The 3 (Increasingly Expensive) Layers of Real Estate Coaching & Training Courses

by | BiggerPockets.com

No doubt, you have seen expensive coaching and training programs advertised on late-night television or Internet banner ads. Real estate gurus claim to be able to teach you to become filthy rich through real estate investing. Is
this real? Can you really learn from these guys?

Let me first explain how this industry works. Typically, this kind of coaching or training involves several “layers,” and as you peel away the layers, the education gets more and more expensive. Let me share the most common layers, so you’ll be able to recognize them in the future.

The 3 Layers of Real Estate Coaching

1. The Free Class

You might come across an advertisement on the radio, on television, in your local newspaper, or on your favorite website—something like “Free Real Estate Seminar” at a local hotel or conference center. The marketing teams behind these gurus spend a lot of money to drive traffic to these free seminars, hoping to pack the room with wannabe real estate investors.

2. The Hype

In the seminar, the real estate guru creates massive hype around what real estate can do, showing photos of his properties, citing impressive numbers on how much profit he made, and claiming how easy it was. He tells stories of past students who have amassed a fortune from his investing tips. He pushes on all the right pain points about how hard being broke is, how you are not taking care of your family well enough, how you are missing out on life’s luxuries. Then, he pitches hard for you to attend his weekend boot camp, usually for a small yet not insignificant chunk of money, between $200 and $500. After the pitch, he en-
courages the attendees to run to the back of the room to sign up—and many people do.

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Related: Real Estate Coaching or Mentorship: As a Newbie, Which is Right for You?

3. The Boot Camp

At the boot camp, the guru goes into more detail about what real estate can do, shares more numbers related to what he’s done, and will probably spend a decent amount of time showing you a high-level overview of the kind of investing he is touting as “the best way to invest in real estate.” He may even talk about numerous different strategies people use to build wealth in real estate.

Some gurus are even known to spend a significant amount of time teaching those present how to negotiate and as a “test,” encourage attendees to call up their credit card companies and get their credit card limits raised significantly. However, the guru’s only real goal is to get you to sign up for the next level of training, which is typically a $20,000 to $50,000 in-depth coaching program with some live events built in.

I have no doubt that many (though not all) of these “real estate gurus” have good information to share. However, the problem lies not so much in the “what” as in the “how.” These people are expert marketers and manipulators and know how to touch on the right pain points and cause your emotions to lead you to make an expensive purchase. Their pitch logically makes a lot of sense: with just a $25,000 investment in your future, you’ll end up making much more than that from the real estate training you’ll learn. What’s $25,000, $50,000, or even $100,000 when you’ll be making millions of dollars from your real estate investing?

The problem, in my opinion, is twofold. First, I believe that the vast majority of those who attend these events will never actually use the information presented. And second, the information people learn from those programs could easily be learned elsewhere absolutely free (such as on BiggerPockets)!

Does coaching work? Sure, for some people. But I believe anyone who can succeed because they took a super expensive training program could have succeeded without that program as well. After all, the program is not what makes you successful. You make yourself successful. Real estate programs offer education, motivation, and accountability, which can all be obtained for much lower costs than what these salesmen charge. Rather than helping most people get ahead, these programs simply plunge many Americans into further debt and despair when they end up spending their life savings on coaching for an activity at which they will not succeed.

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Related: The 13 Tell-Tale Traits of a Scammy Real Estate Investment Guru

That said, do programs like this have a place? Yes, I believe so. Successful coaching has been demonstrated in almost every industry there is as far as getting people motivated and moving toward their goals. However, the people who get the largest benefit from coaching are those who have already found a significant level of success in whatever they are doing. They have proven themselves to be someone who takes action, is a self-starter, and is willing to work hard. And most importantly, they have money to spend—and it’s not coming from a credit card.

To summarize, expensive coaching and training programs may have a place, but they are probably not appropriate for new investors. Real estate gurus have a terrible reputation for taking gullible and low-income people and pitching them hard to pay for overpriced training that they are not ready for and that will only put them in a worse situation. In the end, these gurus provide no more than an organized version of what interested individuals can already get on their own: education, accountability, and motivation. If you want to save your money and still get all three of these benefits, get active on BiggerPockets and use your cash for your next big investment instead.

Have you found value from real estate courses before?

Leave your thoughts below!

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner (G+ | Twitter) spends a lot of time on BiggerPockets.com. Like... seriously... a lot. Oh, and he is also an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, traveler, third-person speaker, husband, and author of "The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down", and "The Book on Rental Property Investing" which you should probably read if you want to do more deals.

14 Comments

  1. Erik Whiting

    Considering real estate has been around since the dawn of time, I doubt there are many “new” ways to make money in it. I think this article is spot on regarding newbies starting out.

    I started in 2005. I learned that 80% of the information I needed to get started can be found much more cheaply and from more reliable sources that guru training. The other 20% I gained by surviving the first 2 years by doing, failing, learning, and finally succeeding. After the first 2 years, it swapped percentages: 80% was learned in the trenches and 20% from keeping up on the latest articles, blogs, publications, etc.

    Books, for example, have been a trusted source for conveying valuable information for centuries. Why can’t the information be found in books or online publications like every other subject known to man? Answer: it’s not the information but rather the “hype” you’re paying for. Someone to are amazing and on the cusp of making more money than you can imagine. You can’t sell hype over the internet the same way as a room filled with bright colors, people in expensive suits, and boom, chakka, boom, chakka “bump” music.

    The answer to all this is obvious: if it were as simple as signing up for a $10,000 / day course, everyone would do it. No one would bother learning the ropes and grinding out years of hard work to build an empire.

    The only ones worse than real estate gurus are MLMs. At least the gurus don’t flood your Facebook page with 10 ads per day for Plavo-nexus Primeristar Chef merchandise! (wink)

  2. Charles Borrelli

    This article is dead on and I warn about gurus selling carrots on a stick a lot. I have been to a few of the freebie seminars at RIA meetings. What I have found is they spill the basic concept of what they are teaching in the free meeting, Then they will try to sell you a class with a workbook CD’s etc in the 500 -1500 range. This is the nuts and bolts functional part of the program. You can find these materials used on Ebay for about a 10th of what the guru is selling them for if you just have to have it. Or you could learn the stuff for free on bigger pockets.
    How can a GURU be current on what works in real estate when they are not actively investing but rather spending their time on the road selling seminars?

  3. angela yan

    I am a nurse in nature so my career was successful by me hitting the books and having preceptors showing me the ropes giving me advice on every front from procedures to career. So none the less, I believe in the power of coaching if you are serious enough to really want to learn the craft.

    So when I really wanted to learn RE head on I researched to make sure I find a mentor that fits my learning style and that he also has my interests at heart. I have made some mistakes with my first few properties. For example, I didn’t have an advisor to tell me to do a 1031 exchange— even my tax accountant didn’t tell me to do that and I have been with him for years. Now that I am diving into Multi- family, the more I learn the more I see that I didn’t know. RE like nursing is somewhat similar to me. I can read Nursing books and read nursing blogs but that could never teach me how to practice nursing because it is such a hands on practice. I feel RE is also the same. I advice for those who wants to learn a new craft, find a great mentor with a heart of a teacher. Once you find him or her make sure you both have skin in the game by doing a deal together.

  4. Kuntay Talay

    Brandon,

    You are right on man. I was one of these suckers to make it to first one (free 2 hour) and the hype one($200 for 3 day) and thankfully I realized during the second one it was full of crap.. it got worse and worse towards day 3. On day 3, not only were they pitching hard, but also they were playing with people’s emotions!! It was awful.

    These “gurus” are so good that my future potential partner I took the seminar with almost signed us in!!! Omg.. I would have never forgive myself if I have done that.. :))

    I recently purchased my first 4-plex couple months ago and it is cashflowing like a champ 😉
    I have achieved that only by reading your books, joining your FREE webinars, using awesome BP calculators, participating blogs and most importantly finding myself an awesome local mentor who is a successful RE investor.

    Thanks for posting this article. Hope this would help other future investors to avoid these kind of scams!!

    P.S: Your story about buying a multi-plex for your daughter Rosie truly inspired me by the way. I in deed bought my first property for my beautiful 11 month old girl – Alina. Hoping that someday that property would pay for her college.

    Kuntay Talay

  5. This is a great article. I went through these exact steps and bought into coaching at one of the basic levels.
    While I now recognize that I could have learned all that they taught me elsewhere and for cheaper, it was actually this step that really opened my eyes to so much about real estate investing that I hadn’t grasped after reading several books. We all have different learning styles so the coaching and course-like environment was better for me.
    If anyone were to ask me today if they should buy into coaching, I would say it can be great but I would definitely advise them to pay for it out of past profits instead of future profits.

  6. Thank you for the great article on real estate gurus.Have attended them and the information about real estate is solid. The price tag is the same as your next fixer upper property. Nice to know BP offers information on real estate for everyone.

  7. I will still go to the “free” seminars by Ron LeGrand and the other gurus. You can buy Ron’s book on Amazon for like 10 bucks and it has 99% of the information. The seminars do get you motivated to get off of your rear end. The information they provide is readily available at the library, on the BP website, on Amazon, etc. Everything from rentals, to flips, to financing strategies. A good collection of investment books ( including Brandon Turner’s) might cost you 100 bucks. I like to read, but those who like to listen can get the same things on CD.

    I also met one of my investor buddies at a LeGrand free weekend. We have been trading ideas and getting together a few times a year ever since. Go to investment clubs and free seminars for networking ( beware that 95% of attendees are newbies who have never or will never do anything) and go for motivation. Do not go to get information that is readily available elsewhere.

  8. NA David

    What nobody is talking about is that some guru’s are real estate “professionals”. In order to claim the tax benefits of that designation they can choose to provide education as part of their hours requirements. Altruism it is not and I trust a guy that can show the win-win scenario behind is motives rather that someone who says they are doing it for the benefit of mankind…

    one of the 2%.

  9. Tres Moss

    In defense of the big guru seminars…

    Though the process that Brandon explains in this article of the layers of coaching and training may be technically correct there is definitely a negative tone towards them throughout. Some of these are better than others for sure but they should not all be lumped together as “scams.”

    First of all, for full disclosure… I am a mentor for one of the big “guru” companies. I mentor for Elite Legacy Education which is the company that provides the training for the students who sign up through the Rich Dad Education seminars. I am usually one of the last coaches along the student’s training path. I fly into wherever they live and work with them one-on-one on their business for 3 or 4 days, implementing the strategies they’ve learned along the way and filling in their gaps in knowledge.

    Providing all of this training is not cheap. Paying for the venue, the staff, the travel expenses, the back office, etc. is expensive. It also has to worth their time for the “guru” up front. They could be making a lot of money doing other things if they weren’t there spending their time to train and travel. Paying for people like me with my travel and time isn’t cheap. Don’t forget that the cost of the training has to cover all the “free seminar” and low cost “boot camp” expenses as well; all the costs for the venue, staff, marketing, back office, and those “gurus”. If the free seminars and low cost boot camps were eliminated then the gurus could charge less. However, who is going to sign up for a multi-thousand dollar set of classes first crack out of the box? See a banner ad, click the link, pull out your credit card, and drop $20K for training. It’s not going to happen! This is Marketing 101. You have to build the relationship and trust first.

    Secondly, you may be able to find information from other sources (including Bigger Pockets) but you need experience and context too. You need to have the guts to take action. You can get the information for any field of study from books and YouTube but are you going to trust a surgeon who learned by watching YouTube videos? If all that was needed is information then librarians should all be filthy rich.

    Third, the premise that you should “save the money and use it to do deals” is flawed. That assumes that you have to use money to do deals. You CAN use money to do deals but don’t have to. I think it’s better to not use money to do deals, even if you have it to use. That’s one of the biggest hurdles I see new investors have. The fear that they are going to loose money on a deal paralyzes them from even taking the first step. I like the famous words of Ron Legrand who said “If you don’t want to loose a big check, don’t write a big check.” This is exactly why people who are making these sort of “use your money for deals” comments need a coach. They think they know the business but they only know the small piece of the business that they’ve done. They now think that they are now experts because they’ve done deals and they know “how it’s done.” There are lots of investment strategies for all sorts of situations. Only with a coach to guide you through this maze of possibilities and alternatives will you be able to really get the the highest levels of real estate investing.

    I ask for feed back from each of my students and they all feel that the training they’ve gotten is valuable and money well spent. Almost all say that they would recommend the program to others as well. I can’t say that every one of my students is doing deals (no training will ever get 100% of its participants to take action) but most are or at least they now fully understand the business and know exactly what they need to do to be doing deals. Even then, they are not upset with the money spent, they just know that they need to take the action that for the moment they are not taking.

    • Charles Borrelli

      This is starting to sound like one of the guru sales pitches. Most of us did do it without a guru. And I did use my money to do my first deal instead of paying a guru. And I never needed a guru to motivate me. I suspect most of these folks did either. I think most of us just hate seeing people taken advantage of

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