Sarah Larbi: REITE club nation, welcome back to another episode of the REITE Club podcast. My name is Sarah Larbie, and I am here with my wonderful co-host, Alfonso Salemi. How are you doing buddy?
Alfonso Salemi: Very good. Sarah. I'm super excited for today's podcast with Harry James. Over 40 years of experience in real estate doing different things, buildings, commercial stuff, single family homes, all different types of plethora of experience. If you don't have at least two pages of notes after this podcast, you might wanna rewind and listen to it again. And really great inspiration. Really great knowledge. I'm really looking forward to today's podcast.
Sarah Larbi: Me too. I think Harry is probably one of the smartest real estate investors that I've had the pleasure of speaking with. And I'm actually continuing some communication with him just because I just, I learn so much every time I talk to him. Super awesome. Guys, if you haven't heard of Harry James, please listen to this. You are going to get so much and feel free to reach out to him as well. You'll have some ways to do that, guys and I also wanna say we are now online. We live with thereiteclub.com. Whole new platform. You have to check it out. It's gonna be amazing. And please rate and review our podcast if you enjoy this.
Alfonso Salemi: Absolutely. Let's get to the podcast.
Sarah Larbi: Let's do it. I'm super excited. I have Alfonso with me, and I also have the one and only Harry James. How are you? Welcome to the show.
Harry James: I'm doing great, Sarah, thank you so much. As we just chatted a moment ago, it's awesome to be at the lake and when you're out on the boat and the sun is shining and you're reflecting on the stuff that matters most life is it's a lot brighter through those glasses than some of the stuff that's been going on in the media, that's for sure.
Sarah Larbi: Absolutely. So for those of you that may not have met you or heard you speak prior, whether it was one of our webinars or my podcast, can you tell us a little bit of maybe how long you've been in real estate for and roughly what your portfolio looks like?
Harry James: Sure. So I did my first real estate deal when I was 22 years old. I bought a condo in Scarborough Lebo for a thousand dollars down, and that was the beginning of my real estate journey. I tried to back out cause I was scared to death. It took 98.3% point income. I got trapped in it and decided to rent it out cause I couldn't sell it cause I would've got hammered.
My wife and I went into a little 300 a month basement apartment in Scarborough and rented the condo for, I think it was about 1500 or 1200 a month. And then while I was in that basement apartment, I bought a town home in Unionville with a nine month closing date. And I don't know why I did that. I had no money, but I guess I just figured what was the worst that was going to happen.
The funniest thing happened when I bought that townhouse. The market took off and all my friends thought I was a real estate genius and I was just purely lucky. But I had two pieces of real estate in my name that I couldn't afford and the market went crazy. But that really turned on the light for me about the potential and the opportunity in real estate.
That was that somebody else would. Rent something from you and not buy it on their own. That was fascinating to me. And then that you could actually get involved in putting assets in your name with very little money that would go up in value. So that was the beginning of my journey. And over the years my career was in finance, banking, financial planning, and so on.
I always built, I made my living from that. My wife and I decided to make our wealth through accumulating and doing real estate deals, and we didn't really know what we were doing. But I know I'm answering your question in a very long-winded way. But here's the key point. The philosophy for me with real estate was not commercial or duplexes or this or that.
I think I probably tripped on being a value investor. In other words, if I found something for a dollar, I knew it was worth a dollar, but because of circumstances or market or interest rates or whatever, I could buy it for 50 cents. Then I would buy it and I would figure out how to pay for it later. So if that meant, having to somehow have a long closing date and put together the money or bring in partners or get creative financing, whatever it may be.
I just knew that if I was buying something for a significant discount, there wasn't a huge downside. Even if I couldn't hang onto it, if I had to bail, I was probably gonna make some money. So I think over time I just developed this philosophy of becoming a value investor. And the other thing that happened is I did a deal in my twenties that scared me to death because it was all new and it was a commercial deal. Cause I had an office and I always tell this to anybody that will listen to me. If you're running a business, buy the building that you are running your business from. Always, even if you overpay for it, my goodness, buy it. The time's gonna go by 10, 15, 20 years. And if nothing else, you're gonna get all your rent back, even if it doesn't go up in value.
Most importantly, if you don't own that building, that you're running your business out of. The person that owns it decides to sell it. Your whole business can be displaced. And I have that going on with a client of mine right now. He has a very established, successful restaurant and the building is being shut down and basically he's taken his 30 year journey and it's gonna go up in a puff of smoke cause he doesn't own the building.
I've answered your question in a very long-winded way, but basically I look for value and when I find value, whether it's commercial, residential development, and I've found that I've expanded, you get scared. And you do something and you think, holy cow. But then you look back five years later and say, it wasn't that big a deal we're always growing that way and I'm still hopefully at this stage of my life still growing and expanding and looking at different things.
Alfonso Salemi: Absolutely, and you're such a charismatic person as well too, that you can tell that there's definitely a level of passion to what you do and you actually enjoy doing what you do as well too. And I think that's so important for people to remember whether you get into real estate just as a hobby to, like you said, to create that wealth on the side or if it's something that you wanna leave your full-time job. That was something for me that I was so excited about when I was able to leave my full-time work to do real estate full-time.
I think a lot of the things that you're seeing are value investing. And bringing value, right? So you see you, when you look at a property, you see something that most people don't, where maybe some people will turn it down and say, no, that's too expensive, or, no, that's not gonna work. You're bringing that. Maybe give some examples of some projects where maybe some people walked away from it and you walked in with your group or your partnership and said, Hey I can bring some more value to this and increase. And provide some value to the people that are living in the building, your partners, that see things that others don't.
Harry James: Sure. I think probably the best example I could give you and it's a project that scared me to death. I set up a shingle on Main Street Markham in 1993. Bought a financial franchise called Ross Dixon. And I was running my business outta there. It was 800 square feet and my lease was coming up and I was taking my own advice of buying the building.
I went up and down Main Street. I probably put offers in on six or seven different properties. I didn't have any money, so I was looking for vendor take backs or leases with an option to buy. Like I was, again, I was groping around the dark. I can't, didn't have a clue what I was doing. But I just knew that, one way or another I could figure it out.
There was a building that was for sale. It was very scary and imposing. It's called the Old Town Hall, 96 Main Street in Markham. It was listed for 8999. It was 10,000 square feet. It had a restaurant in the bottom that was still operating, but the rest of the building was pretty dilapidated. I don't say dilapidated, but rundown.
There was no main floor entrance. Getting to the building was quite cumbersome and for some reason, I don't know why, I thought you know what, I'll take a run at this baby for half a million bucks. And I put an offer in. And I won't bore you with the details, a year later, somehow it was a power of sale.
Somebody spent two and a half million dollars renovating it in the eighties when they walked away. Laurentian Bank owned it. And so it was a file sitting on some dude's desk. He's got 700 files, he's working nine to five, what does he care about? The old town hall. So I thought maybe that's the circumstances that are gonna go in my favor.
It's not an emotional sale. The guy probably wants to get rid of a file and shut it down. They're writing off a bunch of money anyway. Believe it or not I got it for half a million bucks when I signed the offer. I had no money. I literally did not have the down payment. I had three kids at home at that time.
I just started a brand new business from scratch. I was operating on my line of credit. I needed a certain amount of money to live. And you might say why did you do that? And here's the key point I had to spend at that time, $3,500 a month in rent anyway. So I would rather rent the money than rent the property cause if I rent the money, I get to stay, if I rent the money, I can maybe cut it up and rent it out to other people.
If I rent the money, eventually I'm gonna get the money back when I sell the old town hall. So I had to break it down, bite-sized pieces because I was scared because each floor was 3,300 square feet. I needed 800. So what I did, and I remember my manager at the time saying, here, you're nuts. But we went into the main floor and I said, just let's just make a little place for us to run our business here and forget about the other two floors.
Let's pretend we don't even own them. That's how I broke it down into bite-sized pieces because even at that time I was told by a heating and air conditioning guy that each unit on the top needed to be replaced. And they were $20,000 each. If I even started thinking about that, I would've been sweating bullets.
We just used duct tape and band-aids and with zero pride beg somebody to somehow keep it going from there a couple of years before I had to replace it. Anyways, that's the story of the old town hall and here we are. What is it, 25 years, 28 years later it's probably one of the gems in our portfolio.
Arguably it's a seven or $8 million building. It's 10,000 square feet. We've renovated it. One of the things that we did to make it commercially viable is we put in a ground floor entrance with an elevator, cost us 120 grand at the time, probably added a million dollars of value to the building. And again, great people around me just ask lots of questions.
I got zero ego, I've got zero pride When I'm negotiating, my pride is gone. I'll do anything I can ethically to try to bring something together. So I brought an architect and lawyers and financing. And as a matter of fact, the Lawrence and Bank took a big vendor Take Back at the time. Long story short, actually, probably too late for that. It became a beautiful deal and probably one of the best deals that I ever did in my real estate journey. But what it did do, and this is what I really wanted your viewers to listen to, I was scared. I thought that deal was beyond me.
I thought that was for shooters and big shots and developers. I thought that was for people with money. I thought that was for people with big fancy degrees and fancy cars. No, that opportunity was there for Harry James the same way it is for anybody. And that's what I love about the real estate journey is, you know what, if you've got a philosophy and you've got the intestinal fortitude and you can recognize that time and perseverance will be your friend, you can make it happen. And so break through those fears. Cause at the end of the day, the worst case scenario is you have to sell or you have to bail or you have to bring in partners. It's just a game.
Sarah Larbi: Absolutely. Right now I'm hearing a lot of people being scared, right? With the unknown. This will happen again. Whether it's, in three years from now and five years from now, there'll be something else. How do you, cause there's probably, in your 30 years there's probably a lot of ups and downs and market shifts that you've experienced. How do you take that as an opportunity or not be super scared and sell everything? Like how did you maneuver through all of those ups and downs? Cause they'll keep coming.
Harry James: As Alfonso mentioned a moment ago, thankfully for me, I am a very positive person and I do get passionate and probably one of the things I'm most passionate about is helping people enjoy the journey. Putting things in perspective, recognizing that money everything I own is temporary, but the relationships and life and health and vitality and all the things that matter the most all, like you mentioned, I think Sarah one of our most recent podcasts, you're driven by real estate for what?
It gives you the lifestyle. Friends, relationships, connecting and making a positive contribution. And that's exactly what drives me is lifestyle. When I'm doing a real estate deal, how do you break through the fear and how would encourage your listeners to break through? The fear is this one death per lifetime per individual.
Live your life with a deathbed mentality and that's not being negative, is recognizing that time is your most important asset. So it helps you quickly put things in perspective. I'll often say to people, look, if you're not in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, it's not a problem. Anything that's solvable is not a serious problem.
It's just life. Every day we get up, good things happen. Bad things happen. Good day, bad day, good deal, bad deal. That's called being in the game. That's life. And if you'll accept that and know that's always gonna be part of the journey, then you can play to win. But if you focus on the most important things, which is your health, your vitality, your relationships, and your perspective, it lowers the fear and lowers the anxiety.
Cause you're saying what's the worst that's gonna happen? Like I went out on Wednesday, Sarah, looking at four real estate deals with my partners. Beautiful day. Driving along, I felt just incredible. Like the whole virus covid thing was a thing of the past. And I'm looking at deals and
I'm thinking about the future and one of the things that occurred to me while I was doing this drive on Wednesday is, you know what?
Human nature doesn't change. It just doesn't change. So all these people pontificating that commercial real estate's gonna collapse because everybody's gonna run outta their home. Nonsense. People need to connect. They need energy. You can't build a company in a vacuum or through computer screens. You have to be connected.
Energy is real. The vision that kind, the relationships that come out, the things that happen, nonverbal communication all happens when we're together. People love to nest. People are gonna keep buying homes. Why do they love roots? They're not often sitting back saying is the market going up? Is the market going down?
They want roots. They want wallpaper. They want to put a little gazebo in their backyard. They want a nest. People want to hang shingles. I was 14 years old when I knew I wanted to be in my own business. I didn't say, Hey, how's the economy? I wanna, if there's gonna be a pandemic, I just knew I wanted to hang a shingle.
What does that mean? Eventually I'm gonna have to rent or buy a property to hang that shingle and to build that business. In other words, human nature, the fundamentals don't change. And the other thing about human beings as critically important is this. We all are blessed with a discontentment gene.
That's why we don't live in grass huts and why we don't have to chase around our food sphere. We're always trying to improve our lot in life, and that includes now we're always looking for ways to improve health, vitality in the future. That's why we don't need to survive. We adapt and we thrive. So I'm making my real estate decisions now based on 10 years, not on 10 minutes, not on what Ford says about the virus tomorrow.
Not on all the fear and pandemonium and all the people being paralyzed with this world coming to an end mentality. I am confident that we will get through this, and when we get through this, the same spirit that drives human beings, the same fundamental principles that we all adhere to, that have nothing to do with economies or pandemics, they're gonna rise to the surface and life will continue to develop as it always has.
Alfonso Salemi: I couldn't agree with you more. And the energy, like even when all those listeners that have been to a REITE club event, or maybe they attended the event where you were our keynote speaker and that energy in the room that people get off of each other, whether it's coworkers in a business, whether it's leaders, whether it's walking in and around your friends.
It's, we get this kind of unseen energy from other people and sharing in successes sharing experiences with each other. And I do agree, once things are safer again or whatever it is this too shall pass. Just like everything else that happens in this world. There is something that you said actually at our live event that I've repeated and your ears must have been ringing constantly since that event. But you were talking about the street light analogy.
I want you to share that street light analogy where you said everybody's waiting for all the green, all the lights to be green ahead of them. I looked at that and I said, no, you don't. You said I'll let you say what you said. Cause you said it's so great. I want for all those people that weren't there to hear this. Because this is a great analogy.
Harry James: Thanks, Alfonso. I think it applies to pretty well every area of our lives. When a lot of people, when they're making decisions in any area of their lives they'll approach it this way, the analogy is simply that you are at a stoplight and it turns green and you don't go, it turns red again and it turns green again and again.
You don't push the gas pedal, you don't go, the guy behind you in the car comes up, knocks on your windows, says Alfonso dude, what are you doing? The light was green. You gotta go. And you say to the guy no. I'm waiting for the lights all the way up the street to turn green before I go. I'm not going anywhere until I know for sure that I don't have to stop. I'm not going anywhere until I know for sure that I'm gonna get my maximum optimum efficiency out of this drive.
Now, that sounds like a crazy analogy, but that's often how people make decisions in their lives, relationships, and real estate markets. They're looking for guarantees. They want their cake and eat it too. They wanna win without taking the risk. They want a higher rate of return without taking the risk.
This sounds horrible and maybe I'll be beat up for it and I don't mean to, but anybody that sold their soul for a job that they didn't like that's in government right now are probably the first time in their lives really happy they have that job because they're one of the few people working again in paycheck, okay?
They had to wait 30 years to feel good about that job. I would rather get beat up, get scarred, be stressed and be doing something I truly believe in or something. I'm trying to make a difference in. Then to go for the guarantee and just settle. And the reason for that is I know I'm gonna die and I don't want to be buried with that epitaph that says here Harry lies.
Harry James, all of his potential still fully intact. I don't want that. He didn't experience things. He didn't go for it. He didn't. Again, I take my cues from our elders and I said this when I had the privilege of speaking at your event. Our elders are saying to us, if we will listen, take more risks, go for it.
Life is short. You're gonna regret the things you didn't do, not the things you did do. Don't wait for the lights, all the web streets to turn green. Push the gas pedal, experience it cause even if you fail, you're gonna learn something. You're gonna take into the next chapter that's gonna allow you to bring your life to the next level in all areas.
Sarah Larbi: That's a great analogy. Absolutely love it. It's just like with the BRRRR strategy, a lot of people are waiting for that perfect BRRRR where they're pulling out all of their rental money, all their down payment. That's a one-off right here and there. A lot of the time you're just pulling back out and refinancing your rental, and then a portion of your down payment.
If you look for that like hole in one or that home run, it's gonna be far and few between how obviously you've done this for many years. Obviously, you've got a great mindset, but how did you talk yourself through some of those times where it was super stressful? I know you said you're positive, but were there certain things that you did? Were there certain people that you've reached out to? Were there mentors that you had, cause I, I'm sure now your risk tolerance is probably a lot higher than many listeners that are on here listening, wondering, okay, what should I do with this downturn? I'm now on serve, I've lost my job. How did you get through all of those in addition to your positive mindset?
Harry James: I think, and this'll sound like I'm stroking your egos, and I'm not, I don't play customer golf and I don't say things, I don't mean, you guys do a tremendous job leading by example in showing people how to do it by doing it yourself. Like you're getting in a room and saying, Hey, Here's how we've done it, and here's some of the challenges we've had. Here's some of our failures and our mistakes, and here's some of our successes. And you're opening a door, you're building a bridge for other people to follow along. Now, why will 98% of the people not cross that bridge because they don't feel worthy of success?
It's almost like the way I felt about the old town hall that's for somebody else, not for Harry James. I'm not worthy. People won't cross that bridge because they think I'll be the one guy that does the deal and it's gonna blow up and fail, and I'll be the only loser in this path. Or I'll be the one lady that does this deal and somehow somebody will be raising chinchillas in the basement and the place will have to be torn down and be condemned.
Like we constantly put our fears, and by you folks leading you're giving them a bridge to get over those fears. But they still have to take the step. They still have to write the check, they still have to put in the offer. And fear for most people is gonna hold them back. How I broke through that fear is exactly by listening to people like yourself back in the day.
Back, I'm gonna show you how old I am. I just had a birthday recently. I just turned 59. But there was a guy on TV in the seventies, Tom that used to talk about real estate and how we could real estate was the great this and great that. And then there was somebody else that was again, another real estate guy that used to do workshops.
While their methodology might have not been great, or maybe they were even just a bunch of scammers trying to get people into their seminars, the reality is that made me think, maybe I think bigger. Think maybe that was for me. And then of course like many of your listeners the most important investment you make is the person in the mirror.
I've always been a reader of the millionaire mindset, thinking and growing rich the meaning of life. The monk has sold as Ferrari, you name it I read and reread hundreds of blocks. Why? To stretch my thinking to, to break off that barrier, to face my fears because that's the preparation that's necessary.
In order to fulfill whatever goals your listeners have. In other words, if they don't do the preparatory work for the person in the mirror, what you guys are talking about is just noise. And I don't say that with any disrespect, but it's true. If they're not prepared mentally, if they don't know what they're trying to do, for example, Sarah, you're doing it because you want a lifestyle.
You want to enjoy some things in life for you and your family that are important to you so you can experience things. If your listeners haven't come up with that, why they're not gonna have the fuel to overcome their fear? The problem needs to be bigger than a solution. So in other words, the problem of somebody's discontent with their life and real estate becomes the way of remedying that, and that problem needs to be magnified. So they will break through the fear and make the decisions as uncomfortable as they may be, to make real estate part of the solution for their unhappy financial journey.
I think it's really important that you invest in the person in the mirror and the thing again that you guys do incredibly well is you've gotta rub shoulders with like-minded people. How, I'll ask you both right now. How difficult would it be for you to find some negative people right now?
Maybe. What's it called? Like negativity is just now, so rubbing shoulders with like-minded people. And I love being the small fish in the big pond. I get so excited when I see people's success. I love it. I don't have any envy at all.
It just fuels me, inspires me. So if you guys told me you had a billion dollars worth of real estate, all I wanna know is how you did it. What was your favorite deal? What was your biggest mistake? Cause that inspires me. And the more you dig, The more you are truly interested in human development and your own personal growth, the more information that people truly want to help you.
My goodness, they're just, they're everywhere, but if you want to be with them, Hey, I hate my life. Wake up Monday, exist till Friday. Just, have some fun two days a week. And then believe that your lot in life is all you've got. And the best is behind and the worst is ahead and you just wanna roll over and decline and die. That's unfortunate, but that's not the kind of people that I want to choose to be around.
Alfonso Salemi: That's why we're so lucky to have amazing people in our community, in our network, such as yourself, Harry, that have done it. And it's close to 40 years that you have been doing it in, within even your own, real estate life with your own personal life, inspiring others, being inspired by others, and having that energy around there. And I feel the same way, and I know I speak with Sarah, that when we see people in our community that they just came to their first event, a year ago or two years ago, or just got into real estate and now they got their first deal and they're excited to do that next, we're always there to say, Hey, the problems, the issues, they're always gonna come.
I love how you said that, is building yourself strong enough to overcome those obstacles. And there's something that I always live by: you only fail once you quit. If you never quit, you never fail. You have to keep going and learning. From all those things that you're doing. So maybe for that investor, he or she, that's listening to this podcast they're on the trail.
They've read a few books. They've drunk the Kool-Aid per se and say, yeah, this is the way I am gonna do it. I wanna go get that first deal. There's a lot of information out there. So maybe what's something tangible that an investor or that person can do, like today that they can go out there and do today.
And whether it's to learn from somebody, or grab another book I don't know. What's something that you would advise them if I'm sitting in front of you at your office and saying, Hey I got started. I believe in this real estate. I read that book. I read that book. What can I do now? What can I do to put into play?
Harry James: That's a great question. Alfonso. I'll answer it by saying this. I've had the privilege in some of the speaking I've done over the years and some of the businesses that I've built and some of the businesses that I've frankly failed at miserably. I've learned a lot. As a result of that, people have come to me seeking advice. And I've taken on a handful of coaching clients, and I hate the word coach cause anybody with Pulse is a coach these days. But that's the only word I can come up with. It fascinates me. I think I've said this before, somebody will hire a life coach, but they won't say to them so what have you done?
What's your net worth? They're just kinda, Hey, you're my life coach. Okay? But I think when I've had the opportunity to coach people, I've said and they get mad at me, I'll say, there's a very good chance this is gonna be a waste of your time, and you're not gonna do what I ask you to do.
What do you mean by that? I'll say, because I'm gonna ask you to do some things that are really uncomfortable. And what really matters the most is from the moment you leave my office until you come back next week at this time, it's all the stuff you do from the moment you walk outta my office that is gonna have an impact on whether you do or don't achieve.
Either improving your financial life or your balance, or all the things that are important to you. In that context the most important thing I can tell your viewers is this, or your listeners, is this, please take the time to be mentally prepared for success.
Whatever your definition of success is, if you do not get mentally prepared for success, if you don't feel worthy of the level of success that you are pursuing, you will sabotage it subconsciously on a regular basis, you'll revert to the average. You revert to your comfort zone. Most people wanna blend in with wallpaper.
If you're looking to do something that's extraordinary outside the norm, outside of what you've lived your life to this point, you've gotta be prepared to be uncomfortable and do it the most when you feel like it, the least. Once you're mentally prepared, then you have to get to the work of developing a philosophy.
As I said earlier, you need to have a philosophy and a vision and a set of criteria. Buying real estate is easy. That's non-investing. That's called a transaction. Anybody with a pulse can open the back of a real estate agent's car and buy a property. That's not investing. Investing is where do I want to go?
What do I want my net worth to be? What do I want my future cash flow to be? And it's about developing a strategy and a plan that fits your personality. Maybe you love recreational properties. Maybe you love multi residential. Maybe you like the idea of industrialization. Maybe you've got an idea for flea markets.
It doesn't matter what it is, the sky's the limit, but you need to take the time to figure it out. What do you want to do? What markets are exciting for you? What regions are exciting for you? You need to do the homework. Because once you do the homework, what you have is a set of criteria. The reason a lot of people can't make decisions, Alfonso, is they have no set of criteria.
They don't have a frame of reference by which to make those decisions. When I went to look at four properties on Wednesday, I knew my criteria. I could tell you in 15 seconds a minute I pull up whether that property meets my criteria or not. It's a business. Real estate investing is a business. What I don't like about this market right now is there's no relief for landlords.
Think they're dealing with landlords like where 300 years ago, where we've got billions of dollars and we own all the land and we have no mortgages. Today, real estate's a business. There's something called cap rates, and you have to figure out what cap rate is, if you're doing commercial work for you, what residential cashflow works for you, what you can borrow, what you can't borrow, and so on. Here's the key thing with real estate that I think is, and I've repeated this and I'll repeat it again and again, it's perseverance and time. The best analogy I can give for your listeners, and I really want them to look this up because I'm pretty sure I know it's true. I might get the facts a little wrong.
The Chinese bamboo plant is an amazing plant. You plant the seed, Sarah, and you have to water it, and you have to fertilize it every year. Now your field is just, imagine a hundred acres of dirt next year. You go out and you've been watering and fertilizing every day. And guess what? The next year you go out and it's still a hundred acres of dirt and you've been watering and you've been fertilizing, and there's no reward for your efforts whatsoever that you can see.
This goes on year three, year four, year five, year six, year seven, Sarah, you go out, it's a hundred acres of dirt. There is nothing there. You've been watering and fertilizing for seven years, and now all of a sudden you see a little bud. And in six months, I believe it is, These bamboo shoots go up 80 feet in the air, 80 feet in the air. But you had to persevere and believe and stay true to your criteria and your convictions for seven years. I have a question for both of you. How many people would've given up?
Sarah Larbi: Many?
Harry James: Probably that I think I'm gonna do corn.
Sarah Larbi: But you know what, it's interesting because that is exactly real estate, right? People think that they're gonna get rich quick or they want a solution like next year they can quit their jobs and they're gonna be millionaires.
Harry James: That's exactly my point. There's a young guy, I was his first deal. And we're gonna, and he's calling me every week. Anything can happen. I'm like, what do you expect to happen? Nothing happened. The furnace went off. There's this perception, I think, in the marketplace that, yeah, real estate is great, because, and it is true, most, many billionaires have made their money in real estate.
That is true. But they didn't do it in 15 minutes or 15 weeks. So that perseverance I think, I don't think there's any more important message for your audience. If you're looking for something quick, if you think you can cut corners, if you think you can compromise, if you think you can be unethical, if you think you can, do it quicker because there's this cheap way to do real estate.
Do yourself a big favor and find something else, cause it's just gonna be misery. Real estate is hard. Real estate is tough. Investing in real estate's tougher than buying real estate because if you're gonna be true to a set of criteria, finding that deal is not easy. And then once you do the deal, there's always surprises.
There's always things that come up. But when you persevere, time becomes your best friend. And just like the Chinese bamboo plan, all of a sudden you're an overnight success. Sorry, you, Sarah. After perseverance and fertilizing and watering and feeling like you're getting nowhere and all of a sudden, boom, you've got some momentum that you can build upon.
That's what makes it real estate but you've gotta take it seriously like any other craft in any other business. And my fear with a lot of people in real estate is they're not taking it seriously enough. They're oversimplifying. And that's what's so great about your club. You're saying, Hey folks, this is a business.
You gotta do your homework. You need relationships, you need information, you need criteria. And you gotta keep growing and investing yourself, or you're gonna go backwards, whether you're 20 or 79. You've gotta keep growing and investing yourself and coming up with better ways of doing your craft.
Sarah Larbi: Absolutely. And when times get tough, this is not a time to say, oh crap, I gotta sell everything and get out of real estate cause it's gonna go down 20%. This is unfortunately where speculators are gonna not do as well as investors that looked at the fundamentals and cashflow. But, this is a time you're gonna ride the wave and you're, we're gonna come out at some point, and this is gonna be over at some point.
There'll be something else that, in three years or five years, regardless. But, there's a lot of panic. There's a lot of panic in the media. There's a lot of exaggeration, I think, as well with certain parts of it. But ultimately, when you hold on, just like the stock market, when you hold on, you're not realizing a loss. But if you're gonna sell at a bad time, and you're gonna sell out of desperation and being scared. This is unfortunately when you may lose more, unfortunately.
Harry James: Sarah, that goes back to the green light analogy. You just hit the nail on the head as to why people don't push the gas pedal. What if the market eventually goes down 20%? News flash. It will. Maybe it's the same thing. Real estate is cyclical, the same as anything else. But here's the nice thing about the real estate business as well, when you are prepared, okay? And by the way I've made tons of mistakes and I'm sure I'm gonna make many more.
I am truly not professional to be some guru or expert. I'm not. This is just my personal journey. Take what I'm saying with a grain of salt. I'm out there today looking for opportunities, and I'm not an opportunist. I don't want to, I hate seeing somebody go bankrupt. I hate seeing the power of sales.
It's not something that I take any pleasure in, none whatsoever. But I am aware of human nature and I'm out there looking for opportunities today because I know there's many people on the sidelines that maybe won't capitalize. I'm going to capitalize if I find the right opportunity.
Why am I gonna do that? Cause I'm making a 10 year decision, not a 10 minute decision. So my criteria will assume rough waters for the next 12 to 15 months. And then I'll be rewarded for taking that risk, hopefully at some point in the future. But I'm not gonna do it haphazardly, but I'm certainly not gonna sit on the sidelines, suck my customer fortitude to invest at the highest degree of pessimism. Alfonso, are we at the highest degree of pessimism?
Alfonso Salemi: I bet every single one of them are getting tired of this and now it's so easy to be negative, right? And like you just said you've made plenty of mistakes in your career. We all have, right? And we're gonna continue to make more. If you're scared to make a mistake, you're gonna be scared to be successful too. If you're scared to fail, you'll never succeed. And it's learning those experiences and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, that's the whole thing, right? That you're not, you're never gonna grow. People that are gonna say, no, don't do this and don't do this. Yeah, sure. They're never gonna be wrong, but they're never gonna be right either, because if you do nothing, nothing is what is it? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Harry James: Absolutely. And the other thing too I wanna be really confess about is ambiguity and anxiety. As an entrepreneur, they're my constant companions. I'm always scared. I'm always thinking, am I making the right decision? Am I always thinking, geez, have I got something wrong here? I second guess myself. I question myself. I think anybody says they don't or either their ego is so big that they're not self-aware or they're lying.
I think, there's always uncertainties, there's always unknowns. There's absolutely no guarantees. But I'll go back to my life philosophy. So what? What's the worst that's gonna happen? If I come home and I screw up a deal? I think my wife is still gonna love me. I should check on that now.
Alfonso Salemi: You know what that's perfect, right? Because if you're not scared to fail. So here's another take or another view on it. So maybe, at this almost 40 years, probably it's somewhere in your career you're like, wow this is amazing.
This is pretty good. I've, I've achieved some certain level of success. I have a cottage now. Some cool things that I thought I was gonna get. How do you keep motivating yourself? How do you keep striving to say, not resting on your laurels because now I got this and I got that and I've got this many buildings and I have 10 properties here, or this, and I'm getting this much cash flow.
How do you keep motivating yourself and keep striving to get better? Because some people, I see for myself that they've reached a certain level and they just plateau and say that's more than I ever thought that I was gonna achieve in my life. And regress after that. How do you keep pushing forward?
Harry James: Alfonso, that's a great question and I'm gonna try to answer it as honestly as I possibly can. First of all I've never done that. I've never thought I've got this and I've got that. I don't know if that's because of my philosophy, first of all it's perspective, right? My summer home here, which really is somebody else's guest house. It's all relative. I remember a basketball interview being a player, being interviewed, the guy saying, Hey, you're really rich. He said no. I'm wealthy. I'm okay. The guy that owns a team, he's rich.
Depending on what your measuring stick is in life for success, my measuring stick I keep net worth goals just as a score sheet. But it doesn't mean anything. It doesn't change what I need to live, what's important to me. My family doesn't change based on my net worth. Sarah will know this too, cause our cottages are stolen through, this cottage is 15 years old. I can't sit back. It needs about $300,000 in renovations that needs a new deck. And you, I gotta do some deals. Real estate has a way of breaking down. I need to be loved on a regular basis.
To answer your question though, I truly believe, and for your older listeners, I just turned 59 as I think I mentioned. I've just read a book called Boulder. And it's how we frame getting older in our society and what the norms would be. You decline, you want to talk about depends and your best relationships and your best.
Everything is behind you and you just cling on and live through your lives. Cling on your kids and hopefully somebody comes and visits you in the nursing hall. Retirement is a lie. If you retire a tool, a piece of equipment, a computer, it means it's, no, it's gone beyond. It's useful. As somebody that's going into what you call the final chapter of my life, I'm viewing it hopefully as being the most exciting chapter. You, the human body, doesn't understand aging. It just understands whether it is needed or not. So you can be as healthy and vibrant in your eighties as you were in your fifties and forties.
Deals. I've seen people write their best. There's an author out there, you'd have to look it up. He wrote his best award-winning material when he was 90. Somebody says why'd you do it at 90? He said, I didn't have enough experience at 80 to get this workout the way it's out at 90.
Again, his perspective. So if you look at it, there's nothing wrong with aging, it's a decline that you wanna avoid. So motivation for me is that my best deals are ahead of me. My best opportunities are ahead. The richness of my relationships. I want to become fitter at 60 than I am at 50 than I am at 59.
I have new net worth goals. I'm looking for different opportunities in the marketplace, the way they're going now. I want to have richer relationships, more meaningful relationships. So I've got all sorts of things that are important to me that I'm living now. But the key is this, and I said this to my son the other day, don't be so focused on the goals that you missed the present.
I was very driven in my younger years and probably took myself a little too seriously. The difference now is I do have goals. I'm gonna build my net worth. I can't wait to do another few deals, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the moment that I'm in and what I love about what you guys are doing. And whether somebody's worth a billion or a buck, they're not any more important than anybody else. Net worth is not a reflection of character or worth. So I've never taken what maybe I've accomplished or my buildings or my net worth. It's just complete. It's just a scorecard. It means nothing. If I have the privilege through this podcast to help one or two people who inspire one or two people, that's incredibly gratifying to me.
I've had people, Sarah, because of your podcast call me, or a couple of young guys came on a road trip with me, had the time of my life. I learned a ton of stuff. Your podcast and your events have enriched my life. And that means that Harry James is still growing and still developing new relationships, and I think that's what's important about life.
Is to be less concerned about the age and stage you're at and more concerned about, again, looking at the person in the mirror and say, Hey, for the time you have left, what you wanna accomplish, how do you wanna make the world a better place? How can you enhance somebody's life and make their journey better as a result of interacting with you? And that's one of the things that drives me at this stage of my life.
Sarah Larbi: I love that. That's amazing. So many great insights. Like you're, you're so helpful. And I really believe that the audience today got a ton of valuable information. And also the motivation to just keep going and shut out a lot of that noise.
Because there's a lot of noise around us. I'm super inspired. Thank you. I definitely think a lot of the audience members are gonna take some great takeaways from this. So in the final, we can keep talking forever. As our final part of the podcast is our lightning round. Alfonso and I will ask you a series of four questions. Every guest on our podcast gets the same one. And then you'll just give us the first answer that comes to mind. Are you ready?
Harry James: Scary. Go ahead.
Sarah Larbi: All right, question number one, Harry, what is the best advice that you have ever received from another investor or at a networking event?
Harry James: You have to have staying power. I had mentioned that last podcast in real estate. You need to make sure that you've got staying power. So whether that's an emergency line of credit investors access to private funds.
To your point a moment ago Sarah, when you're in a tough time liquidity means lost. The last thing you want to do when you're under pressure is sell. The only regret I have in my real estate journey is the stuff that I've sold. So always try to have staying power.
Alfonso Salemi: Love that. Keep the dry powder, keep some dry powder around somewhere. Alright, number question number two with the lightning round, what is your favorite real estate investing resource?
Harry James: Funny enough there's, it's a little embarrassing to show how simple I am, but there's a real estate magazine I've been buying for 20 years called Crew Canadian Real Estate. Is that right? Something like that.
Sarah Larbi: Yes. The Real Estate Wealth magazine.
Harry James: Yeah. So I love personal stories, so I used to buy that and a magazine called Success. I don't know if they are still successful. I haven't bought one in a while, but I used to go to chapters and buy a Crew in Success once a month.
I love reading the personal stories and it's what you guys do, which I love. There's nothing like testimonials. There's nothing like real life examples to inspire people, encourage people, which you guys do an amazing job at. And the crew had these kinds of profiles of people that started out, or they hated your job and they got into real estate, or they did this or did that.
I found that quite inspiring in my journey. And of course, success is all about mindset. And about being the best version of yourself and personal development is something that's really important to me, cause I truly believe that you make the world a better place when you invest in the person in the mirror and try to become the best version of yourself.
Sarah Larbi: Absolutely. Have you ever written in that magazine, by the way, Harry?
Harry James: I have not.
Sarah Larbi: All right. I will reach out. I will try to connect with you guys. All right. Number three. What is the one attribute that has made you most successful?
Harry James: Oh, I think and again, this isn't Harry James, but attitude. Attitude is everything. I was the coach of my kids when I was younger. Attitude. It's just I think there's a famous poem about a poem about attitude, but attitude can change everything. Attitude is just, it is everything. And the attitude that you bring into your marriage and to your raising your kids and to your business and to a rough situation, attitude makes all the difference in the world. And I would argue pretty strongly that's an incredibly important thing to work on.
Alfonso Salemi: I love that. Great point. Because things in life are gonna happen. It's how you view it and how you deal with it is really gonna be the differentiator. Alright, last question of the lightning round. On a typical Sunday morning, not recording podcasts. Yeah. But what are you up to on a typical Sunday morning?
Harry James: On a typical Sunday morning back in Mark and my family and I would go to church. We go to a little community church, which is very important on my journey. And then we generally have a bunch of friends back and stay in the kitchen and have a nice lunch together and just hang out and connect as family and friends. And my wife and I are very fortunate. We've got, first of all, we have four children, two grandchildren, a third on the way.
And some very close friends, one of my friends goes back, a few of my friends go back to when I was 15, 16 years old. So we've got. Some people in our lives that really fuel us. And we have a real continued connection and we make the time. And again, there's something again, unsolicited advice I know, but one of the big regrets of people in their nineties is not putting in the effort to maintain important relationships.
You know how people say they didn't call me, so I'm not calling them. Get over it. Life isn't about a scorecard or being right, but if you take the effort and make the effort to maintain relationships that fuel you, relationships that fuel your soul and make you better and make you feel better about who you are, that'll give you a much bigger return than any piece of real estate than that you'll ever do. I think those relationships are critical and we're very blessed to have a number of them.
Sarah Larbi: Absolutely. Very great advice. Harry, where can the REITE Club Nation our listeners, reach out if they wanted to speak to you or know more about you?
Harry James: Sarah, you have brought me from two people on Instagram to 200. I'm becoming like, Instagram is Harry James, HarryJamesgroup.com is where I can be emailed. But there, I've had a number of your listeners direct message me on Instagram, and that's always been fun. I've offered to again, not as a guru or somebody that knows, pretends to know everything, but I've really had a pleasure, and again, as a result of you folks and amazing work you do speak into some people's lives that are starting out or are doing some different things.
I encourage anybody that wants to learn from my miserable failures to reach out and be happy to share with them. One thing I said to somebody and I don't, somebody approached me a number of years ago and they came through the back door. And this is important, and I don't mean to prolong this sheet and edit this out if you want, when you want to do business with somebody or you want to, you have an agenda, don't come in the back door.
Come in the front door, don't invite me to your house, Sarah, for dinner. And after two and a half hours, tell me that your dinner was cooked in Amway pots that you're trying to sell me. Don't do that. Because that's offensive. So I had somebody approach me and every salesperson will tell you, Hey, you wanna win somebody over?
Ask them about themselves. Cause everybody wants to talk about themselves. It's kinda like this, whatever. So somebody called me and asked me a bunch of questions for 20 minutes, and at the end of 20 minutes is okay. Can I basically, okay, can I sell you something? My advice to anybody that's listening right now, if you wanna learn from somebody that's done it, pick up the phone and say, listen, I don't have a clue what I'm doing.
I would love to get 15 minutes of your time. I would love to learn from you cause I wanna do my first real estate deal. Can you share with me a couple of points? If you're a wrong, young real estate agent listening to this podcast and you want to do business with developers, Or somebody that's done some development, pick up the phone and say, listen, I don't have anything to offer you right now except for incredible amount of energy, and I promise you I'll bend over backwards to give you value.
Can I possibly earn a right to do a piece of business with you, if not now at some point in the future? But I'll tell you, if you invest in me, I'll never let you down. So the experience that I lack now, I'll make up for the enthusiasm that comes in the front door. Don't try to sneak in the back door. Human beings are very smart, very perspectives.
If you wanna do business with somebody, if you wanna network with somebody, be up front about it. Be very candid about what you're trying to achieve, cause most people truly want to help other people regardless of what their experience may be.
Alfonso Salemi: That's amazing advice and a great podcast and interview that we've had with you today, Harry, full of amazing information. And I really approach that, tell people what you're about, what you can offer and what you want to learn and surround yourself with those amazing people. And we're lucky to have you in our atmosphere and the REITE club nation. Really reach out to Harry, talk to him, and I can't thank you enough, Harry, for for an amazing podcast today with Sarah and I thank you very much and look forward to doing a whole lot more with you in the future.
Harry James: Yeah, real honor to be a part of this today. And again, I'm very thankful for you guys reaching out because it really has been a great enhancement of my journey, and I appreciate it very much.
Sarah Larbi: Thank you, Harry.
Harry James: Have an awesome day. Enjoy the sunshine.
Alfonso Salemi: You too. Thanks. REITE Club Nation one, an interview with Harry James. He was great. So much info. I love the tips, I love the analogies that he uses. I love the stories, the real life stories that, from 30, 40 years ago that he was doing this and still actively doing it today, guys, if you haven't been sold on the idea of that real estate is the way to create wealth in that long term, I don't know, you guys are listening to this, you might have some idea to get off the fence.
Take action, do what you need to do, reach out. If it's me, if it's Sarah, if it's somebody else in our REITE club community that you want to talk to, to learn more about, have a question, get in touch with us. We want to help you. How about Sarah? I dunno, what's some of your feedback? What's some of the things that you liked in that interview?
Sarah Larbi: I just really enjoy how he is investing in so many different things, right? So whether it's residential, commercial, quarries, businesses, he's done it probably all, and there's not a lot of investors that have that much experience and have that much experience in different types of investing. So I'm looking forward to speaking with him further because I I look at him as a mentor and he's just absolutely amazing.
Alfonso Salemi: Absolutely investors, out there and REITE Club Nation out there, that if you're early on in your real estate journey, don't be scared. Don't be, I know it's daunting. Different people in the community that have done so much and oh my God, that's so many on, they're only talking like that because they have so many properties. Guys, we were all at the start line at one time. When Sarah and I first met, I loved their stories.
She was like, googling how to make money, how to retire early, right? And the real estate thing. And for me, I was working full-time in the sales position, right? Hey, if I can sell more, I make more. But how do you create that long-term wealth and whatever strategy, whatever direction you want to go in, Harry, he does a few of them, right?
Whatever that is for you. Whatever that is, get that experience, get that knowledge, apply some of it. Go and take action, talk to the people and reach out and let us know how we can help. We want to be part of that growth journey. We want to just push your goals one inch further than you were ahead if we want to help you guys there.
Get onto the REITE club community website, reach out to us, listen to more podcasts. Share it with a friend. I don't know what else to say. Thank you guys so much for listening. Sarah, thank you so much for being an amazing co-host. And again, this journey that we started a little over two years ago now on, interviewing people and doing podcasts and getting out there.
It's amazing. We want to hear from you guys. Great. Review us. Listen tell us what you want to hear, what you wanna listen more of. If there's somebody that's amazing that you're saying, Hey you guys, you need to listen to this guy, we're gonna do our best to get them in your ears and in front of your eyeballs to to learn more about that.
Sarah Larbi: Absolutely REITE Club Nation. Until next time, come grow with us.
Harry James: Bye guys.