Ravi Jain manages residential condo developments as well as developing and managing a commercial rental portfolio of approximately 500,000 sq. ft. of rental space in the Greater Toronto Area.
TCS: What is the relationship and how did you get started with Simon approximately 20 years ago? Could you talk about some of the initial meetings and how you started with offerings that were presented to you?
I was introduced to Simon back in early 2000’s to discuss the pre-construction marketing of a residential loft conversions condominium project that I was developing in Toronto with my family. Our initial meeting ran well over the 30 minutes I had booked for us and after approximately 2+ hours of chatting I knew that we would be doing business together. My project was almost sold out, so it was hard to find the ideal terms of a deal based on Simon’s program, as we simply didn’t have enough inventory to warrant a deal.
Over the next few months, Simon introduced me to other pre-construction projects around the G.T.A. that he felt I should invest in through his firm. I liked the projects and in-turn introduced him to my family, friends and business associates who were always looking for an inside track to investment opportunities. For this new group that I organically put together, Simon provided us with deal flow and access that was beyond what we could source independently.
Everything from discounts, lower deposit structures, assignment rights, cap on levies, no charge upgrades, rental guarantees, furniture options and complementary property management were part of a package that at that time was just simply too good to be true. Once we all became clients of TCS, we never strayed or looked back as the service and commitment to having our loyalty was paramount to Simon’s goal of growing a loyal and active investor network.
TCS: You ended up taking advice and investing in the deals that Simon/TCS provided in a very organic manner, and it’s fair to say at that time that Simon was operating his business from his own condo, running a home-based business. Why and how did you place trust with Simon?
I liked the fact that he was working from home as he was so focused on growing the business, the ambition and the drive was just out there for anyone to see. I still recall a friend that I had referred to Simon call me from the lobby of his condo and asked if he was at the right place as he had gone to a condo building and not an office for his initial meeting. That same friend is still an enthusiastic supporter and high-volume client and I know that he has in-turn referred many of his own family and friends who are all much better off financially from meeting and working with Simon.
Trust is something you need to earn, and Simon has done that in spades. He has always been a “no-nonsense” type of guy. I instantly appreciated his frankness, professionalism, full disclosure, and efficiency. He is a machine and a non-stop, 7-day a week operator on all levels. By providing all the “pros” and “cons”, he makes it easy for any investor to move forward with the purchase of pre-construction residential units.
TCS: For everyone, 2020/21 has been a trying year (year+), how have you and your family been managing through all the quarantines and distancing?
We’ve been doing our best to stay healthy, happy and abiding by the rules. At work, things are different, but I feel the working world transitioned so quickly to what needed to happen for commerce to continue, that general efficiency kept up. I know there has been a lot of talk out there about what the silver lining will be from this pandemic, but I hope that a renewed (or new) appreciation for your family and for mobility remain and everyone finds a better balance between work and home life. Children need to be out and about, socializing and experiencing the world, they have plenty of time later in life to be in front of a computer all day, they don’t need that now. So again, hopefully this is one of the things that gets a bump in appreciation – get out and do things, save the screen time for when it has to happen.
TCS: What about away from the office, what do you like to do when not working?
Travelling, spending time on the golf course, and helping charities solve their problems and generate revenue. I also love analysing deals across the board and at times I’ve spent time delving deep into the rabbit hole with Simon and his business partner, John Mehlenbacher, on private equity projects in the real estate sector that they have on their roster.
TCS: If you could give some advice to someone that is looking to invest in the condo market, what would be the top considerations that they should be focused on?
For me, it’s always about trusting the source. Just in the past year or so, the vast network that Simon has, has proven to be as good as one can expect. A friend of mine was approached by a broker who claimed that he had better deals than TCS and that we should be working with him instead of Simon as he had access to an “incredible” deal that was phenomenal in all aspects (location, price and down payments).
Within an hour of my call to Simon, he had already spoken to the CEO of the development company in question and gotten back to us to advise that the deal was absolutely not real and that the agent in question was to be reprimanded for his actions. His anger and frustrations, albeit for the right reasons, were fine with me as he got to the truth so fast because he is not a real estate agent that is looking for a quick sale and a fast buck; the truth is what matters most as reputation is everything to him.
He always reminds me of this and asks the question that every successful business owner wants to have the right answer to, that being, “do you know of anyone, in any business that can count off, with ease, having the same group of clients from 20 years ago?”. The fact that I am one of those initial clients from day one is what makes my level of trust what it is and makes me comfortable to introduce friends to TCS with confidence.
TCS: Any regrets about deals that you didn’t participate in over the years that stand out for you?
I passed on many deals as I was re-structuring my business over the last decade. I left a lot of money on the table. To be honest, I never imagined the market to stay so strong for the past 28 years. I wish I had participated in even half of the opportunities Simon presented to me. It sounds cliché but it is the truth: it’s about your time in the market and not trying to time the market. That is why pre-construction is my preferred investment vehicle and has been such a valuable and tested investment model in my for my family.
When I tell my friends about some of the ROI’s I have managed to achieve in TCS projects that are closing this year, let alone a decade or more ago, they simply find the numbers to be out of this world. The fact that $500,000 condos are now worth $1M+ in six or seven years with as little down as 7.5%, provides you with a glimpse as to why the group I’m involved with eagerly anticipates the next offering and typically requests a personal meeting or a conference call with Simon on the day of the offering to secure a large block of units.
TCS: Lastly, we’d love to chronicle some of your results, perhaps an example of what you originally put down on an early investment, what kind of return that equated to?
If we go back to the first deals approximately 20 years ago, I can easily state that whatever we purchased is worth 4 times what we paid. So, for example, a $200,000 downtown 1-bedroom is now over $800,000.
Jumping forward a decade, I’d say the majority of the condos are now worth 2.5 to 3 times what we paid. It’s just incredible. Finally, it is always good to look at today versus the past; we are closing on units this month in buildings that we purchased approximately 6 years ago and they are worth 2 times what we paid.
Needless to say, having purchased these properties with a minimum of 5% down payment, up to a maximum of 15% on some, the annual ROI’s are much higher than the conservative 43% that TCS speaks to on their website.