Marco Santarelli (left) in the Caribbean with Robert Kiyosaki.
This investor’s mission went from making money to helping one million people achieve financial freedom.
With a last name like Santarelli, it’s no surprise this investor’s favorite travel spot is Italy and favorite fare is Italian. But Marco Santarelli grew up far from his ancestors’ roots — in Calgary, Canada. His first job as a young teen was delivering newspapers, and in the early morning Canada climate, that was no easy task. Perhaps born with powers of persuasion, Santarelli somehow convinced his only brother to deliver papers with him.
“I guess you could say that was an early sign of my desire to build a business, by hiring my brother,” Santarelli joked.
From Calgary to California — where he has resided for over 20 years — Santarelli has moved on from delivering papers to owning and operating a successful turnkey real estate investment business. Armed with an entrepreneurial spirit, Santarelli bought his first rental property when he was 18. He had heard success stories of rental property owners who were set up well financially, and he wanted that financial independence.
“I wanted to make money, even though I was young and naïve. Back then I just felt I needed to do [real estate.] I did it sporadically. At that time, it was more about being an entrepreneur than a full-time real estate investor,” Santarelli said.
In 2003, Santarelli decided to invest in himself and make real estate investing his full-time career. He took his experience and the knowledge he gained in real estate courses and bought 84 doors in nine months.
“You didn’t need as much back then,” Santarelli explained. “I had some capital, but not what you’d need today. Lending has changed. It was easy to qualify, and you could purchase properties with little or nothing down. It was easy but dangerous, and we saw how that played out.”
Financial advice has also changed. And Santarelli believes financial education is sorely lacking.
“Long ago, the ‘good’ advice from my grandparents was to save — to save nearly everything you made. But if you save for the sake of saving, you lose money. The purchasing power of money disappears with inflation. So, you must invest in income-producing assets. You can go broke by simply saving whatever you earn,” Santarelli said.
This changed mindset has served Santarelli well. In 2004, Marco’s company, Norada Real Estate Investments, was born because investors were coming to him for advice.
“Investors wanted me to help find them deals. That was the genesis of the business,” he said.
Santarelli’s mission has evolved from that of making money to helping one million people achieve financial freedom.
“Even though we help a lot of people invest in turnkey rental properties, if I can reach one million people through my podcast and other educational ways, that would be very gratifying.”
As Santarelli’s real estate mission has evolved, so has the industry. And, while some changes excite him, others bring concern.
“The evolution of the industry is exciting. With the help of the internet, we can provide personalized services with access to data and knowledge. With the right people combined with the right information, you can invest anywhere from virtually anywhere. I want to help empower the real estate investor with more intelligence about their investments,” Santarelli said.
His concern lies in situations where investors fall prey to purchasing “$50,000” properties from other turnkey companies.
“They feel like they’re making a sound investment, but often they are not. The numbers look attractive on paper, and the property could appear newly renovated, but often the neighborhood is problematic. The bottom line with low-priced properties is unless they’re in a gentrified area, they’ll remain at that price. Investors of these properties cannot expect equity growth over time, and they become more of a headache and hassle,” Santarelli said.
No matter the type of day he’s having — even those full of hassles — Santarelli consistently works on his goals to keep him on a successful track. Santarelli’s approach to setting goals is a five-step process:
- Think big. Set an exciting goal geared toward professional development.
- Write it down.
- Review it regularly – every year, three years, five years. The dates may change.
- Dream about it.
- Take action on a regular basis to work toward it.
“No one is born an investor,” Santarelli said. “I’ve gone from a conscious incompetent investor to a conscious competent investor. Gain experience — actually do it — and invest time to learn. Even if you fail, dust yourself off and do it.”