Real estate investor, licensed contractor and TV host Scott McGillivray has launched a new DIY Network show called Buyers Bootcamp, and in it he puts two Sarasota homes that are ripe for renovation through their paces. Ten-episode Season 1, which premiered March 3, features homes on Webber Street and Wisteria Street east of Tamiami Trail and a third Florida home in Largo. Buyers Bootcamp airs Saturdays at 10 p.m.
McGillivray, who gained a national profile as host of HGTV’s Income Property, bought his first income property almost 20 years, when he was a senior in college. “I knew I wasn’t able to continue paying rent,” he told us, “and a real estate adviser talked me into buying a property and renting out the other rooms. I thought that was brilliant. I used my student loan as a down payment on a property. It was the best thing I ever did.” Since then, he has bought, renovated and sold some 300 to 400 properties.
He moved his production office to Fort Myers several years ago, and he and his family now split their time between Toronto and Estero. From there, he told us, he’s been working on real estate projects all over Southwest Florida.
McGillivray is adamant that the days of finding flappable houses are not over. “There’s always opportunity if you know how to seek it out,” he told us. “You just have to know what you’re doing.”
We asked him to share a few things he's learned along the way.
What personality traits does it take to be a successful real estate investor?
Courage is a good part of it, and drive. I teach people no matter what you do with your life at some point you will encounter real estate in some capacity, either as a renter or homeowner or potentially as an investor. The more you know about it, the better off you will be. It’s the largest financial decision anyone will make… they should take the time to learn as much as they can about real estate, about renovations, about lending. I feel bad for people who waste a lot of money and opportunities because they don’t even know they exist.
What’s the most important thing a novice real estate investor should learn?
How to buy a property correctly. Most people buy at retail, they miss opportunities to save money on their deals, or they make a lot of mistakes on the purchase price, on the financing. You make your money on the front end of the transaction, not the end.
Is it true that you should add 20 percent on to your renovation budget?
At least. Amateurs underestimate the amount of money it will take. If you budget for everything you can see and have discovered, add another 25 percent for all the things you can’t see or haven’t discovered yet. That’s if you don’t want to cut corners—and you don’t.
Novice real estate investors sometimes don’t understand all their options; they think too short-term. Some properties are a fast way to make money. But some, I’ll buy and hold. That’s the first thing I look for, if I can rent it out, [have] cash flow, keeping it a long time.) If it satisfies my basic necessities for a longtime real estate investment—if I can rent it out and have cash flow—I will keep it a long time. There’s a lot more money to be made in the long term—why make $5,000 when you can hold it and later make $50,000?