Globe&Mail article: If being a landlord is part of your retirement plan, read this first

Based on a short interview a few weeks ago they happened to mention Thomas Beyer, President of Prestigious Properties in this article that you find a good read.

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Going big made all the difference for Thomas Beyer, who bought his first rental condo for $80,000 in Calgary in 1997 and quit his career as a software engineer 20 years ago to live off real estate full time. He formed a company in Canmore, Alta., called Prestigious Properties, and sold limited partnership units to investors.

Today at 61, Mr. Beyer is semi-retired and lives on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast while continuing to manage two large apartment buildings [Note the readers: 3 actually now with our latest Kimberley acquisition a few days ago] and three mobile home parks in Western Canada. He’s written a book called 80 Lessons Learned on the Road from $80,000 to $80,000,000 and says a big part of his success is finding the right market, shifting management duties to third parties and holding on for the long term.

He likens owning income properties to a three-course meal: The appetizer is the money you earn at first, which “should be slightly above zero,” while the main course is paying down the mortgage and then “the dessert is your equity upside” over time.

This isn’t a good investment for people afraid of debt or for perfectionists who constantly want to improve and upgrade places, “because sometimes good enough is good enough, especially in rental properties,” he explains.

The benefit of size is “you can delegate more and hire professionals,” Mr. Beyer says, such as a property manager. This shaves about 10 per cent off your rent intake, but it frees you up to own more places and provides distance from tenants.

“People smoke weed, people get evicted, people die, people have fights, they punch holes in the wall, they rip the doors out and they don’t pay the rent,” he says. “There’s always something going on, and it’s usually negative.”

The Campbells agree that rental properties can bring drama and demands, which prove even more bothersome as they age.

“You can never fully relax as long as any tenant can call you at any time, day or night, and tell you to come over immediately to unblock a toilet,” Mrs. Campbell says.


Focus on the “cash flow you’re creating” rather than assuming the property will rise in value, Mrs. Campbell adds. “If you’re losing sleep from worry, maybe this is not for you.”