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How to Invest Wisely with Don R. Campbell of REIN

Podcast Featured Image 25

Andrew la Fleur discusses how to invest wisely in real estate with one of Canada’s foremost experts on the subject, Don R. Campbell. Don is a best-selling author of many books about real estate, and he is the founder of REIN (Real Estate Investment Network). Don and Andrew share a passion for creating hype-free educational resources about real estate investing

Don R. Campbell Interview Highlights

00:12 Who Is Don R. Campbell?

2:20 Why Don Devoted His Life to Helping People Invest in Real Estate

5:32 Real Estate as a Way to Build Wealth

6:40 Don’t Make Real Estate Your Life

9:25 Don’s First Couple of Investment Properties & Key Mistakes

11:45 What Area of Canada Is Don Most Excited About In the Next 5 Years

17:30 Pay Attentional to the Millennial Generation!

19:10 The US Housing Market

21:45 What Bugs Don Campbell the Most About Media Reporting on Real Estate

25:55 Don R. Campbell’s Books & Habitat for Humanity

31:13 Why Does Don Continue to Do What He Does?

Related Links

Don Campbell on Twitter

Don Campbell’s personal blog

Buy Don Campbell’s books on Amazon

REIN Canada

How to Leave a Review for The True Condos Podcast on iTunes

Don R. Campbell Interview Transcript

Welcome to the True Condos Podcast with Andrew La Fleur, the place to get the truth on the Toronto condo market and condo investing in Toronto.

Andrew: Hello, and welcome back to the show today.  I’m very excited to be interviewing Don Campbell.  Don is the senior real estate analyst and founder of the REIN Network, the Real Estate Investment Network and he’s the author of many books about real estate.  He’s often featured in national media as an expert in the real estate market and about real estate investing.  What he’s all about and what REIN is all about is educating investors about how to grow their wealth.

He’s been doing this for more than 20 years and he’s a very experienced, knowledgeable guy and that’s something that him and I share in common is a passion for education and a passion for cutting through the hype, cutting through the B.S. that is so often associated with the real estate industry and just giving straight facts, straight goods and straight research to people and allowing them to make their own decisions.  The whole purpose again of this podcast and why this exists and why my blog and all my videos and articles that I write, the whole point of this is to help you, the listener, to help you the reader, the watcher, to make better decisions that will help you to make more money, to grow your wealth when it comes to investing in condos.

I really enjoyed this conversation that I had with Don.  I’m looking forward to sharing this interview with you.  He gave us some great insights into real estate market and just some tips on how to be a better real estate investor and in some ways to be a better person as well.  For all the show notes on this episode just head on over to  That’s REIN spelled R-E-I-N and we’ll include all the links to everything we’re talking about there.  Without further ado, here’s my interview with Don Campbell.

Welcome to the True Condos Podcast with Andrew La Fleur, the place to get the truth on the Toronto condo market and condo investing in Toronto.

Andrew: Okay, it’s my pleasure to welcome to the show, Don Campbell.  Don is the Senior Analyst and founder of REIN, the Real Estate Investment Network.  Welcome to the show, Don.

Don: Great to be here.  Thank you, Andrew.

Andrew: Why did you devote your life to helping people to invest in real estate?

Don: It’s an interesting thing, back in 1980 something, I’m not going to date myself too far.  It all started sitting and watching the Habs and Leafs game.  As we were sitting on these two, I’m really going to date myself now, two big, poofy beanbag chairs in front of a tube TV you could feel the heat coming off of.  Just two guys, we were in high school and the father of the one guy who I knew was very successful in farming and he just out of the blue came down in the midst of the game and just started talking.  “You know boys, I’ve never talked to you about real estate before and da, da, da, da, da, this is how I make most of my money.”  It was 3 minutes, maybe 5 minutes and we’re all going shut up, the hockey game’s on.

I remember driving home and that resonated with me.  That maybe this real estate thing is a place to pursue wealth because my dad was get a job, get a gold watch, retire guy, right, so like a lot of our parents.  That put me on the path of real estate and then as I was going down that path of investing I never wanted to get my license, never wanted to sell real estate, I just wanted real estate not to be my life, but I wanted real estate to fund my life.  It has proven to be the right path for sure.  On the training side I can still remember sitting around the dining room table.  It was a small group that we were getting together called Success in Action.

Andrew: Okay.

Don: That was 26 years ago.  The conversation always went back to real estate and back to real estate.  We kept trying to drive it back to business, the conversation around business, but it kept going to real estate.  Then I started to investigate the educational side of real estate back in the eighties and wow, it was just full of shall we say challenging presenting.

Andrew: Okay, like snake oil salesmen types.

Don: Yeah, if you want to label them that’s a good label.  I was seeing my friends getting taken over and over again.  We just started to have these conversations around what really drives the real estate market?  What’s the difference between wealth and rich?  I can’t stand the word rich, right, because that’s just all about dollars.  Wealth is all about time and family and zen-like lifestyle if you want it or adrenaline lifestyle if you want it.  I’ve always been on the pursuit of a whole integrated life that has wealth as a component of it instead of just chasing the money because you can never, ever, if you’re chasing money, ever have enough money, period.

Andrew: Okay, so you really … Philosophically, you really see real estate as a means to an end, a way to create that lifestyle that you’re describing as opposed to … Even from the beginning you never saw it as a get rich quick scheme or even just a get rich scheme, more of just a way to build wealth, long-term wealth and generational wealth and to be able to create the type of lifestyle that you want whether you’re working or whether you’re doing this full-time, I guess.

Don: That’s right and, truthfully, which is a conversation we can have later on maybe, but I have no idea how somebody invests in real estate full-time.  I have hundreds of units and if I spend more than two hours a day, and that’s a real stretch, on those units and finding new units to buy I’m doing something wrong.  I see people saying oh, I’m going to be a full-time real estate investor.  I say what are you going to do with the other 22 hours of your life?

Andrew: Okay, so flesh that out a little bit for us because obviously the eyebrows are raising up there.  You got hundreds of units, yeah.

Don: Sure, so people begin to make real estate their life and it becomes an obsession, just go online and you can see it.  I talk to a lot of guys where it has become their obsession, it becomes everything about their life.  As a matter of fact, I was coaching a friend last night, how deep he was into it and how it was hurting his family because he’s out all the time and he’s not filtering very well.  He’s buying lots of property, but at the same time spending way too much time in the world of real estate because once you’re in it it’s easy to get caught up in it.  I kept trying to change people to think real estate shouldn’t be your life, it should fund your life.  That’s it.  I know if you’re in the realtor position, even some of the great realtors that I know have figured out a way in which to work specific hours, but not spend their whole life being a realtor and still making …

Andrew: Right.

Don: … 200 to $500,000 a year.  I’m going that’s pretty damn good because look at the average income of a realtor.  If you take all the realtors and all the income you see that there’s some big performers and some who are big pretenders.  I find that … This is a bizarre statement, but it really, really works.  The less a person works the more they make because during those periods of time when they’re working they are full on in their revenue generating mode or the problem solving mode, right.  That’s it.

There’s no sitting on the Facebook and sitting on the … I use the word the Facebook as a joke.  Sitting on Facebook, sitting on the Internet searching for the latest and greatest blog post from some guy who’s telling you that the world is going to end and then trying to … It becomes an obsession.  As soon as you break that obsession and you go listen, I’ve got 2 hours today to work on my real estate, that’s it, guess what happens?  You get really good.

Andrew: Really productive.  Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Don: Then your kids recognize you.  You can do it from St. Lucia which I’ve done many, many times.  You can do it from your favorite campground if they have wifi.

Andrew: Right.

Don: Life becomes a little bit better and that was from the time when I was working …

I was working part-time at Sears, my goodness, at the discount store.  They discounted furniture and they discounted salaries and we still had that philosophy is that you work to live, you don’t live to work.

Andrew: Okay.

Don: I took that into real estate.

Andrew: Can you take us back to your first couple of properties that you bought.  What were you buying in the early, early days and maybe if you can share with us some of your … Did you make any mistakes that you learned, those key, early learning mistakes from the early days?

Don: Yeah, absolutely.  First off, don’t buy anything because it’s cheap.  There’s generally a reason and the masses, I hate to use that term, but the general not strategic investors think that price matters.  I did at the beginning, too, and price does not matter.  What matters is ROI and income, so my biggest mistake was buying a couple of properties because they used to be worth ‘x’ and now they’re ‘x’ minus 30% and I could probably negotiate another 3% off of that.  Wow look at me and then, of course, there was a reason that the price had dropped.  There was an economic reason.

By making those two mistakes at the beginning, I went wait a second, I’m thinking like everybody else here.  I never want to do that, I want to be the person who just thinks just that extra 10% deeper into a subject.  What I did is I found and I started to really study what supports the real estate market.  What supports it, so that it allows me to forecast incredibly accurately where the real estate market’s going to go 18 to 24 months out from here.  That began the journey of REIN and that began the whole thing on okay, so I want to buy where it has a future, not a past.

I don’t care what the price is, I care what my price to rent ratio is.  If I can get a good price to rent ratio in an area that has GDP growth and job growth and population growth which now seems to be everybody parroting that.  Back when we released that information no one was talking about that.  Everyone was talking about price, got to get it cheap, got to get it cheap.  The biggest mistake was buying because it was cheap and not in a sustainable, economically strong market, so that would be …

Andrew: Right.

Don: I would call that speculating.

Andrew: Right, right.

Don: Just buying because man, this sure seems cheap.

Andrew: It seems cheap, yeah.

Don: You can see that in Windsor, you can see that in all kinds of areas.

Andrew: Yeah, okay.  That’s a good transition to ask you in terms of predicting the next 18 to 24 months which is what you talk about all the time in terms of looking at GDP growth, job growth and picking your spots based on that.  What area of Canada are you most excited about in the next two years?

Don: Okay, so I can even go five years.

Andrew: Or even five years, sure.

Don: We’re in the midst of our really detailed year-end research for REIN members and I could clearly state that oil dropping down to $74 is one of the coolest, best buying opportunity in Alberta that we’ve seen since Kyoto which was back in 2000, 2001.  The fear in the marketplace, the not understanding of the geopolitical issues that are driving the oil price and the November 27th OPEC meeting that’s coming up, so all that stuff that goes on behind it has really provided Alberta investors with a good buying opportunity.

Also, a thank god moment because we were starting to look like it was going to go 2006, 2007 which is totally unsustainable.  In Ontario there’s no question the transportation and millenials are going to be driving the market.  I would definitely look at Barry, I would definitely look at the line all the way up to Vaughn, so any of those stations along the way because you’re going to have a couple of post-secondary institutions along there.  You’re going to see student housing start to spread out instead of right around the university.  You’re going to see it spread out along that new line, the new TTC line.

Andrew: Yep.

Don: Big fan, giant fan as many of you saw.  I just reposted it on my Facebook the interview with George Strombo on The Hour a number of years ago when I said Hamilton as the place to go.

Andrew: Yeah.

Don: I still think it’s still the place to go.  I still remember announcing that with our research.  We do things on research, right, not hoping and trying to sell real estate in some town, right.  When I said Hamilton you could watch it on the show, he’ll go, “Hamilton, you mean my [inaudible 00:14:09] town?”  That’s what we love doing is being able to find these spots beforehand, so I’m a big fan of Hamilton.  Of course, Kitchener and Cambridge is going to be nice, consistent, they’re getting a new LRT in the area.  That’s great.  If I was to buy in downtown Toronto I would really go for ground-oriented units at the moment.  With Ontario’s Places to Grow Act they’re forcing density and in all these areas like Barry, Barry’s a great spot.

Andrew: Yeah.

Don: The density is starting to occur.  We’re seeing it in downtown Toronto obviously because it’s downtown Toronto, you’re seeing density.  Anything that’s ground-oriented is really going to go up much more quickly than condo because you can make more condos, you can’t make more ground-oriented units.

Andrew: Yeah.

Don: You just have to really dig, Andrew, as you know in that area to find something that’s going to carry itself through with cash flow.

Andrew: Yes.

Don: The secondary or tertiary suites.

Andrew: Yes, yeah, absolutely.  I think we definitely would agree that ground-oriented housing in Toronto has got nowhere to go but up.  I guess, the issue for most investors is just they can’t afford it because the prices have shot up 10% year over year for the last five years or so.  Do you think …

Don: Rental controls in place.  Really you need to buy it from a homeowner, don’t buy it from another landlord because …

Andrew: Right.

Don: … you get stuck with a tenant who’s probably undervaluing $500, $600 a month.

Andrew: Absolutely, yeah.  That’s a great tip there for anybody investing in freeholds, understanding rent control and the implications it has on you as a buyer.

Don: Yeah.

Andrew: Knowing what you can do with your tenants, yeah.

Don: Try Winnipeg where even if people move out you can’t raise your rents to market.

Andrew: Really, I did not know that.

Don: If you want perspective, I always like to give perspective to wherever you live because wherever you live often you think the rules suck, right.  In Toronto they do because you got two land transfer taxes, et cetera, but in Winnipeg … At least in Toronto when a tenant moves out you can get your rent up to where it’s supposed to be, but in Winnipeg you have a very difficult time doing that.  There’s always worse places, there’s always worse places.

Andrew: Yeah.

Don: Once again 800 meters around the stations.  I know that the election that you just had, lots of talk about transit just because it was the hot topic, but as we know anybody can talk about transit.  It’s the building and getting the funding that’s the issue.

Andrew: Yeah.

Don: Once again Ebinson, you jump to Ebinson and they’re building another brand new … It’s finished a line and they’re building another brand new line out into Mill Woods, so follow that.  It takes five, six years to build these silly things.  Go buy now where the stations are going to be and your friends will call you lucky because that infers that they’re unlucky, not smart.

Andrew: Right.

Don: Because they’re not going to say wow, you were smart because [inaudible 00:17:16], right.

Andrew: Yeah, the psychology behind it, yeah.

Don: Yeah, but right now everybody has to start paying attention to what’s happening.  Twenty-seven percent of the population in Canada is that Gen Y millennial that …

Andrew: Yes.

Don: … nobody was talking about and when we came out, we came out with … I can still remember the headlines in The Globe and Mail, “Millennials are not going to affect the real estate market.”  Then about three months later a certain columnist who shall remain nameless came out and says, “You know what, millennials may be the savior of real estate.”

Andrew: Yeah.

Don: The truth is 27% of the population is that age group.  We know what happens to that age group.  They actually, if you don’t mind me saying, eventually have sex and eventually have babies.  That means you’re going to have a real demand for two and three bedroom units, but what’s happening is we’re seeing a lot of one bedroom units being built …

Andrew: Bingo.

Don: …  price.  You’re going to have … There’s all kinds of people buying these one bedroom units.

Andrew: Yes.

Don: Twenty years from now you’re going to have an oversupply of one bedroom units on the market and an undersupply of two and three bedroom units.  The other thing that’s happening with these millennials, of course, is they’re not driving.  I remember being 16 and standing in line to get my license.

Andrew: Right.

Don: I know people now who are 20 and 21 who go, maybe one of these days I should go get my driver’s license.  I look at them like they’ve got two heads.  That’s the direction, so that means that streetcars and LRT and that the subways are going to play an even increasingly larger role in driving the real estate market

Andrew: Yes.

Don: Two bedroom, three bedroom units around transit 10 years from now, you’re going to look like a genius.

Andrew: Absolutely, yeah.  Absolutely, great point.  I wanted to get your take on the U.S. housing market.  You look at Canada all the time, I’m sure you’ve looked at opportunities in the U.S. as well.  Obviously, U.S. is a massive … You can’t just say the U.S. housing market.

Don:  in the Canadian market, right?

Andrew: Yeah, I know you hate that term because there’s no such thing, right, as a national housing market.  Are you looking at opportunities there?  Do you buy there?  Are you encouraging people to buy there or are you saying wait?

Don: I’ll tell you right now, if you want to buy in a real estate market that is in the U.S. that is not going to come back and bite you in the next 10 years, you have to look once again GDP growth, job growth, population growth.  The problem is the majority of Canadians went down there and bought in areas that were cheap.

Andrew: Going back to your first point, yeah.

Don: Right, and you know what, I teach this in the U.K., I teach this in the U.S., I teach this in Australia.  It does not matter where in the western world that you’re going to be investing in real estate.  If you don’t buy where people are moving and want to live, it doesn’t matter what you pay for that.  I saw a bunch of people buying in Detroit and now, of course, we see some issues that are occurring in Detroit to put it [inaudible 00:20:37].

Andrew: Yeah, the population continues to shrink, so it really doesn’t matter how cheap you buy it.  It doesn’t matter if you get it for free in some cases.

Don: They’re looking for dollars.  All I have to do is sell it for $2, good luck with that.  If you’re buying in Houston, you’re buying in Dallas, you’re buying in Washington, D.C., you’re buying in Seattle, you’re buying in Portland, you’re seeing these areas that are burgeoning and have job growth.  You’re not getting them at that … It used to be worth $800,000, now I’m getting it for $25, you won’t believe it, man.  You’re not getting those kind of deals, but there’s a reason you’re not getting those kind of deals is because you’re a strategic investor, you’re not an emotional speculator.  If it’s hanging in Winners or Value Village there’s a reason.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah.

Don: You know what I mean.

Andrew: Absolutely.

Don:  real estate.  If it’s gotten to the point where it’s please god, just take it off my hands, generally there’s a reason for that and you need to understand that reason in your target town.

Andrew: Absolutely.  What bugs you most about mainstream media reporting on real estate?  I saw a headline today that said, “The IMF is saying that the Canadian real estate is overvalued by 20%.”

Don: It’s only 20 now.  Oh, good.  You know what, what bothers me is … It used to bother me, now it doesn’t bother me.  It actually fuels me because it helps … By them doing those types of stories without any general background on it and not going ah, maybe we should question this instead of just cutting and pasting from the press release.  It doesn’t bother me, but what it does it allows a strategic investor to look at it and go okay, so what’s real?  Because the one thing that we’ve done for 26 years is never, ever had a thesis and then go and find stats to support it.

We’ve always gone and taken a complete view of all the research and all the reality of the market and come to the conclusion based on the research instead of setting the tone and then finding the research because you can always find anything to support your argument.  You can sit in your basement and pound out blog posts or whatever you want to do and say the world is ending, the world is ending.  For the last … Since 2008 there’s guys out there that say the world is ending, Canada’s in a bubble, blah, blah, blah and we had the best run in our history.

All the people who listened to them have now lost out on a potential giant gain that could have put their kids through university, it could have actually set them for life which I know because I’ve seen lots of guys do it.  Even if they want to sell now into this hot market, they went from ’08 to 2014 or 2015 and rode super low interest rates which yes, they’re low, yes, they’re too low.  Exactly, but you shouldn’t argue with the point, you should always just find a way to position yourself in the reality of what’s happening in the world.  That’s how I look at it.

Andrew: Right, right.  It makes too much sense, Don, it makes too much sense.

Don: It’s not emotional enough.  Here’s one of my theories and the words don’t come out exactly the way and I’ve tried to clarify it a little bit better, but the no’s get the eyes, so the n-o, like as in no, against whatever it is.

Andrew: The naysayers, yeah.

Don: Yeah, always get the eyeballs.  I work in a lot of media and TV and in radio and in media, so I get to talk to these guys off record and they keep telling us listen, with the advent of the Internet and the consolidation of all the media, post-media, just buying out the Sun, for instance.

Andrew: Yeah.

Don: You’re getting a really tight competition and they know the psychology of human beings is that we’re always looking for danger, so we can avoid it.  If they say hey, you know what, the housing market’s doing pretty damn good, eh?  No one’s going to click on it and read it.

Andrew: Yeah.

Don: If everybody says housing market’s on a bubble.  You’ll see economists that come out of Ottawa and have been telling people that there’s this giant, big bubble even though the market was near its bottom, but that’s a whole different story.  It keeps getting the headlines every time and every time and people just buy into it and I get 50,000 emails saying, Don, what do you think of this article?  I go come to the REIN meetings and I’ll tell you.  The reality is, the no’s get the eyes and the eyeballs.

Andrew: Yeah.

Don: I don’t disagree with them at all.  I disagree with the philosophy that you have to do that, but at the same time what it does is it keeps a lot of people out of the market which I’m okay with.

Andrew: Me too, me too.  Don,  you’ve written a lot of bestselling books and you do a lot of work and benefit for Habitat for Humanity.  Why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about that and how they can get a copy of your books if they’re looking for them.

Don: Thank you, Andrew.  The reality is I didn’t want to write a book because I knew it was a lot of work and I was already busy.  I pushed back with Wiley, the publisher, international publisher, and they kept saying we really want you to write a book.  Finally, I said I thought I came up with something that they would say no to.  I said, “You know what, I’ll do it, but all the royalties and everything goes to Habitat for Humanity.”  I sent that email expecting never to hear again and within a week they sent back and said, “Done deal.”  I went crap.

Andrew: Okay.

Don: That took a year and so the deal is 100%, I make no money off the books, 100% of my royalties go directly to Habitat for Humanity.

Andrew: Tell us how much your books have raised for Habitat because I was amazed when I saw this number.

Don: My goal was $20,000.  I thought think of the impact we can have, Don.  Yes, I talk to myself.  Think of the impact we can have, we can raise $20,000, that’s cool, blah, blah, blah.  As of the REIN meeting last week, yeah, last week, we’re at $1.15 million raised for Habitat for Humanity.

Andrew: Amazing.

Don: What’s great about Habitat is that money never goes away.  There’s no admin fee off of it, so 100% goes to a build and because the mortgage gets put on that property that money then goes and builds another house, then another house, then another house.  It’s a legacy that’s pretty amazing and way bigger than I ever expected, so that’s cool.  The best place is on, type in Don R. Campbell and you can see all seven of my books.  I would suggest starting with real estate investing in Canada which outlines my buying philosophy and I think the second one would be the real estate cycle, how you the reader can analyze the cycle in your specific town.

Andrew: Right, and that’s getting into your secret formula, your secret sauce that you’ve developed over the last 20 plus years and predicting the spots to be in based on the fundamentals like you said.

Don: The one thing is we forecast things for three years out, the media don’t like that too much.  They want to know what’s happening on Thursday.

Andrew: Yes.

Don: They get lost with us sometimes in our discussions and then when it comes true, of course, somebody who just said it three weeks ago looks like a genius.  The reality is I’ve got enough … Connie and I, my wife and I of 27 years have enough property, so we’re not too concerned.  We want to just keep peeling the onion for people and allowing them to see what the core of the real estate market is, so they don’t get caught up in the Ad Hominem, the personal attack, debates that occur.

You go online, go on Twitter, go on some of these crazy guys blogs who think that they’re geniuses and all they do is attack people and I look at it, I’m going why don’t you just say your facts and say your supporting documents and then just get out of the way.  Oh, no, you got to make people wrong, I guess.  I can’t do that, I refuse to do that, I refuse to get engaged in that.  I think the more of us who do that and get disengaged from the personal attacks and just get engaged in listen, we’re all in this to make our lives better financially, period.  There’s enough out there for everybody.

If you don’t believe in real estate, here’s my one thing that I want your listeners to take away and that is if someone’s telling you not to do something, i.e. don’t buy in real estate, there’s a bubble or don’t buy stocks because it’s going to crash.  I always, I encourage everybody to ask, okay, that’s fair, but what should I do?  Because it is incredibly easy to tell people what not to do because there’s no risk.

Andrew: Yes.

Don: It’s much more difficult and much more of an intellectual challenge to come up with a solution to say listen, you got some money, you got kids you’ve got to put through university.  Here’s a way that you might want to look at doing it because … I don’t want to swear on your show, but I get so PO’d with guys who just run around telling people what not to do.  I said that’s not leadership, that’s just looking for attention.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Don: Look for things to do and if you believe the interest rates are going to go up 15% then put your money somewhere that’s going to take advantage of that.  If you believe that the interest rates are going to stay low then put your money somewhere where the interest rates are going to stay low and you’re going to profit.  It’s not rocket science personally.

Andrew: Yeah, great, wise words.  Listen, Don, you’ve been interviewed so many times by so many different people, but is there one question that nobody has ever asked you, but that you wish they would and what would that be?

Don: What were you thinking in the eighties when you decided that perms looked good?  No one’s ever asked me that question before.  It’s an ongoing joke in REIN because they showed a picture of me with a perm.

Andrew: Nice.

Don: See the chemicals did affect my brain.  You know what, why do you keep doing this?  Nobody says that, nobody asks the question why do you keep doing this.

Andrew: Why do you?

Don: I’m just going to walk because I’m in my office.  I’m going to walk in.  It’s a bizarre answer and on June … It hangs on my wall to remind me.  On June 27th, 1992 I was working in aviation selling nuts and bolts, Western Canada Piper Aircraft, blah, blah, blah, right, general manager, I thought I was the king of the world.  I went to a workshop that had a component of it that says okay, what’s your life purpose?  I go what a load of crap that is, right, but I’ll do it, I’m here anyway, why not.

I wrote this thing out and remember I was selling nuts and bolts at this point.  It says my purpose [inaudible 00:32:30] is to use my humor, honest, and intelligence by reading and gaining knowledge from all sources and keeping everyone around me in a positive frame of mind, so I create success in my business and all areas of my life, so that everyone has everything they need to be comfortable and to enjoy their lives.  I signed it June 27th, 1992.

Then like we all do when we go to these workshops I stuck it in a binder.  Whoa, phew, that feels good, I’ve done my workshop, I stuck it in the binder.  In 2001 I was going through my binders and throwing crap out and came across that and that is exactly what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years, it’s exactly what I continue to do now.  Don’t take life too seriously, but definitely do what it takes to keep people positive and keep people moving forward and I’ll do this until I fall on my arse …

Andrew: That’s amazing.

Don: … and die.  That’ll be the last thing I do.

Andrew: Okay.  On your death bed you’ll be advising people on the GDP growth and transit nodes and oil prices.

Don: Wow, Connie will get excited about that, won’t she?

Andrew: Yeah.

Don: The reality is don’t let real estate become your life, just let it become a component that funds your life.  You know what, obsessing about anything can be detrimental to many different areas of your life including your family life.  I just urge people to just be smart, make your money work harder than you do.

Andrew: That’s great.  Don, if people want to get a hold of you where can they find you online or otherwise?

Don: Sure, Facebook, it’s the REIN man, R-E-I-N man and on Twitter it’s @DonRCampbell and I’m on there everyday on Twitter and sometimes everyday on Facebook.  Of course, they can always email me at and that’s

Andrew: Great, thank you very much for your time today, Don.  I really appreciate it, I know you’re a busy guy and hopefully we can have you on the podcast again one time.

Don: Great, my pleasure, cheers.  Thank you.

Andrew: Thank you, bye.

Don: Bye.

Andrew: Okay, that was my interview with Don Campbell and I hope you enjoyed that.  Now a few points that really jumped out at me having listened back to this interview after recording it.  Number one was when he was talking about don’t buy cheap or just because something is cheaper doesn’t mean it’s a good investment.  We see this time and time again in the condo market where people get hung up on price or even worse price per square foot.  There seems to be this obsession amongst people to evaluate an investment whether it’s good or bad by looking at the price per square foot.  What I always say to that is that’s a bit of a fool’s game to fall into that.  The price per square foot while it’s one measure to look at, it really has no relevance whatsoever on determining if something’s a good or bad investment.

Rather if you want to look at one thing you should look at … or one or two things, you should look at the income that a property’s going to generate.  Forget about how much it costs, look at how much it’s going to give you, how much it’s going to give you back as an investor.  You want to look at the income it’s going to generate as well as the likely future value of that asset.  In other words, what are the chances that it’s going to appreciate in value.  That’s where Don comes in and he talks about his model of predicting future growth areas by looking at GDP and job growth and things like that.  Cheaper is not always better.  You’ve got to peel back the onion, it’s a lot more nuanced than that and don’t fall into that trap.

The second thing is just how he mentioned about future areas to invest, looking in the GTA and Barry and Vaughn and some of these areas where future trends is coming.  That’s always a wise point to look at, of course.  Most people know that, but understanding the future transit growth and future trends it plans for an area.  The Yonge and Eglinton, the LRT line on Eglinton is certainly putting a lot of eyes on Yonge and Eg and the future potential there, so that’s just one example.

The third thing that jumped out at me is just how he was talking about don’t obsess, so don’t become obsessed with real estate.  Real estate shouldn’t become your life, it should just fuel your life and allow you to live the life that you want whether it’s to be totally independent from any typical work or whether it’s your retirement plan or whether it’s to pay for your children’s education or whether it’s just to provide you with that security.

That’s what real estate should be all about, but I really enjoyed what he had to say about not letting it become an obsession.  Certainly in my line of work it’s very tempting for it to become an obsession for somebody like me and yeah, certainly on a personal note this year has been pretty crazy.  It was wise words for me to hear and just looking forward to taking a bit of time off over this Christmas, December season myself.  I thought that was a great point by Don.

The fourth thing is just what he was saying in terms of condos in Toronto, two bedroom and three bedroom units and again I’ve talked about this a lot on different podcasts and videos and certainly with a lot of my clients.  I have projects if you’ve sat with me.  Looking at getting into two bedroom and three bedroom units because the housing prices have just gone nuts in Toronto as we all know, so people are not able to afford to buy houses anymore.  Commuting times are crazy, so people want to live downtown, but they can’t afford a house.  People are going to end up in condos and they’re going to end up living in condos for longer and longer and delaying a house purchase or in some cases never purchasing a house whereas before the pattern was buy a condo, a one bed or one plus den and then buy a house a couple of years later.

Now it’s going to be let’s get into a two bedroom because we’re never going to afford a house and let’s plan on staying there for seven, eight, nine, ten years, maybe having one or two kids in that two bedroom condo.  That’s where you’re really going to see a lot of demand in the future particularly in the good downtown neighborhoods is for two bedroom and three bedroom condos, both from a resale price appreciation perspective and also from a rental appreciation perspective as well.

That was the highlights from me from the interview.  Once again I hope you enjoyed that.  For all the show notes on this episode head on over to and you’ll see all the links to everything we talked about there and you can get a hold of Don if you want to and look at Real Estate Investment Network if you’re interested in learning more about them.  Thank you very much for listening, I appreciate your support.  If you liked the show please leave me a review and until next time.  We’ll talk to you soon, bye.

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