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David Toynbee, 33

Occupation

Technical sales consultant

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The portfolio

Nearly a dozen commercial and residential properties.

The investor

David Toynbee suffered a traumatic head injury at the age of 25 and was given "a 50-50 chance of dying or being a quadriplegic." He defied the odds and walked out of the hospital three months later. The following year, he regained his ability to read, his driver's licence and job.

How he invests

While convalescing, Mr. Toynbee found inspiration in books on real-estate investing – and the motivation to purchase his first investment property. He also joined the Langley, B.C.-based Real Estate Investment Network to learn more about building a portfolio of properties.

Mr. Toynbee is a buy-and-hold investor primarily focused on generating cash flow from his properties. Cash flow is "the most important factor in sustainability," he says. Also important is buying in areas with strong economic fundamentals and finding "opportunities to add value with renovation improvements and/or changes of use."

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Financing sources vary. They include: vendor take-back mortgages, lease-to-own agreements, and mortgages offered by private investors through their registered retirement savings plans. In addition, friends and business associates put up joint-venture capital in return for Mr. Toynbee providing "hassle-free" management of the properties.

One of his properties is a large two-storey house. He converted the basement into a two-bedroom rental and lived on the upper floors while renovating them. When all the work was done, the property was refinanced at a higher value to recoup renovation costs. Subsequent equity gains have been used to finance other investments.

Best move

"I realized a few years after buying my first primary residence in 2003 that I had more equity in this property than what I could possibly save after 20 years in my day job. This was the first realization that real estate investing was an avenue worth investigating."

Worst move

"Hiring a property manager without interviewing them and outlining my expectations …"

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Advice

"It is far too easy to quit when a few of the inevitable real estate problems arise … your vision must inspire stronger motivation and action than the paralyzing disappointments."

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

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