“It was a big gamble at the time but I had more guts than brains. Sometimes being too smart is not going to get you there. If you study things too much you’re going to miss out. If you know too much about a deal chances are you aren’t going to buy it.”

Joe Segal’s first foray into real estate came when he had a surplus $100,000 from his retail business that he used to buy a building.
And from there he’s developed a multimillion-dollar real estate portfolio. One property he bought for $600,000 is now worth $150 million, he said.
Segal looks at each project and measures the risk/reward ratio.
“If I can digest the risk I’ll take a shot and I’m entitled to the reward,” he said.
But you have to be able to make a decision, he said.
“If you can make a decision and make it quickly you’re at an advantage,” Segal said. “If you dilly-dally and your banker won’t listen to you, you’re at a disadvantage.”


Natale Bosa, the president of Bosa Development Corporation, the company behind projects like Citygate near the Telus World of Science and Newport Village in Port Moody — jumped at the chance to get involved in Citygate, buying one of the parcels in 1988.
He then bought a second piece before being offered the rest of the development.
“It was a big gamble at the time but at the time I had more guts than brains,” Bosa said.
And he was able to find a banker who would lend him the money on short notice.
“You’ve got to have a nose for it,” the 68-year-old Bosa said. “You’ve got to really believe in what you’re doing. You’ve got to feel it’s going to work. And fortunately it’s worked for me.”
And a little ignorance can be a good thing.
“Sometimes being too smart is not going to get you there,” he said.
“If you study things too much you’re going to miss out. Because if you know too much about a deal chances are you aren’t going to buy it.”


– excerpt from ‘Vancouver’s real estate moguls share trade secrets’, Vancouver Sun, 12 Apr 2012
[Hat-tip Nix]

All credit to people who know to make hay while the sun shines.
These guys were fortunate with their timing, and one of them basically admits to getting lucky with at least one ‘big gamble’.
Translating this into advice on how to behave in the current Vancouver RE market would be ridiculous. It’d be a bit like taking investment tips from somebody who’s just hit their colour five times in a row on a roulette wheel.
But we know that won’t stop some people from taking this as advice all the same; the “Be bold or move to Podunk” crowd. For many it’s attractive to know that you can make a killing in Vancouver RE by not studying things too carefully.
– vreaa

14 responses to ““It was a big gamble at the time but I had more guts than brains. Sometimes being too smart is not going to get you there. If you study things too much you’re going to miss out. If you know too much about a deal chances are you aren’t going to buy it.”

  1. Survivorship bias.

    Aspiring to be a mogul has other meanings in Vancouver. I carve moguls for breakfast.

  2. “If you can make a decision and make it quickly you’re at an advantage”

    There’s a missing word between “a” and “decision”. Guess what word Segal left out? It’s probably so obvious to him he didn’t have to say it. The fellow, from what I gather, is no idiot.

  3. The Poster Formerly Known As Anonymous

    So let’s get this straight: You become a property tycoon in a fiercely competitive world where someone will gladly take your place if you give them an inch of advantage. Then you give away your entire strategy to the general public, creating an army of competitors armed with the same knowledge as you, giving them all the same edge as you.

    Or… do you try to drum up more sales for your flagging empire by giving misdirecting advice – be brave, don’t ask too many questions, don’t look into it deeply, decide quickly, buy my product, and you too will be rich like me!!!

    Occam’s razor applies.

  4. There is a certain bias to these stories. They never interview the losers.

    Segal looks at each project and measures the risk/reward ratio.
    “If I can digest the risk I’ll take a shot and I’m entitled to the reward,” he said.
    But you have to be able to make a decision, he said.

    And I’m sure he’s made plenty of “No” decisions. It would be interesting to hear how they evaluate the current market.

    • There is a certain bias to these stories. They never interview the losers.

      No kidding. They should do a follow-up on people who have lost their shirts in RE.

      • Not possible. Cant lose money in RE

        Don’t you know prices alwasy go up

      • Nassim Taleb calls this the “survivorship bias”. Those fortunate and lucky few who came out on top of the ponzi scheme look like geniuses. They then impart their “wisdom” to others, who lap it up. Of course, we never do see the other 99% of equally qualified and savvy entrepreneurs who blew up and lost their shirts. Nobody ever interviews them or asks what they think. To the uninformed, they don’t exist.

      • Ralph Cramdown

        I’ve got a certain fondness for ‘experts’ who tell you their secrets of how to make money in real estate or the stock market. The kind who fly to faraway cities and rent hotel conference rooms that hold a few hundred people. What are they demonstrating? That their best ROI isn’t in real estate or the stock market, but plane tickets and hotel rooms. Oh, and the people who go to see those experts, I’ve got a fondness for them, too.

  5. Sounds like a story on commmercial RE…hope people won’t extrapolate to residential…

  6. central bank policy is forcing everyone to take risks just to keep up. for housing, the choice stuff has been mined already. what remains is a play on the dregs. need to look way ahead and front run or else get caught in the wake.

  7. a dialogue on ‘air space negotiation’ would seem appropriate when pondering commercial RE dealings. Land values in Vancouver have unique ‘air space’ considerations not fully appreciated by the vulgar primate boomer.

  8. Renters Revenge

    “Economist Jay Zagorsky ran a study to determine whether brains translate into riches. His conclusion? “Intelligence is not a factor for explaining wealth. Those with low intelligence should not believe they are handicapped, and those with high intelligence should not believe they have an advantage.”
    In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explored example after example of how the successful became so. He concluded that “once someone has reached an IQ of somewhere around 120, having additional IQ points doesn’t seem to translate into any measurable real-world advantage.”
    Berkshire Hathaway billionaire Warren Buffett seems to agree: “If you are in the investment business and have an IQ of 150, sell 30 points to someone else.””

    http://www.fool.com/investing/value/2009/11/03/are-you-too-smart-to-be-rich.aspx

  9. LandlordRescue.ca

    He bough a chunk of land in 1988. Now he’s selling like all the other longtime investors I know.

    The real story is how much real estate he’s buying these days. Dollars to donuts he’s not buying anything now but he’s waiting in cash for the bust. Lots of cash waiting on the sidelines.

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