People say and do funny things at Christmas parties. Back in my W-2 days I attended a company Christmas celebration at the Hard Rock Café in Phoenix. From across the room I saw my new boss belly up to the bar and order a drink. Because I believe no one should ever drink alone I quickly made my way over to him. When I asked what he was sipping he proudly announced, “scotch!” That’s my favorite I said. He promptly ordered me a Glen-something and went on to educate me about the origins of the beverage. After 30 minutes of malt talk and a scarred esophagus from this nasty cocktail I was sorely regretting my decision to suck up to the guy.
Then there was the time I ran into a title representative I know at a karaoke Christmas party a Realtor friend of mine hosts every year. After we exchanged the usual pleasantries she asked me about my business. I told her I’d been taking some real estate investment classes – self directed IRA, business financial management and tax strategy classes to be specific. She chuckled and told me that she would never need to take investment classes like these because she’s been in the title business for 15 years. She quickly added that she owned 5 rental properties. Really, I asked? Do you do straight-line depreciation on them or cost segregation? Her face went blank.
I’ve been a full-time real estate investor for 9 years. During that time I’ve bought and sold almost 200 properties in Arizona, Texas and Illinois. In a single month I acquired 13 houses without a dime of my own money or credit. Last year, I was accredited by the Arizona Department of Real Estate to teach a 3 hour continuing education course for Realtors. I’ve appeared on local TV and radio discussing real estate investment strategies. And, because of my experience I was recently given the tremendous opportunity to write about real estate investing on BiggerPockets.
You would think with all of this education and experience a guy like me would have little use for continuing education. Not so. I regularly invest in the most valuable piece of real estate in the world; the six inches between my ears.
Over the past two weeks I’ve spent almost $2,000 and more than 24 hours in the classroom. The subject matter varied – from real estate technology to acquisition strategies to market analysis. It was time and money well spent. I learned how to turn my DroidX phone into a powerful real estate planning and marketing tool, how to calculate contract ratios for a specific neighborhood and a better way to quickly analyze a property’s value.
In The Psychology of Selling, Brian Tracy asks, “would you hire an attorney that had no law books or see a doctor that hadn’t had any ongoing training since leaving medical school?” Of course not! So why should we real estate investors be any different? Real estate investing, like medicine, law or accounting should be treated like a discipline. Continuing education is essential.
Where do you go to find it? Attend the next real estate investment club meeting in your area. Drop by a real estate school near you and pick up a catalog. Seek out successful real estate investors and ask them what classes they recommend.
As for my title rep friend at the Christmas party, she ended up having the last laugh. While she didn’t know the difference between straight line depreciation and cost segregation at least she had enough common sense to stay away from the karaoke machine. I, on the other hand, decided to belt out ‘You’re the One that I Want’ from the Grease soundtrack.
History had repeated itself. Once again I left a Christmas party with deep regret – and a sore throat.