You are listening to Your Happy Place Podcast. Each week we will be bringing you interviews with real estate experts and investors. The show features interviews and discussions on real estate investing,property management and inspiration. With your host Jenna Ross.
Jenna: On today’s interview we have Greg Ross and Amanda Gaetz from Royal LePage Atlantic and they are a real estate team and also co host of the Halifax Real Estate Investors Group with myself.
Jenna: Greg, Can you tell our listeners how you became a realtor?
Greg: Sure thing, thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to get on the podcast here and looking forward to it. How I became a realtor. I started in the corporate world in telecom and doing national sales for a number of years and I started dabbling in real estate during that time. And then went through I believe it was four mergers and acquisitions through out the 10 years I was with those different companies and just working the Monday to Friday, 9-5 job I started dabbling in real estate did a little investing and started feeling more passionate about that than I did about my regular job. One thing kind of lead to another, we were absorbed by yet another company and they shut down our office in Halifax. Everyone lost their jobs, we did get severances so I was able to do a little sole searching during that time. I climbed a bunch of the Appalachian mountains range peaks throughout Atlantic Canada through the Eastern seaboard and during that time I reflected and had to make a decision in what I wanted to do and real estate was just the perfect fit so from that point on I got into real estate and morphed into where we are today.
Jenna: Amanda, Can you tell us how you got started in real estate?
Amanda: Thanks Jenna, I welcome to everyone who is here and thank you for having me. So my story actually is quite similar to Greg’s. I have business degree and started my career in sales. I worked for a couple of companies, one I ended getting laid off along with a small group of people and the second company I worked for was acquired by a large American company did a mass lay off of 100 in one day. At that point I decided I wanted to run my own business and kind of determine my own success. I always had an interest for real estate so that is when I decided to make a career shift and I jumped into real estate. My first year of real estate I was named Rookie of the Year in my brokerage and kinda never looked back and that is how I got started.
Jenna: That is so great and I remember before you got started on Greg’s team seeing you at an event and noticing you were wearing a realtor pin from your brokerage and it was a social function where there were a lot of other realtors there but I remember you standing out to me as somebody that carried themselves well and a professional.
Amanda: I was pretty and still am proud to be a realtor.
Jenna: Yes and in my opinion you are a very good one. You and Greg make such a nice team together because to me you balance each other out. You bring the feminine energy to balance Greg out.
Amanda: And Greg is always there if I need a sign installed or to get rid of the spiders from the door of the vacant homes.
Jenna: Yes, you guys make an awesome team. Greg, how do you find being a team is? Are you more effective as a team than being on your own?
Greg: Totally. Night and day. It has changed my business,it changed my personal life. As a realtor you are surrounded by 2000 other realtors in a sea of real estate agents but your a stand alone entity you’re running your own business. You know as well as I do before Amanda and I partnered up going on vacation was very stressful so we didn’t go on a lot of vacations. When we did, it would take half the vacation to find a way to unplug and actually enjoy it, most times it really didn’t happen but having that trust with somebody and I trust Amanda with everything to do with our business, so it’s night and day. And like Amanda said earlier we do balance each other out. Sometimes we are in a situation where we are dealing with somebody, maybe she’s not clicking with that person or I’m not clicking with that person, we aren’t able to communicate properly but between the two of us there is always somebody that can come in, step in and balance out theose situations. A sounding board, we probably talk 20-30 times a day,every day and sound different scenarios about real estate to each other. Usually it creates a better outcome for our clients that way to because two heads prevail a little bit cooler than one in a bad situation or a challenging situation. I could never go back, if it wasn’t for having a partner in this I don’t know if I would still be practicing real estate to be honest, I probably would have moved on to another business.
Jenna: Amanda, What do you feel makes you different than other real estate teams, your team?
Amanda: We are a team of two. Some teams you see out there are larger teams, we see teams of two but lots are teams of 4,6,8, it seems like the going trend right now is to build the biggest team. I really feel the advantage of two of us, is that both of us always get to know and work with all of our clients. We always get to know all of our clients so that is an advantage to us and our clients really love two points of contact. So whenever they need something if they can’t get a hold of Greg then they can reach out to me, if they can’t get a hold of me they can reach out to Greg. Same as other realtors, if they are looking for information on a property, there is nothing more frustrating than we are working with a buyer and trying to contact the sellers agent and we can’t get a hold of them or they aren’t getting back to us. So for realtors if for some reason Greg is busy,they can call me so it helps everyone out on all points of business. Over all just to be able to provide a greater level of service to our clients works out in every ones favor and like Greg talked about too, sometimes a client doesn’t really click with me well or with Greg well then we will naturally become their first point of contact. One thing that I find our clients really like on the selling side is that when we go in to do a market analysis they feel as though they have got two opinions on the price of their home. So they got two experts to look through their home and give them a value that makes them feel quite confident with that. Over all I feel that having two of us on a team makes us a bit unique than some of the larger teams but overall it works really well for us and our clients.
Jenna: Amanda, before the current COVID situation, you talked about things being a sellers market in Halifax. Did you find that buyers were more hesitant when it was a sellers market?
Amanda: The answer to that is kind of yes and no, it always depended on the scenario.
For investors who are looking to invest in real estate some of them are always a little hesitant to buy in a sellers market. They need to be a little more sure that their numbers still make sense when things are selling at top dollar and those great deals were a little bit few and far between but still happening but of course they were a little more hesitant but on the residential resale side I didn’t feel much hesitancy at all. I find that the buyers out there were getting into competitions as there was less inventory so they were finding it harder to find the home they wanted so when they did, they were very quick to jump and put in offers that were full asking price or much higher then asking price. So if people were looking to buy, I didn’t see them holding back as it was a sellers market not much at all a little bit more on an investors side but over all it was still quite a strong market cause there were a lot more buyer than there was inventory.
Jenna: Interesting. Greg, What is the current sales market like at the moment in Halifax?
Greg: Right now our market is,I have this question asked to me several times a day in general public or people I am talking to or meetings that I am in. Whats happened is that pre COVID we had a market that was high on the demand side and low on the supply. And now coming out of that market into the new market that we are in right now,they both took a dip. There still is some demand out there, there is a significant amount of demand as people still need to move, people still need to relocate, health care workers, we have military people coming in and there are investors this the way they support their families. Just like everyone else working we have investors needing to feed their families as well. I would say that we still have a strong amount of demand even with the shrunken supply so if you look at our statistics we are down in our number of listings year over year but our average house sale hasn’t gone down. It’s still a pretty busy market,there is a reason while real estate is an essential service because people do need a place to live and that doesn’t just come to a halt. We had a listing that we put on last week within less then 24 hours it was under an agreement and there was other people calling about it. I would say at this point of time, you may ask me this question a week from now and it may be a little different but we are still busy.
Jenna: That is good and things are changing rapidly so everything seems to be changing just in general every day.
Jenna: Can you tell us about the Halifax Real Estate Investors Group?
Amanda: Back in January of 2019,yourself,Greg and I started a monthly meet up here in Dartmouth for locals who are interested in investing in real estate or are already investors in real estate. We have had a lot of great feed back and a lot of success with this a lot of people are interested and we have a lot of the same people come every month, we always see some new faces but the great thing is, we always have a different topic every month and get a lot of great feedback on people who are coming on what they would like to know. We bring in some industry experts and discuss with them in more detail what they do. So for an example we have had mortgage brokers come in and talk about creative finance options for people looking to invest in real estate. We had a lawyer and an accountant come in and talk about the legal and tax side of investing in real estate. We had someone come and talk about AirB&B’s and even a city planner came in to talk about our local city plans, some really interesting topics that a lot of people are enjoying.
One of my favorite parts is we have some local investors come in and talk about their success stories. It is really great to hear from investors sometimes they may tell us what they may have done differently, I am kind learning from others mistakes but over all hearing their success stories is really encouraging to other local investors. It also allows them to speak to someone who is already in the game and give them a little more confidence in moving forward. Over all we have had a great time doing that and will continue doing that. As of right now we are doing it a little bit differently with zoom chat,questions and answers things like that. I don’t think we will stop sending out all this great information and interviewing industry experts any time soon.
Jenna:No. The thing about the Halifax Real Estate Investors group that they like so much is that is has made the three of us step out side of our comfort zone sand do some public speaking, the webinars,the podcast interviews all kinds of different things like that, that none of have done before that as far as I know.
Amanda: Another great piece is that we have a local Facebook group where everyone who is in this group has a place to talk about different things, run ideas by each other,give each other recommendations on who they should use on different projects, for what contractor does this, where should I buy this. It is a really great spot for people to come on and help each other out in this world of investing and real estate.
Jenna: It has been a nice way to get to know the investors and provide value to them so it has been really great.
Greg: Another thing, I think we were even mentioned in someone else’s meet up group or investors group last week so obviously our group is really getting some great attraction in the city area. They are looking at it that it is not just another Facebook page but a resource which is really cool.
Jenna: That is nice. Greg, Do you have a favorite real estate investing book that you would recommend?
Greg: Well, it’s funny because I thought you might ask this question and my 7 year old daughter had an idea what the book might be. It is one of my favorite books, it’s not the main one, I actually have 2. I am going to put 2 out there because the books are, I am very passionate about the books. Rich Dad, Poor Dad is obviously every real estate investor needs to read it, every business person needs to read it. The book that I really have a lot of respect for as well is The Richest Man in Babylon. The reason that is an awesome book is that it doesn’t just talk about real estate but it talks about the concept of business. This book was originally published in 1926, and if you listen to it and the things they talk about it is still relevant even today. One of the things that I am always talking about in our investors meet up group is when you get advice make sure you get advice from the person who should be giving it to you and the person who has experience. One of the quotes in the book is “Advice is one thing that is freely given away but watch that you only take what is worth having.” That is from the author George Clasonn. Richest Man in Babylon I highly recommend that to anybody who wants to learn just about business in general and how to make your money work for you.
Jenna: Tell them the story about what our youngest daughter said.
Greg: We were just around the kitchen table and lunch and you mentioned that you were going to ask me that question and she answered Rich Dad,Poor Dad.
Jenna: Because she saw it on your desk and I thought that was so cute.
Greg: It sat on my desk, I had no idea knew but she obviously read the cover.
Jenna: Greg, What advice would you give to our listeners looking to get started in real estate investing?
Greg: I think if I go back to our first investment, knowledge. We just kinda of had a passion for real estate, we went in and jumped in the water but we could have made a lot of mistakes. We made a few mistakes you and I along the way with our investing career but knock on wood we didn’t have a whole lot of major issues happen. Had we had the resources that we are putting out there right now, not to toot our own horn but we have a lot of content we have a lot subject matter experts, I learn something new every time we get together whether it be on a call,a podcast or webinar or an in person meeting. I would say educate yourself, join a group maybe not our group maybe it’s another real estate group, where ever you are listening join that group and learn from other people that have done what you want to do. There is no better way to learn then from other peoples mistakes trying to avoid some of the hardships that come up. Don’t be afraid to take some risks. Measure risks but at the same time you don’t want to over analyze everything or you will get into that analysis paralysis where the numbers have taken control of the actual opportunity. Sometime those opportunities are not around for a long time. You have to be able to analyze it and move on with it, if it meets your criteria and it ticks all the boxes then you should move forward with it don’t wait for the perfect deal. Deals can be made to work. In every opportunity there is a deal to be had it just depends on how and what your strategies might be. It is a loaded answer but I guess to sum it up just take some advice from some people that done it before and go out there and have some fun with it.
Jenna: I completely agree. I feel like we finally jumped in many years ago and I don’t really see, we are realizing different ways to structure deals and everything I don’t see that we made huge mistakes. We could have done things more efficiently and like the way we financed stuff and things like that but the important thing is that we got started when we did.
Greg: 100% We are at the same place that we would be at right now it just took a little longer to getting there but that is where we can teach people different methods of getting to where we are and above and beyond that.
Jenna: Yes we could have maybe moved quicker if we had of had the knowledge, it’s amazing and it’s just great that people get started.
Jenna: Amanda, How are you finding everything managing your business and being a mommy at home with your 2 beautiful boys?
Amanda: For everyone listening I have a 2 year old and five year old so life can get a little bit hectic and recently things have obviously been a little more crazy with being at home with no child care and everything else. Before the quarantine this career worked out really great for me. It was one of the reasons I got into this career knowing that I wanted a family. The flexibility of running your own business has, obviously is really great for a family. And having a business with a partner who also has is young family is great because both parties understand if I have an event that my child is having during that day or if one of your girls is going to a Christmas concert during the day, it is great that we can accommodate that and we are able still go to all those important events of our children and work our business around that because again that is one of the benefits of being a team of two. Over all it had definitely been challenging at times and right now is one of the more challenging times but over all there is nothing like running your own business and if I need to stay up to 11-12 at night to get something done because I had to do something with the kids earlier that day, that is a sacrifice that I am willing to make to make sure that our business is still growing and my children are still getting what they need from mom. Over all it has taken some time but we are definitely doing well now with the work life and balance and it is definitely one of the benefits of this career, the flexibility.
Jenna: Greg, I have a question for you, What are you looking to add to our portfolio this year?
Greg: As you know we just acquired a duplex a couple of months ago that we are on a little bit of a pause with our renovation plans there just because we don’t want to put our tenants out when there isn’t a whole lot of options for the to move to at this point. Initially in September our company goal for Ross Investments was to grow five more doors this year and that was in September so we are almost half way there and I have no doubt that we will meet that five doors before September in fact we are working on a couple of deals that may actually double that. I am going to say that we are going to hit that five and then just grow from there and we are going to have to raise the level for next September when we put our goal out depending on on where we go.
Jenna: Very exciting. Another question that I have for you Greg is What are you excited about for this year?
Greg: There are so many things that I am excited about. For anyone who knows me, I don’t sit still very much. We have multiple business, we invest in private mortgages, we do real estate,own some bank machines. We kinda do a lot, we differs a lot. We do some stuff from the stock market. I am always looking for opportunities to expand that,always looking at new joint ventures,partnerships. We have a couple on the go right now with different people and I guess the thing that I am most excited about this is year is just learning as much as I possibly can. I am taking advantage of that right now, I am learning quite a bit more about real estate and negotiating on investment portfolios,things like that. If anybody gets my news letter you will see that now is an opportunity for people to learn a lot from home right now, a lot of the ivy league schools are putting out free courses which I registered for one and starting it and Jenna I believe you registered for one as well and that is cool. There is so many opportunities to be excited about and I am just trying to grasp them and follow through with them. It’s a tough question to answer. I am a pretty excitable guy.
Jenna: Yes you are. Amanda I have a question for you. Where is your happy place?
Amanda: I would have to say my happy place is on the water. I grew up my parents always had boats and my husband and I bought a boat that I like to call our cottage on the water. We spend every free moment we have in the short summers we have here in Nova Scotia out on the water whether it is here locally,on weekends or cruising the south shore taking the kids to beaches all of it. Any time that I am on the water. The long winters here in Nova Scotia are a little hard on me but our beautiful summers make up for it. That’s my happy place.
Jenna: That’s awesome and we have been out on your boat with you guys and it is a beautiful boat and what an experience. I can see why that would be your happy place.
We love the water too. And Greg, Where is your happy place?
Greg: I had to think of this questions because I have a lot of happy places. I think my happiest place is on vacation with my family. It’s not one specific place. We work really really hard and we do some exciting things and I love working, I actually enjoy what I do. I am passionate about real estate investing so it’s not that hard,it’s not a stretch for me I get to go to work every day and talk to be about the thing that I am most passionate about and do that for a living so I feel kind of fortunate that way. But when we go on vacation the first couple of days is always that disconnection from business but once I get that ok it’s time to rest and enjoy our family it is my happy place. We are going out and having nice meals,we are going for swims,we are not watching our phones we are not looking at the watch we just enjoy each other and it just makes all that hard work worth while at that point.
Jenna: I totally agree. It is so nice especially where the three of us are all business owners so it is so important to get away and hand things off to your partner at home and away on a vacation and I am glad as it is so crucial to keeping your sanity especially where the spring-summer real estate are crazy and the rental market is also crazy which is what I deal with. It’s so very very important to get away and it’s always needed and you come back with rested and new ideas and ready to do it all again. That was the last question I had for you guys. I want to thank you so much for coming and can you both share with me where our listeners can go to find out more about you guys?
Greg: One place they can go to find us is our Facebook page Greg Ross and Amanda Gaetz Haifax Realtors Royal LePage. Just type in any of those words and you will be able to get there. Amanda, do you want to share any other links you have?
Amanda: Our facebook page is Greg Ross and Amanda Gaetz Royal LePage Atlantic, you will see that there. Our instagram greg_Amanda_real estate and our website is www.hrmhome.ca. Of course you can just google any of our names and if you questions or would like to reach out for any information you can contact us through any of those avenues.
Jenna: Excellent. That is great. Thank you guys both so much for being on our first podcast interview and we hope to have you back another time.
Amanda: Thanks so much for having us we appreciate it.
Greg: Thank you very much that was awesome and we look forward to listening to your podcast.
Jenna: Thank you, bye.
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