Enough Already! Good Folks Are Gettin’ Hurt Readin’ Your Pap

by | BiggerPockets.com

Warning: This is a full on rant. It’s meant to inform, but contains much ire. If this post stings a bit — tough. Get over it. Also, it’s not aimed in any way either directly or indirectly at any BiggerPockets contributors, as I wouldn’t write here myself if I thought the norm here reflected what I’m about to rip asunder. 🙂

So far this year it’s only gotten worse. The so-called advice to real estate investors of all stripes. Whether the target is buy and hold, buy and trade when prudent, flippers, or somewhere in the middle (whatever that might be) — advice written for real estate investors is never hard to find these days. Most of it though should be printed up and put through the shredder so the reader can save on this spring’s lawn fertilizer. They not only save some cash but end up with the greenest grass in their neighborhood.

I get this way every few years, usually when the advice gets so nauseous and ubiquitous that something inside compels a public response. The last time I did this was at a conference at which I’d been invited to speak. It was about three years ago, and I was asked an innocent question — based on the questioner’s bad experience in his local real estate market.

“What can you tell me to do differently, so next time I won’t end up with a lost cause?”

Problem was, that question came on the heels of our lunch break, during which I’d been asked the same question by the five others at the table. All of them had either found themselves locked into a ‘goin’ nowhere’ investment, or had lost their money completely. I’d spent the rest of the lunch break finding out what the common denominator was to all their stories. It wasn’t geography. It wasn’t property type. It wasn’t fraud of any kind. What was it?

Under my Columbo-like questioning, the pattern emerged. One after the other told me of reading one blog or another, sometimes, gulp, an eBook, all of which contained a soup to nuts ‘how to’ for real estate investment. You know — The Secret to Can’t Miss Real Estate Investing — I Share My Promised Land Secrets For Guaranteed Success.

They told me their stories, all of which contained the same chapter headings, more or less. The advice was laughable — criminal in my view. Yet they all followed it like it had been taken from the third tablet Moses must’ve dropped on his way back down the mountain.

Here are a few examples.

1. You must thoroughly investigate your target market. Get to know where the good deals might be hiding.

BawldGuy Here: Let’s frame this one. People actually pay for this crap? Investigate your target market? What does that even mean Forrest? It boggles the mind what folks will read and follow without knowing squat about what their task really entails, but what it really means OR the skills needed to complete it successfully. It’s like constantly having to walk up to the plate with the count already at no balls, two strikes.

2. Ensure you’re not overpaying for the property. This can be done by an in-depth analysis of the property’s immediate neighborhood.

BawldGuy Here: Yeah, and don’t swim in the ocean when ya see half a dozen Great White shark fins circlin’ your boat. Oh, can’t tell if sharks are there? Geez, what to do? Oh well, nothing risked, nothing gained. (Cello playin’ in the background.)

3. And my all-time favorite — Always invest in your local market, cuz you know that market best. Also, there’s no substitute for being able to drive by your property.

BawldGuy Here: It was at this point I asked each of my lunch mates if they were indeed enjoying the huge advantage of driving by the catalyst for their financial demise. “But what if an outa town builder rips me off?” What, all the local builders are Heaven sent? Should I infer from that question you’re a genius at home, but Forrest’s slow cousin in another state? Come on — do you realize how lame you’re sounding?

And that’s when the silence became like quicksand over hell.

Back to the questioner at the conference, and my answer, paraphrased from memory the best I can.

Please don’t take this personally, cuz I promise you it’s not meant that way. Let me begin by puttin’ this conversation into keenly focused context. If you studied for six months what I and my peers do for a living, would you know half of what we’ve forgotten? Don’t answer, it’s rhetorical. I challenge everyone here to go back to the source of most of their so-called knowledge, and reread what sent you scurrying off to the guaranteed success of PromisedLand.

Was there anything whatsoever of substance in their advice? Was there specificity in any concept they were ‘teaching’? Was there anywhere to be found an indication of real experience, specific knowledge and expertise?

Everyone, close your eyes. Remember the gold nuggets that excited you most in your search for real estate investment knowhow. If you’re honest with yourself, wasn’t most of it inane advice, feeding upon your thirst for success? How much if any was more valuable than, “Buy low, sell high”?

People, when it comes to investing in real estate, especially for the majority whose agenda is nothing less than their retirement for Heaven’s sake, stop treatin’ it like a D0-It-Yourself project for your kid’s 10th grade electronics project. The stakes are a lot higher than getting a bad grade in school.

Treat your retirement as if it was one of the most important times of your life, cuz it is. Just ask those who’re greeting you at Walmart these days. Think they read an eBook on real estate investing too? Wonder if their retirements were DIY? Ouch.

To those who insist on giving investment advice in terms of clichés and worthless bromides, I beg you to look in the mirror. Ask yourself how many good people have jumped into shark filled waters, or headed off to a non-existant PromisedLand due to your inane babble?

Shame on all of you.

About Author

Jeff Brown

Licensed since 1969, broker/owner since 1977. Extensively trained and experienced in tax deferred exchanges, and long term retirement planning.


  1. This article reminds me of my golf game. When I started playing as an adult, I could consistantly hit the ball 280 yards and straight. After watching a “How To Video”, I have sliced my drives for the last 20 years and can’t straighten them out.

  2. Jeff… great article. Right between the eyes!

    Regrettably, and as you so eloquently state, the “hypsters” know that the sizzle sells but better then the steak. Now if only those buying knew what they really needed.

    Keep up the great insight.


  3. Jeff Brown

    Hey Peter — I wonder at what point the investors themselves begin to realize the part they play? When guys like you write stuff — with substance overflowing everywhere, it should be a solid comparative tool for them when they come upon someone who can only provide sizzle.

    The principle most ignored is that they can’t know what they don’t know. Put another way, they don’t know the questions to ask, so they can’t get the answers they need from the “hypsters”.
    .-= Jeff Brown´s last blog ..Real Estate Investors – What the Heck Is A GRM? =-.

  4. LOL, great post, Jeff. Insightful and funny. Of particular emphasis: “they cant know what they dont know”. Sure, listening to gurus may give the audience broad cliches that in some abstract way may be right, but people need to be more thorough than just attending a seminar and thinking they are qualified. It actually reminds me of SEO, where due to the lack of any type of professional certification every Dick and Harry that has an opinion to spout calls themselves an ‘expert’ and since a lot of people know little about it (and don’t want to take the time to LEARN) they jump right in.

  5. Jeff!
    Thank you for this post! I have been preaching the same story for many years now. Like yourself, I am a Retirement Advisor/Real Estate specialist. After 30+yrs, the incompetence and guru advice hasn’t really changed. They just charge more $$ now then they did way back then. If you are serious and looking to build long term wealth for Retirement, then find a mentor/advisor who has the knowledge and experience you can trust and who will never just tell you what you want to hear to make a buck!! Real Estate is a greedy business, but it is also a way to wealth and living a comfortable lifestyle in retirement, if you do it right. Thanks again Jeff! Can I reblog your post??
    .-= Dwight (Matt) Mathews´s last blog ..The Next Great Recession 2011-2012?? =-.

  6. Robert Steele on

    I remember way back when I was wet behind the ears and my fiance got me involved in RE investing. She was wet behind the ears too. It started with Carlton Sheets. At the time it seemed like gold, but after a while I figured that 1980’s financing wasn’t working in the year 2000 so I struck off on my own and never paid for another RE guru again. Perhaps it was because I have always been the type of person who liked figuring things out by myself and making my own mistakes or maybe it was because I was too cheap to throw down hundreds of dollars on some guru’s course. Always at the back of my mind was the niggling question; if they have a sure fire secret to financial success why do they need to be selling this course?

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