Interview with Liane Eng on her Entrepreneur Journey

I am very excited to interview Liane Eng, a young entrepreneur with serious drive and work ethic.  At the age of 24, she bought her first property in Ottawa.  She did it by hustling all throughout university carrying two to three jobs and coming out with a small stash of cash!  Rather than taking the easy road of having her scholarship pay her tuition and blowing through her parent’s savings, she decided to hustle, save and make her money work harder!

She applied three simple principles of wealth building:

1) Live under her means

2) Generate more income

3) Invest like a pro until she reaches her Financial Nirvana

Four years into her journey with two condos and a mixed-use duplex under her belt, she has decided to launch another fabulous business selling beautiful antiques and upcycled furniture WISEMAN + CROMWELL.

In this interview, Liane tells us how she evaluates deals, her experiences with Air BnB and why her friends call her an ‘old man’.


1. How did you get started in real estate investing?

I think growing up in Vancouver had a big influence on my interest in real estate. You see it happening all around you. My parents bought their house in Burnaby in 1980 for 80K, fast forward 35 years and their property is worth over a million dollars. Those numbers alone would have anyone convinced. However, the booming real estate market means that RE investment for a young, working professional is pretty inaccessible. Many of my friends in Vancouver are either renting, still living in their parents’ basements, or living at least 45 minutes outside of Vancouver. When I moved to Ottawa in 2009, I saw a growing market. I couldn’t believe that I could afford to buy a place, on my own, in central Ottawa. With two universities, a large contingency of federal public servants, and a growing tech industry, Ottawa seemed like the perfect place to start investing. At this time I also met a friend who had moved to Ottawa from Vancouver years before and already owned a number of properties in Ottawa. Having a friend who understands the world of RE investment and who has already done it and is willing to give you tips on how to get started is a lifeline. With the guidance and support I needed, I purchased my first place a year and a half after arriving in Ottawa and then the next condo a year later. My most recent purchase will make it 3 properties in 4 years.

2. What motivated you to invest in real estate? Are you in it for the long haul? What are the pros and cons for you investing in RE?

My number one reason is the investment potential. Its something I understand and feel safe doing and for the most part I enjoy it. I want the ability to make my life and career decisions without always having to factor in how much things cost. Success in real estate is definitely helping me get there. I’m definitely in it for the long haul, that’s where I’ll get the biggest rewards.

Pros:            relatively safe investment

Connects me to my interests in real estate, housing, design and Do-It-Yourself

Helps to build my net worth and financial security

Cons:           it's like having a second full time job

Managing properties can be unpredictable. You can plan as much as you want, but appliances always seem to break when you’re away traveling or all in the same month.

You must be prepared to let other things in life occasionally take a back seat. I have had difficulty learning to prioritize and dealing with not being able to live up to my own, very high expectations of myself for everything I have going on – investments, job, friends, family, and entrepreneurial aspirations.  At some point, you’re not going to be able to be the best at one or all of these things and you have to be able to accept that, and know that you are doing the best of your ability.

3. Could you outline the main obstacles that you faced when investing and how you overcame them?

For my second and third property, financing was not easy.  After my first purchase, new rules were enacted to make it more difficult to get mortgages. It seemed like everywhere I went, banks were turning me down because I didn’t have enough cash. I am single and it is even mo