Purchasing a Real Estate Investing Guru Program? Read This First!

by | BiggerPockets.com

There are a lot of fantastic reasons to start investing in real estate: financial freedom, family security, supplemental income, fulfilling the entrepreneurial spirit, escaping the nine to five and more. However, it is often the salesmanship of a smooth talking “guru” that convinces someone to take action. They often promise access to a “secret” real estate investing strategy that will unlock a small fortune with very little effort. They show pictures of private beaches, exotic cars and attractive spouses to lure in those who fantasize about a different life and offer to help make their dreams come true…for a small fee of course.

But wait, if you really want to be successful, and much more quickly, you can be a Platinum VIP member…that sounds important right? This top-level membership gives you access to “special” deals that the common members only wish they could get their hands on. Not only that, you a get one-on-one mentoring from one of these ultra successful real estate investors themselves…unbelievable. All of this for the small fee of $15,000…but it won’t last for long, because they only accept the first 50 qualifying applicants. So, get out your credit cards, sell your collectibles and empty your savings accounts…it’s your lucky day!

That sounds familiar doesn’t it? While I may have exaggerated (just a bit) I have actually heard of aspiring investors spending their life savings on mentorship, clubs, or whatever the word of the month is.

If you are considering paying vast amounts of money for one of these programs I urge you at least consider alternative and much cheaper options.

Alternatives to Real Estate Gurus

1) Use the internet! We are fortunate enough to live in an age where immense amounts of information are at our fingertips 24/7. With resources like BiggerPockets.com available for free, you can learn as much as you can soak in.
2) Visit your local library. Most library memberships are free and offer dozens of choices when it comes to real estate and related fields such as business, finance, construction, etc. While it may be considered old-fashioned these days, a good-old paper filled book has a lot to offer (or if you need instant delivery the e-books selection is ever-growing).
3) Check out your local real estate investing association(s). Most markets have at least one association you can look into joining. The good ones offer guest speakers, networking, and market information. If you are lucky and show enough initiative you may find someone willing to guide you through a deal.
4) Go to class. Some of the nation’s top colleges and universities are offering courses free of charge. These classes generally fall under programs called Open Courseware. A simple inquiry on a search engine will lead you to intuitions like Yale and MIT…who knew you could take a class at Yale for free?

But, if you are dead set on joining one of these programs please do your due diligence. Take the following steps before you spend your hard-earned money (and money that could be purchasing real estate) lining someone else’s pockets.

4 Tips to Consider Before Signing Up for a Real Estate Guru Program

1) Find out what others have said. Get online and figure out what other people have said about the programs, the cost and the customer service. Be very weary of shining reviews from members that show up at a site just to defend the program (these are often paid sunshine pumpers or members of the organizations themselves).
2) Use a search engine. Pair the name of the program and people involved with the word scam. If the results are littered with people telling horror stories of losing their life savings or finishing the programs less knowledgeable than when they started…BEWARE!
3) Know the cost structure going in. Many of the programs consist of levels or tiered memberships. You may intend to spend $200 but by the time you are done you have maxed out your credit card. Do not be caught by surprise.
4) Wait! Often times these pitches are effective at striking the emotional nerve. Wait a few weeks and see if you are still interested. Often times when the daze from the salesman’s shiny new suit wears off, the programs is suddenly not as appealing (there is a reason they want you to sign up TODAY!)

Are there effective programs out there? I am sure they exist, but they are far outnumbered by programs from washed up salesmen looking to make a buck. So I urge you…be careful and explore your options or you may end up with empty pockets and without the passion for real estate you thought you had.

Free image from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Author

James Vermillion

James (G+) is a Principal Member of K&V LLC, a real estate investing company in Lexington, KY. His firm focuses on distressed property rehabilitation in the Bluegrass Region. He is also a licensed real estate agent.


  1. Clay Huber

    “4) Wait! Often times these pitches are effective at striking the emotional nerve. Wait a few weeks and see if you are still interested. Often times when the daze from the salesman’s shiny new suit wears off, the programs is suddenly not as appealing (there is a reason they want you to sign up TODAY!)”

    Along with this (great point!), odds are the price of the course will have dropped dramatically. Amazing how they go from $997 down to $97 in such a short span of time!

  2. Never underestimate the sales effect of mob psychology. Years ago, I went to a course that involved memory techniques. It was incredibly effective, because in this big group, they showed how I really could remember random bits of data. Half way through, I realized they were practicing some neat tricks that would probably expire after the session was over. I realized I was being subjected to carefully crafted sales tactics. I went to the organizer and demanded my money back. The said I would get my check in the mail. Never arrived. But, I learned to highly skeptical of this type of chicanery, and have helped other friends not get roped in either. One friend, who bought a car with a 15% loan (really bad credit) said the dealership called her a month after purchase, saying there may be a better deal for her if she would stop by. I told her not to, because they are in the business of making money not saving her money. Luckily, she never went. They would have swindled her out of more.

  3. I also encourage people to check out the success of the guru they’re listening to – many don’t even do the business they teach.
    And, talk to students who are making big money doing what the guru taught them. Good luck with that one!
    Buyer beware!
    Thanks, James.

    • James Vermillion

      Very true, the only business some “gurus” know anything about is sales. It is kind of ironic, many people want to get into real estate because they believe they are financially savvy, but end up doing no research before dropping thousands on a course.

  4. Thanks James, yes, I am evaluating one for next Sat at Eaglesnest Studios in NYC: “Real Estate Fundraising: The Keys to Success” For $1995, discounted to $1295 for “inner circle”
    Back by popular demand!
    They had such a great response last time, that they’re doing it again.
    Saturday July 14.

    Basically stated to me “Please, please dont be angry with us if you are unable to get in!” I change it to “Please, please dont be angry at us non-attendees if day becomes financial loss due to few students due to high tuition costs”!Lol to my “coming from a place of ‘lack’ ” incidentally didnt want to give me 20 students’ contact info who used this & FUNDRAISED millions “oh its confidential” yeah, right… I think more in what I can get for free or LOW cost so can invest difference elsewhere..
    Got no answer yet even though informed them I know many others with millions to invest dependant on their response…hmmm :D) Thank you-

  5. James,
    Good article! I can’t stand all the spam I get from these “gurus”. I personally feel like if they were doing so great at buying and selling real estate they would be out do that instead of trying to give lectures for a fee. I feel bad for all the suckers they get money from.

    Best Regards,
    Robert Adams

  6. Good post and really enjoyed your Podcast too! We also live in Lexington, and it was so cool to go to your site and see pictures of the great projects you’ve done in neighborhoods that are so familiar! My husband is a vet too, so I’m thinking of checking into a small business loan to help us get that next property thanks to your advice. I’m not aware of an active real estate investing group (REIA) in Lexington, are you?

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