It’s been several years since I have been to a ‘2 Hour Free Seminar’ put on by a well known real estate guru. You likely know the programs I am talking about. You go to the freebie seminar and get all hyped up to sign up for their course. Of course the celebrity guru is not there, and in fact even when you attend their expensive education program you still don’t meet the celebrity behind the program…
I haven’t been in a few years because I felt suckered by the first one I ever attended. We ran out of that program knowing that we didn’t know nearly enough… so we quickly signed up for their first weekend long course. At that course we learned a lot, but we learned once again that we still didn’t know enough so we signed up for more courses!
It’s been years of drama ever since. And the lessons my wife Julie and I learned from taking those no money down – get rich quick real estate investing guru courses are why we started telling our real estate investing stories in the first place.
Just because the last guru course I took was a bit of a disaster doesn’t stop me from being curious about the techniques and information they teach. Since the latest one to come through Vancouver was holding a lunchtime session near my office, I decided to satisfy my curiosity and sat in on it.
The guru whose name is on the program was nowhere to be found. Instead it was a guy who used to live in Canada but now resides in the U.S. who would walk us through the course for the day.
He started with a few lines like: “I’m not bragging, but I am worth about $60 million” and “I am dyslexic so if I can do it, so can you“. That would be fine if he wasn’t only saying it to set himself up as better than us. He then went on to proclaim: “you wouldn’t be here if you knew what you were doing” and “most of you won’t succeed in this, it’s just a fact“.
I was actually laughing! He may have even seen me laughing at the stupidity of it! I didn’t come to the lunch hour session to get scolded for, according to the presenter, “not being successful enough; why else would [I] be here“.
His whole sales technique was to make himself look brilliant and rich, and make us feel stupid and inferior and badly in need of his superior assistance!! That and creating a massive amount of fear… of course only to then assure us that their program was the answer to those fears.
Finally, after 60 minutes of beating his chest, he got to some content. Or, what they probably call content. He let us in on their Secret 10 Strategies for Finding Distressed Properties. Of course, he didn’t really tell us the true secrets, just the terminology which many people wouldn’t even know, like “reverse advertising” and “REO’s”. Then he carried on to list a bunch of media outlets you COULD use to advertise in Vancouver, but quickly clarified that “only about 3 of those 20 publications work, so come to the paid program and we’ll tell you the 3 successful ones“, oh and you can have access to the real estate guru’s private, student only website where you can find even more distressed properties for pennies on the dollar! But you have to come to the paid program to get that access!
He also spent a ton of time scaring the pants off of us. I am pretty seasoned when it comes to real estate investing and yet there were still times when I felt like running out of the room to call my lawyer and accountant to say “We need to reopen my corporations… I have to get the tiered corporate protection going!! I am at risk!!”. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I had a tiered corporation and was not able to use it. AND – I know they put such a heavy emphasis on the corporate structure because at their weekend course they sell you a package to set one up.
I am not saying that there is nothing of value in what he was saying. I am also not trying to say you should never sign up for one of these courses because they don’t work. If anything, I can tell you how well they do work! I bought into something very similar 7 years ago… and I went from the free seminar, to a $2000 weekend seminar, to a $15,000 package that included 3 more seminars and a mentor and then I spent several more thousand on setting up multi-tiered corporation.
The program worked! I ran out and immediately found 2 properties in Niagara Falls, Ontario that were producing big money every month. The deals were nearly no money down and before I knew it, I was the proud owner of two crack houses! That is not just my nickname for the properties, the local Niagara Falls paper ran a little story about me and one of my crackhouses, and that was what the paper called it!
The problem with the get rich quick guru course is that it sent me down a path of investing in troublesome properties, making very high risk investments and believing that the only way to make money in real estate was through enormous amounts of positive cash flow each month. It didn’t matter what I had to do to get that cashflow… it was only about the cashflow.
For some, it’s an effective strategy and it has worked! There are people who have gotten rich off the real estate strategies these courses teach. For me, I like having a lower stress life. I like having spare time to ski, mountain bike and watch movies. And, I am ok to wait a few years to see returns on my investment as long as they don’t cost me money out of my pocket every month.
I think everyone should think about what they really need to learn and what they really want to do with real estate before they ever set foot into ANY real estate investing course. And, they really should do that before attending one of these high pressure and hyped up guru programs.
The overall message of the condescending man at the front of the room that day was a good one. Finding and buying distressed properties is a good way to make money in real estate. He conveniently left out the risk side of the strategy though – instead focusing on the risks of not having a corporate veil to protect you.
These guru’s offer some good techniques. The techniques however, are like loaded guns in the hands of someone who has no target. Most people walk into those courses knowing only their dreams of riches and easy living. They walk out excited because the course has given them a gun to shoot for their dreams… They walk out of the course holding their new loaded gun all pumped up and ready to start shooting it. Some people will be lucky when they shoot and hit a random bulls eye, some will do varying amounts of (financial) damage to themselves using the gun, and many will never shoot the gun at all.
These courses should spend more time on fundamentals of real estate and teaching you to figure out what your objectives are. But, that’s hard work right? And, it’s probably not a real exciting selling proposition to tell people that the $2000 weekend course is going to build your real estate investing foundation so you can be rich in the next 5 – 10 years.
The courses sell because they promise to walk you step by step through the process to buy that distressed property, borrow the $300,000 to purchase it using a hard money lender who charges 18% and then do some work and flip it 2 months later for a $40,000 profit! Don’t worry about selling it in this market – they have secret systems to make any house sell. It’s easy right? You spend only 40 hours finding, buying, and renovating the property and you make $40,000! That’s $1,000 per hour! That is the stuff this guy was trying to sell us on that day. Even in a hot market I wouldn’t buy that type of loaded gun. It sounds like sleepless nights and financial stress to me. And with the market continuing to cruise downwards, I definitely wouldn’t be trying to do that. Even with the guaranteed ways of selling properties that their course offers.
If it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.
If you’ve been to a guru course and have an experience to share, please do. The only thing I ask is that you do NOT name the program. We will delete any specific references to a program – good or bad.