeah, that’s cool. So you also talked a little bit about stock hackers. Mm-Hmm. How did you get involved with that and why?
Erwin Szeto [00:29:47] So it’s actually one of the networking real estate networking groups I belong to. I met a gentleman there who’s quite successful as a real estate investor. And then one day and he’s a sharing guy, which is one of the wonderful things about the real estate community is how sharing community is. Yeah. And he was saying to me, Do you know what I do for a living? And you said, you do some stock stuff? Yeah. No, it’s not what I do. And they showed me right and I was pretty cool. He goes, If you’re interested, go read these two books because like, I immediately have bought books. Derek Foster’s Money for Nothing and laws, which was options. Right? And then I did nothing. I did nothing for two more years. Yeah. After those two years, I ran into that same friend. We just happened to be at the same restaurant. And he said to me, You know, you seem to be doing this as a kind of sense of his heart. He just said, take and I said, Can I join you guys? Because he’d finished his lunch meeting, I was in the middle of my lunch meeting. So, yeah, sure, sit down and seen you in years. He. Yeah. And you’d start doing this, doing stock options. Start acting as we call it. You know, there’s like now I’ve been too busy is like, you know, I got Adriano to do this. These are electrician because we’re both real estate investors in Hamilton. So he’s like in me. We use the same electrician. He goes, Yeah, of course, no Partizan. And means, like, I got him to make six figures last year. Like, no way. All right. So I call Adriano is a guy, and it’s been amazing. I’m like, OK, if you could do it, maybe I can do this. Yeah, right? And then I got into it to myself, made some money. Talk to a lot of people. There’s actually a lot of people in the real estate community who are who are stock hacking already who just aren’t very open about it. Right? And then so I ask lots of them. I asked a ton of people and they’re like, Yeah, it’s great. It’s great. A side hustle. And it was like, We have to share this with the world then, right? And then we did. We pitched it at my wealth hacker conference back. And thank goodness, pre-pandemic 2019. Yeah. And yeah, and ever since we’ve had eight hundred students through it, we’ve had some uh. So I have to say we’ve had some ridiculous amount of success. The market is part of it. But my cousin, for example, but you mean 50000, you mean 50 percent. His first year in 20, 20, 50 percent again last year turned on his money. And that’s all cash at a client. Visit me last week for lunch. You just mention. And then to be fair, that’s not entirely it’s not time to stock acting, you also as a real estate client as well. And you know, these are his wife’s words. I am not someone who likes to talk about what we do. It’s for anyone who knows I’m a Heidi disk, so Heidi’s do not like talking about themselves. Mm-Hmm. But I’ll use someone else’s words. So my client’s wife said. Thank them for all the wealth they created for us. Right. And again, it’s not a mansion. Mm-Hmm.
Georges El Masri [00:32:59] So awesome. Yeah, that’s it’s something I think that’s starting to really become popular like people are curious about this. Everybody’s talking about the strategy. So more and more people are learning about it. And I’ll include the website in the show notes, so that if anyone’s interested, they could check it out. So as part of the podcast preparation, I always ask if there are any questions that you’d like to be asked about. And I know you, you mentioned one thing here about asking you why? Why you don’t raise rents or invest in apartment building. So let’s hear the answer to that.
Erwin Szeto [00:33:37] Oh man, some people are getting mad at me about this stuff. So I was having dinner with a friend who is a pretty successful real estate investor, and he was telling me about this apartment building he was buying in the east in the Maritimes, right? He said, I’m going to buy. The rents are so low. I applied for this and I can raise the rents by 50 percent within two years. And then after that dinner is like, so I always say to my son because he’s my youngest and whenever he hits a sister does anything really stupid, like draw on the wall. And like, who did Bruce? Who did you help and who did you hurt when he hits a sister? Like, which help? Who did you hurt her sister? Now in the real estate story you just shared. If you raise the 50 percent on an apartment building, of course, the investor makes lots of money, so we know who’s going to win in that. You know, the investor and their partners, right? Who loses in that situation? I like tenants are statistically the most vulnerable sector of the of the of the people of society. Right? You know, when you remove like low rent apartments, you they never get replaced. Right. And the people who can only afford those. They get displaced. Mm-Hmm. Right. So for me, I’m like, that doesn’t jive with my values. Mm-Hmm. Right. Because my values about helping people so that and so from a real estate perspective, I’m only interested in creating supply. So basement suites, for example. Right. Majority of my properties have basement suites or have studio rentals, again, I create supply. There’s more housing, more people, higher density for each of my properties. Soon enough, our garden suite. Right. So I create another apartment on one property. So it took a single family home, turned three homes, right? I’ve improved. Some people might doubt it, and I’ll say I’ve improved society. That’s really, really tiny. Little bit. Yeah, right? Versus if I just invest in apartment buildings. How did you help? How did you improve society? This is my opinion. I’m looking for an answer on that myself. I’m talking to Pure on next week about it, and I’ll talk to other multifamily investors. And but again, you can argue that by increasing the price of apartment buildings, more will get built. I don’t know. Maybe I don’t really know how the argument. I don’t know if you have an answer, Georges.
Georges El Masri [00:36:11] Well, I mean, from my perspective, I think, OK, there are certain situations where you have these units that are occupied with people that are paying very little rent, but they’re also not necessarily living in the cleanest way. So maybe they have bedbugs. Or maybe they sell like not to put everyone under the same umbrella, but it’s possible that they sell drugs or they’re constantly fighting and yelling with people. So it’s disturbing other people. Mm-Hmm. It’s also potentially bothering the neighbors who might have young kids, and they don’t want to be around a drug dealer next door. So by fixing up the units or increasing the rents or doing whatever, you could be helping people and not we’re helping our neighbors. And yeah, good.
Erwin Szeto [00:37:02] Yeah, it’s just for my, for my, for my investment style. I need I need to be much more 100 percent clear on that. This is helping. Right, right. Yeah. Is that your use case does happen? I know it does. In the use case happens, we’re like a property like, you know, I see an apartment building like ceilings. The roof has collapsed. Yeah. And the property cannot be not habitable. 100 percent. Yes, that’s fantastic. You are creating supply. But for like a property that’s just like cosmetically tired. Mm-Hmm. Right. All you do is just cosmetically update and raise rents. Right? How does that help society? Right?
Georges El Masri [00:37:44] Yeah. As society as a whole? No, not necessarily. Probably not. But it just helps that area, that specific pocket, that neighborhood or whatever. Yeah.
Erwin Szeto [00:37:53] And I’m not judging, you know, folks, I don’t claim to have all the answers, right? I truly believe and let live and let live. And again, even if I did, judge, who cares? That’s my opinion.
Georges El Masri [00:38:06] Yeah. OK, so last question. Tell me a little bit about your charity. Hmm.
Erwin Szeto [00:38:13] Yes. So in turn, Terri and I, my wife and I, we like to help people. It’s just like the apartment building example. Why would it be hurting the people I’m trying to help? Yeah, right. I wouldn’t, you know, I just think, you know, it just doesn’t make any sense to hurt the people in trying to help and then give them back money, like giving back food and clothing. So it doesn’t jive in my mind, my very small mind. So, yeah, charity work. We started in 2014. I was I was I volunteer for years for a Tony Robbins charity, the Boston Brigade out of Toronto, and I was done with my brother. I bring a friends as well. And then one year, the last time I did it, they had my brother and I drove to. So at the time, I lived in Hamilton or Burlington. They had us drive to the other side of the Don Valley Parkway, East Side Parkway, Melton. So like, we live in the West. Why are we going to the East, right? I don’t want to do this anymore. The last time and doing this, but I still have room in my heart and my pocketbook for charity work, right? And there’s plenty of need here in Hamilton. So let’s just focus our efforts on Hamilton. And so my friend, Roger and I Rogers, a property manager, real estate investor in Hamilton. I moved out of Hamilton, I think at that point, so he had more and he had kids in school, so we had better boots on ground. They said, Hey, can you go to your school principal? And asked if they are to give us like three names each? People who need some help on Thanksgiving and we’ll donate will donate Thanksgiving dinner to them. Cool. Well, you know, you and I are really successful. So Roger and I like you and I really see some real estate as real estate investors, so we’re not going say no to anybody. OK, so don’t say not anybody. It came back to me the next day was. We have 18. Yeah, I know I went for six. We have 18. Like, oh shit. So I started calling in favors among the real estate community among my clients and my team. And then. Wasn’t my idea? The team said, let’s grow this to x each event. So that was so actually so the first time was like Thanksgiving, the first time was Thanksgiving 2014. So the next event we did was Christmas 2014. So the first time we did 16, the second time did 32 two and then Easter 2015, we did seventy five sort of bubbling. Yeah. And if it got it, got pretty crazy. Yeah, I guess we did over 300 families. Nice.
Georges El Masri [00:40:58] Yeah, that’s awesome. Yeah. The Hamilton definitely is a place where people could use help all over, really all over on, all over the world, people. There’s always going to be people that need help. So it’s really good that you’re contributing in that way, and I’d love to check it out. I know I’ve kind of heard about what you do, but I’d love to check it out and see if I can help out as well whenever you’re working on it. And so, yeah, thanks for helping out and doing good things for others, and I appreciate all your time today.
Erwin Szeto [00:41:30] Before we talk, before we go actually one thing about the charity work? Yeah. No different than the investors and entrepreneurs think the same way. I think that’s how we think coaches are supposed to likeminded is we all take care of ourselves because we know we’re not going to run. We can’t depend on the government to do it. Yeah. So the notice from the charity, I wasn’t going to wait around for the government to help the poor people. So, for example, during COVID, be the pivot. So we’ve actually pivoted to providing mainly winter boots now in winter coats and sweatshirts and stuff. Warm clothing, brand new clothing, especially the footwear. We donated over 700 pairs of boots for Christmas because when is the government going to do something like that? The government has plenty up, by the way. I think the government does as much as they can, but I always believe that as private citizens need to step up. So this is this is just what we do. No different than people taking care of their own financial futures. Step up. Mm hmm.
Georges El Masri [00:42:30] Yeah. If everybody just did something small, then the world would be a lot different. So totally understand that. Yeah.
Erwin Szeto [00:42:37] Start small. It’s OK. Yeah, it’s OK to think big, too.
Georges El Masri [00:42:40] Yeah, for sure. OK, so before we end things, do you want to tell me about the services you provide and the best way for people to reach you?
Erwin Szeto [00:42:50] Uh, services to provide. So we specialize in real estate in Hamilton and also the Hamilton surrounding area. So we go as far as Niagara Falls and we do a lot of Brantford as well. We have Stockcar Academy, which is largely a stock education business, and then we add on to that options. I know it sounds complicated, but my kid cousin is a full time musician, you know. Adriana, my friend is an electrician. You know, if you can, if you have the IQ to be an electrician or a full time musician, you can do this too. And of course, we have our Wolf Hacker conference. We haven’t done much to announce yet in 2020 to November 2022, which will be this fall. Yeah, it’s pretty cool. So, you know, I’m looking forward to that because I miss seeing people. And I’m hoping that becomes like the reunion for real estate investors. And to come back in full force, see each other. And yeah, it would be just like a gigantic family reunion of real estate investors from across the country.
Georges El Masri [00:44:00] Yeah, for sure. Just very quickly before I let you go. One of the last real estate events I went to was Durham REIT. Yeah, and Terry was speaking that night. So this was like just when COVID people were starting to hear a little bit about COVID. And I just remember Terry being so nervous like I don’t want to get close to anyone could just hear to speak. And yeah, that was the one of the last events I wanted. So anyway, just thought I’d share that with you.
Erwin Szeto [00:44:28] That’s crazy times.
Georges El Masri [00:44:30] Yeah, it’s crazy. But thank you so much for doing this. I appreciate you sharing your story and telling us a little bit about your businesses, and I look forward to connecting with you again soon. Thanks for listening to this episode of The Life podcast. If you enjoy the show, then I’d really appreciate if you left us a review on iTunes and let us know your thoughts in order for us to get a larger audience, it’s really important to have reviews so your sport is extremely appreciated. And also, don’t forget to share the podcast with your friends and family. Until next time, I’m Georges El Masri. Have a great day.