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Local Real Estate Club Meetings: 7 Reasons to Attend

by Julie Broad on November 3, 2010 · 10 comments

  

I have a confession to make. For the first six or so years I was a real estate investor I didn’t attend a single real estate investing club meeting.

For the first couple of years I was actually doing my MBA in real estate and finance. I attended a lot of events and forums dedicated to commercial and multi-family investing. As part of the Schulich Real Property Students Association I was invited to plenty of cool events where I could meet CEO’s of big pension funds, commercial property investment companies, shopping center owners, and builders and developers. I learned some interesting things, but I didn’t learn anything about the kind of investing I was already doing.

Fast forward to life post-MBA. I was working at a research firm tracking new home development and commercial real estate transactions. As someone in various sales roles in the company throughout my five year career there it was easy for me to build a business case to attend just about any real estate related event, seminar or forum. And, I often did. It’s just that my target client base wasn’t at the local real estate investing club meetings they were at the RealCAPITAL conference, the Toronto Real Estate Forum, the Land and Development conference or the local homebuilders association meetings.

real estate clubsIt was a tremendous experience to be exposed to the investing practices of REIT’s, pension funds, and large publicly held companies but it didn’t really help me with my side venture of residential real estate investing. In fact, if anything, it was a bit confusing because I understood an ARGUS analysis of a commercial portfolio, I could identify dozens of risk factors for any deal and could calculate a cap rate in my sleep but couldn’t find any connection between that and buying a little house to rent out except for the underlying principles were the same: buy property based on the income it generates and find opportunities to create value.

It wasn’t until I decided it was time to leave my job that I started attending local real estate club meetings. I really just wanted to meet other people doing what I was doing. But if I had to pick the single biggest reason we’ve been able to comfortably do a deal a month in the last year (versus the 2 to 5 deals a year we were doing before) it’s the addition of us (both my husband Dave and I) regularly attending various club meetings.

Here are seven reasons why attending local real estate clubs has helped us and why it will probably help you too:

  1. Learning local information: It’s great to learn real estate investing fundamentals and know exactly how to invest in a good cash flowing property but you also want to have some specific knowledge about what is happening in an area. Did you know that most of the houses built by Builder XYZ have had this problem with a leaking pipe? Did you know that Ikea has submitted an application to build a store on the West end of town? Have you heard that the basements are flooding on John Street because of poor drainage on that street? These are all things you might hear about at a local meeting that you might not find out about reading the paper, doing searches online, speaking with your real estate agent or your property manager. These are things that people on the ground buying, holding and selling properties in the area might find out and share at a local meeting.
  2. Surrounding yourself with like minded people: Most of my long time friends hold corporate jobs and really do not understand what I am doing, why I am doing it or why I prioritize certain things above others. Some are supportive while others are actually outright critical especially when what I feel I have to do conflicts with what they want me to do. It’s quite an isolating feeling. And until I started to attend local club meetings, expand my network through social media communications and build friends that were doing what I am doing I didn’t really feel like anybody but my husband really understood me.

  3. Connecting with experts: Local club meetings are usually more intimate than big conferences yet many local organizations are able to attract impressive guest speakers. Because of the intimate setting (aka smaller size) you often can get in front of an expert and get a few questions answered. And most of the time if an expert has taken the time to speak at a local club meeting they are there to give back so they will be happy to help you out. They may even offer you opportunities you weren’t even asking for which happened to us at a recent club meeting. We’re now going to see that speaker, who co-runs a very large real estate club in Vancouver, in a few weeks. You never know where that connection may lead.
  4. Finding joint venture partners: We have spent a lot of time offering our deals to friends and family who would politely listen, say they’d think about it, and then never ever say yes to doing a deal with us. It was frustrating and it was actually emotionally draining. You see, we would first have to convince Uncle Glen that real estate was the best place for his retirement savings (not the 27 different mutual funds his financial adviser put him into because he would make a ton of fees off my Uncle). Then we would have to present our opportunity to my Uncle in such a way that he knew we weren’t asking for a favor. Even if he wasn’t remotely interested, he wouldn’t tell us to “pound sand” he would politely ask for time to think about it. So we would be left following up and following up only to realize he never had any intention of doing anything. It sucked.
  5. Then we stopped one day and looked at the previous six or so deals we’d done with joint venture partners and realized the easiest, most fun, and quickest deals to put together weren’t the ones we’d done with family or friends. The deals that came together the easiest and that we felt the best about were the ones we had done with people we had met at local real estate investing club meetings! They already knew they wanted to put their money into real estate and they knew they didn’t have the time or expertise to do it well themselves, so they found help in the form of US! These people came to us not the other way around. Once the partner had completed some due diligence on us and the deal we were offering them, the rest was smooth and easy.

  6. Helping others: If you have already purchased a property or two then you can be an invaluable resource to someone else at the club that is just getting started. Even just the smallest gesture of assistance, like giving them the name of a great inspector, can help someone just starting out. It’s a nice thing to do. And for me, I love how doing something for someone else gives me so much satisfaction and good feeling.
  7. Building your team: We’ve been investing in the same city since 2001 and there are still times where we find ourselves in need of a professional that we’ve never had to hire before. For example, we recently had to hire someone to draw up the plans for a legal secondary suite we’re adding to a property. We’ve never had to have plans drawn up. We found ourselves calling everyone we know in the area to get recommendations. Ultimately we went with a guy that the City inadvertently recommended. They are not allowed to recommend anyone so we said “Who do you see a lot of plans drawn up by?”. We ended up with a great guy that the City loves – and ultimately the plans were for the City to approve so it worked out really well. But, sometimes your fellow investors will be the best source for a referral. For us, if we didn’t already have two really fabulous mortgage brokers on our team, we’d be chatting to the ones that come to the investment club meetings because they are more likely to understand what we need as investors.
  8. It’s an Action Step: This is especially important when you are a new investor, but I think it’s always important. You need to consistently take little action steps to move yourself closer to where you want to go.

Attending a local club meeting is a simple action step that says “I am a real estate investor” to your mind. That alone should motivate and inspire you to take bigger steps forward. Remember the quote by Maxwell Maltz that says

“A step in the wrong direction is better than staying on the spot all our life. Once you’re moving forward you can correct your course as you go. Your automatic guidance system cannnot guide you when you’re standing still.

So if you can think of no other clear action to take right now, go to a club meeting!
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeff Brown November 3, 2010 at 8:42 am

Hey Julie — Loved learning more about the various paths down which you’ve traveled. There’s much to be said about tasting various foods ’till ya find some that really hit the spot.

I’m thinkin’ the clubs in your neck of the woods are superior to ours here. Honestly though, since I walked away from my last club over 20 years ago, I’m unsure whether they’ve improved or not.

Also, it’s so good to see ‘helping’ as one of the factors listed. Can’t imagine a beginner meetin’ up with a mentor more helpful than you’d be.

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Julie Broad November 3, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Thanks Jeff – that is very kind of you to say! Not everyone wants my help though – especially my relatives. What’s with that?? :) haha!! Seriously – I do appreciate that.

The clubs around here do vary in who attends – some are better than others – but if I only make one valuable connection, help one person get unstuck or learn one new thing in the 2 hours I spend at a meeting it’s worth my time. At least so far it seems to be paying us back beautifully. :)

I always appreciate your comments!

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Nate Worcester November 3, 2010 at 10:33 am

This is an excellent post and has convinced me that I definitely need to become more active in my local clubs!

Thanks Julie!

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Julie Broad November 7, 2010 at 7:09 am

Wonderful!! Thank you for your comment.

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Jonathan Yturralde November 4, 2010 at 7:12 am

All great reasons to attend. I just love this blog. Excellent information in a clean presented logical feel. Not just fluff and bs but good information! Thanks for keeping up the fresh content!

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Joshua Dorkin November 4, 2010 at 7:17 am

We’re glad you’re enjoying the blog, Jonathan. We’ve got a team of the best real estate investment bloggers out there and have a no garbage approach to our articles and everything else on BiggerPockets. See you around the blog and hopefully elsewhere on the site.

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Jess Robinson November 6, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Julie, great post. Thanks for pointing out all the benefits of local REI club membership. Having recently begun to travel the path of private money lending, I attended my second meeting at my local chapter recently and just happened to sit next to a seasoned private money lender. Go figure! She has graciously consented to allow me to buy her a cup of coffee and pick her brain. This kind of connection is invaluable. I’m looking forward to forging new REI relationships of all kinds; I look forward to the day when I can benefit others by sharing my experience.

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Julie Broad November 7, 2010 at 7:08 am

That’s such a great example Jess!! Thank you for sharing! And once you learn what you feel you need to learn I can guarantee that same club meeting has a handful of experienced investors that will borrow that money from you too!!

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Joel Owens November 7, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Great article.

The funny thing is the commercial side you are not interested in is the side I love. The residential side I do not get into that much.

That’s what is so great about real estate is there is a niche for everyone to get interested in. I here you on the family member or friend thing.

You can explain all day how stocks are nothing but paper and one day can be worth a 100 and the next be used for toilet paper.I like real estate because it is a tangible asset that is not as volatile as the stock market.

Barring an act of God your property will still be around and worth something and even if it dips down some it will go back up eventually.

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Mathew November 7, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Great article. I’d like to hear more about your getting an MBA in real estate, because I’m considering going that path myself. How many years of work experience did you have before attending graduate school? What school did you go to?

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