Anyone can be a real estate investor, but not anyone can juggle real estate investing with other trades. On today’s podcast, Monick Halm has the pleasure of interviewing Katrina Tse. Katrina is a retired Police Sergeant and District Attorney from Australia and has been a property investor for 30 years now. She is also an international speaker, author, and relationship expert. Most of her property investing has taken place in Australia and the USA and has encompassed large scale structural renovations. Listen to Katrina as she shares her entrepreneurship journey and real estate experiences, including syndication, commercial properties, and so much more!
Listen to the podcast here:
Interview With Katrina Tse – Policewoman & Attorney Turned Real Estate Investor
I’m here with another fantastic guest, Katrina Tse. As you all know, we bring amazing women that are doing cool things in real estate investments. They come to the show and share their stories. Katrina has an incredible story. She’s a retired Police Sergeant and District Attorney from Australia and has been a property investor for many years. I had the pleasure of meeting her in Belize and she’s an Aussie like my husband. Most of her property investing has taken place in Australia and now the US, and has encompassed large scale structural renovation. She’s also big into personal development like me and she’s been blessed to study with Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, Dr. John Demartini, and others. In 2009, she commenced a four-year round the world tour journey inspired by the book Eat, Pray, Love.
She went on her own Eat Pray Love journey. She was blessed to meditate with Mayans in Guatemala, swim with whale sharks in Honduras, volcano surf in Nicaragua, and sit in the castle in France. While she was touring around the world, she was able to work on her development company in Australia. She has great stories about being able to work remotely in this business. She’s an international speaker and author and she owns a relationship coaching company with her husband called Legendary Love For Life. She loves property investing. We are grateful to have her. Welcome, Katrina.
Thank you, Monick.
I’m happy to have you. I love your story. I always like to start with every woman we get on the show and ask how did you get started in real estate investment? What made you get started?
When I was about twenty years old, I started saving money to go overseas with a friend of mine and I saved $10,000. I applied for the police service, not thinking I would get in because we didn’t have a lot of women back there in Australia in 1987. I got into the police service, so I can’t go overseas. I had all this money sitting in my bank account and my dad said to me, “Why don’t you buy a house?” I bought my first house when I was around 20 or 21 years old for $40,000 and my deposit was $10,000. Back in Australia, that was a lot of money. The medium housing pricing in Sydney at the moment is $1 million. That was my first house and I was excited. I took one large room and divided it into two. I sold it for $80,000 twelve months later. I thought, “That was great.”
You made quite a lot of profit that first year. Tell us a little bit more about what has happened since.
I thought I was a property investor, so I bought my next house that I did a bit of renovation on and I sold it. I moved to Sydney because I was just on the outside of Sydney. I met my first husband and he was a realtor. I bought another house and back then, I was trying to fall pregnant so I was doing IVF, which is an expensive medical program. Each session on an IVF program was worth about $10,000 so I needed the money upfront to pay. I used to say to my husband, “We’ll just flip another house.” I lived in my properties in Australia and my renovations got larger. By then, I was an attorney for the Commissioner of Police and in an eighteen months period, I made $265,000 which was unheard of. Had I gone to work and earn that amount of money and I was in a 50% tax bracket in Australia, I would have had to earn $500,000 in eighteen months to put that amount of money in my pocket. That was a big wake up call for me because I sat there and I went, “What am I doing in this job when I’m making more money outside of this job?” I kept going and eventually, I stopped working in 2003 in the police service. Once you get hooked on property, it’s in your blood. You can’t stop so you keep going.Buying real estate in a country you are not familiar with can be a huge investment mistake. Click To Tweet
Was a lot of what you did flipping or did you do some buy and hold as well?
Most of it was flipping because in Australia if you live in the property for more than twelve months, you can flip it and pay no tax. Profits were huge. I kept on doing it then I started buying several properties in a mining town, which we buy and hold with my business partners in Australia. We put the development applications into townhouses and a whole bunch of stuff there. They were all buy and hold properties.
You’re out of Australia and you moved to the US and married an American. Where’s your investing focus? Are you still flipping? What are you doing?
I came to the US and started looking at the property market. It is different from Australia. I felt like I was starting all over again. I joined the local meetup with the MAREIA group, which is the Mid-Atlantic Real Estate group. I started getting educated and I’ve spent a good part of maybe twelve months getting educated trying to work out my strategy. I’ve done tax liens. I’ve clicked parcels of land down in Florida, which I bought on tax liens. Tax liens is not exactly a strategy I want to continue because it wastes so much time for the results that I was getting. I started looking at wholesaling and I decided it was for me and then I was looking at flipping over here. I found something that I fell in love with, which was multifamily apartments, which I went and did a course. I love the concept so I’ve been working on that and I absolutely love it.
You’ve been in real estate for many years. I know most investors have 1, 2, 10, or 100 mistakes. What would you say was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
My biggest mistake was I was living in Australia and I bought with my business partner a portfolio of 30 properties in Texas prior to 2008. My biggest mistake is I bought in a country that I wasn’t living in and I wasn’t overly familiar with, and it was hard to do business. It was hard setting up bank accounts and controlling the portfolio when I was in another country. I trusted my business partner over here and things started not working out the way that were agreed upon. Of course, 2008 came and the whole property portfolio went down. I lost some money in 2008 like a lot of other investors did. That was my mistake of not having enough control over them. The other one was not watching the economy enough. If I was investing in the US, I should have been watching the US economy.
What did I learn from it? I watched the economy like a hawk now. I listen to BiggerPockets, Robert Kiyosaki, and Radio Real Estate Guys. I get informed as to what’s happening with the economy so when it does take turns, I have a strategy set up, which is what I didn’t have last time. The greatest news is I’ve had other people that have lost more money than me. I met a guy one time who lost $30 million, so I was feeling good. The great thing about that is you dust yourself up, pick yourself back up again, and keep going because it doesn’t matter what happens. As long as you’ve got the knowledge, drive, and vision, then you just keep going. You’ve got to understand that you’re going to make mistakes and don’t beat yourself up upon that. Every mistake is a growing curve and a learning curve. The more mistakes, the more investments you make.
The more mistakes, the more you learn. It was interesting that you’re talking about learnings from the Real Estate Guys. One time at a seminar that they put on, The Secrets of Successful Syndication, Robert Helms was talking about when he’s looking to invest. He does some passive investments, whether or not to invest with somebody, he needs to have made some big mistakes before he will invest. If somebody’s never had any mistakes and nothing’s ever gone wrong, he won’t invest with them because they haven’t been around long enough. Anyone who’s been around long enough will have some whoppers in there and you learn from that. You don’t learn from when things go well. That’s why I like asking about what’s your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it, because that’s the mark of a successful investor.
I hang around with a lot of property developers, entrepreneurs, and wealthy people. I say to them, “What happened in 2008 for you? What did you lose? What was your strategy? What did you learn?” I asked this from Robert Helms’ father, a beautiful man when I was in Belize. The next question is, “What’s your strategy if that happens again? What’s your strategy now?” I’ve asked some of the best entrepreneurs and business people about that because I want to know what they learned.
I’ll ask you then. What’s your strategy if that happens to you?
This is just me. I’m not giving any advice here. Here’s my disclaimer. My strategy is I’m not going to go into single-family because single-family is more exposed. Robert Kiyosaki and a lot of economists say that the market will take a turn. They don’t know when. I haven’t over-leveraged my properties. I’ve kept a stack of cash aside and I spoke to a guy and I said, “What did you do in 2008?” He said, “I had a stack of cash. I bought out everywhere and I made millions of dollars.” I know a lot of people made a lot of money back in 2008 and 2009 because they waited for the market. I had cash aside. I like multifamily because they’re more stabilized during a downturn. People can’t pay their mortgages and they’re going to move into apartments. The other area that I’m doing due diligence on is medical buildings because medical buildings are almost recession-proof. With the aging population, the Baby Boomers, people are going to continue to use doctors. I like that sector and I am getting into doing some due diligence there. I have a realtor who’s doing some good deals in there.
The flip side of mistakes is what are you most proud of?Be informed with what is happening to the economy so when it does take a turn, you already have a strategy. Click To Tweet
I’m proud of my life. I have an amazing life. I went to a Tony Robbins seminar in 2003 at Date With Destiny. I rewrote what I wanted my life to look like and my life looks far better than what I wrote in the journal. It’s amazing how my life is full of abundance and grace and I’m grateful every day. My Eat Pray Love journey for four years traveling around the world. I wanted to know what it was like to travel the world without money or time as an issue. It was amazing to do that for four years and I’ve achieved a lot in 50 years. Most people say that I’ve achieved 100 years’ worth of lifetime experiences in 50 years. I’m proud of who I am and who I’ve become in the process. I have an incredibly blessed life with an amazing husband and amazing people around me.
I want to touch a little bit on your Eat Pray Love journey and your ability to travel around the world without money or time as an issue. How did real estate investing contribute to that?
I read the book and I got inspired. I’d split up with my husband, which was interesting because it was almost like the first chapter in the book. I didn’t have children because I had seven years of infertility. The question I asked myself is, “What’s the upside of divorce and infertility?” What is it in life that I always wanted to do that I never did? I asked that question because I had a girlfriend who got cancer. I packed my bags and I had a bunch of properties in Australia. I had multiple income streams, not only from properties but from other things as well. I started traveling. In the first two years, I didn’t even work. I did nothing and it was interesting because I wanted to go deep within myself. I wanted to understand who I was and how I could contribute to the world. I had a motto of, “Touch, move, and inspire people on a daily basis at a global level.” It gave me a huge insight.
The property was part of that journey because it gave me great income to allow me to do that. In the middle of the journey, I had a tenant in a commercial property pack up and leave in the middle of the night. The next thing you know, I was out of income in one income stream. It came down to asking my divine to provide for me. “Do I go back and sue her, go after her, and prosecute her? Do I want to get tied up in that and that energy or do I want to just live my purpose?” The next thing you know, I landed this three-month volunteer program at the Autism Treatment Center with all foods and accommodation paid for. I travel around the world with no schedule so I asked my divine to put me where I needed to go, whoever I needed to be in front of, and who I could help and serve. It came back and it was all about surrender for me.
I got thrown and I rebuilt again, then off I went. Property can give you so much. My husband runs his business. We laugh and say we’ve got a coffee job because if we get up one morning and we want to go and see our grandson at school, then we just go. The thing is I don’t sit in cars and I don’t do traffic. I don’t do 9:00 to 5:00 and I don’t go to work. I did it for fifteen years as an attorney. I had 500 files in my office and I got burnt out. I’m like, “I don’t want to do that. I’m done.” I need to find another way and I need to create multiple income streams but you’ve got to do something that aligns with the value system. I’ve always loved property.
You should be proud of this incredible life that you’ve created and are living. I love how your beautiful model of gratitude, surrendering and allowing the divine to bring you into incredible places you couldn’t even have dreamed possible because you’ve been able to surrender to it. To what do you attribute your success?
It depends on what you mean by success because what success may mean to one person doesn’t necessarily mean success to another.
What does success mean to you?
My life is enriched. It’s not always about money. My life is about experiences. Having the ability to create income streams from property to have those experiences is amazing. The two things that were important to my success was education. I spent six years doing a law degree to become an attorney. It’s like being a property investor. You’ve got to go off and do a property school. You’ve got to get educated. Robert Kiyosaki says it’s on one of his CDs. Somebody says, “If I’ve got $10,000, what should I spend it on?” He says education and he’s absolutely right. You’ve got to get educated in money, business, finance, property, or whatever area you’re going down. I followed Robert Kiyosaki’s model of, “Go and find the best and go work for them.”
I found Tony Robbins and I went to work for his company in Australia. John Demartini was from The Secret, I then worked for his company. Brian Tracy is one of the best salespeople on the planet and I went and worked for him. Find the best of the best and create manifest, whatever terminology works for you. Create an opportunity where you go and work for the best. Sometimes they pay you and sometimes they don’t. The fact is at the end of the day, it’s what’s the value of you getting out of it, the time that you spend, you learn with them, and you learn whatever the materials are. My life is the life of education. I love learning new things. There’s a lot of free stuff out there. BiggerPockets is amazing because there’s a lot of free stuff and I got off listening to a podcast from the Radio Real Estate Guys.
There’s great stuff out there. Be careful of who you seek advice from. Go and seek advice from people that are doing it, not saying or teaching. The second thing to my success is always to keep your vision there, whatever it is, by way of goals or vision board. Share your visions and your dreams and be careful who you share them with because you don’t want to share them with the dream stealers. You want to share them with people that are like-minded that are going to say, “I’m going to buy a block of apartments this month,” and my husband says, “That’s great. Let’s go out and do it.” Rather than somebody who says, “You can’t do that. You haven’t got money.” Be careful about who you spend your time with. Are people going to take energy from you or are they going to lift you up and support your goals? Perhaps, spend less time with people that are not of the same mindset as yourself.
All those are important. The education piece, having a clear vision, and who you’re around. What advice do you have for a woman who is just starting out? Who you were when you were 20 or 21 or just began, what advice would you give her?Mistakes are the marks of success. Click To Tweet
First of all, get clarity on what you want. It’s like, “I want to make $1 million in ten years. That’s what’s my vision.” Set your goal, get clarity on what you want, and then go and find somebody who’s done it. Go and ask them to help you or mentor you. There’s a guy that approached me and asked me to mentor him. I’ve been mentoring him and he just bought his first property. I don’t charge him because he asked for help and I was in that position when I was his age. You’ll find that generous people are always willing to give their time. The question is, are you going to keep your end of the bargain?
When a mentor is giving you mentoring or coaching because you’re learning wisdom from them, if they say go and do something, then go and do it. Don’t take advantage of their time because you will soon lose them. There are not a lot of people that are willing to stick up their hand in the property field and are willing to donate their time. Go and find somebody and ask, “Would you help me get started?” You will find in the property arena that there are beautiful people, people that have made money and lost money, and people that are willing to be generous with their time. You’ve got to find the right person. I suggest you get clarity on what you want. Personal development and education, I can’t stress that enough and I’ve also said that. Also, spirituality.
This has come from a lot of seminars of different sources. One of them was Tony Robbins’ Business Mastery program. Business is a spiritual practice and I never saw business as a spiritual practice, but it is. When you sit there and you ask the question, “How can I serve this person by perhaps doing a deal with them and buying their house or doing a seller carryback deal with them? How can I create an apartment where I can help somebody? How can I manifest business deals?” You’ve got to speak within yourself. My business is growing more from spirituality than any other strategy. I’ve grown more from spirituality as well. You’ve got to make sure that your energy aligns with who you are so that you can open the doors to allow abundance and wealth.
It’s probably why I call this group Real Estate Investor Goddesses. With the goddesses, each one of us has at least a drop of the divine within. That name is to remind us that this is part of a spiritual journey as spiritual beings here.
I coach on this. All women are goddesses and any woman that says to themselves, “I’m not going to elevate myself.” You should because women are amazing, beautiful creatures. They’re incredible moms and amazing wives. They do 40 things at once. They’re wonderful businesswomen. The divine feminine and the sisterhood, we need to protect and we need to cherish that. Any woman that can’t relate to the word goddess, they need to find the goddess within because every woman should at least be able to cherish that within herself.
Katrina, thank you. This has been divine. We’re going to conclude with the Trinity, which is brag, gratitude, and desire. Before we get into the trinity, where should they go to find out more about you?
You can dribble our website, LegendaryLoveForLife.com and make contact on there. Anyone who needs to contact me can contact you because you’ve got my private phone number. I’m happy to help any woman out there. If she wants to kick off a portfolio or wants support, I’m happy to spend an hour of my time with any of the women out there. I’m not going to charge them. I don’t do that because it’s not my core business. My core business is making money doing real estate investment, but I’m certainly happy to support any woman that’s out there who wants to kick off.
What’s one thing you’re celebrating?
I bought a syndication in a $17 million property development down in Belize. I bought a parcel of land with a syndication group and we’re building four apartments there. It’s an amazing deal. I went down to Belize and that’s where I met you. It was far better than what I even thought it was when I got down there. The beauty of it is that my husband and I spent a week in Belize at a $70 million resort which is three-quarters of the way built. After everyone went home, there were six of us left there for a week to $25 a night staying in this beautiful luxury place. I sat there and I looked at these amazing buildings and resorts. I sat there with my husband and said, “Life doesn’t get any better than this. This is the ultimate of it. Being able to write it off on tax, staying in a $70 million business development luxury resort, and pay $25 a night.” What’s even better is Hilton Hotel got the rise over all the apartments and when it opens, $25 a night won’t be that cheap to anyone else.
What’s one thing you’re grateful for?
I’m grateful for my life, journey, spiritual and guidance. I feel like I’m protected, connected, and directed.
Lastly, what’s one thing you desire?
I want to go to Bora Bora for two weeks. I’m going to do that when I buy my next apartment building. That is my gift to myself. I want to stay in those little houses with those glass-bottom flooring.
So shall your desire be or so much better than you could imagine. Thank you, Katrina, and thanks to all of you, readers. If you want to connect with Katrina, you can send a message to me. You can find me at Real Estate Investor Goddesses on Facebook or RealEstateInvestorGoddesses.com as well. If you want to connect with me, I do have a mentoring program. For people who are looking for mentors from somebody who’s doing the work, then you can contact me about that too. Thanks to all of you out there. Join us next time where we’re going to interview another incredible goddess real estate investor.