Becoming a successful investor is never an easy journey, especially when you start off with no money. A lot of people have excuses about why they can’t be successful in real estate – they don’t have the money, they don’t have necessary relationships, or they have too many things on their plate. Monick Halm’s guest today did not let any of these excuses stop her. Thembi Bheka, the Founder of Real Estate Real Riches, moved from Zimbabwe to Canada with no cash or family. She shares her incredible story of being an immigrant in Canada to where she is right now – a real estate investor, mentor, and a member of the prestigious REIN. Learn how Thembi was able to achieve real estate investment success from nothing except her faith and perseverance.
Listen to the podcast here:
Interview With Thembi Bheka – From Immigrant With No Money To Successful Investor
I’m super excited to have Thembi Bheka with us. She has an incredible story. I know a lot of people, women and men, say they can’t be successful in real estate. It is because they don’t have money or, the necessary relationships or they have so much else on their plate that they’re dealing with. Our guest is a perfect example of how you don’t need to let any of those excuses stop you. Thembi moved from Zimbabwe to Canada with no money and no family. As a single mom, she managed to be incredibly successful in real estate.
She’s a real estate investor, mentor, and a member of the prestigious Real Estate Investment Network, or REIN. She’s also a mentor with the Kelowna Community Resources, which is a government organization to help immigrants. Her passion lies in giving back to the community through charity work and conducting free real estate seminars for immigrants. She’s created an education program called Real Estate Real Riches and coaches inspiring investors on how to invest in real estate successfully to go from starving investor to a more fulfilled investor. I’m super excited to have her with us. Welcome, Thembi.
Thank you for having me, Monick.
It is my pleasure. You have such a fascinating story. I’d love for you to share how you got started in real estate investment. How did you go from being a newly arrived immigrant to Canada to where you are right now? How did you get started?
I didn’t start right away in real estate. When I came here, I went to school and trained. I bumped into nursing somehow and someway. I trained as a registered nurse. When I graduated from nursing school, I realized within the first week how not satisfied and how angry most of the nurses had been working for 25 to 30 years. That’s when I realized that I didn’t want to be in that area forever. Even if I was in it forever, it would be because of choice not because I’m forced to be in it. I said, “I can’t do this for life.” I was reading a newspaper and I came across an ad it said, “Get out of the rat race invest in real estate.” It was this big Sun newspaper.
I said, “That’s interesting.” I attended a seminar. It was a free seminar by the Rich Dad Poor Dad, people. I got a book out of that seminar. I didn’t come out with much, but I did get a book Rich Dad Poor Dad. I read that book. That book changed my life. It made me realize that I did not have to be stuck in a job and being stuck in a job could be a way to financial disaster later on in my retirement years. That book changed the way I thought and it changed my mindset. It was after reading that book that I started digging more into real estate. On how I could invest in real estate and how I could have more financial freedom and it started forwarding from there.
It’s amazing how many people I’ve interviewed and have talked to who are real estate investors, who got started by that little purple book. I’m one of them too. It’s incredible how many investors were born after reading that book. You’re certainly no exception. You read the book and you realize, “This is what I need to do,” and you start to educate more and then what happened?
I said it the long way. How I started is, I had saved a little bit of money in my nursing career. I hadn’t worked for long, maybe a few months, but I had saved a lot. I took that. I went and I bought a house. I had no idea what I was doing. I just heard that you have to invest in real estate so that you could be rich. I thought, “Fine, I’m going to go buy a property.” I bought the wrong property with the wrong fundamentals at the wrong time. It was in 2008, it was after the peak. That market, even up to now, hasn’t come back up to the value I paid for it. That’s how bad it was. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was only buying.
Eventually, I came across and joined the Real Estate Investment Network. With that, I surrounded myself with like-minded people and started to learn different strategies of investing in real estate, with or without your money. Yes, I did start with my money, but eventually, I figured I didn’t need to use my own money to invest in real estate. I could use other ways like to cover other people’s mortgages, creative financing, or even use other people’s money to invest. That’s how it started. From there, I started buying properties.
I love that. The lesson about being able to use OPM or Other People’s Money and getting creative as well as surrounding yourself with the right people and learning as much when you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s when you make mistakes. What’s your investment focus? What are you buying?If you can make more money and change the world in general, do it yourself first. Click To Tweet
I have started with single-family homes. I have stayed mainly with single-family homes. I did look into land a little bit. However, I’m moving towards the multifamily and how I’m moving towards that is, when you first invest in something that is a learning curve, which you have to learn to do it. I have decided not to involve myself in the education part, but be the money part and be the investor with somebody else who’s done the education part and do that. It’s great to learn, but I don’t want that to be my focus. My focus is to help others realize that they could invest in real estate, the same way I did, with humble beginnings.
I don’t recommend doing everything by yourself. You can always partner with people that have anything you’re missing and any of the resources you’re missing. Those resources could be money, time, experience, and relationships. If you’re missing any of them, you can always partner with others that have that. I love how you’re partnering with people who have the multifamily experience, know-how, relationships and you’re adding money to that deal. That’s great.
When I started and when you’re starting for anybody reading, it’s important to have the knowledge part of things. It’s important to know-how, the relationships, and all that stuff. It’s important throughout your life. However, if you go, you have to see what your why is. Why are you doing this and where your value is. “Is it valuable for me to be going talking to realtors looking for multifamily property, or is it more valuable for me to descend a deal, look at it and say, ‘I’m in?’” You have to choose where your value is.
I always love to ask about my guests’ biggest mistakes. I feel like you learn so much more from when things go wrong than when they go right. What would you say has been your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?
There’re many mistakes. The main thing for me is to outsource. When I first started, I used to do everything on my own. I’m a little bit of a control freak, in case you haven’t figured that out. I used to do everything on my own. I remember trying to fix a leaking tape and I ended up flooding the whole house because I thought that I could do it better than the plumber. One thing I learned from that is, you have to learn to outsource everything. This isn’t only in real estate investing, even in life, there are so many things we try to do ourselves. When you look at your value, you have to look at your value and say, “Am I really worth $5 an hour?”
There are some things which we’re doing which are only worth $5 an hour, which you could outsource to somebody and go and make $20, $30, $100, $300. This is not only about finances. It’s also about your mental state. “Am I going to be happy doing this?” I’ll make an example. I don’t mind cleaning my house. I like it, but if you hate it, and if it makes you so depressed and so fed, such that you can’t clean your house. Why don’t you go to something that’s going to give you more income and then you can pay the housekeeper? That’s the same thing in real estate. There’re many things we, as real estate investors, it starts from even doing your own bookkeeping. We are bad at doing our books. Real estate investors won’t let go of bookkeeping. I don’t know why.
It’s simple things like that. Let go of the bookkeeping, cleaning, the other things you don’t have to do, even looking for deals. Let other people find your deals, and use your time wisely. For me, it was the mindset of letting go and letting other people take care of me, instead of me trying to take care of everything. The other thing was doing my due diligence. There’re many mistakes I’ve made in my investment career where I look and I say, “I did not do my due diligence well.” An example is the house I bought, which had a septic tank. I was told it had sewer and I went with whatever else I had said.
Long story short, it ended up being a complicated situation, because I didn’t do my due diligence. I got comfortable and thought, “I’m okay. I’ve bought many houses, why should outsource my realtor?” However, the realtor didn’t do their due diligence. It’s important to do your due diligence. It has also saved me a lot of money. There’s a piece of land I was looking at and thankfully, I did it. I hired a lawyer and said, “Do all the due diligence you can find on this property and let me know.” I saved myself hundreds of thousands of money by doing that. I could have made such a huge mistake.
That’s valuable. I know both of those things very well. I have a long list of mistakes I could talk about myself. I was watching this woman do a little video. She was talking about how everyone should have a failure resume. Not just mistakes they’ve made, but also what did you learn? I have quite a long line of resume. I’ve learned so much and it sounds like you have as well. The flip side of that in terms of what your biggest mistake, what would you say you are most proud of?
I’m proud of my children. I know every parent is. I’m proud of my kids because they have adjusted to this lifestyle we have of impromptu moments of, “Mom comes from wherever she comes from.” “Tonight, we’re going to sleep somewhere. We’re not staying at home,” or, “We’re going to have a little road trip.” I am proud of the fact that they were able to adjust to that because I’m pretty sure, it’s a choice for them to say, “No, we’re staying home for the whole week. We’re not going anywhere.” They have been accommodating to my situation of loving to travel. Also, my situation of going to events almost on a monthly basis. I am proud of that.
I do have to say I’m proud of the women out there. Most women out there who have gone beyond every naysayer, and did it. When you start on this journey, if you remember very well, and I’m sure everybody does remember this, when you started investing in real estate, telling your friends and relatives. It’s like, “What’s wrong with you?” “Are you crazy?” I remember for me, it was like, “You have to have rich parents to do that kind of thing.” If you are able to go against every naysayer and come to the show and listen to what Monick has to say, or any other guest speaker has to say, honestly, kudos to you. Be proud of yourself and I’m proud of you for taking action. You are the difference between poverty and being financially free by taking action.
I love that. How old are your kids?
The oldest is fifteen, and the youngest is four.
I don’t know if you’re still a single mom, but you were a single mom for a long time.
Yes, I’m still a single mom.
Tell us a little bit about that. When you’re dedicated to this, it helps to go out, learn, and make relationships. It is a relatively flexible career, but it still takes time and you’re also working as a nurse at the same time. How did you make it all work?
I’m not going to lie and say it was easy. It was hard. I remember people at work knew me by books. I shifted my schedule, such that I worked the night shift at the hospital. This was during my early years of investing. What I would do is I would take a book, or I would be on that website, the REIN website, and I’ll be educating myself during the night shift. While everybody else is having popcorn when patients are sleeping, I would be learning. It wasn’t easy. It was a big learning curve for me to do that.
As a mom, you would never extra time to be alone. Especially for me, since I don’t have a family in Canada to say, “Can you take my child for a day or two so that I can have my alone time?” I didn’t have that. What I used to do is wherever we were going, I like road trips, and we used to do lots of road trips with my daughter at that time, wherever we’re going I’ll put in a CD of some educational thing. I was listening to it going to work, going on a vacation. Traveling on a 4 to 5-hour drive and would listen to that. My daughter ended up getting fed up with these people like, “Can we please not listen to another Dawn Campell.” Such things like that.
It wasn’t easy, but what I did is I utilized that little time I had to educate myself, whether it was at work, or whether it was driving to work. I used that time to educate myself and continually educated myself. As hard as it is when you’re starting out, eventually, it does get better. Your children get used to the fact that mommy has to go to a conference five hours away. I’m going to stay at the hotel and watch movies sometimes, or I’m going to do with my friends because I love going to see movies with my friends and your kids do like that. Not that I’m saying it’s a good thing for your kids to watch movies, but you can also bring them into the conference room. It’s good for your children to know what you’re doing. That’s why there’s a Bring a Child to Work Day. Since you’re not going to work, why don’t you bring a child to conferences? Bring your kids to conferences so that they know what you’re doing.Success comes when you look at things from a different perspective and end in a different way. Click To Tweet
It’s interesting because these little things I used to do with my daughter, I didn’t notice, but all of a sudden, she wants to have her own business. When you ask her, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” She’ll say, “I want to start my own business. I will go to university to do business school to have an idea, but I want to start my own business.” That’s not something I instilled in her. I never told her that. She decided from that and now she was telling me, “Mom, do you know that a lot of people are going to lose their jobs because of all these robotic things?” I’m like, “Yes.” I instilled it in her. If there’s any single mom reading, train your children. Train your brain to have this as a normal routine because when it’s normal to them, it’s not going to be surprised that they have to go for a conference and spend all day listening to people talking about real estate. They get excited about that.
That’s inspiring. You should be proud of that. Not just of your kids, but that you were able to do what you hope to do, while also having a full-time job and being a single mom. That’s incredible. To what do you attribute your success? You’ve given some clues already in your answer, but what would you say is responsible for your success?
I know everybody says it’s hard work. There is that part of hard work, but for me, it was my background. When you come from an environment where literally, somebody is stuck in a marriage because they cannot leave. They will never have a meal the next day. When you come from an environment where somebody’s kids haven’t gone to school because they cannot afford to pay school fees. Somebody doesn’t have shoes to wear. They would get shoes on Christmas Day. I think that helps you look at things from a different perspective and in a different way.
In my case, every time I thought of giving up, and I have thought of giving up so many times. There’s a time when I said, “I have enough properties. I should stop this whole property buying and be like a normal person,” but then, I think of all those women, somewhere in some remote area in Africa, who have no food whatsoever and have nothing to give to their children. I think to myself, “I am entitled.” I remember one person, his name is Peter King. He once said, “If you can make more money and change the world and you’re not doing it, you’re selfish.”
I think that honestly has pushed me. I don’t know if I would call people selfish, but I still think that has pushed me. Every time I think of giving up, I think, “How many people can I change?” “How many people’s lives can I help?” It’s a ripple effect, because this African girl like me, came here. I can count the ripples which it has done in my family, on some in-laws’ family, some other people who I didn’t even know existed because I came to Canada. If I could teach one more person how to invest in real estate, can you imagine the ripple effect? This world will be such a better place if we could only impact one person a day.
I can resonate with what you are saying. That’s why I do what I do. I’m passionate about getting others into this field. Especially women, and those who think, “I can’t do it. I can’t afford it.” All the can’t. I’m a first-generation American. I didn’t come from a different country, but my parents came from Haiti, which is a place of incredible poverty and destitution. Maybe that helped me to have a different frame of mind around what we’re meant to do, what’s possible, and what we’re responsible for as a citizen and as people to help. The last question I have for you before we go on to the trinity, which is the brag, gratitude, and the desire, which you can answer one or the other. What advice do you have for a woman just starting out in this field, or what you wish you’d known at the beginning that you already know?
The advice I would say is to start with your why. If you don’t know what that means, google start with your why and go with that. For the second question, what do I wish I had known in the beginning? It’s the same thing. I wish I had started with the end goal in mind instead of just accumulating properties.
Start with the end goal in mind and know your why. Before we get into the trinity, what is the best way for people to find out more about you and what you do?
People can visit my website, www.RealEstateRealRiches.com. If you sign up for our email there, I usually respond to my emails. My VA doesn’t do that. I do it myself. If you can sign up through that I will respond to your email and contact me through that [email protected].
Also, her Twitter, which is @InvestorThembi. What are you celebrating right now? What’s one brag you have for us?
The successful Global Real Estate Summit. I did a summit for the first time and it was very successful. I’m bragging about it and happy celebrating.
You should, it was awesome. She had tons of incredible guests on that show. A few of them are my friends, which is how I found Thembi in the first place. You should check it out. They can find out about it on your website.
It’s finished but we’re going to have another one. If they join the mailing list, we’ll be able to send them.
Sign up so you can find out when the next one is. What are you grateful for?
For the opportunity to live in Canada. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for being Canadian.
Lastly, what do you desire?
Many desires. Maybe to reduce the poverty levels in women in Africa. That will be a great desire for a bigger perspective, but from a personal perspective, just to continue spending more time with my children and travel more.
So shall your desires be or better than you can ever imagine. Under grace in perfect ways.
You’re welcome and thank you so much for this wonderful interview. I loved hearing your story. You give so much incredible value. Again, if you guys want to connect with Thembi you can do so at www.RealEstateRealRiches.com and to connect with me go to the RealEstateInvestorGoddesses.com. Also, our Facebook page, Real Estate Investor Goddesses. I look forward to talking to you guys next episode. We’ll bring you another incredible real estate investing goddess success story. Take care, bye.