These are 13 words that changed my life. Yes, I know it is a cliché to say something changed your life, but so be it, these words did. This one sentence completely changed my investing outlook and took me from being a worker on an oil rig, to being a global citizen travelling the world and doing property deals across multiple continents.
It all started when I was working on the oil rigs off the coast of East Timor, when someone handed me a book and told me to read it. The book was, of course, From 0 to 130 Properties in 3.5 Years, by Steve McKnight. I was so engrossed, I read it from cover to cover in one go. At this point I was 24 and owned one property back in New Zealand. It was negatively geared and going down in value – but it’s alright because property always goes up, right? – and here was a guy who knew all the ins and outs of property, so I was converted.
Fast forward a few weeks until my shift was over and it turns out that Steve was going to be speaking in Perth, the night I got home. One night shift, a two hour helicopter ride, a 1.5-hour plane ride, followed by a four-hour flight from Darwin to Perth, and a taxi ride into the city centre later, and I had finally made it. So, when Steve offered me the chance to become an apprentice, I jumped at it.
After a couple of years, I had completed the programme and had a massive understanding of how property investing worked, having learned so much from Steve. I attended multiple events and conferences, and was one of the few surviving members of Born to be Financially Free. Through it all there was one thing that stuck in my mind: “Don’t tell me what you can’t do, tell me what you can do.”
These little words played in my mind over and over like a broken record.
Quitting my job, I moved back to Auckland to focus on property investing full time, but I had one major issue: I had gone from being in a highly paid job and being able to service a mortgage, to having nothing and not even being able to get a mortgage. I sat there wondering what I could do and then those words repeated in my head.
I thought, “Okay, I can’t get a mortgage, but I can find deals, I can do renovations, I can manage properties and I can build a portfolio.” This change in thinking saw me start to build my property portfolio as I teamed up with other investors who could get finance, and I would do all the ground work. I spent my days hunting properties, buying great rental properties and flipping deals that I didn’t want to keep. It allowed me to build a multi-million-dollar portfolio, to appear on TV and on the cover of NZ Property Investor Magazine.
All because I had applied those little words to my life.
By mid-2015, the time had come when I could realise my dream: to travel the world because of property. By this time, I had a Dutch girlfriend, so my first stop was obvious. She was young and a little oblivious to the world of property investing, so when I told her I could do a deal in the Netherlands, she made a bet with me: if I could buy a house in the Netherlands, she would move in with me.
She didn’t know I had a secret weapon up my sleeve, and low and behold, I did a lease option on a property near the beach, fixing a major problem for the owner, and adding my first international deal to my portfolio. True to her words, Merlijn moved in with me, and she was now hooked on property investing, too.
It was only a few months later that I found a Facebook ad on my feed titled: Travel the World With 75 Other Interesting People. “This looks interesting,” I thought to myself, and before I knew it, we were booked in to fly to Valencia, Spain to travel the world for an entire year, moving to a new city every month with 75 other digital nomads and remote workers. Upon announcing this decision, one of my mentors issued me the challenge – to put my skills to the test and do 10 property deals, all in different countries as I travelled the world.
The question, “How am I going to do this,” never crossed my mind, because I didn’t need to know how I would do it, all I needed to figure out was what I could do. Arriving in Valencia, I discovered a plethora of ridiculously cheap properties right beside an epic beach, and I thought to myself, “How stupid the Spanish are not to see this gold mine sitting right under their noses.”
Next, I had to come up with a plan on how to buy the properties. I tossed a few ideas around, but the answer came on the bus from Valencia to Lisbon, when one of the girls I was travelling with asked me, “How awesome would it be if all the nomads in our group each pitched in a few thousand dollars and bought a property in Valencia?”
I knew you could crowdfund properties in the USA and UK, but it was a little slower to take off in other areas. I knew crowdfunding was the future of investing, so I had my answer. I changed my business model and target market: To invest in properties across Europe and rent them out as midterm accommodations for digital nomads looking for housing from two weeks to six months, and give the nomads the ability to buy into each particular property – a model they loved.
Five months later, as I sit here in Belgrade, Serbia, I have the first two deals underway. The first being in Valencia right by the beach, which is a cracker deal and close to being finalised. Having had to sign documents in Spanish, set up foreign companies, and give lawyers power of attorney, I am about to realise the first of the properties, and have a cookie cutter model to then implement across Europe. The second being a killer property in Rabat, Morocco, that will be close behind Valencia.
The most amazing thing about this is that I have been able to achieve all of this, whilst travelling the world and moving to a different city every month. So, the next time you hit a roadblock with your investing, or the next time the bank turns you down, or the next time your offer isn’t accepted, remember this:
Don’t tell me what you can’t do, tell me what you can do.