I am not a real estate guru. I don’t have anything to sell you. I write articles like this because I am a property manager, and it hurts my business when people fall for scammy real estate gurus. I don’t want people coming to me in a panic hoping I can recover their failed investment. I want investors coming to me confident in their competence and understanding my value before the interview starts—because otherwise, I’m more likely to turn them down than they are to decline my services. So, here are 21 signs that your real-estate investment guru of choice is a scammer.
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The 13 Tell-Tale Traits of a Scammy Real Estate Investment Guru
1. They constantly brag and talk themselves up.
The instant a guru starts off anything by mentioning how successful, wealthy, or happy he is, my alarm bells go off.
2. They claim that their one “secret” technique can work for anyone.
There are simply too many factors that distinguish one investor from another to have a single technique that every investor can use.
3. They don’t have lessons, they have pep talks.
If you go to a guru and they use fuzzy math and poorly explained examples to try to get you pumped up, you’re talking to the wrong guru.
4. They never see a bear market.
Similarly to the above, if a guru tells you it’s a great time to invest in real estate but the market is down and shows no sign of switching, they’re not interested in your success.
5. Their biography/about-the-author blurb emphasizes anything other than their down-to-earth achievements.
No one is actually the “number one,” “leading,” or “most requested” expert in any category of financial endeavor (at least, not measurably).
6. They avoid talking about risk or failure.
Investment—all investment—is about risk: The lower the risk, the less the return. If your guru of choice uses words like “you will make money” or “guaranteed method,” run the other direction—and fast.
7. They claim to run a real estate business and a guru business at the same time and succeed at both.
Bull-oney. They get 24 hours a day just like you and me, and I barely have enough time to run one business, much less two.
8. They offer to invest in your first deal without knowing what it is.
Some gurus will tell their most broke clients that they’ll totally pitch in so they can complete their first deal—after the client has purchased the $40 seminar, the $90 DVD set, the $150 personal tutorial session, and so on. It never happens, and it never will, because agreeing to invest in a deal without knowing what it will be is stupid.
9. Their program emphasizes low/no-down-payment strategies.
Like this above, this is nothing more than a gimmick designed to separate broke people from money they don’t have. Yes, such techniques exist, but they are not in any way suitable for beginners—even “trained” ones.
10. They have ridiculous price-per-information rates.
The best books on real estate investing can be found at your local library for free—or $20-$40 new. The typical guru book is either free (because it’s nothing more than a very long sales letter for their more expensive products), or it costs $80-$250 and still won’t teach you as much as the legit books.
11. There’s a long “sales ladder.”
If a guru’s book is a pitch for his seminar, you can be 100 percent certain that his seminar is going to be a pitch for his bundled four manuals and five CDs, which will in turn be a pitch for his personal coaching/mentorship, which will exist entirely to keep you coming back for more mentorship.
12. Their testimonials sound too good to be true.
They are! (Also, notice how there’s never enough information for you to get in touch with the people who purportedly gave these testimonials? Ask for the contact info sometime, and watch the guru squirm!)
Related: What’s the Difference Between a Coach and a Guru?
13. They spew “weasel words” or do a lot of “puffing.”
“Weasel words” are those words that allow a guru to weasel their way out of a claim by pointing out the word: “You could make a million dollars or more your first year!” “Puffing” is when a guru uses words that make his system sound better than it really is while having no legal meaning: “The lazy man’s air-tight insider secret that allows anyone to make a killing!”
Bonus: They ban recording their seminars.
The only reason to ban recording is because you’re doing to say things you don’t want repeated in court.
Please, make my life easier: learn your way around a scam real estate investment guru before you invest your mom’s money in a crappy property and try to pin your hopes on me or another property manager to turn things around. Thanks!
[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer readers.]
Investors: Have you had any encounters with gurus who exhibited the above characteristics? Anything you’d add to this list?
Let me know with a comment!