SAINT JOHN– When Sean Illman started investing in real estate in Saint John four years ago, he had another local investor to help show him the ropes.
“I found a guy in Fredericton who I reached out to and he became a mentor really. He helped me with my first deal,” says Illman. “If I didn’t have him if I don’t know if I would have got started. With him and another partner, we acquired 10 buildings in Saint John.”
Illman hopes to offer other potential and new investors in the city with that kind of support by forming a real estate investment organization, a group of both new and experienced real estate investors in the city that will meet monthly to network and share information and ideas.
The idea to start such an organization came after Illman attended a few meetings of the Moncton Real Estate Investment Organization, a group that brings together the city’s real estate investors of all experience levels.
“Some people haven’t even started real estate investing and some people have done hundreds and hundreds of deals,” says Illman. “Just hearing stories from other people is the best way [to learn]. That’s how I got to where I’m at today.”
Illman says the monthly Moncton Real Estate Investment Organization includes guest speakers giving a short presentation followed by a question-and-answer session. After that, members introduce themselves and discuss what they’re working on, what they’re looking for from the group, questions they have, and other topics around investing in real estate.
With the recent interest in people buying older buildings in the city, particularly in the city’s uptown core, Illman says having such a group would be beneficial so people could learn from more experienced investors.
“I think people are scared of the risk and what the buildings are. They’re scared that they will not know how to do it and then lose money. I think that’s where it can be beneficial, to show people that you can to it and ‘this is how I failed’ and ‘this is how I’ve been successful,’ ” he says.
“We screw up all the time on renovating or doing the wrong thing with the buildings. To share those [experiences] with other people that yeah, there are going to be bumps in the road, but you can do it.”
Illman says the goal is to have the first meeting sometime in May. Though an exact date has yet to be set, he says meetings will be held on Tuesday evenings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. He says a local property management company has offered its boardroom as a meeting space.
He hopes the group will help give people the information and support they need to invest in their city, particularly in areas where buildings may need a little TLC.
“I think it will help with some of these buildings in the uptown,” says Illman. “More people that will see that they can invest their money in their city and they can make money at it too. It will help the city and it will help them.”