After seeing the interest in the DFW BP meetup and noticing many new investors clamoring for a place to meet, I figured it might be worthwhile to post a collective list of the DFW REIAs that I'm familiar with and a little note on their value. As a full-time investor, I believe in education and networking. I've learned something new at almost every event I've attended. Sometimes its trivial and sometimes its huge. I learn from BP everyday as well. Most of these REIAs attract plenty of noobs, especially when they are free, but each also has a small core of experienced investors attending regularly. I have no connection or interest in any of these REIAs beyond having been an attendee at each. This is a LONG note.
I think its important to realize that each REIA is independently owned and is run as a business. They are generally not philanthropic by nature, however, this isn't necessarily bad. Some use the REIA as a loss leader to attract business to their core operation, such as a law firm, mentoring, wholesaling, or deal funding. Some are free and some charge dues. Below, you will find a list of REIAs in no particular order, along with my opinion, a website link and their costs. I'm not an expert on these groups, so I encourage others to fill in the gaps and forgive me for any minor errors.
1) Grand Prairie - "The Real Estate Investors Training Club" http://www.meetup.com/realestate-1155/
Founded by Greg Bell, his club meets regularly and appears to offer good introductory training. He seems to have good attendance. He tends to offer more advanced fee-based training at reasonable pricing. The meetings have great energy, but networking is a challenge in his packed restaurant venue. His regular meetings are free with the purchase of a yummy BBQ dinner. I believe that Greg's core business is mentoring and training. No high-pressure tactics - do what works for you.
2) Arlington - "Arlington Real Estate Association" (AREA) http://www.meetup.com/realestate-445/
Founded by Dennis Henson, his club meets regularly and appears to offer good introductory training, however IMO, he hosts quite a few too many gurus and pitches these via email heavily. He seems to have good attendance. His meetings are free and the meetings have great energy. He's even done day long Saturday classes for free and the content was quality. I believe that Dennis core business is mentoring along with deal funding / profit sharing. He'll help you get your deal done for a cut. No high-pressure tactics (aside from a healthy email stream and your typical guru, if there) - do what works for you.
3) Addison - "Roddy Roundup" http://www.meetup.com/RoddyRoundUpDFW/
Founded by George Roddy, his club meets monthly and offers good introductory training and since he attracts mostly noobs, its often basic training. But, George and his family are experienced investors and throw out good nuggets at times. His meetings are both free and filling - his vendors cater in Subway sandwiches for dinner. The meetings have great energy and George does a great thing to encourage networking. He has a mini-training topic, followed by 45 minutes of networking and vendor meeting, followed by the main topic followed by a prize raffle. This event is a family operation, so it has two core businesses: Roddy Lists of foreclosures, vacant homes and other leads as well as the Roddy Real Estate Investing Academy. No high-pressure tactics - do what works for you.
4) Richardson - "North Texas Association of Real Estate Investors" http://www.ntarei.com
Founded by Roger Hodkin, his club meets monthly. It is a fee-based ($20/meeting or annual) club and as such, its meetings tend to have more seasoned investors than the others. The energy level of the meetings is moderate to low-key. It starts with networking followed by a presentation. The presentations have a good mix of business topics along with some how-to's. For instance, he'll bring in the foremost state attorney to discuss current law topics, or a Justice of the Peace to offer practical landlording information and a random guru on occasion. He hosts a number of other fee-based training meetings that hit on a specific how-to. However, this club is quite different from the rest in that the fees are very reasonable. We're talking typically $20 for members, sometimes higher. No high-pressure tactics. Period. Roger's main business does not bleed over into his club, unless you specifically ask him about it. The club does not appear to be feeding a main business.
5) Fort Worth - Personally, I don't know of anything there. Anyone?
6) Irving - "Lifestyles Unlimited" http://www.lifestylesunlimited.com
Founded by Del Wamlsley, this is not a REIA. It is a business, but since it has REIA like tendencies, and because it's hugely marketed, it's worth covering. I'll likely offend someone with this assessment, but I hope it helps others. These are my opinions only. They are THE real estate investor marketing machine in DFW. They have a weekly radio show and offer sound advice. They churn in many folks to their free "Case Study" seminars. They pack the house! Their goal at this meeting is converting the audience into buying their $500 yearly membership which lets you attend a 2 day class that teaches you "everything you need to know" to be a wholesaler, buy and hold or flipper or apartment investor. You'll not learn much at all, if your plan is to take a run on your own, but will get a good introduction to various RE topics such as basic ROI analysis, what is wholesaling, etc. Then at the 2 day meeting, you will be offered a chance to join for $5-6K for SF buy-and-hold mentoring or $12K for MF mentoring. If you need hand-holding and want to do buy-and-hold, they will push you to get it done. They collect RE agent fees on your MLS purchases. The MF side mostly ends up as source for passive investors, but some really push and become leads on MF deals. They offer free monthly vendor pitch-fests where 3 vendors will pitch their wares and offer advice as well. You have experts talking on topics, so you can learn there. While you can network anywhere, their regular monthly meetings are so focused on getting new members to join, its not worth attending. Some of their members are wildly successful. They are not high pressure, but like to build up the rah-rah so that you want to say yes. If you know what you are getting into and it's a fit for your personality, then consider joining.
7) Dallas - "Texas Real Estate Investor's Circle" (TXREIC) http://www.meetup.com/Texasrealestateinvestorscircle-com/
Founded by Ian Day and Gaylene Lonegran, this club meets monthly. It is fee-based ($15/meeting or annual). The meetings are sometimes lightly attended. The energy level is moderate. The meeting topics are on random RE investment topics, such as Subject 2, cash flow, insurance, self-storage, etc. They also have a Women's only sub-group. Generally, networking can be done before the main presentation. Some vendors are present. Ian is a RE investor and mentor and Gaylene is a RE lawyer, but neither push their business hard. Because of the fee, they appear to attract folks with some RE experience, but the topics covered don't tend to attract heavy experience. They simply appear as any other vendor in the venue. No high-pressure tactics. Some of their speakers will occasionally offer day long courses for a reasonable fee. The best thing about TXREIC is that they have a HUGE and active mailing list that allows you to communicate with your fellow investors. Great local advice and feedback.
8) Dallas - "The Dallas Real Estate Investment Association" (Dallas REIA) http://reiadallas.com/
This is Dallas' newest REIA, founded by Cathy Crowe and Shenoah Grove (wife of PHill Grove). It started in June 2013 and offers monthly meetings with high energy. It seemed to have attracted a good mix of experienced investors and noobs alike. The first 2 meetings were free and the subsequent ones are fee based, but they offer a coupon for a free initial meeting. I don't yet know the monthly pricing. For some reason, I think this REIA will take off given the personalities and dynamics of it's founders. They are looking to offer market knowledge, deal hawking, topic of the month and networking. Shenoah (and Phill) offer RE deal funding (for a cut of the profits), website and training and Cathy offers wholesaling. Their businesses are presented like any other vendor in the room, with short introductions. Shenoah and Phill run a large and active REIA in Austin. The REIA maintains a bulletin board for Q&A, but it currently has little activity.
Each of the above have something to offer. Join, learn and contribute! I may see you at one of these events!