Just a few short years ago, Steve Arneson and Randy Molland were each grappling with life-altering personal struggles. Today, they’re successful real estate investors, globetrotters, speakers, and philanthropists. How did they go from being bogged down by grief and depression to founding their own company and developing a diverse and robust real estate investment portfolio? Grit, a passion for self-improvement, and a small musical intervention by Great Big World.
When we first sat down to chat with Steve, we were immediately struck by his infectious smile and genuine cheeriness. He’s instantly likeable. We slipped into easy conversation about the homey rain cloud that is the Pacific Northwest, and the love-hate relationship almost everyone seems to have with our drizzly little corner of the world. Always the optimist, and a true advocate for his hometown of Victoria on Vancouver Island, Steve is quick to emphasize the love portion of that dynamic, “I live on one of the most desirable islands in the world!” he mused. An exclamation that sets off his real estate inclinations. He goes on to explain why the desirability of his hometown venned perfectly with his aspiration to secure wealth and build passive income, “generating cash-flow from real estate when investing in a place like this isn’t a matter of ‘if’ this investment will pay off, it’s a matter of ‘when’ I’ll start seeing returns.”
Steve’s drive for success and passion for cash-flow investment stems from a longstanding rebellion against traditional work/life balance.
“Our current [real estate investment] system is broken. More than that it’s just simply not fair. Our generation is spending countless hours working a job (sometimes multiple jobs!) because they’re locked into exorbitant mortgages they’ll be paying off for decades. Those lucky enough to pay off their homes don’t typically do so until they’re close to retirement, and even then they’re forced to sell in order to liquidate their only asset.” Not only does this idea of delayed returns frustrate him from an investment perspective, but it aggressively bucks up against his role as a genuine advocate for quality of life.
“One of the biggest stresses in the world is the cost of living, if you can fix the finance side of things, you can essentially live stress-free for the rest of your life, which is part of the mission we’re on. I want to inspire people to think bigger and empower them to take action towards their biggest dreams.”
This idea of professional and personal development is a common theme for both Steve and his co-founder Randy. In fact, it’s the ethos of their Real Estate Investment and Education company The REINVESTORS. Steve and Randy have made it their mission to “help average Joes and Janes understand the value of real estate investment, the equity they may not know they have, and how to use that equity to set themselves up for an earlier and more fulfilled retirement.”
The best way to achieve this, they say, is through education and creativity.
Getting Creative with IMBY
“The key to success in real estate [investment] is getting creative. By definition, ‘traditional’ isn’t creative. ‘Traditional’ hasn’t been working for a lot of people, for a number of years.”
Steve goes on to express frustration with the prohibitive cost of minimum investments. “There are people that have 95 thousands dollars of liquid, investable money, and they can’t get into real estate. That’s crazy!”
“IMBY is doing cool things with matching and tech. On IMBY you can buy a share in real estate for a dollar! That is extremely beneficial to the investment scene because it removes barriers to entry and makes it so anyone can get in[to investing in real estate].” Randy is also very excited about the accessibility to everyone that IMBY is carving out in the real estate space,
“It is incredible to see the opportunity that IMBY is able to offer to people interested in getting invested into real estate but don’t have the capital or resources to do so. It is an absolute game-changer for someone who has always dreamed about being apart of a real estate investment but didn’t know where to start! As the company grows and more people start seeing the potential, I think it will make waves in the future of real estate investing.
As somebody who has been actively purchasing real estate investments for the past few years, and teaching others how to do so themselves, it creates a new space that has been a gap for us as investors. What do we do with somebody who only has a few thousand dollars or wants to make monthly deposits? If we’re talking about putting $500 a month into a mutual fund, RRSP, or real estate you know exactly where I am going to be putting my money. [IMBY] could be the thing that inspires more people to realize real estate as a vehicle for building wealth.”
Steve and Randy’s commitment to the real estate community and being thought leaders in that space is inextricably linked to their drive to help people achieve financial stability and improve their overall quality of life. In fact, it’s what drove them to start their business. They quickly discovered that the average person just starting to dip their toe into the investment realm need to be better educated. Not just on the industry in general, but teaching them ways “to utilize assets such as equity, savings, or other investments to create high-return wealth and immediate cash-flow.” (https://thereinvestors.ca/real-estate-investment/about-us/)
The RE Invention
Before finding success and starting their business however, both Steve and Randy went through respective bouts of personal struggle. Randy lost one of his best friends a few years ago, and though he certainly battled with the pain of that loss, he also used it as an opportunity to look at life differently. He took stock of what he wanted (the usual stuff: success, happiness), he took stock of what he had (a keen eye for real estate investment) and then slowly but surely he began merging these two ideas together and found he had a formula for disrupting the status quo of how people look at everyday life.
While Randy was on his journey from grief to self-improvement, Steve was walking a similar path of his own.
“I was sitting on the couch, beer in hand, just dwelling on all these negative thoughts going through my head after my engagement had broken off. I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I was stuck in this [paralyzing] depression and basically reaming myself out for not being happier with the lot in life I’d been handed. I’m a white male living on the west coast of Canada, one of the most beautiful places in the world. I had absolutely nothing to be super torn apart about. Then all of a sudden this song by Great Big World came on and one of their lyrics inspired me to think ‘I wonder what would happen if I woke up tomorrow and accomplish a single thing that either makes me happy, improves my life, or positively impacts someone else’s. What would happen if I woke up every day that way?’
What happened was a two-year journey of self-improvement that led him to successful entrepreneurship in real estate. “Day one I went for a run. Day two I listened to an inspiring podcast. Day three I made plans to deepened my connection with my family…” And his streak of self-improvement continued on until the day he connected with Randy at a real estate education course and they decided to start running their own.
Having traveled long personal journeys to success in a short amount of time, IMBY is keen to see what’s next for the REINVESTORS. When asked what’s next on the horizon, it’s no surprise they’re gearing up for a new adventure in development. “We’re no longer looking at just buildings. We’re acquiring land and becoming developers.” But their new ventures are certainly not going to distract from the cornerstone of their REINVESTORS mission: to educate. “The heart of our mission will always be education. We want to scale all the knowledge we’ve accumulated and benefited from over our collective careers and give that back to our followers. We’ve challenged ourselves to financially educate and inspire one million people to invest in real estate so that they too can live a more fulfilled life.”
“Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. Decide what your next single step is going to be, and then just go and take it! Take action! Taking action is the biggest life changer, especially in learning how to invest in real estate. Educate yourself on where you want to go, but taking action is a must. It’s the only way to get you to where you want to be.”
Meet Steve Arneson and Randy Molland at a two day RE Investors workshop from May 18-19, 2019 in Victoria next month.