Personal Finance

Should You Pay for an Expensive Real Estate Education Course?

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Personal Development, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management, Flipping Houses, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Real Estate Wholesaling, Personal Finance, Real Estate Marketing, AskBP, Real Estate Investing Basics
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several people seated in a classroom setting and two suited male speakers at the front of the room

No doubt, you have seen expensive coaching and training programs advertised on late-night television or internet banner ads. Real estate gurus claim to be able to teach you to become filthy rich through real estate investing. Is this real? Can you really learn from these guys?

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Let me first explain how this industry works. Typically, this kind of coaching or training involves several “layers,” and as you peel away the layers, the education gets more and more expensive. Let me share the most common layers, so you’ll be able to recognize them in the future.

1. The Free Class

You might come across an advertisement on the radio, on television, in your local newspaper, or on your favorite website—something like “free real estate seminar” at a local hotel or conference center. The marketing teams behind these gurus spend a lot of money to drive traffic to these free seminars, hoping to pack the room with wannabe real estate investors.

2. The Hype

In the seminar, the real estate guru creates massive hype around what real estate can do, showing photos of his properties, citing impressive numbers on how much profit he made, and claiming how easy it was. He tells stories of past students who have amassed a fortune from his investing tips. He pushes on all the right pain points about how hard being broke is, how you are not taking care of your family well enough, how you are missing out on life’s luxuries. Then, he pitches hard for you to attend his weekend boot camp, usually for a small yet not insignificant chunk of money, between $200 and $500. After the pitch, he encourages the attendees to run to the back of the room to sign up—and many people do.

3. The Boot Camp

At the boot camp, the guru goes into more detail about what real estate can do, shares more numbers related to what he’s done, and will probably spend a decent amount of time showing you a high-level overview of the kind of investing he is touting as “the best way to invest in real estate.” He may even talk about numerous different strategies people use to build wealth in real estate. Some gurus are even known to spend a significant amount of time teaching those present how to negotiate, and as a “test,” encourage attendees to call up their credit card companies and get their credit card limits raised significantly. However, the guru’s only real goal is to get you to sign up for the next level of training, which is typically a $20,000 to $50,000 in-depth coaching program with some live events built in.

Related: The 13 Tell-Tale Traits of a Scammy Real Estate Investment Guru

The Problem Isn’t the “What” But the “How”

I have no doubt that many (though not all) of these “real estate gurus” have good information to share. However, the problem lies not so much in the “what” as in the “how.” These people are expert marketers and manipulators and know how to touch on the right pain points and cause your emotions to lead you to make an expensive purchase. Their pitch logically makes a lot of sense: with just a $25,000 investment in your future, you’ll end up making much more than that from the real estate training you’ll learn. What’s $25,000, $50,000, or even $100,000 when you’ll be making millions of dollars from your real estate investing?

The problem, in my opinion, is twofold. First, I believe that the vast majority of those who attend these events will never actually use the information presented. And second, the information people learn from those programs could easily be learned elsewhere absolutely free (such as on BiggerPockets)!

Does Coaching Work?

Sure, for some people. But I believe anyone who can succeed because they took a super expensive training program could have succeeded without that program, as well. After all, the program is not what makes you successful. You make yourself successful. Real estate programs offer education, motivation, and accountability, which can all be obtained for much lower costs than what these salesmen charge. Rather than helping most people get ahead, these programs simply plunge many Americans into further debt and despair when they end up spending their life savings on coaching for an activity at which they will not succeed.

Related: The One Real Estate Investing “Secret” the Gurus Don’t Want You to Know

That said, do programs like this have a place? Yes, I believe so. Successful coaching has been demonstrated in almost every industry there is as far as getting people motivated and moving toward their goals. However, the people who get the largest benefit from coaching are those who have already found a significant level of success in whatever they are doing. They have proven themselves to be someone who takes action, is a self-starter, and is willing to work hard. And most importantly, they have money to spend—and it’s not coming from a credit card.

To summarize, expensive coaching and training programs may have a place, but they are probably not appropriate for new investors. Real estate gurus have a terrible reputation for taking gullible and low-income people and pitching them hard to pay for overpriced training that they are not ready for and that will only put them in a worse situation. In the end, these gurus provide no more than an organized version of what interested individuals can already get on their own: education, accountability, and motivation. If you want to save your money and still get all three of these benefits, get active on BiggerPockets and use your cash for your next big investment instead.

[ This was adapted from a section of The Book on Rental Property Investing. ]

How do YOU feel about paid real estate courses?

Let me know your thoughts with a comment!

Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, writer, and co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast. He is a nationally recognized leader in the real estate education space and has tau...
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    Mark M. from Stafford, Texas
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Nice article. From what I can tell, correct and concise. I’m not very experienced yet (or at all) but I’ve been listening to the podcast fir a little while and trying to learn where I can, from what I’ve seen pretty much everything you can learn from the gurus and books you can learn here. I’m half way through the millionaire RE investor and I’ve already heard everything in the book on the podcast. But I guess gurus are not all bad…I was looking for reviews on gurus and one website kept popping up……..yup you guess it BP. Thank you gurus.
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Spoilers… no
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Linda Rael from Los Lunas, New Mexico
    Replied about 4 years ago
    YOU ARE CORRECT. wish i had found you earlier.
    Tim Dye from Columbus, Ohio
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Nice article, Brandon. Everyone need come coaching, but it comes in many forms and doesn’t always have to be expensive. Networking, attitude, and perseverance go a long way. I’ve found that continuing to take action, learn, and adjust… but keep moving forward to be very valuable.
    Scott Anders Investor from Sierra Vista, Arizona
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Good post, Brandon! (Coincidentally, I posted the very same topic on my FB page earlier this week). Wish I had found BP and others before I spent big $ on one of these programs.
    Scott Anders Investor from Sierra Vista, Arizona
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Good post, Brandon! (Coincidentally, I posted the very same topic on my FB page earlier this week). Wish I had found BP and others before I spent big $ on one of these programs.
    Lisa Phillips Real Estate Investor from Arlington, VA
    Replied about 4 years ago
    Ah, this is such a one size fits all advice – a bit generic. When I started sharing and teaching what I know about buying in this sub30k price range, people reached out to me for coaching – they didnt know anyone else doing this, didnt know where to start, they trusted that I could help them as new investor. As I spend a large amount of time with people, of course I gave a fee for that service if that’s what they would like (its all up to them, they reach out to me not the other way around). And, my clients (here on BP and off BP) have finally gotten started in real estate investing with my help after 2,3,6 years of browsing all the free articles here and on the internet and getting absolutely no where. That said, coaching isn’t the problem – of course its the easiest way to success. The problem may be that other programs weren’t that good and you can’t see inside. But, here’s a difference – for anyone who offers these services to those who reach out to them – you can watch over 50+ videos of mine before even talking to me. If you don’t trust me, or like my strategy that I will help you with, don’t reach out, but you’ll know at that point exactly what you will be getting if that’s what you want. It’s just that I noticed certain people here on BP think your time is valued at a cup of coffee (which there are numerous articles saying that works – it really doesn’t which can be seen by how many people are calling and asking me questions because they can’t find anyone to take that time with them – I have to re-program them that the amount of people who will mentor you for a cup of coffee so you can pick there brain is very small amount- and, if they are going to spend time with you, you should probably offer at least lunch if you want them to invest that time with you for free when they don’t know you from Adam), and other people value their time to invest in your business at a lot higher rate. This just doesnt work – it sounds good, but its cookie cutter advice and I find people telling me,”I can’t find anyone to help me out” using that approach. Well, people are busy and you’re not the first person to ask to take up all their time with questions. You’re the 10th person that day. But, individual coaching isn’t the same as a Than Merrill 25k program – that’s why i thought this article was too broad. Its a big difference reaching out to a BP contributor (as many people here like Michael Blank or Ben Leybovich offer individual coaching and/or teaching courses if people would like it in their niches), and to just lump those individuals in with these flashy, marketing seminars – this doesn’t do anyone any good and sends out mixed signals. Its not all the same whatsoever, and that’s kept a lot of new investors back in analysis paralysis because its taught to them that it is. I see it every single day when I talk to people on investing when they reach out to me looking for help.
    Lisa Phillips Real Estate Investor from Arlington, VA
    Replied about 4 years ago
    That was longer than I thought, didnt mean to take up half a page!
    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied about 1 year ago
    BP is mostly free, so just come here. At least that's my opinion
    Alex Craig Real Estate Professional from Memphis, TN
    Replied about 1 year ago
    To many podcast and free information available to justify paying for an expensive guru. The reality is that so many people hate their life, jobs and are dying to be rich and think a course is their answer. They simply are not using their rational mind when forking over that kind of cash.
    Wenda Kennedy JD from Nikiski, Alaska
    Replied about 1 year ago
    The information is out there and very affordable. Books, podcasts, and blog posts can tell you just about everything you know for your formal education. It's when you get your hands dirty and put your money on the line that you really learn the real estate business. It's succeeding or failing. There is no magic bullet. Real Estate is a "lone-wolf" business rather than a group experience. No one can do it for you and no one can make those pivotal decisions. Oh, I get advice from friends -- but the bottom line is that it's my dog and pony show -- and I own all of my decisions and deals. There's no guru on earth that has a stake in any of this. So why would I pay them for something they can't do?
    Bryan Hartlen Investor from Phoenix
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I agree that with the right drive and determination most people would be able to figure out how to invest BUT... good education accelerates results and minimizes mistakes. Personally, I would never do the weekend parachute guru deal, but I did purchase education from a national provider (24hr streaming access, multiple study paths) that also has local investor groups. The combination of current training and the ability to mastermind with other investors has been a great investment. We always have people we can ask deal specific questions, we have access to shared resources and it's a self policing network of potential partners/investors.
    Wesley Whitehead Rental Property Investor from Miami, FL
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I agree with Bryan in the good education accelerates results. Brandon is crushing it, is a thought leader in the field of real estate investing, and I enjoy the podcast but this is the pot calling the kettle black when I hear Brandon somewhat bash gurus while simultaneously promoting everything BP related (if you have listened to the podcast/webinars you kno what I'm talking about or in denial). However it does makes sense for Brandon to do this. If one were to to spending time with certain real estate courses or at a mastermind group, that is time that is not spent on Bigger Pockets, the company that Brandon works for. Please keep in mind that if you have listened to the podcast/webinars, there are endless plugs to up sell pro memberships and literature published by BP. Now from an outside glance, this seems less than a $25,000 course, but when you are making a pitch to somewhere slightly under one million people (that's my best guest stemming from when Josh Dorkin mentioned that there were 800,000 plus members on Joe Fairless's podcast), you do the math in terms of revenue for BP. I am not saying that Brandon or people at the BP staff doing this are wrong (far from it), I am however calling this behavior hypocritical. I am a Pro member because I am looking to house hack and was looking to use the rental property calculator to streamline the process of sorting through the 100-200 listings I have looked at. I do not regret this decision for one second and believe that the 30 something dollars a month I am paying has been a great investment in my future for financial independence. I have also signed up for a weekend course and educational programs (Gene Guarino's RALAcademy) and have been very happy with that investment in my financial future as well. Heck the reason why I signed up for the courses was because the information I was getting through cheaper sources (networking, literature, BP) was lacking so I decided to narrow my focus. If this allows me to achieve my 10 year goal in 2 years what's is that worth? I am not saying that hard work is not involved because if hard work is what makes the journey/destination worthwhile. I feel that there is this attitude on the forums that mandates you are either for an expensive education person or against it. However it is really up to the individual. There are people that sign up for pro memberships that do nothing with their memberships, just as like there are people who sign up for expensive education programs who never do anything with them. I just feel that a need to pigeon answers in a single black and white answer just creates greater division on platforms like the forums instead of promoting the sharing of ideas so that we can all attain the goal of financial freedom. Again Mr. Turner this is not meant to be disrespectful. I applaud you having the courage to share you ideas and the extraordinary work you do for BP (whatever they're paying you is not enough in my opinion). I am simply stating an observation and believe that others might agree with this assessment (although most will disagree) but would otherwise not want to share. Take care everybody and enjoy the upcoming weekend.
    Mark F. Rental Property Investor from Bergen County, NJ
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I see what your saying Wesley but I've read most of the BP books... for free! The library is a great tool. Couple that with all the free content, I just have such a hard time saying its comparable. I have seen threads on here saying some of the more focused RE coaching is valuable. Those guys though are apparently doing a good mix of investing and coaching. Not all of their money is coming from pushing products apparently. I'd be much more inclined to listen to those guys and gals.
    Matt Rachow Investor
    Replied about 1 year ago
    I agree whole heartedly that the "gurus" need to be scrutinized. They sell hope with hand picked examples (from a market years ago). Attempts are made by a professional pitchman to make you feel like you're a foolish loser if you don't purchase their expensive coaching program. There are so many of these gurus that have been in San Diego that it only adds to the scarcity of deals. I doubt they have done any deals themselves for quite some time. I miss the 1980's, and 90's where real estate investing wasn't a source of opportunistic carpetbagging from so many marketing companies.
    Michelle Lynnette Spencer
    Replied 8 days ago
    Yes i would love to do paid real estate classes and some free classes also i would love tp get licence this way are certified this way