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Inspiring Interview with Emily Chan on her Real Estate Journey

Hello Financial Nirvana Mama community,

It’s a great pleasure to introduce you to Emily Chan, an entrepreneur by heart and a childhood friend.  She’s a mother, business owner, real estate investor, and a stock investor.  If you were around in the 1980s, you may recognize her from an internet commercial with her mom or the show ‘The Incredible Story Studio’.

Her recent accomplishments include owning three residential homes, starting a new career, while juggling two young toddlers!  Over the past three years, she’s been able to build her portfolio on one income, scrimping and saving her money to buy two properties in Ottawa so that she can one day travel with her children.

Emily wants to share her own story, her growth and experiences, to inspire others to move forward with their real estate investing goals. She has lots of valuable advice about the steps to take in order to save you some headaches in your real estate journey, simplify life with kids and keeping it sane.

1. What’s your “Why”? Why do you invest in real estate?  What motivates you?

I choose real estate to build my long term wealth and become an asset that I can liquidate should the need arise.

My partner in crime is a business owner and is responsible for his aging mother. We need to be extra smart with our money because he does not have benefits or a pension that he can access when the need arises.

I don’t want to be tied down by my job. I want to work because I want to and not because I have to. My children motivate me. I want to give them as many new experiences as I can and show them the world. I can’t wait to take them travelling!

I want more TIME to do FUN THINGS with AWESOME PEOPLE who are IMPORTANT to me.

2. What do you look for when evaluating a potential deal?  Do you have set criteria that you follow?

  1. Location, Location, Location

  2. Convenience!!

  3. Potential for additional income generation

  4. Expenses: required work to be done to make it rentable, and,

  5. Resaleability!

  6. For future properties, I’m looking for either an in-law suite or 2 units.

3. Do you have any scary tenant stories that you would like to share?  How were you able to overcome it?

Knock on wood – I don’t have a particularly scary tenant story but I would say that it is best to not be friends with your tenant no matter how great you think they are. There are people out there who know how to work the system in their favour and will take advantage of the system. The laws seem to be written in favour of the tenant so make sure you document everything and be thorough on the move-in inspection and the move-out inspection and make sure you have them sign and date it and give them a copy. Whenever you have a discussion with your tenant and there are actions to be taken or decisions made, always follow up with an email to document and have written confirmation – never assume anything. And even if they have been a long term tenant, make sure they sign a lease with you that is up-to-date.

4. How do you maintain work-life balance between being a mother of two SMALL kids, helping run a real estate business, and juggling a full time new job , i.e., what are your tips on “having it all?”

It’s not necessarily about “having it all” for me. It’s the “keeping it together and remaining sane” that is my biggest challenge. Once you realize that you can’t do everything on your to do list – ever and you prioritize – that eases some of the burden. Then I plan for hot yoga once a week, make sure the bills are covered, and always make sure there is at least 2 days worth of clean underwear/diapers on hand, and snacks that are quick to prepare and easily accessible. Oh, and for dinner I feed my kids my leftover dinner from the night before and they get fruit smoothies in the morning for breakfast when time runs out. It also helps to have a very understanding boss and team at work.

5. What are two things you would advise future real estate investors to do in order to have a happy career, real estate business and personal life?

  1. Know what you want before you go looking for it and be certain about the numbers before you commit to any new purchase – it usually ends up costing more than you realize. And be super organized with all the paperwork to save time later on in finding everything.

  2. You have everything you need to succeed within you. Finding the courage and confidence to take the first small step then the next and the next will make it easier to take bigger steps and leaps. Don’t let fear hold you back from living an amazing life. It helps to surround yourself with like-minded people and people who support and encourage you in achieving your goals.

6. What books have you read that you would recommend to the readers?

  1. The Smart Cookies’ Guide to Making More Dough by Andrea Baxter and Angela Self

  2. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

  3. Zero by Kathryn Otoshi

  4. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff


Now, back to you!   What steps will you take to simplify life so you can manage your real estate portfolio?

Do you know of anyone who is considering diving into real estate and needs a boost- please pass on this post. You may help someone you care about save a ton of money or jump start their real estate journey:).   And don't be shy, let me know how I can best support you in your journey by emailing me here.  I’m here to empower, guide and encourage you to reach your financial nirvana.

Happy Investing,

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