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It started innocently enough – there was an ad on t.v. at about 11pm one night promising to make me rich through real estate. We’d already bought a couple of properties, but I wasn’t getting rich. I thought that this would be a great way to learn some tricks and maybe even quit my job within a year or two. So, on my lunch hour, I went to the hotel where their free course was being offered.

They didn’t teach me a darn thing about real estate investing, but they sure had me pumped up and excited to be a millionaire real estate investor. I barely flinched when I paid $2,000 to attend an upcoming weekend course. I could even bring someone at no additional cost! I could already taste financial freedom.

Well, at this one course, I learned a lot. But what I really learned was that I didn’t really know much at all.

Sure, they gave me tools that I could use, but they were quick to tell me how their other courses would really help me achieve my goals. Before I was done with this program, I spent a further $20,000 on more courses. Through the course I completed one assignment deal (basically a property flip) to make some cash and bought two properties for no money down. Doesn’t sound that bad, until you find out how off track that course sent me! All hyped up and fully believing in what they were teaching, I made some really bad real estate investing decisions and those bad decisions cost me for many years to come.

Despite the detour these courses sent me on, I still believe there are a lot of GREAT reasons to take real estate investing courses:

  • Networking! You might meet a future partner or mentor.
  • Can learn a great deal about real estate in a very short period of time.
  • Learning tricks that may take you years to learn on your own, if at all.
  • Motivation – the courses I took got me so excited about real estate investing it was all I could think about for months!
  • Opens doors to an investing network where you may learn about opportunities long before the general public.

But, keep in mind the drawbacks to the real estate investing courses that get the late night t.v. time slots:

  • Once you’ve attended the free seminar that gets you super excited, the weekend courses are usually pretty expensive.
  • You can easily experience information overload! In less than 48 hours so much stuff is thrown at you that you don’t know what to do with it.
  • Upselling! Once you are at the weekend seminar, much of the speakers’ efforts are spent selling different courses. And, when you are a beginner, you feel like you NEED all of these courses to get started!
  • Techniques don’t always apply to your area, or your target property type. For example, I enrolled in a course that largely applied to the United States market which is different in many respects to the Canadian real estate market.

Despite the drawbacks, and my own personal bad experience, I believe signing up for a real estate investing course is a good starting step for beginner investors, but here’s my tips on ensuring you get your money’s worth with a real estate investing course:

Know Your Objectives: What do you expect to get out of investing in real estate (quantify this if you can)? What is your risk tolerance? What is your aptitude (can you or do you want to fix things and/or be a landlord)? Write your objectives down, and have a good idea of what you are trying to do before you look for a course.

Do your research! A quick online search for real estate investing courses will turn up a lot of options. Go online and look for forums or reviews of the course. Ask friends and family if they know of anyone that has taken a real estate investing course.

Request their company information by mail or go online to learn more about the founding company. Have they been around for awhile? Who, specifically, will be teaching the course? Try to obtain the speakers bio’s before you sign up. What is their experience? Trust me, Robert Allen, Russ Whitney and Donald Trump do not even stop in to say hello during their courses!

Leave Your Visa At Home, or At Least Know Your Limits

Before you leave the house to go to the FREE course or the paid weekend on real estate investing, decide what is the maximum amount you will pay for the initial course or any subsequent courses and materials. It’s important to do this BEFORE you attend the course. When you attend the FREE or the less expensive courses, the up-sell is going to be a very hard sell. You will be given a rock bottom price if you sign up at that instant. And every bone in your body might be absolutely convinced that you NEED this to achieve your greatest dreams. If you go in with a threshold of, for instance $3,000, then you can hopefully better control what you actually spend on a future course. Emotion plays a big role in your decision to spend more money, and the programs out there feed on this. Take the “impulse” decision out of the equation by knowing what your objectives are and how much you’re willing to spend to achieve those objectives.

Take Action!

So you found a course that meets your objectives, you met some great people and you’re now armed with some tools and tricks to start building your real estate portfolio. Here’s the key to making your course work for you: Get off your butt and use what you learned!

I met with a few different people at one of the courses I attended and they said this was their 4th or 5th course and they still hadn’t bought anything! I estimated they spent about $30,000 on courses and did not have anything to show for it – well, except a fair amount of theoretical knowledge!

Real estate investing courses can be valuable – but only if you use what you learn!

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