Real Estate Guru Courses: Are They Worth It?

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Does this sound familiar? You’re new to real estate and want to get ‘in-the-game’. You open up Google, type in a few real estate words that peak your interest, and click ‘Search’. BOOOOOM!!! You are flooded with blog posts, message board posts, websites, YouTube videos, and last but not least, guru courses. This can truly an overwhelming feeling, but also an awesome opportunity to “earn” some money. Please, allow me to explain.

The theme slogan for this article comes from our good friend Benjamin Franklin: A penny saved is a penny earned.

The majority of what you will find on the front page of many Google searches are real estate guru courses. This isn’t by coincidence, they spend money to get themselves there. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, the question is, are they worth it?

The short answer: yes and no.

I know what you’re thinking, “what a wimpy cop-out answer that was!”, but in all actuality, it is the true answer. On that same note though, you need to ask follow-up with the question, how much is my time worth?

Let’s Face It

1) Guru’s make their living collecting publicly available information, packaging it into fancy websites, and marketing/branding it as the “ground-breaking”.

2) 99.9% of the information the Guru’s are selling can be found and pieced together by using BiggerPockets and Google.

3) Like death and taxes, you can be certain there will be some form of hidden costs.

The Choice

In Statement #1, two of these three aspects can be beneficial. Collecting and packaging the information all together DOES create an aspect of value in terms of time savings. On the other hand, as Statement #2 tells us, BiggerPockets and Google create a vast amount of value in regards to being a great “detective tool” to reverse engineer what these guru courses are teaching. Whether the guru course deals with flipping, short sales, subject-to’s, wholesaling, REO’s, blah, blah, blah, it is nothing “new”. Sure, it may have a “new” name, but the strategy has already been around the block multiple times.

I’ve taken all the paths…

Overpaid for the courses and felt like “notch in the Guru’s belt”.

Refused to buy and found the information on BiggerPockets and by other public means.

Refused to  buy and wasted so much time going on a wild goose chase that I should have just bought from the beginning.

Bought a guru course, saved myself the time of reverse engineering, and learned a couple great things.

What Path to Take?

My personal strategy in determining what path to take…

1) How specific or broad is the topic? What are they claiming?

2) Estimate reverse engineering time (time spent on BiggerPockets and Google, and then piecing it all together)

3) What is price?

Question #1

This is the most important estimation, as it will help answer the following question. If the topic is something broad like wholesaling, flipping, short sales, etc., then odds are there is a boatload of information available at your finger tips. If the topic is something broad, but they’re claiming some sort of “new twist”, then it will probably take a bit more time of digging  before you can uncover the concept they are “re-branding”. On top of this, if indeed it is an actual “new twist” (highly doubtful though), this will impact Question #3.

Question #2

This one is easy. The broader the topic and more information available, the less time needed for reverse engineering. The more “twists” and “never heard of tactics”, the more time will be needed.

Question #3

This will let you know how much money you are “spending” or “earning”.

Example 1 

Scenario: I’m Googling and I see a course for $97 (Question 3) about raising private money. Since private money is a pretty talked about topic (Question 1), it would probably only take about 2 hours of reverse engineering time to find and get a grasp on the topic (Question 2).

I can either “spend” $97 or “earn” $97. How do I decide? I need to figure out the cost of my time.

$97/2 = $48.50 per hour

For my business model (especially given the fact I have a monthly “education budget”), I would rather just spend the $97 and use that 2 hours to either network, check out a new property, or spend it with my family.

Now, if the course had just come out and was at the typical $997 price, that is the only variable that changes. There is still a boatload of information available regarding raising private money, so all other variables remain true.

$997/2 = $498.50 per hour

A penny saved is a penny earned, so I will GLADLY sit in my underwear at my computer and do some digging in order to “save,” and therefore “earn” $498.50 per hour. For some, it may still be worth it to just buy the course, but for me and where I am currently with my business, it makes more sense for me to take two hours out of my schedule to locate the information.

Example 2 

Scenario: I’m Googling and I see a course for $97 (Question 3) about how you can wave a wand and it will mesmerize the bank doing the short sale to automatically say ‘yes’ to whatever off you are presenting. Being this is a strong claim and that I imagine has information that will take time to dig and find (Question 1), it would probably take about 10 hours of reverse engineering time to find and get a grasp on the topic (Question 2).

$97/2 = $48.50 per hour

But wait a minute… remember Statement #3 about hidden cost? Let’s suppose there is a way that this strategy is actually ‘new’. Well, I live in a different state than the guru does, so does that affect me? If so, how? Doing this sort of strategy seems to open up a can of liabilities doesn’t it? How can I protect myself?

Yikes!! I can either head to law school and get a degree or talk with a local real estate attorney. Both costly things to do. Add these costs onto the $97 and the costs could spin out of control.

My choice: forget about the strategy and don’t allow myself to either A) get ripped off or B) waste my time going on a wild goose chase.

Remember, there is always more than just what the initial price suggests. The more goofy claims, the more hidden costs there are going to be — unless of course you just want to walk on thin ice and open yourself up to lawsuits from all directions (but then again, that would just be ANOTHER hidden costs).


Should you press the ‘Buy’ button? You should evaluate each buying decision on a case by case basis. We all are at different points in our businesses, and all of our time has different values on it. So, while it may make sense for Bobby-Boy to hit the ‘Buy’ button, it may not make sense for Timmy-Tom to make the same decision.

It is essential you consider the value of your time and to do a realistic estimation of the hidden costs that could potentially turn that $97 purchase into a $1,997 purchase.

Photo: Adriano Agulló

About Author

Clay Huber

Clay (G+) is a licensed real estate agent and the owner of Huber Property Group, LLC, a real estate investment company located in Grand Rapids, MI. His company purchases distressed properties with the main exit strategy of fixing them up and reselling with owner financing, particularly, land contracts.


  1. Excellent article Clay!

    I know this topic will get a ton of comments. You did a great job at taking a not-too biased and logical approached to the “Guru” question. Personally I have been burned $10K plus by a smooth-talking guru in my early 20’s. I believe it comes down to many of us believing that we will “get what we pay for”… sadly this is not often the case with many “money hungry” gurus (only now is the industry getting more regulated).

    Now a days even the word “Guru” conjures up images of slick talking wealthy “sales” men and women that are all about selling you on buying their crap with little to no follow-up or accountability. As an ACTIVE new or seasoned investor remember that you have what the guru wants (your money), don’t buy until you have a chance to talk with that particular guru and see how “available” they are for you… how much they are really there to help you Vs. help themselves.


    • You are absolutely right. To be called a “guru” in this day and age is borderline an insult. You make a good point in terms of reaching out to the “guru” first to see exactly how reachable/responsive they are. It’s easy to claim you are “available 24/7”, but a bit more difficult to actually deliver on it.

  2. I tell my students that if they plan to buy from a “guru”, they need to know who the guru is..
    Many, as you explained, only re-package information and don’t even do the business they’re selling. Frightening!
    I also recommend that a mentor not only be successful in the business they teach, but making multiple times what the student is making.
    Finally, much of what is taught is state specific and you’ll find documents and techniques you pay for can’t be used in your state. Buyer beware.

    Find a strong, successful leader or you won’t be led. Great point.

    • Karen – couldn’t agree more, all excellent points.

      As you mentioned, given the fact all states have different laws, it is almost a guarantee that any course is going to have an avalanche of ‘hidden costs’ when you go and try to figure out if everything is “legit” in your state of residence.

  3. Brandon Turner

    Yes, great article! I definitely believe a good, seasoned mentor is worth ten “gurus” and sometimes completely free (or the cost of a cup of coffee and a few hours of time). Paying for information isn’t a terrible idea, but like you said – you need to weigh the costs. Thanks Clay! Keep up the good writing!

    • Great point. Its amazing how “profitable” it can be to spend a few bucks to buy someone a cup of coffee and then sit back and listen.

      Probably the best $3-$4 investment you could make.

  4. I agree – Buyer beware. And for all the free seminars I’ve been to which were teasers for joining the $10k+ programs they do not talk about the risk. I even went to a free teaser here in metro-Boston on 6/1/12 for Dean Graziosi where they offered to completely fund the deals but only after you sign up for the 3-day seminar for $1997. I was like, oh dear, do these poor, innocent folk know what they are getting into? I don’t remember hearing the words “risk,” “danger,” “default,” etc. very much in the 2 hour teaser seminar.

    When someone goes from being just a good rehabber/flipper to becoming an empire you have to have one eye looking with extreme caution.

    With that said, a few weeks ago I attended a 3 day seminar put on by the FLIP THIS HOUSE tv guys that used to be located in CT. Speaker was Paul Esajian and he was there the whole time speaking. For newer investors I would say you’d get a lot out of 3 days for that price, for seasoned investors it’s a maybe. Of course it was a teaser for the astronomically expensive “Mastery Course” but I found the 3 day course to be overall worth the money. Under $200 for 3 full days of lecture and Q&A (yes, they answered as many questions as they could), book & DVD isn’t too bad. There was some good info and good food for thought. It was one of the most useful seminars I’ve ever been to.

    • Clay Huber

      Good point Dee.

      Any ‘free’ or cheaply priced seminar is more than likely just a teaser; however, also like you mentioned, there may be the opportunity to pick up a few worthwhile nuggets of information.

      I’ll also agree with you on the Flip this House crew from CT. Although I’ve never been to their seminars, when I was first getting started, I bought a few things from them off eBay (never pay full price for a course!!) and it was very helpful.

  5. Cedric Corpuz on

    Great perspective, I’m another one who got hooked for $12,000 with information that was available through other resources, however honestly it did accelerate where to go to for information as well as connected me to my current partners. If I were to do it all over again, I would not have done it however, don’t know that I would have gotten to the point I am…so here I too find myself a bit wishy washy on my comment…

  6. Gerald Jordan

    Each and every one of you have helped me. I am a newbie on the block and attended a seminar for 300.00 plus dollars. It has jetted me to learn after having sat with others who wanted to jump into the RE ocean. I would have signed on for the 20k plus program but, decided to not take on any more debt due to a 16k IRS obligation. I made the decision to invest in property several years ago and while being a single parent purchased a nice stash of silver and gold while I was able. The past three years have been spent re-tooling my credit and with the intent of buying multi-4 or housed to carve out room rentals. This site was discovered as I exited the seminar and I am just over-welmed with the information and assistance …. I could not afford the seminars any way so this is a god-send. I figure to continue educating my self and already have a strong relationship with a community bank and an invitation to take a mortgage but, I am waiting until the credit score is about a solid 850, I think I,m at between 700 and 740 once the refinancing of my auto is sorted out. I am yet on the dealers credit and the credit unions books at the same time. Aftre the 90 days of switching I think I shall be in the last lag to have a score of 750 to 800. I am sure to connect with many of you and hope to build a castle of RE too.

    • You don’t need credit to invest in real estate. In fact, if the property is really distressed most banks won’t lend on them anyways. So, you would need to get a hard money lone or a partner… Of course there are many ways to buy a property but I wouldn’t be waiting on your credit.


  7. Thanks to everyone for commenting about real estate investing on BiggerPockets. I have attended several meetings of a local Real Estate Investors club. They seem to be honest people . Some of these GURU’s seem to be CON ARTISTS !! giving you a little information, which may get you into trouble. I am enquiring about investing in probate properties in Ventura County, California.
    Thanks again. Gary Hartung, Simi Valley, California

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