Aidan Booth, online entrepreneur and property investor
Posted by Wei Min Tan on September 9, 2020
Aidan Booth is an online entrepreneur and property investor. We have worked together on several investment property acquisitions in Manhattan since 2016. These include buying in a luxury full service condo building in Tribeca, renovating a pre-war condo close to Central Park where we made a worn out apartment new again, and most recently, acquiring a top floor West Village condo.
One word that best describes Aidan is performance. Aidan performs and gets things done. He is very disciplined, organized, and has systems and teams in place to help build businesses and investments. During our interview, Aidan told me results and performance only happen when he is surrounded by good people. Very true indeed.
The below is Aidan’s story on his property investments.
When did you start investing in property and where (geographically) are you invested in currently?
I started investing in 2006 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My first property was a 300 sqft apartment which I acquired for $30,000. It was a dump of a property. I was living in Buenos Aires then and wanted to do an “AirBnB” type concept. We bought the apartment which needed a lot of work, renovated it, and I lived there a few years.
In 2008, I acquired another 300 sqft apartment, this time in Auckland, New Zealand, where I am from. This New Zealand apartment was targeted at students. Over the next 8 years, we got several more properties in Auckland’s Central Business District, mostly for students and professionals who work in the inner city. These properties are now providing good cash flow for us.
Thinking back, what made you decide to invest in property?
I read a lot of property investment books. A big influence is the book, Rich Dad Poor Dad. I wanted to have passive income through property as this will provide lifestyle freedom, being able to do whatever I wanted and still have income coming in. Rental income through property can help achieve this. I didn’t want to have to work if I didn’t want to. No alarm clock if I didn’t want to. Having someone else pay off the mortgage while the property appreciates and provides passive income was very appealing.
Tell us about your first property investment
2006 in Argentina. Property transactions in Argentina was (and still is) conducted in U.S. dollars. For my very first property, I had the challenge of getting U.S. dollars into Argentina to pay for the transaction. There was no efficient financial system in Argentina back then. Also, the transaction had to be paid in cash – U.S. dollar cash. Sellers in Argentina wanted to see and touch the $100 dollar bills they were getting, which would probably go under the mattress after the sale was completed.
This first purchase took up everything I had saved, and my parents lent me money as well. Having to figure out how to get USD 30,000 in cash into Argentina added a whole new dimension of risks involved. I remember the seller was scrutinizing each bill, rejecting ones he deemed unsatisfactory and me replacing those as requested.
I lived in this property and recently sold it for double the purchase value.
2008 in New Zealand. This first New Zealand apartment was 300 sqft and remains my most profitable property to date in terms of appreciation and rental income. I hired a property coach who helped me save on the property price and coached me on negotiating lending terms. Thinking back, it was a small fee for the coaching but the savings was enormous. The asking price of the property was NZD (New Zealand Dollars) 110,000, which I was ready to pay. Thanks to the coach, we got the property for NZD 91,500. I learned many valuable lessons from that one.
Deal example: We renovated this prewar condo at the Parc Vendome, one of Manhattan’s most famous prewar condo buildings that is also close to Central Park.
How did you venture into Manhattan real estate, and how has Manhattan investments turned out for you?
2016 was our foray into the Manhattan property market. We wanted to diversify because New Zealand’s property performance is driven by New Zealand’s economy. I didn’t want to keep adding exposure to one country’s economy. In addition, there is no lending for people not living in New Zealand. Venturing into Manhattan, New York was to (i) diversify (ii) explore financing to benefit from leverage. Now in Manhattan, we own a set of condo apartments.
When I started looking into investing in the U.S., people all said I would not be able to get lending. Then I met you (Weimin) who introduced me to lenders doing mortgage loans to foreigners. The lending was also at quite good interest rates.
I now have a streamlined system in place. In Manhattan, we invested in condos in good buildings, made improvements in some of the properties, leveraged lending and have tenants paying off our mortgages. Meanwhile, the properties are appreciating as well.
Weimin’s article, Investing in Manhattan property to rent out
Deal example: Condo investment in luxury building in Tribeca. Always rented out at high rents given proximity to World Trade Center, Goldman Sachs, and Tribeca’s entertainment and dining options.
What is the dream?
When I started out in 2006, the dream was 20 properties owned outright by 2020. This would give me a portfolio worth about USD 4 million. We sailed past that a few years early, and now I am building a USD 100 million investment portfolio, on track to achieve that by the time I am 55. It won’t all be property, but property will be a big part of it. I love the challenge, I love the hunt…the emotional roller coaster… and I love sealing the deal.
I learn so much on every deal. I’d love to pass this knowledge on to my kids, and really anyone who is interested.
But at the heart of it all, the dream is about freedom… and continuing to build lifestyle freedom… and to give back so others can do the same. We strongly believe in giving back – to family, educational causes and people who need help.
What We Do
We focus on global investors buying Manhattan condos for portfolio diversification and long term return-on-investment.
1) Identify the right buy based on objectives
2) Manage the buy process
3) Rent out the property
4) Manage tenants
5) Market the property at the eventual sale
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