Talking Strategy With AJ Hazzi: Real Estate Investor

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AJ Hazzi is a Canadian REALTOR®, entrepreneur, and investor who quickly shot to success and industry fame after launching his career at the age of 19.

We interviewed AJ to learn how he achieved his rapid success, what he’s working on now, and what’s in store for his future in 2023 and beyond.

About AJ Hazzi: A Rising Star in Canadian Real Estate

With an eye for opportunity, a passion for finding value, and a hardcore work ethic, AJ quickly established himself as a rising star in Canadian real estate.

In his first year of business as a REALTOR®, Hazzi won the Royal LePage “Rookie of the Year Award.”

In his third year, he joined RE/MAX and won the Platinum Award – placing him amongst the top 5% of agents in his market. Early success gave AJ the inspiration to make his own mark on the industry…

No stranger to adversity, AJ Hazzi launched his firm right before the subprime mortgage crisis that triggered the 2008 Great Recession. A massive decline in real estate transactions followed, creating some tough times for real estate agents in Canada.

AJ made a name for himself through those years by embracing creative deal-making. Deploying services like vendor financing, agreements for sale, and rent-to-own programs, he was able to keep transactions flowing while other agents were in complete stagnation.

As his reputation for deal-making began to spread, AJ became a magnet for buyers, sellers and especially investors in the Okanagan Valley.

Having been through multiple boom and bust cycles as an investor, real estate agent, and property manager, AJ claims to have a toolkit of solutions to thrive in any economic environment.

Q: How did you get started in the real estate industry?

After graduating high school, I started my first venture in real estate during a backpacking adventure in Australia. Collaborating with 5 buddies I was traveling with, we realized that combining our nightly hostel funds could get us an entire house for less than the sum of our individual expenses.

After getting home to Canada, I decided to run this strategy again on a 5-bedroom house in Lakeview Heights with my good friend Tyler as a business partner. Renting out that house then selling it 8 years later marked the start of my rewarding journey in real estate investment.

My dad was a big influence here. Early in my life he taught me how to identify undervalued assets, find ways to make them more appealing, and sell for a higher value. That gave me some of the confidence I needed to make my first moves on my own.

Q: How did you build your RE portfolio to more than 40 doors?

Over the years I’ve executed what’s known as the BRRRR strategy, which stands for buy, refurbish, rent, refinance, and repeat.

  • Buy a home in a great location with deferred maintenance (a fixer-upper)
  • Refurbish the home with low-hanging upgrades to improve livability and curb appeal
  • Rent to great tenants who take care of the property and pay on-time
  • Refinance at a now increased property value
  • Repeat the strategy by using your refinancing capital to acquire another property

It’s worth stating that this strategy worked great for single-family homes in low interest rate environments like we experienced between 2000 – 2008 and 2013 – 2021, but won’t necessarily work with lending costs in a high or rising interest rate environment.

Q: What are your next moves in business?

Cash Offer Canada logo in navy, teal, and lime green words

Cash Offer Canada

One of my latest ventures that I’m very passionate about is Cash Offer Canada LP, a limited partnership fund for accredited investors.

Cash Offer’s basic strategy is to pool together capital and invest into Okanagan real estate as a joint venture. Our portfolio is currently worth $15M, and we’re looking to raise an additional $5M to capture opportunities in today’s shifting market.

Cash Offer was designed for today’s market – where higher interest rates are creating a steady supply of distressed sale opportunities, and home ownership is becoming increasingly difficult for first-time buyers.

At a high level, our strategy is purchasing distressed sale properties, then making them available as rent-to-own homes for interested buyers who have been displaced from the mortgage market.

By offering instant cash offers on homes, we’re able to buy properties at significant discounts – up to 15 or 20% below the adjusted market value. We then rent the properties out as lease options on 1 to 5-year timelines – typically at a 5% premium.

By combining these 2 concepts, we’re creating a ~25% margin on each property.

We also mitigate our downsize risk due to the built in discount, the down payment from out rent-to-own buyer, and the above-market rent – which is based on the true cost of ownership.

With rent-to-own agreements, we’re able to attract great tenants who take care of the property like it’s their own, because they will eventually own the home.

As the General Partner, my job is to manage risk, produce wonderful returns, and make sure that people who rely on me for fixed income can continue doing so for years and years to come.

Whenever I see a new investment opportunity with serious potential, I run it through our partnership.

Land Assemblies

With housing costs on the rise, we’re focusing the bulk of our efforts on land assemblies in locations with latent growth potential – like the revitalization zones in Kelowna, BC.

Land assemblies refer to the process of combining multiple adjacent properties into a one large parcel of land which we then develop or redevelop.

So we acquire multiple housing sites, rezone them, then sell them or develop them ourselves into multi-family townhome and condo buildings.

This strategy helps increase Kelowna’s dwindling supply of housing, increases our property’s cash flow potential, and provides us with institutional-quality assets that can lead to multi-generational wealth for our investors.

Navigator Multimedia

Another project I’m excited about is Navigator Multimedia – a Kelowna digital marketing firm specializing in web design, branding, web & email hostings, and SEO & content marketing.

I’ve made an investment along with my business partner Rob Raybould, who is now the CEO of Navigator.

Our vision is to help small and medium-sized business owners grow and scale their businesses, while also supporting real estate agents with cutting-edge digital marketing, website design, and SEO.

We either consult on strategy and what to do, or how to best market their business. Or we offer a ‘done for you’ option where we create high-performing landing pages, PPC campaigns, and organic content that draws in leads to fill real estate pipelines with qualified buyers and sellers.

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