Should You Pay for an Expensive Real Estate Education Course?


(The following was adapted from a section of The Book on Rental Property Investing. Wait… what? You haven’t read it yet? Well pick up your copy today!)

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.

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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 encourages the attendees to run to the back of the room to sign up — and many people do.

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.

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

The Problem Isn’t the “What” But the “How”

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.

Related: The One Real Estate Investing “Secret” the Gurus Don’t Want You to Know

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.

How do YOU feel about paid real estate courses?

Let me know your thoughts with a comment!

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner (G+ | Twitter) spends a lot of time on 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.


  1. Mark M.

    Nice article. From what I can tell, correct and concise. I’m not very experienced yet (or at all) but I’ve been listening to the podcast fir a little while and trying to learn where I can, from what I’ve seen pretty much everything you can learn from the gurus and books you can learn here.
    I’m half way through the millionaire RE investor and I’ve already heard everything in the book on the podcast.

    But I guess gurus are not all bad…I was looking for reviews on gurus and one website kept popping up……..yup you guess it BP.

    Thank you gurus.

  2. Tim Dye

    Nice article, Brandon. Everyone need come coaching, but it comes in many forms and doesn’t always have to be expensive. Networking, attitude, and perseverance go a long way. I’ve found that continuing to take action, learn, and adjust… but keep moving forward to be very valuable.

  3. Lisa Phillips

    Ah, this is such a one size fits all advice – a bit generic. When I started sharing and teaching what I know about buying in this sub30k price range, people reached out to me for coaching – they didnt know anyone else doing this, didnt know where to start, they trusted that I could help them as new investor.
    As I spend a large amount of time with people, of course I gave a fee for that service if that’s what they would like (its all up to them, they reach out to me not the other way around). And, my clients (here on BP and off BP) have finally gotten started in real estate investing with my help after 2,3,6 years of browsing all the free articles here and on the internet and getting absolutely no where.

    That said, coaching isn’t the problem – of course its the easiest way to success. The problem may be that other programs weren’t that good and you can’t see inside. But, here’s a difference – for anyone who offers these services to those who reach out to them – you can watch over 50+ videos of mine before even talking to me. If you don’t trust me, or like my strategy that I will help you with, don’t reach out, but you’ll know at that point exactly what you will be getting if that’s what you want.

    It’s just that I noticed certain people here on BP think your time is valued at a cup of coffee (which there are numerous articles saying that works – it really doesn’t which can be seen by how many people are calling and asking me questions because they can’t find anyone to take that time with them – I have to re-program them that the amount of people who will mentor you for a cup of coffee so you can pick there brain is very small amount- and, if they are going to spend time with you, you should probably offer at least lunch if you want them to invest that time with you for free when they don’t know you from Adam), and other people value their time to invest in your business at a lot higher rate. This just doesnt work – it sounds good, but its cookie cutter advice and I find people telling me,”I can’t find anyone to help me out” using that approach. Well, people are busy and you’re not the first person to ask to take up all their time with questions. You’re the 10th person that day.

    But, individual coaching isn’t the same as a Than Merrill 25k program – that’s why i thought this article was too broad. Its a big difference reaching out to a BP contributor (as many people here like Michael Blank or Ben Leybovich offer individual coaching and/or teaching courses if people would like it in their niches), and to just lump those individuals in with these flashy, marketing seminars – this doesn’t do anyone any good and sends out mixed signals. Its not all the same whatsoever, and that’s kept a lot of new investors back in analysis paralysis because its taught to them that it is. I see it every single day when I talk to people on investing when they reach out to me looking for help.

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