Why do so many RE investors want to share their knowledge?

22 Replies

Why do you think so many RE investors are willing to share their knowledge with newbies and other investors? I've dabbled in a few other businesses before getting started in RE and every time I would ask a more seasoned/experienced professional in those fields for advice or guidance, it seemed as though they didn't want to share their "secrets". Don't get me wrong, I'm so appreciative that the RE community is different, but why do you think that is?

When you are passionate about something, you can't help but share it! 

I think there is also the sheer amount of Real Estate available. I can teach everyone I know all I know and there would still be deals left for me. 

I love to share what I know because I know there is a ton I DON'T know, and I can always find an answer on BP.

I think is the culture of the business. Also is because the people that are really doing great don't have to worry about competitors or back-stabbing. They are like minded and willingly helpful and want to see the next person succeed. I absolutely love being in this group of intelligent and kind people that are willing to give free advice. 

Thanks for chiming in everyone. I'm of the mindset that there's more than enough to go around, so why not share your knowledge. No matter how much you share, the greatest, most unique asset anyone has in their RE business is themselves. No two investors will walk the exact same path. I'm just so surprised and humbled at the willingness to share in this community and that makes me think that many other industries may be stuck in the mentality that ideas and information are scarce and should be kept close to the vest.

There is always a group of people who want others to have it better than they had it. Who don't want to see the new generation make the same mistakes as they did.

Plus I have found that the more I give, the more you get. When you join groups like this, and open yourself up. You can learn more than you will ever be able to give yourself. The sum is better than the parts. 

@Rachel Gill    I believe people in real estate like to share because it is a business based on networking and by sharing you are spreading the word on what you do.  

The magic of passive income and investing in real estate is so powerful that it makes people want to talk about it!!  Once you open your mind it is hard to not think and talk about it all the time!

I love that question!  

I personally give back and do my podcast and blog because I remember EXACTLY what it was like when I started out 18 years ago.  

My original broker told me "Here's your desk, here's your phone, here's the phonebook, you're on your own."

I had to learn everything from the ground up.  I swore to myself that if I ever got in the position to help someone else so they wouldn't have to do it, I would.  

Today, due to technology, I can share my passion for teaching, technology, and real estate. I can share my knowledge, experience, and interviews with others to people I will probably never meet, yet will benefit from my experience.

To me, as a 45 year old guy, knowing that my YouTube videos, and blogs, and podcasts will most likely survive much longer than I will, that gives me a sense of "fulfilling that promise."

Thanks for that insightful question!

Have a Powerful Sales Day! 

Karl Krentzel aka "John Ashley" 

Its a real good quesiton. I always wonder that myself sometimes.

Investing is a business and what kind of business person wants to help their competition? Makes no sense. 

But I do think there are a couple of reasons I point to why I share:

1) Part of the sharing is the fact that the people I'm sharing with - especially here on BP - don't tend to be direct competitors to me.  Investing tend to be very regional.

2) As was previously stated, there are typically deals for everybody - although in some of the really competitive areas, I'm not so sure that some investors would agree with that one.

3) Individually we learn a lot when we try to teach. Sharing is pretty much the same thing. So I may suggest one option and then some other investor may share an even better option that I would have never even thought of.   

Participating in the boards really helps you learn at a much faster rate than anything else I can think of. I can put my tips out there as sharing but it also allows me to get feedback from other investors when my techniques have some holes.

Now if I knew another investor was investing in the same strategy (buy and hold) and same area as myself, I'm not sure I'd always be willing to share everything I know.  But I've helped people before with some of the things (i.e. financing, etc). 

At one time, I was only able to do 2 or 3 deals a year myself. And i'd see some really good deals that I had to let go by because I simply couldn't get the financing for them. Those were the ones that I loved passing on to other people. I figured if I couldn't benefit from the deal, maybe I could benefit from doing someone a favor - so that maybe in the future, that would come back to me in some way.....

@Rachel Gill  

I come from the technology world, where sharing is the only way to survive and build a reputation.

Your point does interest me though. I have met other investors who are cautious about sharing information. I have noticed that nearly everyone is generous with 'general' information:

Use FHA financing, invest for cash flow, build connections, etc.

However, many people are very tight lipped with specific information:

Who is your broker in {metro area here}, who is the best property manager in {metro area here}, tell me your favorite zip codes, etc. 

I think there is always going to be an edge people worry about sharing because human resources have limited capacity, and we worry about that capacity finding a better buyer, or too many buyers. 

Just wanted to give a little counterpoint to the general consensus. 

I might have to disagree with your premise.  I think there are helpful people and unhelpful people in every profession/industry.  I have found online forums for engineers, auto mechanics, etc., full of people willing to help others out with their questions.  As an engineer myself, I can ask a coworker or contact lots of colleagues at other companies with a question about something, if I want, or go to an online forum.  Are there some engineers who wouldn't give me the time of day?  Sure, but I don't bother talking to those ones.  If I have a question, I seek out someone who I know will try to help me.  That doesn't mean they would just hand over a set of plans and let me see the intimate details of how they designed a building, but if I have a specific question about a specific item, they would help answer it.

So I think the issue may be what type of question was being asked.  If it was a very broad question, or a very specific question about something that they had worked hard to figure out and is not yet an industry standard, they might be hesitant to answer it.  But if it's a reasonable question that one is expected to learn about through experience, then the helpful types of people typically have no problem answering it.

Lots of reasons

RE is a social business, it takes interaction with others to conduct the business, no operator or participant is an island. Stay in it long enough, you may end up dealing with that newbie.

RE carries with it social and civic responsibilities that new types are not aware of (neither are some old investor types) and failure is easy without guidance, not only does a bad transaction fail for the newbie, they won't understand the failure or damage caused to others. If John Doe owner has a bad experience it will likely effect others later on, a good reason to teach, inform and guide others to protect the industry as well as the public. It's not all about you. Failures flows through to a buyer or seller, to a lender, a mortgage holder, the title company and settlement agent, to Realtors and others involved. Allowing people to go out in public trying to do things they have no clue about or with some wild ideas is a reflection on everyone who deals in the industry, it's irresponsible. That's why it's important to really educate dealers.

Your success can be my success, if I have added an educated, ethical, law abiding operator in the industry, that indirectly effects my business. Not only is there a very good grapevine among operators and Realtors, but reputations are  made by assisting others. If my "student" tells Joe I helped him, when Joe has a problem he may contact me. That becomes an opportunity for more business involvement with others.

If you teach or assist 50 people, you'll have 50 people supporting you in return. What goes around comes around in RE.

Regardless, 75% of those who start will get out of the business. There is no real competition, the 25% who remain, only 10% of them will remain active and drive significant amounts of business. No one can buy, sell, lease or rehab and flip all the properties on the market. It goes back to the civic side again, 35 people in an area that has a better understanding of RE but who aren't active isn't a bad thing, they may relate to a family member or co-worker and direct them in solving some matter. Hopefully they give good advice, but a better informed public makes my work easier, and don't forget referrals!

Then, there is the down side:

Many who give advice in RE don't know what they are talking about, bad advice spreads like wild fire, especially if it's "Oh, you can do this and make more money". BP and other sites can be dangerous. They may know just enough to be dangerous.

 Why do the "help"? To be cut into your deals! Help often comes with strings attached, there are the advantages above, but the help can quickly turn into, let me assist and we'll split the deal. Some make their living off "assisting" others. This is just the old master/apprentice thing, making the apprentice pay their dues to enter a business. While acceptable, it's easy for the apprentice to be abused.

Then, there are those that are driven by psychological aspects in human nature, ego, recognition, biases, greed and self esteem. You can put everyone in this category to some extent. I assist someone because it makes me feel good. Many giving advice simply want recognition and will blurt out something that is totally wrong not understanding what they might be dishing out or implying. The power of the internet can be a curse, if a person were in a room with others, they may not get any attention, on the internet they can be heard and recognized without any accountability, unless they are held accountable in a forum. Why I don't read blogs very often!

There are no secrets in real estate, sharing valid knowledge helps everyone, a new person isn't going to be putting me or any other seasoned type out of business, on the contrary, it will advance the industry, public perceptions, civic responsibilities, aid those related to a transaction, keep bad or poor information from spreading and in the end, be more profitable for all the players. Good luck! :)      

@Rachel Gill  While there may be some altruism in those who share I think the majority have found that it is simply better business.  

First, as @Ryan Billingsley  said, this is a networking business.  Sharing is part of networking and builds good will.  Whether it is from newbies or experienced investors, the investor who shares learns some new things, too.

Second, they've learned that they simply get more and better deals when they share--even with their competition.  

Third, if they are persistent, they are going to get the information somewhere.  If you're the one to give it to them, again, some of them will bring deals or partnerships to you.  

And fourth, they may have something to sell, such as coaching.  You can give people all the information they need, but some still want someone to stand beside them and coach them through the process.

Originally posted by @Trevor Ewen :

@Rachel Gill  

I come from the technology world, where sharing is the only way to survive and build a reputation.

Your point does interest me though. I have met other investors who are cautious about sharing information. I have noticed that nearly everyone is generous with 'general' information:

Use FHA financing, invest for cash flow, build connections, etc.

However, many people are very tight lipped with specific information:

Who is your broker in {metro area here}, who is the best property manager in {metro area here}, tell me your favorite zip codes, etc. 

I think there is always going to be an edge people worry about sharing because human resources have limited capacity, and we worry about that capacity finding a better buyer, or too many buyers. 

Just wanted to give a little counterpoint to the general consensus. 

 Very interesting thought here.  I haven't seen this as much personally - have you come into contact with folks that are shy about giving the names of lawyers, accountants, wholesalers, agents, or other professionals that you've worked with?

Originally posted by @Trevor Ewen :

@Rachel Gill  


However, many people are very tight lipped with specific information:

Who is your broker in {metro area here}, who is the best property manager in {metro area here}, tell me your favorite zip codes, etc. 

I think there is always going to be an edge people worry about sharing because human resources have limited capacity, and we worry about that capacity finding a better buyer, or too many buyers. 

Just wanted to give a little counterpoint to the general consensus. 

For one thing details will often be very location specific.  You can have 100 people across the country provide feedback on a general question, but the closest one could be 200 miles away.

I think people may be a little reluctant also to share evaluations publicly.

Freely received; freely give. If someone (here) reaches out for knowledge or spouts (perceived) flawed knowledge, who wouldn't want to respond in a way that is aimed at steering the ship in the right direction, as soon as possible? Thanks to all who do!  Cheers...

@Scott Trench  

I think lawyers and accountants, most people don't have trouble making a referral. From my experience, people are more hesitant about exposing their best sources for deal-flow, and also the things that are typically weak in any market (contractors & property managers). 

It actually happened to me just the other day. I don't take any offense, as I understand the investor is trying to protect what appears to be a resource of scarcity. If their connection is bombarded with calls and requests from me and others, that means they are splitting the deal pool and prices are likely going up.

I don't know if it's the best longterm strategy. As I would like to be known as someone who refers quality business to my service providers. Sometimes this is easier said than done.

@Rachel Gill  Great question! In other industries I have witnessed the same phenomenon. Some people just aren’t willing to share. The reasons why are endless. Some people are just selfish while others are afraid of the competition. I think it takes a confident and kind person to share information with others. I share with others because it’s just my nature. I am a firm believer that to whom much is given much is expected. Therefore it is my civic and human duty to serve others in any way possible and sharing knowledge is just one of those ways. Furthermore, I have been the one seeking the information that no one wants to share so I know the feeling.

As for real estate, I have to agree with most people here; it’s a social business. Besides, there are too many moving parts for an individual to handle all aspects of a real estate transaction alone. One has to have relationships with others to successfully operate a real estate business. One great way to build relationships is to bring some knowledge and expertise to the relationship that can benefit the other party involved. I think it is also an industry that is very close, particularly with local investors. You must protect your reputation because it precedes you in industries such as real estate. In close, small communities word travels fast. As a service mechanic in a trade union your work ethic, character, and quality of work precedes you. My union has about 1600 members. During the Great Recession less than half of those members were actually working. Those that keep steady work either know someone (nepotism) or have a great reputation as a dependable, hard worker that produces quality work. Those that produce crappy work sit on the bench a lot, and during economic downturns find themselves laid off often. Moral of the story: protect your reputation. Having a reputation as a helpful investor will serve your business better than a reputation as a jack***.

Thanks for the thought provoking discussion!

E. Harris

Event ought I am not a seasoned REI, nor even experienced, I do find myself excited about talking about REI with others. Being in the Military, I am able to teach others and pass my knowledge down. It's pretty exciting seeing their faces and see how intrigued th they are with the process. Also, I remeber one of my old Sergeants telling me this "the best way to learn something, and become an expert at it, is to teach others." as I've been using that mantra, I teach as I learn.

Because you can not take it with you

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together" African Proverb

To me personally, makes good business sense.

I think the supposed disadvantage of "hiding" things like "I know great contractor X who is amazing but won't tell anyone else about them" is outweighed by "If I refer great contractor X to other investor Y, when I need a solid favor or referral from someone, Y will remember me!"

Kind of like giving a good tenant (or good employee) a good reference (if they were good of course!) after they leave you; you don't have to share anything if you don't want to, but by doing so, you're helping both that person, and the other landlord (or employer) - 2 favors for such a small amount of your time, and who knows when something will come up that you might want a quick phone call in return from them for!

Networking, building those relationships, and never knowing when I'll need a referral, partner, someone to bounce ideas of, or someone who may have a lead on something that they want to join on, just can't take on themselves at that time - whatever it is; the more folks I know and make happy, the more odds they'll remember me and hopefully return that kindness/favor one day.

I see it similar to the tech industry in some ways - why does (for example) Google or Facebook or whomever else publish loads of research papers about how they build their tech, what they do, and so on. It's so:

1. They can build a reputation in the marketplace as being innovative, cutting edge, etc.

2. They can be attractive to new recruits.

3. They can let their employees show pride in their accomplishments and be rewarded for it by publicizing it.

I don't see much different for REI :) Maybe if REI was more like Coke (i.e there's some super secret special recipe that is behind the success), I'd be all over secrecy; the truth is, REI is not like that at all. All the knowledge is out there - there's no super secret formula that only a few people know and can bring success with. Anyone who is willing to put in some hard work, start with moderate amounts of capital, and throw in some good luck can have some success - that's the American Dream and if I can help someone else find some success who is hard working and wants to succeed - that makes me happy! ;-) /getting off my soapbox now...

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