Partnering with like-minded people makes Alture Properties a success
July 28, 2012 | In the News
By Emily Rose for Canadian Immigrant
May 3, 2012
Immigrating to Canada can be a turbulent period for many. In addition to adjusting to a new culture and language, new immigrants often face obstacles when starting a new career and trying to succeed financially. “A lot of new immigrants figure they can come over here [with] some capital, invest in a business and just work there seven days a week, 10 hours a day,” says Rinco Chan, a real estate investor and award-winning realtor. “Oftentimes it works, but it’s a very difficult lifestyle.”
Chan, his wife Wendy Cheung and brother-in-law Peter Cheung, know all too well about difficulties faced by new immigrants. Originally from Vietnam, siblings Peter and Wendy spent a year in a refugee camp in Hong Kong before being sponsored by a church mission and arriving in Canada in 1980. They met Chan here in high school, who is originally from Hong Kong. “We didn’t choose Canada. Canada chose us,” Chan says. “We are glad our parents made the choice to come to Canada, and are so grateful for their decisions and sacrifices.” In 1982, they all moved to Vancouver, and over the next two decades worked hard in the business, investment and technology industries. “We learned from our parents that work ethics are important,” says Wendy. “Our expectation of ourselves is high.”
In 2004, they attended a real estate seminar. “That’s when a light bulb came to me,” says Peter, “and I started taking notice of real estate.” Buoyed by strong demand and low interest rates, the housing market was booming. Sensing the opportunity, they founded Peak Performance Investments. Over the next four years, they bought and sold residential property, eventually building more than $25 million in real estate assets. Peter, an active Real Estate Investment Network (REIN) member, won player of the year in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 for having the highest real estate acquisitions. Wendy and Chan are now award-winning realtors. Wendy is also a member of the top five per cent Medallion Club and the recipient of several REIN awards.
In 2011, they launched Alture Properties, a company that invests and manages real estate projects for investors through tax-deferred accounts such as RRSPs, RESPs or tax-free savings accounts. Minimum investments of $10,000 are pooled and used to acquire rental apartment buildings in established and growing urban areas throughout Canada. Apartments are then subject to improvements, converted into condominiums and sold individually. A typical project takes six to 12 months, and investments are structured to provide investors with an annualized return of 15 per cent or more.
In addition to Peter, Wendy and Chan, the team includes executive vice-president Simon Lai, director Theresa Shaw, adviser Scott Shaw, administrative director Maria Mitchell, marketing and investor relations specialist Teresa Leung and accountant Winnie Guo. Currently, investment opportunities are focused in Alberta and Edmonton, which offer tax advantages, a stable business environment and long-term opportunities for growth.
In addition to Alture Properties, Wendy and Peter founded Wealthminds Education Society in 2007, a Burnaby-based non-profit organization that provides educational and inspirational seminars on wealth-building techniques to members. “We are immigrants ourselves, so we understand a lot of challenges for immigrants making transitions into buying real estate,” says Peter. “We understand the cultural differences that people have when they come from different places because we experienced it. We understand the lack of capital to make these decisions. We understand the fear factor that is involved. But we also understand the strength of the immigrant, which is the community. When people are immigrants to a new place, they are generally very bonded to their families and friends. So by having bonds with a community, the strength of that bond actually creates a very good opportunity for immigrants to succeed in real estate.”
This bond with others can also help immigrants succeed in general. “The concept of not having to do it alone always comes up for me,” says Chan. “Immigrants are moving here at a time when there are lots of support services that will guide you and provide you with all the basic information you need. Seek out that support.”
“Make Canada your home,” adds Peter. “Value diversity and value the community around you. If you can collect a group of people with a common goal, you can make it big.”
The successful business ventures of the trio demonstrate the value in partnering with others who have a mutual goal. Although the road to success was pretty meteoric for them, it hasn’t always been easy. “In terms of challenges, it has always been finding our way,” says Wendy. “The challenge has been to find a direction when there’s an obstacle we need to overcome. Starting anything new is always a challenge.”
Overcoming challenges that arise from new endeavours is essential for recent immigrants to Canada. Oftentimes it’s not easy, and obstacles can seem insurmountable. Yet as Wendy, Peter and Chan demonstrate, it’s important not to underestimate the power of hard work, teamwork and realizations that come from light bulb moments.