You could say that it has become easier to learn something online. Of course, with plenty of learning material available in the form of online courses, tutorials, DVDs, etc., it certainly does look like it. So whatever you’ve ever wanted to learn from rock gardening to rocket science, all you need to do is Google it online, and you’ll find not one but hundreds if not thousands of courses. Want more articles like this? Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox Sign up for free But is learning online really that easy? Does it make you an overnight expert? I’d say no. Learning hasn’t become easier. To make my point, let me talk about the one area I’m an expert in: real estate. Today, a simple online search will tell you that there are hundreds of courses out there that will teach you the ins and outs of the market, all from the comfort of your home. Pay them a few dollars, and they’ll send you a handful of DVDs and so-called study material. At the end of the course, you’re a certified pro, and you’re told that you can make great deals now. But when you think about it, is it even possible to learn about a living breathing market from the comfort of your couch? Learning about real estate comes from real experiences. You need to get your hands dirty, go out there, make mistakes, and learn from them. That’s the only way you’ll ever really learn, and that’s the way I learned. So, I have developed three words that sum all of those real estate training products up: They all suck! Here are seven common reasons why people often fall into the trap of buying real estate investment products. So read them and ensure that you are not their next victim. Related: Forget the Real Estate Courses: Here’s the One Thing Required For Investing Success 7 Reasons That Real Estate Course is a Complete Sham Reason #1: They offer information already widely available. Many people become a part of one introductory promising online session and end up buying the course. These sessions often have the speaker portraying the benefits of how a course would help them realize their dreams and take them from rags to riches. However, more often than not, the course-makers put their energy only into creating that one introductory session, while the rest of the material is not even put together by them. This is done by people they hire — who don’t know much about the market and end up basing classes solely on the information available online. And that online information is already available for you, for free! Reason #2: There’s a self-proclaimed guru at the heart of it. With housing investments at high, many people look at them as get-rich-quick schemes. To add to this are the self-proclaimed real estate gurus who lead you to believe that this is exactly the case. Their educational seminars leave you feeling that you can really benefit because what they show you is a lot of success stories, which you can seldom verify. You sign up for their courses and often sign a form that takes away any blame you may put on them at a later date. These gurus seem genuine, and you might have even seen them on television shows, but then whether they have really been good at real estate or have been able to impart their skill to others is something you’ll never know. So ask me, and I’ll happily tell you that they all SUCK! Reason #3: There was a good amount of hard-selling involved. Most real estate investment products come with plenty of hard-selling. Along with a lucrative introductory course, you’re bombarded with the product details or influenced on an emotional level, so much so that you end up buying the course, as that seems the only smart thing to do. However, the sellers who were extremely interested in you before your purchase lose that interest once you’ve picked up their course. I’m not saying you shouldn’t attend these seminars, as I’m a big believer in learning something new everyday. Just make sure to leave your American Express at home. Reason #4: You fall for the goodie bag. Most online courses offer a goodie bag to lure you into buying them. It could be an attractive telemarketing call that promised to make you very rich through your first investment or an advertisement that showed that you could own a house and a car even if you started with nothing. In other cases, it could be a tangible goodie bag like a laptop or getting a first contract (a chance to work with the experts) that you’d win at the end of the course. In fact, every year, thousands of people fall for absolutely worthless courses, just for that “goodie bag.” I mean, come on. Seriously? Don’t do it. Reason #5: You think that the material will be unique. Many courses are also purchased by people who genuinely hope to learn something from it. And this often happens because their hard sell shrouds their product in mystery, making it even more alluring. But, if you would get the opportunity to analyze a couple of courses from different providers, then you’d notice that the content is very similar, if not the same. This means that each person who designs the course picks up material from other places. That’s why it’s obvious that the objective of the course isn’t to add genuine value but it’s just designed to make money. Reason #6: You expect this to be the fastest method of learning. And you’re right to expect so. Given that mentorship is a continuous process, an offer for online DVDs and course material does promise to teach you everything in a very short time. They also promise a lot of flexibility, which allows you to balance it with your day job. However, with a format that offers little interactivity and doesn’t allow you to ask any questions, it is difficult for any learning to take place. Related: Real Estate Guru Courses: Are They Worth It? Reason #7: You get to avoid people. Another reason many choose courses like this is because they don’t like other ways of learning and don’t want to meet people. With DVDs, they can learn all by themselves from the comfort of their homes, without anyone having to be a part of it. However, remember that most areas of study and especially real estate are all about people. Whether it be your buyers, your sellers, or other people along the value chain, it is imperative that you meet people; that is the only quick and effective way of learning. If you don’t like people, real estate isn’t for you. So having pointed out most of the reasons people fall for the crappy courses, you’re probably wondering: If all real estate investment products suck, then what’s the right way I can learn about real estate? My advice is: 3 Ways You Should Actually Learn Get into the business. Only when you jump into the business do you learn it firsthand. But just like the training wheels you used when you learnt cycling as a kid, ensure that you have a mentor you can lean on. Opt for an expert you like and admire, who is preferably located near you, who has plenty of experience, and who is willing to teach you. Even if that requires you pay them for mentoring, I’d recommend this any day over other investment products. However, before you choose a mentor, ensure that he or she is easily accessible via phone or email. Opt for free or non-gimmicky learning materials. While I have a strong disregard for most online courses, learning needs to be a continuous process, especially in such dynamic markets. I’d recommend that you constantly read good online blogs (such as this one). Being part of your local real estate investment club can help too, and you can also enroll yourself in online real estate forums (BiggerPockets), as these constantly share information — at no charge. Also, you can always invest in a few good books on real estate. These have genuine and useful material, and the upside is that you can always choose what books you’d buy by going through the material. Keep your eyes open and your head sharp. There are no overnight successes, and rags to riches stories belong in books. Real estate is all about working hard, so if you really want to make it big in this industry, then don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t fall for the fancy promises made by investment courses. In fact, I recommend that before you invest in any real estate investment product, do thorough research. Try to talk to people who have already taken the course, and check whether they have genuinely benefitted. Also, before you invest in a course, ask yourself whether you’d rather learn from someone who spends most of his/her time on courses or from someone who is actually working in the line. And remember that Google”= is your best friend and will reveal who is genuine and who just bluntly SUCKS. Investors: What has your experience with real estate courses been? How did you learn about real estate? Leave your comments below!