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3 Lessons Learned from My Investment Mistake in 2009

In 2009, I purchased my very first investment condo and that was the unit right above BMO.

I ended up buying 3 units in 2009.

Now that I think about it, I was pretty brave back then because 2009 was the start of the Great Recession.

Then I made a bad mistake along the way and I’m going to share that with you.

If you like this kind of real life stories, make sure you subscribe and hit the bell.

I’m now in North York, in this big community between the Bessarion and Leslie subway stations.

That’s the purple subway line along Sheppard.

It was opened at the end of 2002.

So back in 2009, this area was just a piece of raw land with a vision on paper that this would become a great community along the subway line.

I knew nothing about condo investing back then, but I thought you would never go wrong with the subway.

And you would see the biggest growth when you are at the start of a new vision.

So I went into the sales office and said I wanted to buy a unit.

To my surprise, they refused to sell anything to me.

They said I would have to go through a VIP agent.

I had no idea what’s going on and just asked for a referral to a top VIP agent.

I called the agent and she told me the only 1 bedroom unit she had left was on the second floor.

It was a 550 square foot corner 1 bedroom unit, looked great on paper, so I just took it.

Three years went by, the unit was ready for occupancy in 2012.

I was shocked to see the real thing.

I felt like I was sharing my floor with BMO and my view was just Canadian Tire.

I was worried about traffic noise, this and that.

I totally thought this was a terrible unit and would not have good value over the long term.

Do you know what I did?

I flipped it right away, sold it by assignment at $225,000.

I made $20,000, which I thought was not too bad considering I only put down a $40,000 deposit.

Now, of course, I laugh so hard at my old self.

I’m going to share the 3 very expensive lessons I learned from this investment experience.

But first, let me share what this neighbourhood looks like today, so you know what I lost.

This master planned community is called Concord Park Place.

Let’s have a walk from the Bessarion subway station.

We have Toronto’s biggest community centre right here.

I wouldn’t mind having a daily walk through this nice green space.

In the far east, we have the earliest phase of this community, where my first investment was.

Then the community started expanding towards the west.

The construction here in the middle will be the most luxurious condo in this community by far, it’s called King’s Landing.

We are going to visit a southwest corner 2 bedroom on the 30th floor, in this 4 year old building called the Opus.

This is a very bright and spacious 818 square foot corner 2 bedroom unit.

And you get an extra 152 square feet on your balcony.

What an unobstructed view!

You can see all the way to the CN Tower.

On the other side, you can see the park.

Back in 2009, this was just a piece of land with nothing on it and no one was getting off that subway station.

I bought my 1 bedroom unit for $200,000, sold it by assignment with a $20,000 profit.

If I were to keep it till today, it would be at least $550,000.

So here are my 3 lessons learned.

#1 You Are Not Your Buyer

I made a big mistake by putting my own emotions into the second floor unit.

I really didn’t like it.

So I thought no one was going to and it wouldn’t have good value.

But the truth is, I sold my unit to an elderly couple and they loved it so much that they are still staying in the unit today, after 11 years.

And just for my own curiosity, I pulled up the transaction records for that corner 1 bedroom unit in the building.

There were 15 transactions over the years.

One on the 2nd floor, that’s mine.

And one on the 3rd floor.

All the other ones are on the upper half of the buildings.

It looks like people actually like the lower floors better and are holding onto them longer.

You see, you are not your buyer.

So I always remind myself, don’t put my own emotions into my investments, don’t over think, just look at the numbers.

The other day, my rental team was just saying, “Why did Dan buy these ugly units?”

Yup. Sometimes it has a huge pole in the bedroom.

Sometimes it faces directly onto another building.

Because I remember my lesson learned, just look at the numbers without any emotions.

For example, a better view does not necessarily mean a better rental yield.

To me, it’s very simple, a good investment is one that makes good money.

#2 Buy And Hold

You hear me say this all the time.

Buy and hold, real estate always goes up in the long run.

If your intention is to flip and make some quick money, you should not buy.

I personally buy and sell in good markets and in bad markets so I average out.

When I worked as an engineer in a giant tech company, they gave out stocks regularly as employee benefits.

I never looked at the stocks because I set it up so they would automatically sell at market price whenever the stocks were granted.

My colleagues thought I was pretty stupid.

But you know what, over time, I definitely earned way more than those who tried to time the market and sell at the peak.

This also goes back to the rule about not getting any personal emotions involved into making an investment decision.

I recently sold one of my ugly units and I will be sharing the story in the following weeks.

If you want to hear that story, make sure you subscribe and hit the bell.

#3 Subway And Master Planned Community

There was one thing I was right about back in 2009.

I thought I would never go wrong with the subway and a master planned community.

I was totally right about it, but I wasn’t smart enough to wait for things to materialize.

Regent Park is another great example with the streetcar and the master planned community.

The Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is a new one with the new subway and a master planned community in the early phase.

Here’s the thing.

It is okay to make mistakes as long as we learn from it and it is never too late to fix the mistakes.

So in the past few years, I bought two 2 bedroom units in this Concord Park Place community because I can still see more growth here.

This particular 2 bedroom unit I’m here right now is my client’s investment unit.

She’s now cashing out because she wants to use the funds towards a self-use unit that she likes.

You can get this unit for $899,000, with parking and locker included.

If you are interested, you can schedule a call with me at the link below.

Sorry, not anymore. It sold faster than my video production!

If you want to get a sneak peak of deals like this one before it goes public, you can subscribe to my deal of the week emails at the link below.


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