April 27, 2011
This week our Buzz Talk guest is none other than real estate guru and host of Inside Toronto Real Estate, Brian Persaud. Brian tells us about how he got into the real estate game, what his mentors taught him, and how, exactly he wound up on television.
BuzzBuzzHome: You seem to be all over the real estate scene, but you’re not a realtor. What do you do?
Brian Persaud: I’m a full time real estate investor. I started out by buying my first investment property while I was a student at the University of Toronto. That property turned out to be a home run, and the cash flow I generated allowed me to cover my expenses so that I didn’t have to work a regular job.
As I started to get better at investing people kind of took notice and asked me to buy property with them. I turned this into a business whereby I tend to earn my partners extraordinarily high returns on our properties. Over time, my reputation as an expert in real estate started to grow and the right people started to find out. I was approached to audition to become the host of Inside Toronto Real Estate for Rogers TV. Somehow, without ever having being on TV, I won the job.
Since then, I’ve become a producer of the show, I’ve signed a book deal with the largest business book publisher in Canada to write a book on pre-construction condos and I regularly speak to groups on all things Toronto real estate.
BBH: What did you do before real estate?
BP: I was planning to become a doctor. The program I was in was very research-intensive and my professors taught me to think critically. As a result, I never take anything at face value. I apply this level of thinking to real estate and I think this is why I became successful at understanding what opportunities are.
BBH: How exactly did you get into the real estate game?
BP: While in university I saved up $15,000 to buy a ‘suped-up’ Honda Civic, but a friend of mine who was an expert on cars advised me not to buy it. After we had this conversation I began to ask myself ‘What the heck should I do with all this cash?’ That’s when I picked up the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. After reading that book I learned the value of investing money to earn income. The rest is history.
BBH: What do you look for in an investment property?
BP: Today I strictly focus on value in markets that I understand inside and out. What I mean by value is a property that is either below market value or that can be rezoned or repositioned, with some work, to be worth more.
BBH: As your education isn’t directly related to real estate, did you find it a tough learning curve?
BP: Real estate is a practice. You gain your skills by actually doing deals and upgrading your education as you go. For the most part I learned what I know directly from successful real estate professionals. From realtors to private equity investors to lawyers and real estate analysts, I regularly bounce ideas off people as to how to do certain deals then try to apply that knowledge.
I owe a lot of my success to four people in particular. One is Don Campbell, the president of the Real Estate Investment Network; two are realtors with huge wealths of experience; and the final one was probably the best commercial/retail developer in the world, the late Paul Oberman.
BBH: You’re known for your vast knowledge of real estate. Care to name your best information sources?
BP: At the broad level, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Statistics Canada, Genworth, the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals, the Canadian Bankers Association, Toronto Real Estate Board, Urbanation and Realnet.
For my local expertise I focus on getting first-hand knowledge from experts like realtors, lawyers and mortgage brokers. However, lately I’ve been relying heavily on social media and internet forums (of which BuzzBuzzHome is one of the best).
BBH: Aww thanks! You’re also a TV personality. Do people recognize you on the street?
BP: Oh yeah, lots of times. The most funny experience was eating at Joon’s, a Korean restaurant in the Annex. The owner of the store asked to take a picture of me and didn’t want me to pay the bill. I was with a friend that I’ve known since kindergarten – she was in awe!
BBH: When not beating the streets, what do you do for fun?
BP: For fun, I love to read. I try to read two books a month. I really enjoy real estate and I want to become the best I can be so the books I focus on are mainly on negotiation, personal development, architecture, strategy, and economics. I learned the value of reading at a young age from my dad and as I got older from Paul Oberman. Both of them were great ideas people, and they developed their ideas by reading.
BBH: Any advice for young people wanting to get into the real estate game?
BP: I would suggest pledging your indentured servitude to a world-class professional in a chosen field (like say a developer, a real estate agent or a financier) and then work your ass off while doing your own deals on the side.
Thanks to Brian for taking the time to chat with us!