Tony Ning’s is a rags to riches story that started when he was a child and wanted to do something good. His mother was tired of being at the mercy of landlords.
“We were very poor when I was young. I was raised by a single mother and we were renting. All my mother wanted to do was own a home,” says Ning, broker/owner at eXp Realty in Mississauga, Ont.
The good son wanted to make her dream a reality, but he didn’t know how. He turned to self-help books. “When I was 14, I read a book called Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, which completely changed my life.”
Hong Kong-born Ning in Canada when he was seven. “I started working when I was 15-years-old at Lord Simcoe Hotel and then at Captain John’s Harbour Boat Restaurant.” (It was housed in a former passenger ship docked at the foot of Yonge Street.)
The upscale restaurant was frequented by well-tipping tourists – he would make $100 a day in tips, a lot of money at the time, he says. “I worked hard during the summer holidays and weekends when I was in high school. I saved money from being a server in a fine dining restaurant and had enough money saved for half the down payment to buy a home with my mother when I was 18.”
However, buying the $49,000 Cabbagetown home in Toronto wouldn’t be that easy. The bank manager said he would have to quit school and work full-time if he was to qualify for the mortgage. His mother wouldn’t hear of it and he wasn’t interested in dropping out. “I wanted to become an IT person as my mother wanted.”
So Ning got creative. “I went to the seller, who really wanted to sell us the home.” He says they talked back and forth and Ning asked if there was any other way to finance the house. Seller and buyer worked out a vendor-take-back mortgage. “It opened my mind to the possibilities,” he says.
He used the creative knowledge gleaned from that experience to buy investment properties, renovate and flip them and he says he did extremely well. Over the last three decades, he used this knowledge and experience to help several hundred investors create and build wealth using real estate as their investment vehicles.
In 1986 he got his licence and joined Re/Max Hallmark in Toronto’s Beaches community. “I got to know how to do things efficiently,” he says. Friends and family saw how well he was doing and came to him for help and his business grew. That year he also met and married Julia and they moved to a preconstruction home. “My wife liked it so much we moved to Mississauga.”
He was with Re/Max for over 25 years. During that time, although he says he didn’t pay attention to the accolades, he was No. 1 in the office many times.
“I have always been a fast learner, highly driven to succeed and have a passion to help others to succeed. At a young age I became broker of record/owner of a Sutton Group franchise, where I led a team of over 85 sales reps. With an IT background, I was always looking for ways to make myself more efficient and to use technology to help my team thrive into the future. That’s why I joined eXp Realty.
“eXp allows me to build an agency as an eXp Realty owner without paying a franchise fee. The cost of bricks and mortar and the enormous headaches of being a broker of record are no longer a hurdle.”
He continues to sell investment and commercial properties and still has a large residential base. He works mainly in the GTA but sells investment properties all over Ontario.
“I don’t farm ‘location-ally’, I farm people. If people sell in Toronto and move to Hamilton, for example, I help them out. With the internet it’s easy to learn about different areas but I work with a partner in the area for local expertise.”
Best of all, it lets him do what he loves: to train. He spends 75-80 per cent of his time training his mentees. And after 35 years in the business, he has lots of knowledge to share.
His credits include being a successful real estate investor, an award-winning Realtor, a Platinum VIP agent with developers, a broker of record and a mortgage broker of record.
For anyone who wants to be successful in real estate, it’s all about the power of WHAM and LEAP (he admits he loves acronyms. He also wishes he knew these lessons when he started out but learned on his own over the years).
- W – Why are you doing this? Why do you want to be a Realtor, to serve people or to make money? What gets you up in the morning? Do you have kids to support? (In Ning’s case, the why was to help his mother buy a house.)
- H – How are you going to do this? What’s your plan? Are you going to get your licence, join a brokerage? You have to figure out the how. Ning says he teaches his mentees that most homes are now in the $1 million and up range. He tells them it’s easier to sell one $1-million property than two priced at $500,000. The latter buyers may have credit issues or not enough money, while those in the market for $1 million and up are likely to be more qualified.
- A – Take action, daily. Eat that elephant one bite at a time, he says. Prioritize your daily actions: a) offers, b) showings and c) prospecting. Offers are the most important, but if you don’t have offers, concentrate on showings. If you have neither offers nor showings, do prospecting that day.
- M – Look for a mentor. Find someone willing to help you and who has the time. The eXp system pays mentors to train. If you have $500,000 in gross commissions you can become an Icon agent and become a trainer. Ning trains his own group. “Mentors train, teach and coach. All professional athletes have a coach. Why? The coach helps them become more successful,” he says. Look for someone who has the time to help.
He also teaches his mentees about the four types of income, LEAP (leverage, employment, appreciation and passive income).
“LEAP is my acronym I invented to help me remember the types of incomes that I feel everyone should learn to understand if they want to be successful in their financial life,” he says.
- L – Leverage income – harnessing other people’s time and money. Businesses with employees are leveraging other people’s time, while savvy investors are leveraging other people’s money. Example: an investor buying income properties using lender financing is leveraging lenders’ money to buy the properties in order to generate income.
- E – Employment income – trading time for income. Employees have income derived from working at a job. Self employed have income derived from being the owner of a job. Real estate agents are in the highest taxed self-employed category.
- A – Appreciation. There are many forms of appreciation. For example, a home that increases in value over time is said to have naturally appreciated in value. Appreciation can be natural or it can be forced. Fixing up a home and increasing its value immediately is a form of forced appreciation.
- P –Passive income – the most powerful and most elusive form of income. Passive income is a recurring revenue stream that requires little-to-no effort or time to maintain. One example is positive cash flow derived from income-generating rental properties.
Ning joined eXp in January and currently has six agents. He would like 100 in the “near future” but he says he is fussy about who he will bring onto his team. “I want someone who is motivated, someone who wants it.”
When not working, he spends time with Julia, his wife of 44 years. She likes bingo, he likes puzzles that challenge his brain and they watch movies together. But he admits that he spends “most of life in the real estate realm.”