If you read the news media, you'll see that there's a proliferation of new real estate gurus and seminars coming around to feed the endless demand for real estate these days. One event recently attracted over 30,000 people, with Donald Trump as the headliner (like he knows anything about buying a duplex?). So, how do you tell the good from the bad? Well, first let me comment that I believe there is very little truly “bad” info out there. The difference is mainly price and quality of information. Here's some things you should consider when determining whether to invest in a real estate seminar:
1. Price. Be leery of very cheap or very expensive seminars. If the seminar is free, it's because the promoter wants to sell you something. It costs the promoter thousands of dollars to get people into a room, so expect a hard sales pitch. If the event is more than $1,000/day, you should also be concerned, unless the admission price includes follow-up training or substantial materials. I'm not saying that $5,000 boot camps are all bad, just make sure you're getting what you are paying for.
2. Class Size. If you are paying $5,000 for a boot camp, you should expect a small class size. If not, you are likely overpaying, since you won't be able to ask questions in a large group format.
3. Teaching Ability. Some gurus are knowledgeable, but are bad teachers. Make sure you have heard the speaker before or ask other people who have attended. There's nothing worse than paying to listen to a boring speaker or one that can't convey a topic in “plain English”.
4. Value. Let's face it, some products are expensive because you believe they are worth more. Good marketing makes you believe “Bayer” is better than generic aspirin. Before you pay thousands of dollars for the “brand name” seminar, look into a cheaper version that isn't being marketed on T.V.
5. The “Pitch”. Although as a rule, the cheaper the seminar, the greater the pitch for other products, some promoters do nothing but pitch, even at $5,000 boot camps. Ask other people who have attended the seminar to determine the teaching to-product-to pitch ratio. There's nothing wrong with a promoter offering products and services at the less expensive seminars, but it's borderline insulting to have a non-stop sales pitch when you are paying $1,000 a day or more.
6. Refund Policy. Is there an open refund policy? This is very important. Ask up front. You should be very suspicious of any seminar that does not offer a refund policy.
7. Are You Serious About It? No matter how much or little you pay for a seminar, it's all up to you. No diet works without exercise and discipline and no real estate investing technique works without your hard work. If you are just beginning, stay away from the expensive seminars until you are sure it is for you. Start with the $500 or less variety, let it sink in, then consider more advanced seminars when you have done a few deals. Once you start making money, you should continue investing in your education, since your return will be well worth it. If you are the type who has been to seventeen seminars and haven't done a deal, consider this: “The Fault Lies Not Within the Stars But Within Ourselves”
Real estate investing will make you a lot of money if you learn the techniques and apply yourself. The bottom line is that education will help you avoid mistakes and learn new ideas. Read books, go to seminars and learn from other investors. Your best investment is in yourself.