Tania Wu // Ep 18 // From Literature PhD Dropout to 5-million Dollar Real Estate Portfolio

Welcome to Episode 18 of the Asian Hustle Network Podcast! We are very excited to have Tania Wu on this week's episode.

We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
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An avid traveler and has lived in Taiwan, California, Texas, and Massachusetts, she has an international perspective on the Greater Boston Real Estate Market. Tania is an active member of the Top Broker Network, National Association of Realtors, and the Asian Real Estate Association of America.

She is also the President of the Taiwan Youth Chamber of Commerce in New England, an organization committed to providing entrepreneurship education and networking for young professionals. Her real estate team has a large network of contractors, stagers, photographers, and mortgage brokers. Her online real estate platforms have 10,000+ followers.

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Transcript

Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, My name is Bryan. 

And my name is Maggie 

And we interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals.

We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.

Maggie: (00:00:23) Hi, Everyone welcome to the Asian Hustle Network Podcast. My name is Maggie

Bryan: (00:00:28) My name is Brian and we’re here, we have Tania today on the podcast and we’re super excited to have her. Tanya is a real estate investor, broker property manager and author came to United States at the age of 20, after two years in Taiwan to study English literature at the University of Texas. While, while doing her PhD at UCLA, he discovered her passion for financial freedom. After taking a few investment courses, she dropped out her PhD program to pursue a real estate career and invest in multifamily properties in the greater Boston area. 

Tania, welcome to the show!

Tania: (00:01:03) Yeah. Thank you, Bryan, for the lovely introduction. And I also wanted to thank my friend Christina Chi for connecting us. I’m very excited about the Asian Hustle Network. I watch a lot of the podcasts myself and a lot of the comments and posts and stuff like that. I’m very impressed with the, uh, the rapid growth of this space with network and just connecting entrepreneurs from all over the world. I think it’s very exciting and empowering to Asians from all different countries and different areas and to share their experiences. So, yeah. Um, so a little bit about myself. Um, so yeah, see originally from Taiwan and so I was never the kind of person that was like trained to be in business, or my parents were like regular, like 9 to 5 people. Like they, my mom was a teacher and my dad started off as an engineer and later went into sales, but then he was very much like, um, corporate kind of careers.

 

So growing up like many Asians, my belief was okay, I’m going to going through the top school and get the best grades and then to get the best job and I can have a great life and stuff like that. And so I think that in many ways, growing up in Asia, like that was pretty much similar mentality. And except that I actually was not very practical at all. Like my dream was to become a writer like growing up and I, that’s why I started English literature. And so I decided in my sophomore year when I was in Taiwan, I actually gone to the most competitive high school and college in Taiwan. And so I, I’m not sure like how many of you are kind of familiar with the edu, education system in Asia, but it’s very like half fro and very much like study, study, study and why you have this like national entrance exam offer only once a year.

 

And if you don’t do well, like you have to repeat the whole year and take the same thing again. So I come from that system was just kinda like, Oh, really disillusioned. And, but then I was like, I had this dream; I want to come to America. And then, you know, my kids can have like an easier, like I might in my mind, I think living in America is have this like high school soap opera kind of image. And I was like, Oh yeah. I want to, my kids, I had that lifestyle. So yeah, my sophomore year, I was like, okay, I want to transfer to America. I want to have the American college experience. So I actually had the college experience in Taiwan and college experience in America. And after I came here, I really had a great time. The first two years was kind of hard, like kind of transitioning.

 

Cause I didn’t kind of have the, I would say would have been easier if I came as a freshman, then I can, like, I was a junior when I came here and then it’s like, Oh, I have to apply for grad school right away, like in my junior year. So I thought it was like a lot of transitions, but at the same time, I’m very grateful because I was able to have the college experience in both countries. And so I have an academic mindset pretty much until like, um, I think it was like around age 22, age 23, I was in my PhD like that. I got into like straight out of college and I was like, huh, I feel like there was a disconnect between the things that I was learning in kind of the practical skills in the real world. And the calming was not doing so well at the time.

 

So I realized, oh, if I did the numbers of the number, there’s like 4,000 people competing for one spot in academia for like studying English literature. And I still had a really bad accident at a time. And so it’s pretty, so I decided that to pay some investment courses. And then I was really fascinated by like the, the compound interest, the concept of compound interest and how like you use money to like work for you, like money works for you 24 hours. Instead of like, you know, we only have so many hours, we have to sleep and eat, you know, and there’s so much limitation to what we can do, but then by leveraging like the compound interest and we can do so much more. So that’s when I decided to look into like different kinds of investments and decided that real estate was the most powerful and easiest way for average people to accumulate net worth and kind of turn their life around because of the opportunity to leverage our down payment, to buy more properties in magnified the return. So I decided to drop out of my PhD program in my second year and then just get my real estate license. And I would say I live in Texas and California and then moved to Boston. And so kind of have like various perspectives and I myself enjoy travels a lot. So I like every time I go to a new country, like whether it’s Europe or different parts of Asia, like check all the real estate markets and those areas. And I just like to like, kind of learn about like different markets.

   

Bryan: (00:05:54) We trace it back a bit. What did your parents say when you decided to drop out your PhD to your real estate license?

Maggie: (00:06:00) Yeah. Because I’m assuming none of your family members are in real estate, right. Or are they, did they like know very little about, you know, investing into real estate or just, you know, the field in general? So what did they have to say when you were like, okay, I’m going to drop out of my PhD to pursue in real estate, you know?

Tania: (00:06:15) Yeah. Honestly, my, my dad was not a typical Asian that like very beginning, he was like, Oh yeah, you want to study English Literature, go for it. Like you should pursue a passion. And actually when I wanted to drop out and say, I’m going to do something, he’s like, Oh; well don’t give up so easily. You see like you’re a woman, you should try to just become a teacher. You know, he imagined this easy light. And I was like, no, it’s not like you can’t get a job or something.

 

So yeah, I think my parents were kind of surprised, but, um, I think that they were very supportive. Like, cause they always believe like whatever I’m really passionate about. Like there’s no way like kind of dissuading from doing that. So growing up, I’ve always been like very, just kinda intense, like in, of like pursuing the things that I wanted and actually coming to America. My parents didn’t want me to come to America at all. So I actually took the SATs secretly without telling my parents in my sophomore year. I probably to like, oh, Taiwan is great. Why do you have to go to America? I wasn’t. But whole family sit together like, cause the Asian ideas, like the family is like really close and stuff like that. So I think it was actually very hard for my parents that I, I came to America, but I just feel like it’s kind of a calling that, um, I want to build a different life and I believe that’s really sort of at the core of a lot of Asian entrepreneurs, is this desire, you know, maybe certain dissatisfaction, dissatisfaction like the corporate system or like some race or, but I think that nor should is really a powerful tool for many people to kind of like overcome all kinds of social and cultural and financial barriers to achieve their dreams.

 

Bryan: (00:07:55) Definitely just out of curiosity too, like, you know, you mentioned earlier that, you know, your dad had a perception of what career should a woman take and we’re kind of curious about that. I mean, has there been any sort of barriers or any, any, any situations inside of your real estate career that you felt like, you know, you were at a disadvantage or no one took you seriously? Like you have those situations like that where, you know, I don’t want to say like, like this, cause you’re a woman, you know, but you know, obviously real estate is a very male dominated field and what your dad told you to, like, what are you, what kind of challenges do you face in real estate as in the real, like a really prominent, strong real estate women? Like, well, how did you overcome that?

 

Maggie: (00:08:37) Yeah. And just to add on top of that, I think, um, you know, Brian brings up a great point. There is a glass ceiling or the bamboo ceiling; they call it in the Asian culture, right? And I think it doesn’t apply to only corporations, it applies to industries, every type of industry. So very curious, you know, did you ever have any instances you did notice some things that happened to you because you were a woman or a member of a minority as an Asian?

Tania: (00:09:04) Yeah. I think these are good questions. I will say that from my standpoint, I don’t feel like there’s some specifically discrimination, like at least in the real estate sales industry in the real estate investment world discrimination against being Asian or a female, but there’s, I think discrimination against like young people, cause like sometimes like people, you know, they might feel like, Oh, you look really young.

 

I think I experienced it more in my earlier years. I don’t think I have much of that this days, but um probably because I’m getting old now, but yeah, when I was first getting into it, um, I did feel that, um, like sometimes people feel, oh, you’re really young and stuff like that. How am I been doing this? But then, you know, once you prove that you have that experience level and track record and you like, oh wow, you do know a lot of cool things and people actually become more impressed with that. And actually I think that that’s one of the wonderful things about like, um, the real estate industry is that I think that there’s no discrimination against like your accent or your gender and stuff like that. I think that because real estate is a kind of world where you’re hired based on your knowledge.

 

And also like when you make deal, people are looking at the numbers, people looking at, you know, what you’re saying, and you know, the property and things like that. So I actually think that even the fact that I have a foreign accent and sometimes I think it asked to like some sort of advantage, cause like in the Boston market, like sometimes there’s a perception that, you know, foreign Asians are like, like come from rich families or like cash rich or something. So like when you go to open house or like people, oh yeah, yeah, sure. You know, very excited, like in the real estate industry, there’s probably like putting Asians on a pedestal. I thought was, was I liked that because I feel that, you know, in the corporate world, like you heard stories all the time, like Asian getting Passover for opportunities, but in the real estate’s probably the opposite.

 

And I will say that females probably have an advantage in terms of negotiations. Cause like, you know, we’re usually like, well time can just be more tactful or people would just think, oh yeah, people kind of like let down that guard, like not really as aggressive when they negotiate with females. So I think that there’s different ways in which we could work with the gender dynamics to our advantage. And that’s saying that males don’t have advantages, but they just have a different dynamic that they can work with. But I think that I like real estate that we can in real estate, we can just kind of work with different things and different personal attributes to really

 

Maggie: (00:11:38) well. I’m glad that you are able to see it from that perspective because I think that not a lot of people can see it from that perspective and you can see those advantages and opportunities that you can possibly get as a woman, as an Asian woman, you know? So, um,

Bryan: (00:11:53) I’m curious too about like, when you first got into real your real estate career, they say the statistic is, but the dropout rate for your first year of being a real estate agent is super high because there’s a lot of work upfront. It’s not as easy as you think it is. Like, how would you overcome these first challenges and what was your first business transaction like? And you’re like, Oh wow. I did it. This is a career that I want to go get into kick butt out of here, get to the top, which you are at the top. I, what was that first stepping stone light and like going to real estate?

 

Tania: (00:12:23) Yeah. Um, I feel like in my earlier years I sort of leveraged like, cause some, and again, that probably goes into the idea that having international perspective or background experiences could be really helpful. But when I got first started in the business, I leveraged a lot of the cause I went to, um, like the most prestigious university in Taiwan. So I leveraged the alumni network actually that there was alumni from overworld and, um, a lot, a lot of those in Boston. So at first, I leveraged those connections and there’s a lot of people who did really well that they invest in real estate for decades and the bill low net worth. So I’m like I help these people buy more properties. And for some buyers, a lot of them, when they came to Boston, they were like, Oh yeah, you know, Tania went to the same school as me and Tania is also from Taiwan, Tania.

 

So I think there’s a lot of that like in the earlier years. But then as I grew in my career, my clientele actually became very diverse. I worked with many non-Asians, you know, like in the later years. So I think that probably on the lucky side, like for, for me, cause I know that a lot of real estate agent, when they first started out, maybe they didn’t necessarily have those connections, but I would definitely encourage others that if they want to go into real estate, try to look into the unique niche that they have and turn those niche into like their sort of baseline clientele. And then from there just build more and more experiences and go from there.

 

Bryan: (00:13:55) I mean, that’s, that’s really good advice, you know, like people just starting out into real estate as well, like leverage network that you have already. And that’s exactly what you did. You know, you reach into your alumni network, really establish your name. You did a kick butt job and you started diversifying. That’s a great tip for people just starting out as a real estate agent, you know, let’s help them see your investment side. At what point inside your real estate career did beat you. Did you start thinking, you know, should start buying some investment properties and what was the process like for you?

 

Tania: (00:14:26) Yeah. So I think after I started taking investment courses, I just had this idea that, oh yeah; I got to buy investment properties. And so I started investing in real estate in 2015. That was actually when I bought my first home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is Harvard, MIT are located. So like the market was super-hot. I mean, it still is. But, um, at the time I was like, oh, seeing the rapid. I was like, oh yeah; I shouldn’t invest more in this area because I saw the value of my own home go out a lot. So I actually, um, because I also have a lot of savings and stuff like that working in real estate and I just decided, okay, I’m going to refinance my home and, and then put towards the, the down payment of the next home. So it kind of went from there.

 

And so I refinanced a few times and then the like, and then afterwards I started buying multifamily cause I was thinking, yeah, I’m only family. You can leverage the higher union account, same roof and um, and then the numbers will go better that way. So, um, so yeah, that was kind of how I started.

Bryan: (00:15:30) Wow. That was awesome to hear.

Maggie: (00:15:32) Yeah. I’m very curious. You know, did you, when you decided to go into real estate, you know, did you have any, um, I know you dropped out of your PhD to go into real estate, but did you have any sort of setbacks in terms of your mindset like, Oh, I’m going to go just 100% into real estate or did you, were you like already getting your real estate license while you were doing your PhD?

Bryan: (00:15:56) Yeah, what sparked the real estate? How did idea come about?

Maggie: (00:16:01) Yeah coz for AHN, a lot of our members, you know, we have a lot of members who want to be aspiring entrepreneurs, but they’re very afraid to make that first jump, right? And they’re either in the situation where they’re, you know, thinking about dropping out of school and going into their side business or they are thinking about leaving their nine to five and going into their side business full time. So I’m very curious about your mindset at that time and you know, what was your mentality at that time? Or if you were just like very confident, you know what, I’m just going to put 100% into real estate and just, you know, leave my PhD behind.  

Tania: (00:16:36) Yeah. I feel like when I first started, so I dropped out and I just took some time off. I decided to just study for my license and I think got my license within a couple of weeks, but um it was definitely scary, I have at that time and I knew that the real estate agent career had a very high failure rate in the beginning and so my said was it’s not like buying a franchise where you dropping down 300 thousand dollars and being a real estate agent is technically I just spend 500 dollars getting that license and that’s it. And if I failed I would just try different, different business anyways. So I feel like the stake was not very high and also I was really young at the time. So I, for me it was scary. But at the same time, I also feel like I knew what it was getting into. I decided to take that risk. It wasn’t easy because I think that for many agents starting out, like obviously they have to have lots to prove. So they have to like did, this did that. But at the same time, I think I was also lucky in the sense that, because I was also buying my first home and I bought my investment property. And so people saw that you actually preaching, like you’re preaching what you teaching. So I’m sorry, the English expression didn’t say it right. But anyways, just the idea that you’re kind of doing what you’re sharing with people, so

 

Bryan: (00:17:59) Yeah, how do you say the expression in Taiwanese?

Tania: (00:18:02) what’s that? 

Bryan: (00:18:03) how do you say that same expression in Taiwanese?

 

Tania: (00:18:04) I don’t think there’s any sort of, that’s why I mess it up. And actually later, since I’m working on my memoir, which is going to be published next year, I can probably read the first chapter for my book where I share my experience, like buying my first apartment building. So you guys can be one of my first readers.

Maggie: (00:18:25) I would love to learn more about your book. Um, you know, can you talk a little bit more about the book and you know, what type of stories and you know, what we can expect from the book and when that’s going to be coming out?

Tania: (00:18:38) Yeah. So, um, I got a lot of questions from my career. People asking me, why did you go into real estate? And actually you were a former literature major. Like that’s such a huge difference between there’s such a huge difference between literature and real estate.

 

So why did you do that? And because I got asked these questions so many times that I started to think, okay, maybe it’s time to turn this idea into a book. People might find that interesting. And actually, I haven’t say like, even my journey to America itself, like when I first came to America, I was in Texas, which is like the exact opposite of Taipei, which is my hometown where nobody like very few people drive in Taipei. Cause like public transportation system was so good. Like when you, I live on the 13th floor, apartment complex and many units. And like, when I want to get my hair done, I just go downstairs. There’s like a hair salon like downstairs and I just, okay, I’m going to get my hair done at 2:00 PM and take the elevator and go up and go back upstairs. And then downstairs like grocery stores.

 

And then the park was like three minutes, walk away, away from my home. And then Southern was like three minutes’ walk as well as everything is I super close and Post office and everything you possibly need. It’s like within that five minute walk of everything, it’s very dense. So like when I came to Texas, I was like, oh, because I didn’t know how to drive. So I was like, Oh, I couldn’t get anywhere. So I have to like, you know, you, all my friends like driving around blasting their country music, like various like singing festivals and stuff like that. So it was kind of an interesting cultural experience. And because I was English major, almost obviously had a pretty bad accent at the time. And most of my classmates were white. So I just thought, oh, I was different from everyone. But then at the same time, I feel like, because in the sense I feel lucky to come to America as an adult because I didn’t go through like sort of the younger, like in elementary school, all people like a lot of Asian American friends told me, Oh, when I was in elementary school, when people make squinty eyes or like, whatever, just stuff like that.

 

And for me, I’m sure people think funny things about me too, when I had like pretty bad accent. They didn’t say anything about it because they were all adults in college. So luckily I was spared from that kind of taunting. So I actually decided I’m going to market myself as this cool Asian kid who’s different from everyone.

 

Yeah. So yeah. I just thought it was interesting and professors were like, Oh yeah, you right very interesting. He had very interesting perspective, like a paper cause like you’re, you know, growing up in Taiwan, we study a lot about Confucianism and light different Chinese classical literature. So like just kind of approaching literature from my different perspective and stuff like that. And like when I couldn’t finish my assignment, because when I couldn’t keep up with the heavy readings in English and that is like, okay, first class, which I’m sure a lot of people do, but yeah, I love my experiences like Taiwan to America and how I ultimately came to asert myself because when I first came to America, I want to be an Asian American. I want to lose my accent and I really hated my accent. But then after over 10 years in America, I still had an accent. You know, what actually is time to just accept the fact that I have an accent, but it’s great because it’s kind of like a signature, it was something and I’m from Taiwan and that’s an opportunity to tell stories. So I started to ascend myself like pretty much like a few years after I came to America and I realized, oh, you know, like we’re all different in different voices and different perspectives.

 

Bryan: (00:22:24) Yeah. I really liked the fact that you are taking more pride in with your Asian heritage, you know, like the fact that you’re like, you know, this is a cool thing. That’s I just feel that I feel like that’s how a lot of us are feeling right now. Like it’s cool to be Asian right now. And we’re no longer ashamed our heritage, we actually want to own up to and learn more about it. You know, it’s becoming more mainstream, which is a great thing, which is the reason why we’re pushing priorities podcast is to happen because you want to amplify voices like yourself and that are successful. It is our time to make a difference.

 

Maggie: (00:22:55) Yeah and very similar to your story. I think a lot of Asian Americans feel the same way that they were, you know, ashamed to be Asian when they were younger. Asians around the world, they were ashamed to be Asian, but it’s more so accepted in Asia obviously, but yeah. Yeah. But now that we’re grown up, it’s like, we are proud to be Asian and I’m so glad you see it in a way where, you know, you’re proud to have your accent. I think it’s really important for us to have those, those traits and those characteristics that define who we are.

 

Bryan: (00:23:27) Yeah, definitely. I love the fact that you combine the best of your both worlds. You know, you spend a lot of time studying English and now you’re using you, making your use of it. You know, you’re using your English abilities, write your book in real estate. And I love that. I love when that happens too, because I feel like as an entrepreneur like, all your past experiences, you’ll draw upon them to get to the next level. It doesn’t matter what you did in the past. It’ll come in handy one day, you now. So I really love that. You’re combining both worlds and I guess for like the next segment of podcast, we do want to talk a little more about your real estate investments and what kind of tips and advice can you give all of us. Um, can you kind of walk us through some of your investments that you make, like some of the numbers we’re looking at per se, how do you dictate labs, the neighborhood that you want to invest in and what’s like ROI and IRR that you’re typically looking for instead of apartment investing?

 

Tania: (00:24:21) Yeah. I want to say that it really depends on the person’s goals because a lot of people go into real estate. They look at cash flow because they want to retire. They want to make sure that, you know, after you paid that say 20, 25% or 20% is the typical amount that people put down. A lot of people want to cash flow a certain number after the mortgage is paid off. And, but then those properties tends to be like in the low, in the higher cap rate and lower demand areas and where someone’s as higher risk profile in terms of the kind of tenants you get, because um a lot of  times, um, the reason why it’s cheap it’s because it’s lower demand. So that’s also one thing to consider. And whereas like in Boston, like in the more desirable neighborhoods where you’re going to see bidding wars and then multiple offers, even during COVID, like March and April, I was getting like multiple offers for a lot of properties that I was working with. I was actually surprised myself. I was like, oh, come on. This is COVID while we still having the like all these light bidding wars, then in those areas, you’re lucky to get like even 45% cap rate, but then at the same time as also lower risk profile, because, um, like when you see that even during COVID and it’s still getting pretty steady rent and the kind of tenants that you work with, tend to be people who go to Harvard or MIT or like young professionals and they’ll see areas then also still have like people buying in those neighborhoods and you’re going to get low cap rate and, um, 

 

Bryan: (00:25:56) Can we know what is low, a cap rate or what is the cap rate? Can you explain to them?

 

Tania: (00:26:00) Yeah, the cap rate is, um, the, the rent, the rent ratio and the purchase price. So I am also minus the, uh, profit management expense and the, uh, various expense and stuff like that.

Bryan: (00:26:16) Okay. Yeah. That’s, that’s cool. That’s pretty cool. How you started picking the property that you want to invest into. And you’re absolutely right. You know, the property is usually a higher cash and cash return or higher ROI, more than likely it’s going to be in a, a C or D neighborhood, which, or you listeners that don’t know what that is. That means, um, uh, neighborhoods that are, are most desirable for investors Uh, but if you offer the best returns, you have to keep in mind that these neighborhoods, even though they offer really good returns, your repair costs, it will be very high and frequent. So it’s something you have to be well aware of, but yeah,

 

Tania: (00:26:58) I want to share, so I have a friend, like in his seventies, actually one of my early mentors, he like ball like millions of dollars real estate like from when he was younger. And now they’re all like tens of millions of dollars’ worth. And so he shared with me that in the early years, he didn’t actually know which areas were going to appreciate most. So he messes a lot in the sort of why you call the C and D neighborhoods and a lot also in those sort of class, a class B neighborhoods. And, and what he found was that over the course of 30 years, the ones that were in those class C and D and neighborhoods because of a lawsuit he had to deal with, and the tenants is not paying rent and stuff like that, even this is kind of like a cautionary tale.

 

Cause a lot of times, um, the seller side, they sell it pretty well like, oh, you know, 8% cap rate, 90% capital leave market, like magically. Very amazing. But I’m actually the, a lot of times you’re working with a core and in Massachusetts pro-tenant states. So it’s difficult to start the eviction process and if the tenants don’t pay rent. So he actually found that over the course of 30 years, the ones that in the class A and B neighborhoods have appreciated and had the most return. So, um, so yeah, he actually, his son was the one who shared that with me. So, but of course like history doesn’t always necessarily repeat itself, but it just something that we, we can reference

 

Bryan: (00:28:23) Yeah. It’s a huge discussion his own, own rights.

 

Maggie: (00:28:27) are you, um, currently investing only in the Boston area or are you investing in out-of-state properties as well?

 

Tania: (00:28:32) Yeah, so currently I, I only invest in the Cambridge area, but, um, I actually like look at neighborhoods from many parts of the world, like before I, um, like invested in each properties. And also obviously whenever I go to Taiwan, I look at the properties there as well, different areas and always taking on new opportunities. But, um, for me, the reason not that I discount all the neighborhoods because I actually think there are many markets in the world they’re worth looking at. But personally, the reason why I invested in my local market was because I build my property management team. And I decided that I could leverage the proximity of the properties, like in terms of manage, management and also managing my client’s property. So I decided to combine those and, um, and the bill, um, bill,

 

Bryan: (00:29:22) I love your resourcefulness. You know, you’re always building on top of things that you gained you’re off the ground, your journey.

 

Maggie: (00:29:27) Yeah. I mean, so on top of being a real estate investor or broker as an author, you know, while we’re on the topic now you’re also a property manager and would love to know, you know, how you got into property management, you know, what that process looks like.

 

Tania: (00:29:42) Yeah. So I think the property management is critical for anybody who aspires to be a landlord. And I always encourage my clients that if you’re buying your first one or two properties, it’s best to manage it yourself actually. And the reason for that is because then you get to learn the process and understand what it’s like to work with contractors and how much things cost and what it’s like to work with the tenants directly and how to manage those relationships. And so I encourage people to build their own property management, like my system, and when people start to build more and more units that I think that it’s great to kind of combine our resources, leverage economy of skill, like, okay. Yeah. Obviously we don’t have time to manage 10 units, 20 units, 30 units. So we start to build what we call like departments or just different like division of labors and the people in charge of, you know, like this part of the property management or like, like kind of pass waters or different things where like least managers and stuff like that. So yeah, I think that property management is actually a good skill for anybody who wants to be landlords and yeah, like in terms of cutting costs and those are learning the basics.

 

Bryan: (00:30:57) Yeah. That’s awesome to hear. And you know, we understand that you do have a real estate portfolio of $5 million. That’s really impressive. What does this portfolio comprise of, are they all apartments? Are they single family houses? Are they, like you mentioned before the houses around the world, like how are you breaking these, your portfolio down?

 

Tania: (00:31:19) Yeah. So actually when I first started out, because I sort of started in the traditionally the higher price market, the market of Cambridge, I actually only bought condo. So I bought two condos in my life, 2015 and 2016. And then once I have more capital and resources, also the landlord history I started, I bought my first apartment building is a free unit, free family in Cambridge. And actually right after I bought that building, they knocked down this like library and then build a really large library in those schools and office buildings and stuff like that. So it was a rapidly developing neighborhood. It’s like double digit appreciation. Um, and then after that, I also continued to work with Asia and obviously like, um, various, um, gigs and then followed my second free family also in Cambridge actually that was like a five minute walk from where I lived.

 

So I think that I, early on, I had a more conservative mindset that I wanted to kind of, you know, consolidate the properties, but I definitely, I’m definitely open to like expanding, like towards different partisan, like diversification and stuff like that. But I just feel like early on, I, I had this idea that the first 5 million should be like in the sort of conservative and then you have your base and then once you have that then can works for as a, you know, what you call it a class C or D, but like definitely just different levels of risk mitigations at different stages of our careers.

 

Bryan: (00:32:52) I agree. I think if I can own a couple units in Cambridge, I’ll do the same thing. I kind of have an understanding of Cambridge is not a cheap area, very similar, one of the most expensive markets out there. So congratulations on that.

 

Maggie: (00:33:08) So we also know that you are the president of the Taiwan youth chamber of commerce on New England, which is an organization committed to providing entrepreneurship, education and networking for young professionals. And so we’d love to know your involvement with them, you know, how you became president and what type of things you guys are working on over there.

Tania: (00:33:27) Yeah. So I actually started by attending a lot of the events hosted by MTYCCNE because I’m like, I think I just lied to, and that will where people and meeting new people. And I also feel that being the Taiwanese, um, I would like to get back to this community as well, so that this community definitely has a lot of people from Taiwan or just people who have been living here for a while or born and raise here. So, um, so initially I just kind of saw this organization as a way of networking.

 

And then since I attended pretty much every event above this organization, so actually the previous president, Amy, Amy, she invited me to be the next president and actually just last year. So, um, so that’s how I became the president. And we actually, we had a lot of events like, you know, pitching ideas and we have funding’s from the, uh, the, uh, Tony’s business association, which is sort of older generation immigrant community that they they’ve been living here for a long time. And they did really provide a funding to help with the, uh, chamber organization. So we had a lot of fun events that we plan and hosted and also invite different speakers of the community to share the experience. And actually, I think be right before COVID we hosted this event where we invited this franchise owner to share his franchise experience. I think he had like multiple franchises. So he was just telling us about like how he bought franchises and how he got good deals and in how various aspects of the operation. But I think it’s a great opportunity for young entrepreneurs to just be exposed to people who are like seasoned investors or franchise owners.

 

Bryan: (00:35:09) And I guess, I guess one of the biggest takeaways from our entire interview right now, it’s, you know, I feel like if you’re, if you’re focused your abilities on one thing, get really good at that. It’s very transferable to everything because what they say is if you do one thing well you do everything well, and I feel like that’s the case of you, you know, she came from a very strong academic background, you’re a PhD. You did that really well. And now you’re like, okay, how can I focus my, the same energy in other things? And because you did one thing, so, well, you have your parents’ confidence that if whatever you choose to do, you’re going to do it really well. You know, I think that’s a gateway for all of us listening here is your life would not follow like the path that you intended to be most of the time, but both as yourself as growing the skills, having discipline, having a vision, being determined, being greedy, you know, that’s very transferrable to any else that she used to do in the future. And that’s one of the key points of like convincing your parents that picking an unconventional path is the right path to go. You know coz you have like your confidence to begin with and whatever you choose to do, they fully believe that you’ll be successful. And that’s what I got away from this interview.

 

Maggie: (00:36:23) Yeah. I agree. Um, you know, just hearing your story, it’s incredibly inspirational. You know, like Bryan said, I feel like you’ve taken, you know, experience your experiences and you’ve applied, you know, those good habits to every point of your life. And now you’re, you know, building out your own story, I’m putting that to paper and sharing that with all of your general audience. I think that’s really inspirational. And so, you know, we’d love to ask, you know, what type of advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur they can be, you know, in the real estate business or they can just be an aspiring entrepreneur in general and would love to know your advice for them.

Tania: (00:36:57) Yeah. Um, so for me, I think that, um, one of the advice piece of advice I can give to people is whatever business that you’re trying to undertake, um, try to talk to as many people as possible, who did that business and do really well. Cause I, early on in my career actually try many different businesses. I may have lost money or just didn’t make money, waste my time and things like that. So I did various things, but at the same time, I’m very grateful for all the success and the failures that I had because we can all learn from like different kinds of businesses. And I think I like also like people who try to like diversify their business experience in real estate is one kind of investment, but there’s also many different kinds of investments and the learn different kinds of entrepreneurs. And I think any in the end; we’re all kind of have the same mindset. Like we’re very positive and you know, we try to overcome like obstacles. So I definitely think that learning from people like done it or, um, like more recent in the industries is very helpful of it.

 

Maggie: (00:38:04) Yeah. That’s very important. Especially in our community in AHN too. I feel like as Asians, we tend to not want to get help from other people. And it’s like, well, most of the time it’s from our parents telling us like, you know, just focus on yourself and you know, you don’t need help from anyone else, but in actuality, we do need help from everyone. And the more help we can get from everyone else and the more help we give to everyone else, that’s how, we’re going to succeed together. So we’ll have that. That’s very sound advice, um, for our listeners. How can we learn more about you, Tania?

 

Tania: (00:38:36) Um, so yeah, I’m very excited to share with you guys, the book that I’m writing. And I started writing about two months ago and trying to commit to a few like one or two chapters per week and working with an editor and recently got an offer from a publisher. So I will read the first chapter of the fully, if you guys want.

Maggie: (00:38:58) that would be amazing. Yeah. I would love that. Do we have an estimated timeline of the, of the book?

Tania: (00:39:08) Um still, so let’s see, it’s gonna bring up the chapter here.

 

Bryan: (00:39:13) you hear that guys, you get a bonus chapter. I love it.

 

Maggie: (00:39:19) Yeah. And while Tania is pulling that up, um, any social media handles you’d like to share with us, Tania?

 

Tania: (00:39:26) the social media handles?

 

Maggie: (00:39:29) Yeah. I mean Instagram or LinkedIn where people can reach out to you and learn more about you?

Tania: (00:39:35) Yeah. So I have my real estate website, taniarealestate.com. So with my upside that has a lot of blog articles that I show people, like all the things that you need to know about, like for some home buyers or the Boston real estate markets, or even just the basics of being oh, sorry. Is the phone disconnected? Oh, okay. Perfect. So yeah, on various resources where people would want to be landlords and, um, different real estate stuff. So the blog articles I wrote, um, and then also my LinkedIn Tania Wu as well as my Instagram as well, Tania Wu Boston and also my Facebook Tania. So everything basically.

 

Maggie: (00:40:19) Great. Amazing. All right. We will leave those links in our show notes for this podcast, but it was amazing hearing your story, Tania, and thank you so much for being on today’s podcast show.

 

Bryan: (00:40:31) Wait, are we still gonna get the bonus from Tania?

 

Maggie: (00:30:32) Yeah, we are. Yeah, yeah I think she’s pulling it up.

 

Bryan: (00:40:37) Okay.

 

Tania: (00:40:38) Great. Great. So I have the chapter here. Um, so I’ll just start reading. So yeah, the first chapter is, uh, the experience of buying my first apartment building. I haven’t named the chapter yet. So, um, you guys are welcome to provide any feedback and stuff like that. So the setting was in Boston 2016. I walk into a room full of middle aged white men with suits. I was buying an apartment building that called seven figures in US dollars. Before I enter that room, I was turned down by 20 banks that refuse to finance this investment. The reasons were insufficient income and lack of capital. A 26 year old girl from Taiwan. I was a literature PhD dropout turn away from every job I applied for just a year ago and had no real estate background, before I got my license. I survey the room in the center of the room was a white marble table.

 

Sitting at the head of a table was a chubby man with glasses. Next to him was a tall bold men with a polished shirt will look like his psychic, shit. I can’t believe what I’m just getting myself into. I felt myself feeling like an alien who was selling from onto a different planet, a petite Asian girl with a baby face. I probably looked the same age as the men’s teenage daughters. Hi, Freddie, it was very nice to finally meet you. I said, formally shaking. The hand of the clan leader ready was a point of contact among his partners who purchased this building before they wanted to sell all the units as condos. I offered to buy the whole building because I had the business vision that I believe would change life forever. My plan would generate much higher returns than selling these units as condos. No one believe in my business move at the time.

 

Almost everyone thought that I was about what I was about to do, including taking a six figure loan on that project was crazy and risky. My husband, Chris thought we couldn’t execute this idea due to a lack of capital and reserves. I walk into the deal anyways, dragging Chris into it. Every superhero or heroine must have a psychic to look powerful. Given my lack of actual psychic at the time Chris would have to do besides having a 33 year old white dude with a beard on my team made me look older, 30 single and not to me at a time. It’s nice to put your face, your voice together sets right before sitting down and pulling out a sheet of paper, thing here we think planning and investment of this nature for a long time. I said, smugly slouching over the chair with my legs spread wide open.

 

The persona I was trying to project was swag, relaxed and in control. The more unlikely was seen as qualified buyers. The more confident with most appear. Chris I’ll do excited. Chris, we have discussed your rather creative plan to buy the whole building. I just want to go over several moving pieces. That’s hold all the LLC, taxes, our plan B’s. If this appraisal falls through and I’ll plan C’s for the worst case scenario, Freddie went on. Let me remind you of the strength of our investors. I said slowly and deliberately and begin my pitch. The reality was the quote unquote investors didn’t exist yet, but I believe my business proposal was so compelling. I will eventually secure the fund to finance the seven figure project before the transactions closed. Despite the fact that I heard nothing but rejection from banks, up to that point. The Boston real estate market in 2016 was booming and competitive for buyers, new buildings and developments as we’re going up like spring bamboo, hordes of investor from China, flooded the area to buy investment properties at open houses and showings full of chattering Asians.

 

It at times feels like a Chinese supermarket every week. We’ll dress agents with their do our handbags and portions visited these properties for sale. Some were buying properties every week. While I was walking down the street of the field development project, a white young man nearby taunted, buy the whole fucking block, despite the racial stereotypes in the Boston real estate scene. I was not one of these rich Asians; no one in my family had any real estate experience. Both of my parents had 9 to 5 jobs and I was the first my family to pursue a real estate career. Nevertheless, I knew the white man sitting at the marble table didn’t know this many in real estate think of the foreign Chinese as cash rich. And I leveraged that to instill confidence, clearly having to quote unquote, make it as a former foreign students study English literature had a lot to do with real estate sales and negotiations later. I used to speak eloquently in class about my opinions on weight expectations. When I didn’t read the book due to being a foreign student who couldn’t keep up with a heavy English readings, I would read summaries of the book, proves the first sentence of every chapter. Pick a few random brake hose, and then talk just as confidently in class, as students who are native speakers, who seem to have read more of a book than me. I learned to quickly gather information with laser sharp precision identify arguments that compel people and spreading out in 30 minutes and 30 seconds.

 

I’m so concerned that you overseas capital won’t arrive in time. We have to stick to our timetable because our partners are paying carrying costs. Our first contractors took our deposit over a hundred K and ran off. Nelson was supposed to charge at cause and get equity in the deal. But he ended up charging to book calls to get paid more. Freddie went on his psychic model, shamelessly, you’re in very good hands. We’re a family business and we have done this before. We’ve never had a deal fall through. I wasn’t lying a year ago, Chris and I purchased our first home and we were family. When I made a statement like that, the facts backed up no matter how inconsequential. Freddie, I know this all sounds conventional, but plan B’s and C’s were already what I had in mind, we could pull it off. Chris added staring Freddie in the eye.

 

Freddie went on with the logistics. At that point, I knew he was going to sell the building to us despite multiple offers, a month later, Chris and I have walked away from the closing table with a deed of this building. That was my first apartment building. I ended up convincing one of the mortgage companies Freddie referred to finance the deal. Within two years, Chris and I ended up making back the money we raised and invested plus additional profits. The purchase became my foundation for subsequent real estate ventures. Some similar, some different, investors impressed with the deals that I did work with me in one transaction after another, my career took off from there, the building I bought in 2016 was a life changing deal. I went from the unemployed literature, PhD, dropout to entrepreneur, with over 5 million worth of assets under my name within five years. Most people these days knew me as a social modify and true business woman. Many did not know that I used to be a completely different person. So that’s the end of this chapter.

 

Bryan: (00:47:39) Wow. That’s amazing. Yeah, Yeah, of course. Yeah. We appreciate the preview of the book. We’re super excited too. And you know, especially when it comes out, we’ll be there to support you by chap, by a book

 

Maggie: (00:48:03) Love it. Well, we’re very excited for all the great things that are happening for you, Tania, and we’re very excited for your book. Those are incredible hearing your story. Thank you so much for being on today’s podcast.

 

Bryan: (00:48:15) Yeah, we appreciate Tania.

 

Tania: (00:48:16) me too.

 

Bryan: (00:48:17) Awesome. Thank you.

 

Maggie: (00:48:19) Great.

 

Bryan: (00:48:20) have a great one.

 

Tania: (00:48:21) Okay, you too. Bye.

 

Bryan: (00:48:22) Bye.

 

Outro: [00:48:24] Hey guys, we hope you enjoy this episode. Please subscribe to the show.

 

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