Building A Real Estate Portfolio - A Personal Journey

Aaron Gonsenhauser

As a seasoned real estate professional I often encounter individuals who tell me they want to invest in real estate, or who think the idea is attractive but are convinced they can't afford it or simply don’t know how to go about it.

Here’s the thing. The success I have experienced in real estate wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter. Instead, it was my burning passion and desire to succeed that provided me the motivation to pave my own path and learn the industry in any way I could. My hope in conveying this story is to provide inspiration and break down any mental barriers you may have put up because with a new class attitude, anything is possible.

If You Want It, Hustle For It

I studied Business at York University, but my heart belonged to real estate and I wasted no time immersing myself in the industry. In my fourth year, I secured my real estate licence and started practicing. It didn’t take long for me to become addicted. During lectures I would surf MLS, while my friends were out enjoying their last year of university I would attend open houses, and between classes I would find time to show homes to any prospective clients who were willing to work with me.

Role Models Are Key

Now that I had established my willingness to hustle, the next step was to strategically align myself with the best in the business. At this point in time Robert Greenberg was selling more than $250,000,000 in real estate a year (a number I believe he has doubled by now) and he became my mentor. I’d sit all of his open houses to gain exposure, get appraisals of homes and focused on offering white glove service. Having a role model in the industry to model my actions after allowed me to quickly learn the in’s and out’s and cut my learning curve in half.

Spend Wisely

By the time I was 23 years old it became abundantly clear that my hard work was paying off. In year one and two of my real estate career I had made six figures. After paying some of my bills, rent, and taxes I was left with roughly $40,000. I wanted to buy a property very badly and based on my cash I knew that I had enough for a down­ payment on a condominium but the investment didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t just want a property for myself, I wanted an investment vehicle.

Get Creative

I convinced my brother, who was also considering buying a condo, that instead of him and I buying our own condos, it would be better to go in on a house together. He agreed and shortly thereafter I found us a well-maintained detached two-storey home in Seaton Village. We bought the house for $610,000 and with our combined savings, we had just enough for a 10% down payment which meant we had to prepare for monthly mortgage payments of $1,750. The house had three bedrooms so my younger brother moved in with us, renting the extra bedroom for $1,000 per month. One of my best friends was also moving at that time and rented the basement out for another $1,000. It was a little crowded at times, but I was in the real estate market and I couldn’t of been more happy or proud. Using the money I was making from rent I was able to make my mortgage payments while also living rent-free!

Exercise Diligence, Caution and Creativity

I made myself a promise that I would try and buy a piece of real estate every year. It was a lofty goal but throughout my eleven years in real estate I’ve bought seven properties including houses, condos and a building. Six of the seven properties I had/have partners in. It’s not that I’m just addicted to real estate, which I totally am..but I believe in it. I’ve seen and have experienced the wealth it creates. Real Estate is my pension plan, and getting in by any means possible is my mindset. Being creative and pooling money with family, friends and colleagues was my in and I encourage you to follow my path or create your own. The key is to always be extremely diligent, educated and careful with partnerships but also be creative. Think outside the box for solutions and follow your intuition.

Aaron Gonsenhauser