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In the Press

Real Estate Investing: Ozzie Jurock Knows the Lay of the Land

"You don't have to know it all just knowing enough about your specialty will make you rich."

by Tom Ruffen

The BCB Communicator Vol. 8 No. 2 - 2001

When it comes to wheeling and dealing, buying, selling, or managing residential, commercial, industrial, and recreational properties, listening to Ozzie Jurock is like having a license to print money.

"You don't have to know it all - just knowing enough about your specialty will make you rich," says Canada's foremost real estate guru. The foundation of his philosophy: You make the most money on the day you buy a property, not when you sell. His guiding principle in life: You don't get what you deserve, only what you negotiate. His caveat: "Do your own due diligence - you will not only pay for the mistakes you make but you'll also pay for the mistakes you allow other people to make for you."

Debunking the conventional wisdom of real estate strategies in his monthly newsletter and his investment guide-book, Forget About Location, Location, Location, Ozzie Jurock has become a local media celebrity, a real estate mentor for masses. Formerly the president of the world's largest real estate firm, the 57-year-old Jurock has been spending the past decade reinventing himself as an author, publisher, TV personality, motivational speaker, and Web-enabling entrepreneur. While Jurock keeps a high public profile as a newspaper columnist, television commentator, and Internet talk show host, his core business interests are his own multimedia company, Jurock International Net, and his subscription-based investment newsletter, The Jurock Real Estate Insider.

His media reach extends to streaming video Webcasts and weekly television appearances on a TV network that reaches all British Columbia households. His featured segments on BCTV News at Noon each Wednesday are also available free as archived streamed video clips. "We have a huge following now," says Jurock. "Last year we'd have 70 people a week downloading our clips from BCTV. Now we have 7,000 a week."

"You make the most money on the day you buy a property, not when you sell"

Around the World with Ozzie Jurock and David Ingram is a weekly Webcast, Thursday evenings on mediaontap.com. Jurock joins Canadian tax expert David Ingram to host the live and archived program that features discussions with experts on everything from personal and financial growth to technology and free trade. Jurock also appears as a commentator on the weekly syndicated program BTV: Business Television and writes a column for The Vancouver Sun.

As a young man, Ozzie Jurock set out from his hometown of Cologne, Germany, to travel the world. At the age of 23, he discovered Vancouver and chose to immigrate. "When I came to Canada in 1967, I was in the hotel business and worked at the old Devonshire Hotel, near the financial district," he recalls. "That was where I was able to observe stockbrokers and real estate brokers. The stockbrokers I looked at were either very happy or very unhappy but the real estate people always seemed to be more steady, generally happier, so I thought I'd take the real estate course. Around that time, I picked up a book for about 75 cents that was called Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I read the book and I thought to myself: Can it really be that simple?"

Jurock applied the principles of Hill's 1925 classic work on self-motivation and experienced a meteoric rise in his new profession. In just nine years, Jurock rose through the ranks to become president of Royal LePage, Toronto, Ontario. From 1981 through 1987, Jurock would preside over a staff of more than 10,000 people, including 7,000 sales agents. He would later manage real estate companies in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tokyo, and then go on to serve as chairman of another major firm, NRS Block Brothers Realty, until 1993.

"By then, I wanted to do something on my own," says Jurock. "I considered the fact that there were over 250 investment newsletters out there - all in the stock market - but none in real estate. The people that I sounded out said that the reason there isn't a real estate newsletter is because nobody wants one. But I figured the real reason was that nobody really thought about it, so we started The Jurock Real Estate Insider in 1993 and I'm happy to tell you, we grew that subscription base very quickly to over 3000. We have since added a telephone hot line, and a weekly fax component. Our hard copy newsletter is 16 pages and the weekly fax is two pages. Both are now online, so once you are a subscriber and have a password you receive all the info in the newsletter once a month and the fax once a week. Subscribers also get free admission to my seminars, which have attracted more than 11,000 participants over the past eight years."

The fax component is an updated hot sheet for the best values currently available on the market. All information reflects Jurock's studied opinion of the marketplace. The newsletter pre-dates the Internet, but is now available online as well as in traditional hard copy via direct mail. The Web site, www.jurock.com, offers a wealth of general information to the general public, free of charge. Links include everything from mortgages and property management to insurance and real estate law.

"If you come to the Web site and you want to know the climate or the population and some general features about the area, that's all free," says Jurock. "The newsletter consists of market listings where the information has been culled and interpreted, based on my experience and my opinion. The newsletter's purpose is to select the wheat from the chaff in terms of information whether you are a buyer, seller, investor. Every recommendation I make is based on what I learned as the president of the largest real estate company in the world, Royal LePage, a company with a gross revenue of $550 Million (Cdn.)* Also every bank, trust company, mortgage company, and 600 realtors send us their listings. Every realtor should send us his listings because it's free. Every week, for our subscribers, we have five to ten deals that we feel are very good value. With The Jurock Real Estate Insider our function is real estate media only. We don't develop, we don't sell, we don't take any commission. You do your own deal and we don't get involved.

"We have found some very good deals for our subscribers. For example in downtown Vancouver, the condo market had been sluggish for a while. The asking price was $150,000 for a one-bedroom unit and most of the units had been marketed offshore. A lot of the investors that were overseas wanted out. We told our readers to go in there. Even as late as February of 2001, one of my subscribers paid $90,000 for two units with furniture included. Recently, we had 160 acres with a 1/2-mile waterfront on the Fraser River for $35,000 in Prince George (500 miles/800 km northeast of Vancouver). A quarter section of land for that price is unheard of. But more and more people know that I do this newsletter, so they send in all their stuff like foreclosures and best deals, and so on. That's turned into a real benefit for our clients."

"You don't get what you deserve in life, only what you negotiate."

Jurock's timely information is available to Europeans in translation, and he has mastered the techniques for achieving high visibility on Europe's search engines. Many foreign nationals use Jurock's Web site to search for recreational property in Canada. Subscribers have access to quarterly sales graphs, as well as trends and forecasts and ongoing information about the real estate market in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and BC regions such as the Okanagan, Fraser Valley, and Vancouver Island, as well as detailed reports on select cities, suburbs, and towns. Non-subscribers can purchase timely market reports about specific areas, featuring Jurock's personal outlook on the trends for each category of property in that locale.

"One of the leading indicators of market value is the trend in apartment rental and vacancy rates," notes Jurock. "Timing is more important than location for the average person."

"Take for example, the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby," says Jurock. "If you had bought a house there - any house - in 1990, you could pay $260,000 and run it into the ground. Maybe the roof leaks, the front door jams, you leave the grass four feet high, you still could have sold it for $400,000 in 1995. So, the new person buys it, fixes the roof, puts in a new front door, cuts the grass, puts in a basement suite, and then finds out that market value is now just $360,000, because demand has fallen off. Same location, bad timing.

"On the other hand, you could have gone to Surrey (south of Vancouver) which was not known as a good location in 1990, and bought a $50,000 lot that went right up to $150,000. It wasn't location. It was the fact that 60,000 people moved into Surrey in a four-year period. Remember the number one principle in my book: You make the most money on the day you buy, not when you sell.

A walking encyclopedia for real estate investment and property management, Jurock provides step-by-step guidance for investors large and small. "You have to work hard and you must really do your homework to succeed," declares Jurock. "You have to inspect each property, complete the due diligence, and study what's going on in the marketplace. Say you want to buy a rental property as an investment. Maybe, you're thinking about a condo in Calgary (Alberta), but then you find out that condos are only 15% of the market and there's still a local bias for single-family homes. Instead, you might look at Vancouver, where condos make up 50% of the overall housing market, and that's increasing. Downtown Vancouver appeals to the young crowd. They make $40,000 to $60,000 a year. They don't want single family dwellings - they want what the city has to offer! They don't want to mow the lawn-they want rollerblading, nightlife, beaches. Right now, Yaletown (an old warehouse district, now gentrified) is one of the cheapest downtown cores in the world for buying property. For rentals they're getting $1100 a month because young people want to live in the heart of town. So if I can buy a $90,000 unit and get a $1100 income, I'm 10 times better off than Calgary with a market where 85% of the people want to live in single family homes."

"Do your own due diligence you will not only pay for the mistakes you make but you'll also pay for the mistakes you allow other people to make for you."

According to Jurock, as you move from market to market, different strategies are required. "We've always recommended Edmonton (Alberta) for cash flow," he says. "You have to be cautious there because if the oil business goes down everybody gets hurt, but we looked at Edmonton four years ago. You could go up there with $40,000. With that, you could buy 5 houses with $8,000 down each. You could rent the main floor of each house for $800 apiece and each basement suite for $400. That's $1200 times 5, so on your investment of $40,000 you could have pulled in $60,000 in rental income alone in your first year. There are very few places in the world where you can get a return like that."

Jurock's recipe for success extends beyond real estate to personal development workshops and mastery of the Internet. "In 1995, we decided to make an extension of the newsletter, so we created a Web site," says Jurock. "We also started to develop Web pages for realtors, and that really took off about three years ago with the big real estate companies like HomeLife United States and Realty World and Red Carpet. We now have 18 major companies with 200 to 1200 realtors that are sitting right here on our servers."

Business is brisk on Jurock's little corner of the Internet. Despite the much ballyhooed e-com meltdown, Jurock International Net continues to attract customers to the Web. "It's not a hard sell, because we sell survival," exclaims Jurock. "The reason we are viable today is because we never went to the stock market to raise money. A lot of the dot-coms have really been troublesome for investors. I looked at some of the business plans and thought to myself, 'How are they ever going to make money?' But that question was never asked. That's all changed now, but as a company, we've always been that way. Every month the company has to make a profit. So, we are totally self-owned, no shareholders, no debts; we own all our equipment. We stayed small. Two years ago, I thought, 'Should we go to the stock market and raise $10 million?' But we never did and that turned out to be a benefit, because we could keep our focus on making a profit. Look what happened to so many dot-corns that were competitors. Let's say I bid on your company's business at a fair price. Well, a lot of the dot-corns would come in and underbid me to get your account. But how could they do it for so little? Because they just raised $20 million in the stock market. I made what I thought was a great deal and put together a great team of talented people to work on your project, but I can't lower the price and still make a profit. So, the competitor gets the account, but then his money runs out and he goes under, which means all the investors go under. So these dot-corns fail, but the customers are still there, and so are we. We're still here to help them take advantage of opportunities created by the Internet."

"What did you do today that brings you closer to your mission and what you say you want to get from life?"

One of Canada's most top motivational speakers, Jurock makes more than 120 appearances each year. He is currently writing a new book on personal motivation, due out next February. Jurock has also been taking the hands-on approach, having established a mentoring program for executives and top producing individuals. "We run four groups concurrently and we limit each group to just 20 people," he says. "We try to make a meaningful difference in their lives. My personal mission in life is to create environments where people can achieve their future best. I use five words to determine success in life: Mindset, Focus, Learning, System, and Accountability.

"I'd say accountability is what is lacking in most of the motivational books out there," Jurock emphasizes. "You can read all these wonderful ideas, but in the end, 'What did you do today that brings you closer to your mission and what you say you want to get from life?' Focus is extremely important. Some people say positive thinking will make you rich. Then why are there so many negative people who are rich. It isn't positive thinking, it's focused thinking. You must be willing to learn, then you can develop new skills. But your mindset must include enthusiasm. You must have passion for what you do. In the end, you have to turn on the light inside yourself."

*NOTE. All figures in Canadian funds


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