Those who run real estate investment clubs have a big challenge in lining up speakers for each meeting. Clubs do not usually have the kind of budget that would allow them to pay for speakers, therefore they need to do their best to locate those that will speak for free. This invariably results in the talk being given by someone who has a specific agenda or something to sell. This is not necessarily a bad thing, you just need to keep the speakers ultimate motivation in mind when you listen to the spiel.
Some of these speakers are quite good and their knowledge is obvious. On the other hand, some of the speakers leave you scratching your head and wondering if they have ever owned an investment property. Investing veterans have little difficulty in separating the fakes from those who are the real deal. Novice investors may mistakenly assume that if someone is speaking to a group he must know something. Hopefully they will learn before they are burned by one of these phonies.
My primary purpose for attending monthly club meetings is for the networking and resulting connections ( see: Getting the Most From Your Real Estate Club ), however I do enjoy hearing from good presenters. My local real estate club had two very well qualified speakers at a couple of recent meetings. While both were very obviously qualified to speak about real estate investing, their styles and agendas were a world apart.
At our May 2008 club meeting we had a speaker who specialized in foreclosures. Certainly a timely topic and on that I was looking to learn more about. I had seen this speaker once before and knew that he was a good presenter and very knowledgeable. After introducing himself and providing his background, he openly stated his agenda. He was not there to sell books, tapes or home-study courses, in fact he didn’t have any of that. The business model for his company was to purchase bank REO (foreclosures) properties in bulk. He then sold these properties as-is or after light rehab to investors at wholesale prices. To do that he needed two things, properties to buy from banks and investors to sell them to.
What he was pitching was a two day seminar on how to locate, buy and finance the acquisition of these properties. He was charging $1800 for the seminar with the guarantee that he would refund your money after the first day if you didn’t feel it was worth it. He then proceeded to spend the next hour sharing some of his knowledge of the subject. He was truly impressive and it was a great example of what you would get in his workshop. He had over twenty people sign up and most of them were veteran investors who are not easily impressed.
At our most recent club meeting we had another speaker with impressive credentials. He is currently featured on one the house flipping shows and has a real estate company on the east coast. The club heavily promoted the meeting because they do not usually have a name speaker and the resulting attendance was much larger than normal. Many of the regular meeting segments were cut short to allow this speaker to have as much time as possible.
This speaker had an array of tapes and course material displayed, so his agenda was obvious to anyone who was paying attention. He began his talk with his background in real estate and talked about all of the mistakes he made when he began. He kept telling us that he was going to teach us how to do this, that, and the other thing during his talk. I kept waiting for him to actually “teach” something but all he really did was talk about what he was going to tell us.
As the talk progressed it was laced with sales pitches for a computer program, home-study courses and his five-day boot camp. Some of the pitches were very subtle while others were blatant commercials. After 90 minutes he closed with a final pitch for his boot camp. The regular price was $5,000, but is you signed up now it was only $2,497. But wait, there’s more! He would include a $500 credit for your travel expenses and the first few people to sign up would receive the $2,000 computer program for $1!
A handful of people did sign up. From what I saw they were newcomers to the club or novice investors. None of the veterans were impressed enough to part with their cash.
The Bottom Line
Both of the gurus were qualified to speak about real estate. However their value was very different. One was geared to marketing courses and boot camps to novice investors. Those who sign up would most likely gain valuable knowledge, but would it really be worth the price? The second guru was targeting experienced investors with a desire to participate in the foreclosure market. I spoke to several of the attendees who agreed that there was definite value, but it was not for everyone.
If you are ever inclined to sign up for some gurus course, do so with your eyes wide open. Is the course geared to someone with your level of experience? What do you hope to gain from the seminar or boot camp? Will you be able to implement what you learn or are you just falling for a sales pitch from a smooth-talking speaker? Buyer beware.
The great difficulty in education is to get experience out of ideas.