Investment Story #10: Condo Investment with Real Estate Investor Tracy Ma

Tracy Ma is a thriving management consultant, active real estate investor, and caring real estate mentor at Her favorite addiction is fitness. Endorphins are her drug
of choice.

She started Financial Nirvana Mama in her desire to make a difference, help you stop settling in life, take action to do what you love to and inspire you to kick ass and make your life amazing.

Thanks to Tracy for taking the time to share her story with us!

I have no financial relationship with Tracy to disclose.

Please tell us a bit about your background

I like to think I’m a young 39 year old ‘retired’ Environmental Engineer.  

I left everything ‘safe’ and ‘secure’ when I was 35 years old: a government position, a golden pension, and a growing engineering career at 35 years old to dive into full time entrepreneurship.

Because of an ‘aha’ moment during a quarter life crisis → facing burnout working three jobs, 70+ hour work weeks for years, and abandoning what was really important in life—> family, friends and my health…. I decided to work smarter by jumping into real estate investing.

Diving into active real estate investing, surviving and thriving for 11 years, I built up a multimillion dollar legacy which grew my lady balls to open a new chapter as an entrepreneur.  

I have residential properties in Saskatchewan and Ontario, and my favorite city to invest in is Ottawa.

Please describe one of your real estate investments

I purchased three condos through joint ventures with silent money partners.  The properties are located in desirable neighbourhoods and attract professional tenants.   

Where is the property located?

The properties are located in Estevan, Saskatchewan and Vancouver, BC.

Are you an active or passive investor in this investment?   How did you/your partner find this investment?

I was the active investor in this investment in two of the three investments.

I also like being a passive investor.

Because I keep a pulse on the real estate market and only invest in neighbourhoods that I grew up in or visit often, then it is easy to see ‘opportunities’ in those neighbourhoods.  I keep in touch with several realtors who send me listings.

Nowadays, I focus only in Ottawa because it is boring and safe to invest in.

What was the risk of this investment?   What was the security?

For the passive investment example:  The risk of the passive investment was my down payment.  I didn’t see much downside as there were multiple exit strategies, such as keeping the condo unit for more than five years with rent covering everything plus providing a healthy cashflow or renting it out on sites like Airbnb.  But we decided to sell because the timing was right.

Because it was located in a very desirable location in Vancouver, I didn’t see much risk other than condo fees going up and slowly eating away at the cashflow over time.

How much was the original investment?  What is the breakdown of the investment?  

In the passive investment deal, I provided the downpayment and owned 40% of the property. The active investor completed the renovations and put the money upfront for the renovations. He also kept the cashflow. The property was sold two years ago and I made a nice return on the money.

What was the annualized ROI?   What is the breakdown of the ROI?

  • Cash Flow/yr = $0 ( this was kept by the active investor)
  • Mortgage Paydown/yr =  approx. $5K/year
  • Appreciation/yr  =     
  • If applicable, Forced Appreciation/yr = $25K was spent renovating the unit and it forced appreciation of $155K over a 6 year period.    
  • TOTAL $ Increase/yr = After real estate commissions – > this amounts to $19800/year.
  • OVERALL ROI in first year = (TOTAL  / Investment x 100 %) Based on 40% profits, I made over 125% ROI.

When do you/your partner get the original investment back?

When the unit was sold is when the original investment was returned.  

What did you like or didn’t like about this particular investment?   Would you recommend this investment to your friends/family members? Any advice to give to the readers?

This was an amazing investment because it was easy and I trusted who I invested with.  If you ever want to venture into joint venture deals, my top tips are to find someone who has lots of years of experience doing it with repeatable returns in the highs and lows of the real estate market.  And with someone you can have a beer with:)

A joint venture is like a choose your partner wisely. (Editor’s Note: 100% agree with Tracy’s statements about JV relationships!)

Here are common ways to structure Joint Venture deals:

• 50%/50%– The active investor gets 50% for finding the deal, having the expertise and does all the work.  The other partner provides the down payment.

• 60% / 40% – If one partner is providing financing and down payment, and another is providing expertise and does all the work, then 60/40 is a common split.    

• 75% / 25% – If you are facing financing problems and only need someone to get financing…then this might be an option.  You give someone 25% in exchange for financing. But you provide the down payment and do all the work. This only works if you found a great rental property and you face serious financing problems (not being able to finance the deal fast).  Giving up 25% is still a lot to give up which leads to my pro-tip.

Pro-Tip: Introducing a joint venture partner will be your most expensive option to purchasing a rental property because you have to give up a lot of equity.  If you have money, some time and the aptitude to oversee rentals, speak to a investor focused mortgage broker as there’s usually a way to finance the deal.  Maybe the interest rates might be higher to finance the deal and a tad more expensive because of fees ..but at least you don’t give up a lot of equity. More times than not, financing a deal with higher interest rates/fees is cheaper than giving up equity in a real estate.  

Understandably, active real estate investing is not for everyone…

If any reader wants to contact you, what is the best way to contact you?

Head over to to get your free real estate investment toolbox filled with actionable content, cashflow calculator, rental ad templates and much much more.

If you have any questions about real estate investing – find me at

Please leave any questions/comments for Tracy below.

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