A recent engineering graduate from McMaster University has become a poster boy for wealth creation and management, after CNBC featured him in its Millennial Money series, profiles of how people around the world earn, spend and save money.
Thirty-three-year-old Karun Vij made the list for his business acumen when it came to buying and renting out property. When he started at the university in Hamilton, Ont., he noticed that rental properties near the school charged by the room rather than the whole house – and were thus a more lucrative option than renting to a single family.
During his time at school, he lived rent-free for two years in a property provided by a Fortune 500 company that offered to pay him $45,000 (all figures are in U.S. dollars) for a two-year co-op program.
By the time he graduated in 2016, he’d saved up enough for a down payment on a house near the school. “I knew the area, I liked the area,” he told CNBC. “Not too expensive or too cheap.”
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With a 20 per cent down payment he became the owner of a $324,000 home, which he then started renting out to seven college students. He was on his way.
But rather than rest on his landlord laurels, Vij worked as an application engineer (at the same company where he did the co-op) and then an account manager in nearby Cambridge. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Chicago and owns four properties in Canada worth about $2.3 million. His rental income is about $11,000 a month, in addition to the $183,000 he makes at his day job.
“When I bought my first property, it was the most exciting and nerve-wracking time of my life,” he said. “I had no idea what it would take to be a landlord, but I knew in my mind this was my business.”
That business meant that, for a time at least, all his income went into more property purchases. He added to his rental portfolio in 2017, 2018 and 2021, and in 2022 he sold the 2017 property for $519,000 — more than twice what he’d paid for it five years earlier.
He now has 28 rentable rooms across his four properties. And while he is carrying some debt – credit cards, lines of credit and mortgages – he’s not overly concerned.
“I absolutely love debt,” he told CNBC. “But I’ll say I only like good debt. Good debt is debt that you have a strategy for. My long-term strategy is to buy up as much real estate as possible.” That includes converting two adjacent homes in Hamilton into one larger condominium — and, of course, buying more property.
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