Manufacturing Alpha: Avenue Living’s Three-Factor Formula for Success

Our CIO, Jason Jogia, joined @Wealth Professional to discuss the strategy that sets Avenue Living apart, allowing us to thrive regardless of market conditions.

“We’ve always had to manufacture alpha by out-operating our peers,” says Jason. “By being able to operate effectively, we’ve been able to create a defensible multi-family portfolio.” 

Our approach is built on three key drivers: strategic diversification, customer focus, and operational integration. Read more about these foundational elements and how they have allowed us to build a successful business model.  


Mini Mall Storage Welcomes Brian Boulter as Senior Vice President of Acquisitions

Dallas, TX, August 25, 2022

Mini Mall Storage Welcomes Brian Boulter as Senior Vice President of Acquisitions to Strategically Drive Growth From Coast to Coast

With a well-defined focus on first generation self-storage products in secondary and tertiary markets and a continued upward trajectory, Mini Mall Storage Properties (MMSP) has appointed Brian Boulter as Senior Vice President of Acquisitions. Based in the company’s Dallas location, Boulter will lead the overall acquisition strategy across North America.

In its first two years of operations, MMSP has aggressively added new acquisitions and expanded into exciting new markets, reaching over 4.1 million square feet in self-storage space, $660 million in assets under management (AUM), and setting the stage for strong future growth.

Boulter brings over 15 years of experience in self-storage asset management and acquisitions, having previously served in various executive positions at different national self-storage brands across the U.S. and Canada. Throughout his career, Boulter has developed a unique focus on acquisitions, fostered deep relationships with brokers and property owners, and led a team of acquisitions experts in best practices and strategic development.

“Mini Mall’s growth trajectory is coupled with an entrepreneurial spirit that I have not observed in the self-storage industry for a very long time,” says Boulter. “The fundamentals for self-storage are strong right now — it’s one of the best asset classes to be in as a hedge against inflation. I’m excited to join MMSP’s focused and highly strategic leadership team to successfully deliver on our clear vision and acquire stabilized properties from coast to coast.”

“As Mini Mall continues to bring stability to independent operators, our customers, and the industry as a whole, we are very fortunate to have Brian lead our team of talented acquisitions experts,” said Adam Villard, Chief Executive Officer of Mini Mall Storage Properties. “As the market shifts, I’m confident that our breadth of self-storage leaders and professionals will provide a solid foundation for us to drive ongoing value for our customers and investors.”

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

Diversification With and Within Real Estate


Grant Alexander Wilson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Regina

Jason Jogia, MBA, M.Fin., Chief Investment Officer, Avenue Living

Author Bios

Dr. Wilson is an Assistant Professor at the Hill and Levene School of Business, University of Regina. His research focuses on marketing, strategy, and innovation. He has published over 20 peer-reviewed articles in top management journals including Journal of Small Business ManagementResearch-Technology Management, and Journal of Business Strategy. His research has been featured in the National Post and by the World Economic Forum. Dr. Wilson is also a research consultant and contributor to Avenue Living Asset Management.

Mr. Jogia is the Chief Investment Officer at Avenue Living and has over 15 years of experience in real estate capital markets, originating over $10 billion in real estate loans and $1 billion in equity. He has extensive experience in real estate investment analysis and capital structure across various real estate classes. In addition to holding 2 Masters’ degrees in Finance, Mr. Jogia is pursuing his Doctorate of Business Administration and currently serves as an instructor at the University of Calgary, specializing in real estate finance.


Diversification is synonymous with “not putting all your eggs in one basket.” If the basket drops, all of the eggs break. Therefore, placing eggs in multiple baskets – the act of diversifying – reduces such risk. The concept of diversification has a long history in finance and portfolio management (Markowitz, 1952). Diversification is a strategy that aims to reduce risk through the inclusion of multiple and differing investments. “The rationale behind this technique is that a portfolio constructed of different kinds of assets will, on average, yield higher long-term returns and lower the risk of any individual holding or security” (Segal, 2021). This paper first explores modern portfolio theory, the mechanics of how diversification reduces risk. Next, it examines the importance of diversifying portfolios with real estate investments and diversification within real estate portfolios for institutional investors. Last, the paper explores the limitations of diversification and advantages of specialization for small real estate owners/operators. It concludes by offering strategic directives for real estate investors.


Developed 70 years ago by economist Harry Markowitz, modern portfolio theory can hardly be considered “modern.” Despite its age, modern portfolio theory’s relevance is timeless, as it offers a framework for designing portfolios that maximize return and minimize risk (McClure, 2021). According to Markowitz (1952), an investment’s risk comprises systematic and unsystematic risks. “A systematic risk is one that influences a large number of assets, each to a greater or lesser extent” (Ross et al., 2007). Systematic risks are also called market risks (e.g., recession) and cannot be eliminated by diversification (McClure, 2021). Conversely, “an unsystematic risk is one that affects a single asset or small group of assets” (Ross et al., 2007). Unsystematic risks are also known as asset-specific risks (e.g., supply shortage of a company’s input) and can be reduced through diversification. Markowitz (1952) argues that overall portfolio risk can be reduced to a certain point by diversification, as the inclusion of investments that do not move proportionally in the same direction at the same time eliminate unsystematic risk (Figure 1).


diversification with real estate

Sources: McClure (2021), & Ross et al. (2007)

Although modern portfolio theory was quickly and heavily embraced in the stock and bond markets, its application to real estate was much slower (Viezer, 2010). Only in the 1980s were diversification and modern portfolio theory applied to real estate. Today, savvy investors both diversify portfolios to include real estate and diversify within real estate investment portfolios.


Miles and McCue (1984) were the first to show that real estate investments were significantly correlated with inflation, providing support for real estate as an investment hedge. Miles and McCure’s (1984) findings are highly relevant today, as recent examinations show that capital appreciation of real estate assets outpaces inflation (Wilson, 2021). Researchers have also shown that real estate investments have low correlations with stocks and bonds (Miles & McCue, 1982; Miles & McCue, 1984; Robichek et al., 1972; Viezer, 2010; Zerbst & Cambon, 1984), making them ideal for diversification (Markowitz, 1952; Ross et al., 2007).

The question of how much real estate to include in an investment portfolio has been widely debated (Firstenberg et al., 1988; Fogler, 1984; Giliberto, 1992; Hartzell, 1986; Irwin & Landa, 1987; Kallberg et al., 1996; Webb et al., 1988; Webb & Rubens, 1987; Viezer, 2010; Ziobrowski & Ziobrowski, 1997). Hartzel (1986) recommended smaller real estate investment allocations, such as 3% to 11%. Kallberg et al. (1996) and Giliberto (1992) offered similar recommendations of 10%. Firstenberg et al. (1988), Folger (1984), and Irwin and Landa (1987) argued that portfolios required 15% to 20% of real estate investments to achieve maximum diversification benefits. Ziobrowski & Ziobrowski (1997) concluded that 20% to 30% of an investment portfolio was necessary to realize the greatest return. Others have suggested that the majority of one’s portfolio should be comprise of real estate investments (Webb et al., 1988; Webb & Rubens, 1987). Despite the contrasting empirical evidence, research overwhelmingly supports the inclusion of real estate in portfolios to reduce risk and increase return (Viezer, 2010).

To illustrate, an examination of changes to home prices, land values, stocks, and bonds illustrates the benefits of Canadian real estate (Figure 2).


Diversification with real estate

Sources: Bank of Canada (2022), Farm Credit Canda (2021), Statistics Canada (2022), Yahoo Finance (2022)

The new house price index – a measure to assess changes to home prices in Canada – has shown consistency and strong year-over-year appreciations, particularly from 2019 to 2021 (Statistics Canada, 2022). Annual changes to Canadian farmland values have also been favorable and consistent, ranging from 4% to 8% in the period examined (Farm Credit Canada, 2021). In contrast, the S&P/TSX composite – the benchmark Canadian stockmarket index – has shown double-digit returns but also extreme volatility from 2016 to 2021 (Yahoo Finance, 2022). Over the last several years, Canada’s 10-year government bond has offered stability, but at the expense of nominal returns (Bank of Canada, 2022).

The risk and return benefits of real estate – demonstrated by past empirical examinations and in the above depiction – emphasize the need to include real estate in investment portfolios for diversification. According to Viezer (2010), “first decide the optimal allocation of real estate to a multiasset portfolio, and then decide how to diversify within the real estate portfolio.”


Researchers have debated the most effective means to diversify real estate portfolios, as unsystematic risk can be reduced by property type, geographic, and financial diversification (Anderson et al., 2015; Benefield et al., 2009; Campbell et al., 2003; Cici et al., 2011; Cronqvist et al., 2001; Gobbi & Sette, 2014; Gyourko & Nelling, 1996; Hartzell et al., 2014; Ioannidou & Ongena, 2010; Ro & Ziobrowski, 2011; Santos & Winton, 2008).

According to Miles and McCue (1982), property type diversification offers the greatest return and the lowest risk. This has been replicated in studies of real estate investment trusts (REITs). Benefield et al. (2009) and Row and Ziobrowski (2011) show that diversified REITs outperform specialized REITs. Anderson et al. (2015) corroborate these findings, showing that diversified REITs have a “strong positive relationship” with return on assets, return on equity, and Q ratios (market value to asset replacement cost). Anderson et al. (2015) explain that “the diversification benefit comes from both the ability to select better-performing property types in ‘hot’ markets and the limited exposure to poorly performing property types in ‘cold’ markets” (p. 48). In addition to property type diversification, diversifying with private or public REITs has its advantages. According to Blackstone (2022) and Wang (2021), private REITs generally increase in times of rising interest rates and have less volatility, as compared to public REITs. As such, unsystematic risk can be reduced by REIT type (e.g., public/private) and property type (Gyourko & Nelling, 1996).

There is a significant body of research that shows the benefits of geographic diversification (Campbell et al., 2003; Cici et al., 2011, Cronqvist et al., 2001; Feng et al., 2021; Hartzell et al., 2014; Jud et al., 2021; Oertel et al., 2019). Hartzell et al. (1987) argued that diversification based on geography was strategic, given the performance benefits. As with property type diversification, geographically diverse REITs have been shown to outperform geographically concentrated REITs. According to Feng et al. (2021), “geographic diversification is associated with higher REIT values for firms that can be described as being more transparent” (p. 267). Recent work by Jud et al. (2021) and Oertel et al. (2019) adds to such geographic diversification research, showing international acquisitions offer enhanced portfolio returns.

Grissom et al. (1987) acknowledged the performance benefits of diversifying by both property type and geography. In fact, this research showed that diversification “across markets and property type reduced unsystematic risk more than across just markets or across just property types” (Viezer, 2010). Accordingly, Grissom et al.’s (1987) research supported the combination of property type and geographic diversification to reduce risk and increase returns. A lesser-explored area of research suggests that financial diversification may also reduce unsystematic risk among real estate investments.

There is an inherent risk in concentrated borrowing. According to Gobbi and Sette (2014), in times of crisis concentrated borrowing is detrimental to a firm’s access to credit. Moreover, Ioannidou and Ongena (2010) find that interest rates increase for clients over time and companies can negotiate better deals in new relationships with different banks. Therefore, it is strategic for real estate companies to diversify their borrowing to reduce unsystematic risk and negotiate better interest rates.

It is evident that diversification with and within real estate (e.g., property type, geography, and financial diversification) is necessary to maximize returns and minimize risk, but can endless diversification reintroduce risks?


When strategically executed, diversification is a proven method to reduce risk and increase return (Allison, 2021). However, it is possible to over-diversify. Investments that are not strategically motivated are unadvisable (Olgun, 2005), as they add unnecessary risk to the portfolio without the added upside (Allyson, 2021). Lynch (1989) coined this phenomenon of worsening the risk and return tradeoff of an investment portfolio by over-diversifying as “diworsification.” This paper argues that the real estate diversification and performance relationship is curvilinear, similar to other strategies (Bhuian et al., 2005; Oswald & Brettel, 2017; Tsai et al., 2008). While diversification is necessary to reduce risk and increase return, beyond a certain level it can become detrimental to portfolio performance (Figure 3).


diversification with real estate

Diversification is also not advisable for new or small owners/operators. According to Kenton (2022), a specialization strategy focuses on limited scope and expertise for greater efficiency and performance. Specialization has been shown to create economies of scale, improve market positions, and enhance the bottom line of small businesses (Intihar & Pollack, 2012; Williams et al., 2018; Wilson et al., 2020). New or small real estate owners/operators are more likely to benefit from a specialization versus diversification strategy, as eliminating unsystematic risk is unlikely due to the small number of properties, geographic concentration, and individual property management. As these new and small owners/operators mature and expand, a diversification strategy becomes more advantageous and reduces their accumulated unsystematic risk.


So how much real estate diversification is enough, and how much is too much? Diversification with and within real estate is necessary for investors. However, Olgun (2005), aptly states that non-strategic real estate investments are problematic and often produce “negative abnormal returns.” Instead, when real estate investments are strategically included in multi-asset portfolios they increase return and reduce unsystematic risk (Miles & McCue, 1982; Miles & McCue, 1984; Robichek et al., 1972; Viezer, 2010; Zerbst & Cambon, 1984). Diversification within real estate is also required to eliminate unsystematic risk and realize the greatest level of return (Grissom et al., 1987; Hartzell et al., 1987; Jud et al., 2021; Miles & McCue, 1982; Oertel et al., 2019, Viezer, 2010). As Grissom et al. (1987) suggest, the best results come from combined diversification methods (e.g., property type and geography). It is further argued that financial diversification can also help reduce unsystematic risk and lower borrowing costs. In the context of Canada, investment portfolios that include residential real estate and farmland as core assets appear to both enhance value and offer stability. Diversification within these real estate investment categories, such as the types of residential real estate and various Canadian sub-markets, are also likely to enhance the overall portfolio of investors. As Peter Bernstein, one of the most prominent American economists wrote, “diversification of risk matters not just defensively, but because it maximizes returns as well, because we expose ourselves to all of the opportunities that there may be out there.”




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This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them.

Mini Mall Storage Appoints William Harlan as Director of Acquisitions to Help Continued Growth 

Following a year of more than 50 storage facility acquisitions, Mini Mall Storage Properties announced today the recent appointment of William Harlan as Director of Acquisitions to support the company’s continued growth strategy across North America. 

With over 10 years of experience across the technology space and half of that time focused on providing software to self-storage owners at G5, a predictive SaaS technology platform for real estate marketers, Harlan will use his knowledge to help Mini Mall enhance predictability in the buying and selling process. 

“I’m excited about the rapid growth trajectory that Mini Mall Storage is on and the solid foundation that has already been set,” says William Harlan. “I have always had an interest in commercial real estate and I see tremendous opportunity to enhance our U.S. portfolio and help our company become a leader in the industry.” 

As Mini Mall Storage places a higher focus on implementing trusted and unique technologies to the self-storage industry, Harlan’s experience directly supports this ongoing effort. “With our strong team and continued plan to use and deploy new technologies within the class B and C self-storage space across the U.S., William’s background in tech and his industry contacts will help us elevate our brand and improve our customer experience,” says Raheem Amer, President of U.S. Operations. 

By adding new talent to the acquisition team, the company is looking to organically foster more relationships with prospective acquisitions.“Our current acquisition approach is weighted heavily on broker deals, but those can often be costly,” says Harlan. “Given our track record of closing deals quickly and easily, I see an opportunity in garnering interest in off-market deals and developing better processes for our team to attract new sellers.” 


This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

April 2022 Market Commentary

As inflation and interest rates are making daily headlines, recent economic developments are generating increased interest in alternatives. In our April 2022 Market Commentary, we discuss the performance of private real estate during periods of rising interest rates and inflation, the dynamics of real estate markets, and the connection between interest rates and cap rates.


Mini Mall Storage’s Strategy Appeals to Investors and Customers Alike

All financial figures are in Canadian dollars 

North American self-storage business owner and operator, Mini Mall Storage Properties (‘Mini Mall’), continues to show significant growth as the company surpasses $500 million in assets under management (AUM), offering over three million square feet of storage space and 25,000 storage units across Canada and the U.S.

“Our focus on technology and people, coupled with an industry-leading approach to service, sets us apart and has allowed us to scale up swiftly and confidently,” says CEO, Adam Villard. “We couldn’t have reached this incredible milestone without the support of our company’s broad, vertically integrated platform that keeps our people closely aligned across operations, finance, accounting, legal, service teams, and more.”

Today, Mini Mall employs more than 125 professionals across seven provinces from Vancouver, B.C. to St. John, N.B., and six states including Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Ohio. Their recently appointed President of U.S. Operations, Raheem Amer, brings significant storage industry experience and a keen understanding of how and where technology is best used to modernize operations across all facets of the business.

“With strong technological foundations and a continuous drive towards efficiency, we are well on the path to becoming an industry leader within the class B and C self-storage space,” says Amer. “Using sophisticated technology from pre-acquisition stages to full stage servicing generates more informed investment decisions, smoother processes, and an optimized level of customer service.”

Mini Mall’s technological improvements include coded access gate systems, state-of-the-art security cameras, and an online customer portal which helps tenants easily manage bill payments.

In February 2022, Mini Mall celebrated its two-year anniversary. Since its inception, the company has become one of the top five self-storage providers in Canada and is showing similar gains across the U.S., acquiring over one million square feet of self-storage in Q1 of this year alone.

“We are proud of the work we do to deliver modern technology, operational excellence, and better value to our customers and investors across North America,” says Villard. “With numerous investments, attention to efficient operations, and a sharp focus on recruiting local talent, we have many more exciting milestones ahead of us.”

About Mini Mall Storage Properties Trust:

Established in 2020, Mini Mall Storage Properties has been successful in strategically acquiring pre-existing storage facilities throughout North America and making purposeful capital improvements along the way. Working in alignment with its vision of modeling state-of-the-art technology and tenant convenience, it offers affordable storage solutions equipped with unmatchable safety, security, and innovative technologies. The company prides itself on continually working to retain a healthy, diverse, and inclusive workplace. 

About Avenue Living Asset Management: 

Founded on the principle of investing in the everyday, Avenue Living focuses on opportunities that are often overlooked by others, having grown to over $3.7 billion in aggregate assets under management across four private real estate investment mandates. The Avenue Living team includes over 750 professionals with expertise in real estate operations and transactions, property management, research, investment origination, and capital markets, as well as a suite of subject matter experts to support Avenue Living’s growing portfolio of multi-family residential, commercial, agricultural land, and self-storage assets. In addition to over 14,400 multi-family units located in Canada and the United States, Avenue Living and its related entities own over 496,500 square feet of commercial space, 82,827 acres of productive farmland, and more than 3 million square feet of self-storage space.  

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them.