Q&A: Real Estate Investor Alice Soon Shares Her Tips For Aspiring Investors

By
Amy Leong

January 30, 2021

Meet Alice Soon, Real Estate Investor extraordinaire and managing partner at Tesoro Real Estate. We chatted with Alice to get the scoop on her business journey, her tips for new and aspiring investors, and more! 

Tell us about yourself! How did you get started in investing?

I was in corporate marketing and account management for 16 years. For 4 of those years, I worked for one of the largest home inspector company franchises in North America, which is how I first got introduced to real estate! From that role, I became familiar with the North American real estate market, where I met a lot of brokers and realtors, and learned about trends.

At the end of 2016, my husband and I owned a piece of land in Costa Rica, and our housing engineer—who was Canadian—was looking at a project with a developer over there to build houses. I was helping him out on the marketing side of things. 

One day I saw an ad for a community event for real estate investors that looked really interesting! I felt it would be a good event to attend because I thought investors there might be interested in buying property in Costa Rica. My husband and I ended up going and learning a lot about investing, and that’s kind of how it all got started!

What surprised you about investing earlier on? 

There are so many ways to invest that people don't realize. Purchasing property and getting cash flow through rental tenants are a few common ways, but there are many more people don’t think about. You can do joint ventures, private lending, land development and more.

At the beginning, our biggest challenge was figuring out what our strategy would be, and what type of investing we liked. For example, flipping didn’t make sense to us at the time because it is A LOT of work and both of us were working corporate jobs. 

Our goal was to make enough money that we could quit our jobs. So we knew we needed monthly income for day-to-day, as well as accelerated income to add to our retirement savings. 

We had some deals fall through, which was a challenge! We had put down offers on a duplex residence and paid thousands for the home inspection, only for it to not work out. After losing thousands to that deal, I remember thinking, maybe none of this is worth it. But looking back, I would tell new investors not to give up so fast! 

Remember, markets can be competitive. There’s a lot of money on the line, AND it takes time to actually find a property worth investing in. 

What advice would you give new investors? 

1  - Know what your goals are and what you are trying to get out of it. Think long term! Is your goal to get monthly income or are you looking for money to pad your retirement? Older people may choose to get into investing so they can leave property for their children, or to retire. 

2 - Know your financial situation. What can you afford? If you can’t qualify for certain ventures, try a joint venture! Educate yourself on what options are realistic for you, so you can mitigate risk. 

3 - On that note, educate yourself about investing in general! This is extremely important. Be prepared to spend 100s of hours learning about how investing works, networking with realtors, mortgage brokers and other investors, joining communities, attending events, and more. As with any profession, give yourself 3 to 5 years to build a portfolio. 

4 - Look at the fundamentals of the area you are trying to invest property in. Look at what jobs are there, whether there is transit, urban planning goals, etc.

5 - Get comfortable with math! Not the complicated stuff you learn in high school, but the kind you’ll need to negotiate deals and fill out numbers in spreadsheets. This is one area where you should absolutely ask for help if you need it. 

What education do you need before getting into investing? 

There are a lot of options out there, ranging from exclusive communities that cost $20k to join, to smaller, just-as-valuable networks. Then of course, there are online resources, books, etc. Choose what’s right for you and be prepared to commit. 

We joined an investment club of sorts, where we got to meet other investors, go to events, learn more about our “power team” or lawyers, realtors and mortgage brokers. When I was working at my corporate job, I would spend any free time I had in the evenings or on weekends to attend events.

The reason why education is so important is that while you can definitely make a lot of money investing, you can also LOSE a lot of money if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

What mistakes do you see new or aspiring investors make?

They don't educate themselves enough or think investing is a get-rich-quick scheme. Investing is less volatile than the stock market, but people do make mistakes. Some people also give up too fast when deals fall through. If you want to commit to this, keep at it!

I also see some investors who don’t have a good team around them. It’s important to make sure you have the right team of mortgage brokers, lawyers and insurance brokers to work with.

What are your thoughts about investing during a pandemic?

At the start, we were concerned about what impact the pandemic would have, especially to rental properties. But as strange as it sounds, the pandemic has been kind of OK from an investment standpoint, at least here in Canada. 

The reason for this in my opinion is that people want stability, and despite the pandemic, Canada is considered a stable, good place to live. This has pushed property values higher.

Overall, real estate trends and demands might evolve as the world changes, but the core needs and demands remain the same. 

Can you tell us about a property you invested in? 

We’ve got a few rental properties in a small manufacturing town in northern Ontario that I’m proud of! They’re well priced, about $700 to $800 a month, and we invested 10s of thousands of dollars to renovate everything and make sure it’s a fantastic place to live. 

Connect with Alice Soon at tesororealestate.com