Written by Aaron Hoos found in REIN
Most real estate investors encounter challenges and obstacles that they need to overcome in order to invest in a property. It’s easy to become frustrated at the challenges, and even let them hold you back from investing. But one young investor shows that it is entirely possible to push through any barrier – even at the age of 13 – to find, secure, and close a deal.
Meet Neaville Ram. He lives in Surrey, BC with his father, mother, and younger brother. Shortly after becoming a REIN Member at the age of 12, he located a deal, negotiated with the seller, and signed the offer. Now 13 years old, he’s the proud owner of a triplex. Oh, and it’s in Ontario.
Neaville grew up watching his father invest so it was almost inevitable that he would invest himself, although his early start was entirely his own. “I was thrilled,” said Neaville’s father, Nischal Ram. “His mother and I didn’t tell him to invest in a property. It’s something he started doing on his own.”
Neaville’s story is really influenced by his parents – Nischal and Zaveena – who moved to Canada as adults and never intentionally set out to become real estate investors but rather stumbled upon it….
Neaville’s Parents – From Immigrants To “Accidental” Investors
Nischal Ram moved to BC from the Fiji Islands in 2000 at the age of 25. “I had almost no money,” he said. What’s more, he had left his job as a Mechanical Engineer for Coca-Cola in the Fiji Islands to move to Canada but couldn’t find a similar job here. “The only job I could get was washing cars. It was brutal in the winter,” he added, clearly moved as he thought back to the relentless toil of those early days in Canada.
Once in Canada, he married Zaveena, who was also from Fiji Islands, and they moved into a cramped one bedroom basement apartment in Surrey. “We had no family here and no money. Life was tough,” he explained. The stress grew as Zaveena got pregnant and gave birth to Neaville.
Driven to build a better future for his family, Nischal pursued the same dream that many people have at this stage in life – he decided to get out of that cramped basement apartment and purchase a home for his growing family. Enduring even greater temporary sacrifice, he took a second job at a lumber mill to earn enough money for a down payment on a house. “I worked 18 hour days, 5 days a week, plus weekends,” Mr. Ram said. The hard work paid off and in one year they managed to save enough money for a down payment.
Nischal and Zaveena (with young Neaville in tow) purchased their very first Canadian home in Abbotsford, BC. But that early decision came at a cost, and Nischal and Zaveena soon realized that the daily commute from Abbotsford to Surrey took too much away from their family time. Within the year they listed their Abbotsford home for sale with the intention of moving back to Surrey.
During the process of selling his home, he discovered something unexpected: “We had only owned the house for a year but we sold it for $50,000 more than we bought it. It was more than I made when I was working two jobs. It was eye-opening.”
Curious about how real estate could increase in value so significantly, and wondering if there was an opportunity here for him to provide for his family, Nischal started learning everything he could about real estate. He read books, attended seminars, and became a REIN Member. He studied voraciously and in 2008 he acquired his first investment property.
Today, at the age of 39, he owns 129 doors in Ontario and BC while still holding down a full-time job.
And here’s where young Neaville joins the picture as a real estate investor…
As Nischal acquired more and more properties, and actively participated as a REIN Member, he would bring Neaville with him to meetings. At the young age of 8, Neaville met other investors and listened at the meetings. While other children might grow bored of the discussion, Neaville became fascinated by it. “Other parents asked why he comes came to the REIN meetings. I wasn't forcing him. He wanted to attend,” said Mr. Ram.
Neaville agreed: “My dad took me to his meetings. It was interesting. I liked meeting people and learning how many doors they own[ed]. And I liked learning about the cash flow, too.” Neaville attended the REIN ACRE event in 2013 and became a REIN Member in 2014. He also actively participated in the monthly real estate investing events and Cash Flow game weekends his parents held at a local library.
Putting his learning into action, Neaville started thinking about acquiring his own investment property. He saved up the gift money he received from Christmas and birthdays, as well as money he earned from collected recycling bottles, but it still did not seem enough. So he took initiative and approached his grandmother about doing a joint venture with him. Mr. Ram said, “I didn't tell him to talk to his grandmother, but at REIN they're always talking about JVs so that was on his mind. And it was nice of her to offer to help him out.”
From there, Neaville tapped into his dad’s network to help him find a property. They soon found one in Timmins, Ontario – a triplex whose listing at $160,000 had expired after another offer had fallen through. The deal was relisted with a different agent for $140,000 and Neaville signed the offer at $120,000.
“I knew it was a good deal because it was priced below the market value,” explained Neaville. “Since the property was vacant and the area had a low vacancy rate, I knew we could rent it out without any delays and charge market rent.”
As you can imagine, the deal was not without a few hiccups. The owner of the triplex was in a seniors care home and his nephew was negotiating on his behalf so “it was very slow pushing the paperwork through,” reported Neaville. Meanwhile, the bank said it was willing to fund just 75% of the property’s price.
As the paperwork finally pushed through, Neaville’s dad stepped in with a piece of savvy advice for his son. Neaville explained: “Five days before closing my dad suggested I negotiate with the seller to bring the price down another $40,000 due to zoning issues. The seller agreed to go down $30,000.” Fortunately, the bank didn’t change the amount they were willing to fund so the lower purchase price meant that the bank funded 100% of the property – Neaville didn’t even need the joint venture money from his grandmother, while the money he had in his savings went toward closing costs.
As of this writing, two of the three units are rented and the third one should be rented soon. Neaville has crunched the numbers and after his fixed expenses and mortgage payments, he anticipates a positive cash flow of $10,872.00.
This Is Just The Beginning
At 13 years old, most young teens are thinking about what they’ll be doing next weekend. But not Neaville – he’s thinking about acquiring his next multi-family property.
“I have a one year mortgage on this building. In February 2016, I’ll re-finance and pull all the equity out and use that as seed money for another multi-family building.”
Neaville’s near-term goal is to acquire additional properties to fund his university studies. He has an interest in science right now but in university he wants to study sales and marketing. That’s not surprising since he describes negotiation as one of his favourite experiences of the purchase of his first property. “I like negotiating,” he said. “I like seeing how people’s minds react.”
And what is Neaville’s long-term real estate investing goal? “I want to own more properties than my dad!” he answered.
Neaville also hopes that his own experience will motivate investors of any age. “I hope to inspire people,” he said. And he happily shares the lessons he learned from his first investing experience. Those lessons include: Be patient, have a plan in place before investing, don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price, and (of course) age is not a barrier.
Many aspiring real estate investors feel held back by a number of challenges and obstacles – from lack of money to lack of deals to lack of education. But Neaville inspires investors that these obstacles can be overcome and there are no barriers to what you can accomplish.
If Neaville was able to invest out-of-province before the age of 13, what’s holding YOU back from doing your next deal?