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Owen Bigland, 48

Occupation

Realtor

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The portfolio

Rental properties and shares in companies such as Johnson & Johnson, McDonald's, TD Bank, RBC, Altria Group, Wal-Mart Stores, PepsiCo, Chevron and Nestlé; also owns exchange-traded funds.

The investor

More than 20 years ago, Owen Bigland purchased his first investment property, a one-bedroom Vancouver condo that he still owns today. Other investment properties in Vancouver were subsequently bought. Then, about 10 years ago, he began "diversifying his real-estate holdings with dividend stocks and ETFs."

How he invests

"For me investing is about creating passive income for life," Mr. Bigland says. "That income comes to me in the form of rent cheques from my tenants and dividends from my stocks. I never worry about what the value of my portfolio is from day to day or even year to year, but rather what that portfolio will produce for me in the form of income on an annual basis."

His stock selection criteria are "very simple." First, he must understand how a company makes its money. Second, its dividend must have "at least 10 years of continuous increases … and yield above 2 per cent." Third, the company must have a price-earnings ratio below 20 and a dividend payout ratio less than 65 per cent.

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Until he retires, all the investment income he receives is reinvested. "I actually welcome periodic market corrections as they provide me with excellent buying opportunities to buy companies that are on sale," he adds. His dividend holdings are balanced off with a number of Vanguard Group ETFs that broadly track stocks.

Best move

"Starting early would be my best move by far. Early on, I identified several successful real estate investors and asked for advice and guidance."

Worst move

Before investing in ETFs and stocks directly, he started out in mutual funds with high management expense ratios.

Best advice

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Be a buy-and-hold investor, Mr. Bigland recommends. Never worry about the price of real estate or stock holdings in the short term.

Want to share your strategies? E-mail mccolumn@yahoo.com

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