Every so often you meet, or hear about, people that have schedules so ambitious you’re convinced they have access to a secret time reserve. An extra hour or two added to their days, or an eighth day of the week no one else seems to know about. Hunter Sones is one such person. This young man is, in a word, impressive. He’s a full time student at BCIT studying marketing management, with a specialization in entrepreneurship, and the chair for the school of business’ student association. As if a more-than-full course load (eight courses a semester… gulp), and being the leader of his student association’s business department wasn’t enough, he also finds time to learn as much as he can about the investment world through independent study, hold down an internship, and still find time to enjoy hobbies like obsessing over Bob Dylan and Father John Misty. Frankly it was exhausting just writing that paragraph.
So, where does Hunter find the drive to keep all these plates spinning? He attributes it to his passion for “providing younger generations with the necessary tools and information to properly invest.” That’s right. On top of all his ambition and hard work, this young man is community-minded to boot. When asked where all this passion comes from, and why he thinks it’s important, Hunter’s genuine interest in helping educate his peers about the financial world and translating that into their success shines through,
“It [seems like] a complex, difficult world to understand most of the time but when you get right down to it, it’s not. There’s a lot of jargon and added complexity that doesn’t need to be there. People deserve to understand these things [that] affect their lives 24 hours a day. If it’s affecting them, wouldn’t it be handy to understand it?”
This common misconception among millennials and young professionals that investing is too complicated to understand and something best left to the professionals is a sticking point for Hunter. The world of finance and investing seems to be an exclusive club that, unless you grew up with it, or have a mentor that can advise you on best practices or starter-investments, this whole world of investment and passive income remains untouched by the majority. And what’s more, the population of individuals who understand and benefit from the world of finance remains insular. In other words, the rich get richer. Breaking down this pattern cracking open the world of investment for all to access is something that Hunter deems necessary not only out of sheer democratic spirit, but also necessary for better engaging Millennials with the world at large,
“Whenever something comes into place about taxation, young people have no vested interest, and why should they? [News about real estate] doesn’t affect them. But if their assets were tied up in real estate these discussions and laws would become relevant to them. You’ll have more engagement with laws being put in place around real estate. News is no longer exclusive to those with high incomes. These new stories [would] affect vast amounts of the population as they become invested in the market over time.”
Not only would making investing more approachable for young professionals create a more dialed-in and present community, but it would allow new money to enter the market and make for a more robust economy. But education isn’t everything. Demystifying the financial world is only half the battle. Once the rules become clear, would-be real estate investors also need the appropriate liquidity an opportunity to invest. Between the enormous cost of down payments, and the prohibitive nature of large minimum investments, knowing how to invest is only helpful if there’s an infrastructure in place to utilize what assets potential investors realistically have.
“If you’re talking about traditional real estate investing, one of the biggest issues is the barrier to entry. There are 309,000 dwellings in the Vancouver [and] for the vast majority of potential investors, and people in general, it’s completely inaccessible. There aren’t too many people with a couple million dollars laying around that they can innvest. Most portfolios are considerably less than the cost of real estate in Vancouver.” This is the point in the interview where Hunter’s eyes light up as he discusses his excitement about IMBY and its potential to democratize real estate in much the same way Uber did for rideshare, and Airbnb with hotels. “People are being exposed to this concept and asset class that was previously exclusive only to people with tons and tons of money. IMBY enables anyone to start investing by making the minimum investment $1.00[…] IMBY invites almost anyone to participate in an asset class that has been very exclusive for a long time.” Here Hunter also notes that even other crowdfunding sites have lofty minimums. Mogel costs $5,000.00, Fundrise asks for $500.00. And those are the most affordable options. What’s more, a lot of platforms won’t even take your minimum unless you’re an accredited investor.
Hunter goes on to explain that up until now, the only way for non-Millionaires to participate in the investment world was either through a REIT, large groups that perform well like an index fund, or the stock market. This handcuffs investors to either tiny portfolios or diversified ones with high average risk levels. IMBY changes all of this,
“Young investors in the Vancouver market, specifically [young investors] on the IMBY platform have this incredible opportunity that no one has ever had in history. Exclusive deals and reduced barrier to entry on high yielding opportunities.”
Hunter is a firm believer in the success of real estate investment. But it’s not just a strong belief, he has the figures to back it up, “Real estate has outperformed the S&P 500 2:1 over the last 15-20 years. Investing in it undoubtedly increases your ability to have more money in your pocket and in long term savings.” He underscores the reliability of real estate investments. Unlike high risk stocks “you’re crash resistant to a certain extent. Liquidity is an asset to real estate. You don’t have to worry about people pulling out all of their money as you would in the stock market. It kind of keeps up with inflation. Real estate is very unique in that capacity.”
In addition to making real estate investment accessible by lowering barriers and demystifying the process through education, Hunter is convinced that IMBYs crowdfunding aspect is also revolutionary,
“I think IMBY is the dawn of a new future of home ownership[…] The future of crowdfunding is going to make people’s lives more free. It can free up time, it can free up money which is a major stress trigger for people. More than that, people’s ability to diversify their assets allows them to live where they want without having to worry about their personal property. People in the future will be able to live where they want while generating income from properties in high growth markets[…] There’s no need to own 100% of your own property. With 309,000 dwellings in the Vancouver market, there’s little likelihood that your dwelling will be the one with the highest growth, so why would you want to put all your eggs in that basket? [With concepts like IMBY] we’re going to see a transition of investing behaviour to a time where people will take equity out of their own home to invest in other opportunities. If you’re renting you can take out whatever you’re saving and invest in real estate with really high returns. You’ll diversify your portfolio, freeing you to live elsewhere while also capitalizing on the gains of real estate. I think [IMBY] is just an incredible idea, with the potential to do a lot of incredible things.”