7 Reasons That Real Estate Course is a Complete Sham (& How You Should Actually Learn!)

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You could say that it has become easier to learn something online. Of course, with plenty of learning material available in the form of online courses, tutorials, DVDs, etc., it certainly does look like it. So whatever you’ve ever wanted to learn from rock gardening to rocket science, all you need to do is Google it online, and you’ll find not one but hundreds if not thousands of courses.

But is learning online really that easy? Does it make you an overnight expert? I’d say no. Learning hasn’t become easier. To make my point, let me talk about the one area I’m an expert in: real estate. Today, a simple online search will tell you that there are hundreds of courses out there that will teach you the ins and outs of the market, all from the comfort of your home. Pay them a few dollars, and they’ll send you a handful of DVDs and so-called study material. At the end of the course, you’re a certified pro, and you’re told that you can make great deals now.

But when you think about it, is it even possible to learn about a living breathing market from the comfort of your couch? Learning about real estate comes from real experiences. You need to get your hands dirty, go out there, make mistakes, and learn from them. That’s the only way you’ll ever really learn, and that’s the way I learned.

So, I have developed three words that sum all of those real estate training products up: They all suck! Here are seven common reasons why people often fall into the trap of buying real estate investment products. So read them and ensure that you are not their next victim.

Related: Forget the Real Estate Courses: Here’s the One Thing Required For Investing Success

How I Bought, Rehabbed, Rented, Refinanced, and Repeated for 14 Rental Properties

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7 Reasons That Real Estate Course is a Complete Sham

Reason #1: They offer information already widely available.

Many people become a part of one introductory promising online session and end up buying the course. These sessions often have the speaker portraying the benefits of how a course would help them realize their dreams and take them from rags to riches. However, more often than not, the course-makers put their energy only into creating that one introductory session, while the rest of the material is not even put together by them. This is done by people they hire — who don’t know much about the market and end up basing classes solely on the information available online. And that online information is already available for you, for free!

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Reason #2: There’s a self-proclaimed guru at the heart of it.

With housing investments at high, many people look at them as get-rich-quick schemes. To add to this are the self-proclaimed real estate gurus who lead you to believe that this is exactly the case. Their educational seminars leave you feeling that you can really benefit because what they show you is a lot of success stories, which you can seldom verify.

You sign up for their courses and often sign a form that takes away any blame you may put on them at a later date. These gurus seem genuine, and you might have even seen them on television shows, but then whether they have really been good at real estate or have been able to impart their skill to others is something you’ll never know. So ask me, and I’ll happily tell you that they all SUCK!

Reason #3: There was a good amount of hard-selling involved.

Most real estate investment products come with plenty of hard-selling. Along with a lucrative introductory course, you’re bombarded with the product details or influenced on an emotional level, so much so that you end up buying the course, as that seems the only smart thing to do. However, the sellers who were extremely interested in you before your purchase lose that interest once you’ve picked up their course. I’m not saying you shouldn’t attend these seminars, as I’m a big believer in learning something new everyday. Just make sure to leave your American Express at home.

Reason #4: You fall for the goodie bag.

Most online courses offer a goodie bag to lure you into buying them. It could be an attractive telemarketing call that promised to make you very rich through your first investment or an advertisement that showed that you could own a house and a car even if you started with nothing. In other cases, it could be a tangible goodie bag like a laptop or getting a first contract (a chance to work with the experts) that you’d win at the end of the course. In fact, every year, thousands of people fall for absolutely worthless courses, just for that “goodie bag.” I mean, come on. Seriously? Don’t do it.

Reason #5: You think that the material will be unique.

Many courses are also purchased by people who genuinely hope to learn something from it. And this often happens because their hard sell shrouds their product in mystery, making it even more alluring. But, if you would get the opportunity to analyze a couple of courses from different providers, then you’d notice that the content is very similar, if not the same. This means that each person who designs the course picks up material from other places. That’s why it’s obvious that the objective of the course isn’t to add genuine value but it’s just designed to make money.

Reason #6: You expect this to be the fastest method of learning.

And you’re right to expect so. Given that mentorship is a continuous process, an offer for online DVDs and course material does promise to teach you everything in a very short time. They also promise a lot of flexibility, which allows you to balance it with your day job. However, with a format that offers little interactivity and doesn’t allow you to ask any questions, it is difficult for any learning to take place.

Related: Real Estate Guru Courses: Are They Worth It?

Reason #7: You get to avoid people.

Another reason many choose courses like this is because they don’t like other ways of learning and don’t want to meet people. With DVDs, they can learn all by themselves from the comfort of their homes, without anyone having to be a part of it. However, remember that most areas of study and especially real estate are all about people. Whether it be your buyers, your sellers, or other people along the value chain, it is imperative that you meet people; that is the only quick and effective way of learning. If you don’t like people, real estate isn’t for you.

So having pointed out most of the reasons people fall for the crappy courses, you’re probably wondering: If all real estate investment products suck, then what’s the right way I can learn about real estate?

My advice is:

3 Ways You Should Actually Learn

Get into the business.

Only when you jump into the business do you learn it firsthand. But just like the training wheels you used when you learnt cycling as a kid, ensure that you have a mentor you can lean on. Opt for an expert you like and admire, who is preferably located near you, who has plenty of experience, and who is willing to teach you. Even if that requires you pay them for mentoring, I’d recommend this any day over other investment products. However, before you choose a mentor, ensure that he or she is easily accessible via phone or email.

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Opt for free or non-gimmicky learning materials.

While I have a strong disregard for most online courses, learning needs to be a continuous process, especially in such dynamic markets. I’d recommend that you constantly read good online blogs (such as this one). Being part of your local real estate investment club can help too, and you can also enroll yourself in online real estate forums (BiggerPockets), as these constantly share information — at no charge. Also, you can always invest in a few good books on real estate. These have genuine and useful material, and the upside is that you can always choose what books you’d buy by going through the material.

Keep your eyes open and your head sharp.

There are no overnight successes, and rags to riches stories belong in books. Real estate is all about working hard, so if you really want to make it big in this industry, then don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t fall for the fancy promises made by investment courses.

In fact, I recommend that before you invest in any real estate investment product, do thorough research. Try to talk to people who have already taken the course, and check whether they have genuinely benefitted. Also, before you invest in a course, ask yourself whether you’d rather learn from someone who spends most of his/her time on courses or from someone who is actually working in the line. And remember that Google”= is your best friend and will reveal who is genuine and who just bluntly SUCKS.

Investors: What has your experience with real estate courses been? How did you learn about real estate?

Leave your comments below!

About Author

Engelo Rumora is the CEO/Founder of Ohio Cashflow and a successful property investor that quit school at the age of 14. He is known for buying “Australia’s Cheapest House” and building a property portfolio valued at over $1,000,000 in only 6 months. To find out more go to engelorumora.com

38 Comments

  1. Mike McKinzie

    Engelo
    You are exactly correct. There is only ONE type of Real Estate Course anyone should take, and I just took it. The kind that is REQUIRED by your state Real Estate Licensing Commission. I had to take Real Estate Practice and Real Estate Principles because I had to send in my certificate to qualify for the state exam. While it is NOT necessary to be a licensed agent to invest in Real Estate, you will have ACCESS to a lot more INFORMATION, PEOPLE and actually practice real estate. Besides, you can pocket the commission instead of having another agent pocket the commission when you buy and sell. I did have my CA Real Estate Brokers license but let it expire in 1998. Since then, I have paid over $50,000.00 in commissions and thought to myself, WHY? So I am getting it again. If a “newbie” would spend ONE HOUR just reading the Bigger Pocket Blogs, they would learn MORE than they would in a 16 hour weekend Real Estate Guru seminar! If they would listen to half a dozen Pod Casts, they would learn more than they would in a week long seminar! All the information you will ever need to become a successful Real Estate Investor is FREE except for your TIME. If you just spend the TIME, to learn and to DO, ask a lot of questions, find a good network, you can do it!

    • Engelo Rumora

      Thanks Mike and awesome comment. Nailed it spot on 😉

      Believe it or not, I still don’t have my license and to be honest. I don’t intend on getting it.

      I like to be free of certain rules and regulations here in Ohio and don’t see any current benefit of getting it 😉

      Have a great weekend.

    • Engelo Rumora

      Thanks Andrew, there is still quite a few of them running around and I thought I’d get some heat on this blog by those exact “guru’s” that are pushing whatever S@%# they have for sale lol

      Bigger Pockets has to be by far the #1 learning source for all folks looking to get started in real estate 🙂

  2. Frank Gallinelli

    @Engelo Rumora I agree with much – probably most – of what you’ve said here. There is no shortage of snake-oil salesmen in the real estate industry – people who want you to believe they can show you how to get rich in an instant, usually with no cash and no risk; who promise to help you find great deals and great financing; who assure you that they can show you the way out of your day job and into the land of milk and honey. Sadly, these self-styled gurus often prey on those who can least afford to be misled.

    Having said all that, I must respectfully suggest that you resist painting all real estate education with the same broad brush. In real estate, as in all disciplines, good education is key.

    Students from all over the world compete for places in the Columbia graduate program, where I teach a course. Others do the same at NYU and MIT. The content of these programs is serious and demanding, and from the feedback I’ve received from students over a dozen years, I feel certain that they have found such education to be of tremendous value.

    As the creator of an online course myself, I also ask you to recognize that not all such courseware is bogus. My online course is based on some of the material I teach at Columbia, and its main purpose is to teach investors to understand the financial dynamics that underlie income-property investments.

    In promoting and delivering my course, I don’t promise that I’m going to provide simplistic or magical formulas for success. I certainly don’t suggest that I’m going to provide a risk-free roadmap to wealth. You’re quite right that these are the hallmarks of the type of “education” best avoided. I offer to teach the basic metrics, formulas, vocabulary and techniques used by successful investors. I really feel that content like this is essential to counterbalance the junk courseware out there.

    While you’re also correct to say that one can learn a great deal by jumping right in, that can prove to be the most expensive education of all. I’ve had more than a few people write to tell me that, by learning the classic analysis techniques I try to teach, they dodged a bullet – avoided a bad deal. Gurus don’t want you to have negative thoughts, don’t want you to think about potential disasters.

    You are quite right to criticize the bulk of courseware offered to real estate investors. If we can get past the motivational, get-rich-quick nonsense and focus on solid, grounded content – like the kind we find provided by the generosity of so many members here on BP – we’ll be better off.

    End of rant. 😉

    • Excellent comments, Frank. I love the quote, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” I know the article didn’t mean to say ALL real estate courses are bad, or that ALL information should be obtained from a Google search. However, we are living in a very dynamic environment that requires a discerning taste when it comes to learning.
      College taught me more than the basics, it taught me how to learn. Once a real estate discipline is chosen (e.g., buy and hold, flipping, etc.) it is incumbent upon the investor to know what he or she doesn’t know, and then find the best way to build that knowledge base. There are resources abound today for real estate investors, it just requires a discerning eye to determine the best resources.

      I’m currently living 100 percent on passive income from commercial and multifamily real estate investing. I’ve gathered information from multiple sources (e.g., books, blogs, experts), but one of the most valuable tools is YouTube. That’s right, YouTube. I’ve reviewed information on a variety of cash flow models, time value of money, property management software, renovation, and a host of other real estate information. It has been a valuable resource, but it has to be preceded with a strong desire to know what you don’t know.

      It would have been great to have all these resources when I graduated from college in 1988, but better late than never. Newbies are very lucky to be living through this technology boom, they just need to know how to take advantage of it.

      • Engelo Rumora

        Thanks for your comment Randy and the value you bring with them 😉

        Another great way to learn is to brush shoulders with others already doing what you want to be doing.

        This has been my #1 method that helped me to get to where I am today.

        Much success and thanks much for your regular comments.

      • Frank Gallinelli

        Thanks, Randy. You’re 100% right that there is plentiful content available, but it takes a discerning eye to separate the wheat from the chaff. I’ve seen some very good stuff out there, as well as some that was so off base it was downright cringe-worthy. That can be a real challenge for a beginner to recognize what’s good and what isn’t. What none of us had starting out was a community like BiggerPockets, where experienced investors are willing to help those starting out.

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Frank,

      Thanks for your comment.

      What you can find throughout my previous blogs along with this one is that my beliefs are stressed in a very firm way.

      This in return will stir the pot with many folks and create attention. Slight controversy and getting people to talk (Good or bad, doesn’t really matter) has been the #1 goal with our marketing this year and it has been working well.

      When I started my real estate journey I attended every free course, seminar and convention. I spent $$$ on lunches and coffees in order to ask questions of other successful real estate investors and business owners.

      I never spent a single $ on any learning products but only books. I believe that all the basics can be learnt from books and Bigger Pockets for example and then the rest has to be practiced in order to be perfect. Everything else is just a money pinching scheme as there will never be a full on contact with the buyer of the product and a follow through to make sure they are keeping themselves accountable implementing the materials they bought.

      Just my opinion.

      Thanks and much success.

      • Frank Gallinelli

        Hi Engelo,

        I certainly wouldn’t be the one to disagree that a good book is a valuable, ongoing resource 😉

        From my 40+ years dealing with income-property investors, I’ve come to feel very strongly about the importance and value of investor education – and by that I mean real education, not the sort of thing you are very justifiably criticizing, the stuff with bloated price tags and unrealistic promises. That’s why I teach, write books, and why I write educational content for our company blog.

        Keep stirring the pot. It makes people think, and that’s a good thing.

        Best regards,

        Frank

  3. Engelo

    Once I started buying distressed properties to rehab and hold, I signed up for the Ohio Real Estate Licensing course. Like you I was more interested in how to operate in this business legally and ethically than becoming an agent. I did ultimately become an agent and because of my passive income I can afford to work with investors, many of them just starting out.
    Real Estate Law and Ethics should be required reading for anyone signing up for “Get Rich in Real Estate” courses. Wholesaling courses often suggest systems to find “motivated sellers” , sign them to Option to buy contracts, without any real intention to buy or providing adequate compensation are in violation of Ohio Consumer Protection laws. Marketing these option contracts on-line using the address and or pictures of the home is defined by the Ohio Real Estate Board as practicing Real Estate without a license. These courses often fail to mention this small detail. The beloved bandits signs are in violation of local signage regulations in nearly every North East Ohio community. The list just goes on.

    • Engelo Rumora

      Yes and yes,

      It pays to have a good attorney that can dismiss most little hiccups once they occur haha

      The laws and regulations are very strict when it comes to real estate here in Ohio.

      I don’t have a real estate license but do have a fat book sitting on my desk with all of the rules hehehe 😉

      Where are you based in Ohio?

      Thanks

  4. I am in North East Ohio RE/MAX Trinity in Brecksville. I am part of the team that provides property management services.
    Talk about Ohio being strict, Cleveland Housing Court Judge Pianka, was instrumental in holding the banks accountable during the housing crisis. He once sentenced a local slum landlord to live in his own rental property. LOL

    • Engelo Rumora

      Ok cool,

      We are based in Toledo and its quite a bit of an “old boys” town. Young and hip companies like Ohio Cashflow aren’t respected much but we have finally started to earn some of it.

      It took only 2 years and 100+ deals hehe.

      Feel free to let me know if you are ever out this way. Happy to catch up for coffee and talk shop 😉

      Much success.

  5. Derrick H.

    You’re absolutely Right about alot of the things in this article. I saved a ton of money from these “Gurus” just by purchasing their materials on EBAY second hand for a fraction of what they were “selling” them for to their other clients. Like you mentioned in your article is great to learn something new, but ALL of my education came from experience in the game.

  6. Robert Martinez on

    What about Renatoos? They promise that they are no Gurus and even proclaim to hate Gurus just like BP. They start off with a 2K course and graduate with a 20K course. Are they legit?

    • Renatus was formerly called Nouveau Riche. I can’t comment about the quality of their education, but the price is very high for information that is largely free or very inexpensive to find.

      The most “successful” Nouveau Riche graduates I personally know completed a few deals (about 4 or 5), then the wholesale market dried up and now they’re doing something else.

      One became a financial planner and the other is selling his own “real estate” investing courses/products.

  7. Al Williamson

    Wooo, the train is going too quick around the tracks.

    I create and sell courses therefore I’m automatically a guru according to this article. Automatically my body of knowledge should be dismissed? That logic doesn’t hold up.

    Here’s a counter balancing story – I purchased a $900 course on taxes and LLCs. The information has saved me more than $10K over the years. It was well worth its cost but I almost passed on it.

    I used to harbor the same thoughts that all course were part of the Axis of Evil. But that’s sloppy thinking.

    I strive to create courses just like the one that has helped my bottom line.

    I’m so proud of what I do that I couldn’t let an article like this go by without commenting.

    • Charles Morgan

      Al, I do agree with Engelo about “Guru” courses, however there are several respected people on here who publish articles or books and even teach courses, I do not consider them “Gurus”.
      The big difference between them and a “Guru” is the promise of “Secret methods, etc.” and the selling of high priced “boot camps”, “Advanced courses”, “inner circles” etc, designed to fleece people with promises instead of content.
      If one of your books promises to teach people “The Secrets of Real Estate Investing” for only $599, but wait, you can get it today for only $299, or 4 easy payments of $29.99, then I would consider you a “Guru”!

      • Engelo Rumora

        Thanks Charles,

        It’s all “mumbo jumbo ” IMO.

        Every detail you could want and need can all be found for free on Bigger Pockets.

        “Hard Yakka” is what it takes and no matter how many time you get knocked down, you pick yourself back up and keep moving forward.

        Have a great day

  8. Got a call from a “professional real estate investor” who spent 10,000 dollars to learn how to wholesale properties on the Real Estate Commission Contracts and was told to call an 3 or 4 agents to BRING HIM deals to wholesale at a discounted commission.

    He didn’t understand the market, was sold on a promise of “fast cash strategies”. Was told he could work 1 day a week, 2 hours a day, while a few agents wrote 20+ offers a week on properties on the MLS. I’m in the Austin TX market and there are very few opportunities on the MLS like that, meeting his criteria.

    Total scam for an unsuspecting guy who didn’t have 10,000 to spend – but he was promised he’d make 20k on his first wholesale deal… He could have just paid me 10,000 and I would have shown him how to write the contract and prospect for leads. 🙂

  9. I agree…usually the event itself will also have other “gurus” pitching their stuff as well. My advice is to find a mentor who can provide a mutually beneficial relationship. Referrals and Wholesaling are a good low cost way to enter the marketplace. Once you are active you will continue to meet REAL people who will build your network and knowledge base. There is no easy shortcut unfortunately

    • Engelo Rumora

      Thanks Tyler,

      As the saying goes “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it”.

      Offer value to others and they will always be happy to take you under their wing would be my best advice for finding a mentor.

      I have a ton of people reaching out to me asking for stuff but never offering anything in return.

      Just my 0.2 AUD hehe

      Have a great day.

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