Should You Attend a Real Estate Seminar?

Real estate seminars can be a very controversial and divisive topic, depending on who you speak to. Some people love them and speak very highly of what they’ve heard or their personal experiences, while others like the Wall Street Journal worry that this may be one of the largest scam industries at work within the United States today. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, depending on the specific real estate seminar you are considering, with a few outliers on either side of the spectrum. 

In reality, most major real estate seminars, especially the free introductory ones, are more accurately described as self-help seminars, with a lot of focus on your personal and financial goals and on changing your expectations and outlook on life. Attendees shouldn’t expect much specific information on the realities of buying and selling real estate until you begin paying for the more advanced seminars, but you shouldn’t commit to investing thousands of dollars into a multi-day seminar until you know what to expect.

Who is Running These Seminars?

Anyone can run a real estate seminar, as there is no regulating body that oversees these types of programs, but in today’s current market the people who are running most of the well-known, national real estate seminars are people who also star in real estate television programs. The list of television personalities hosting real estate seminars include:

•    Armando Montelongo from A&E’s “Flip This House”
•    Than Merrill from A&E’s “Flip This House”
•    Scott Yancey from A&E’s “Flipping Vegas”
•    Peter Souherlis and Dave Seymour from A&E’s “Flipping Boston”
•    Tarek and Christina El Moussa from HGTV’s “Flip or Flop”

And though his television show isn’t real estate based, Donald Trump also offers a real estate seminar with his Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.

This speaks a lot to the nature of real estate seminars, in that the longer running, more successful seminars get that way not necessarily because of the quality of the seminar, but because of the charismatic personality of the seminar host.

Of course, there are also seminars run by people who don’t have their own television show, like Flip with Nick, Real Estate Mentoring, Brian Buffini and Company, and Brick Buy Brick, as well as online webinars and courses like those from Cody Sperber and Joe Crump Real Estate.

What You are Promised, and Why It’s BS

Most real estate investment courses and seminars will lure in their attendees with many of the same promises, regardless of who is running the program. CNN Money says these promises are generally some form of the following:

•    You don’t need any money to make money in real estate.
•    Real estate is a “recession proof” investment industry. 
•    Anyone can get rich in real estate, guaranteed.
•    Here is a secret strategy that will show you how. 

You absolutely need money to succeed in real estate investing. The types of real estate investment which don’t “require” any money up front are often the riskiest types which force you to trust and rely on people you don’t know, and can go bad very quickly.

And while the concept that anyone can make money in this industry regardless of the economy is very popular, it’s also not true. Real estate seminars will often address people’s complaints or issues by saying that people who failed in this industry didn’t follow their instructions, or simply “weren’t trying hard enough,” but the truth is that real estate investment is a very aggressive industry and isn’t the right environment for everyone. 

Finally, the infamous “secret strategies.” The reality is that real estate seminars that are selling tickets to hundreds of people in ten different cities in the course of one month aren’t teaching anyone anything secret – and if they were, it wouldn’t be secret for long, and therefore becomes irrelevant as an industry advantage.

The bottom line is that in order to succeed in real estate, you’ll need a lot fewer promises and a lot more information than what you are likely to receive in a real estate seminar.

Who Makes Money from Real Estate Seminars?

It is well documented online that the only people really making money at real estate seminars are the people who are running the real estate seminars. Forbes Magazine ran a profile on real estate guru Armando Montelongo in 2013 which offers an in depth critique of his seminars, and really of all these same types of large scale seminars offered by “gurus.” 

When asked to provide proof of people who have used his seminar to be successful, Montelongo offered two names, one who would not discuss his finances and another who said he had made about $180,000 in roughly a year and a half from buying and selling 18 homes. And while this is impressive, it is the best success had by one man out of the hundreds and hundreds of people who have attended Montelongo’s seminars over the course of a decade – success so significant and so unusual that Montelongo knows this man by name. This is something people should think about when considering investing thousands of dollars into a weekend seminar or private coaching sessions offered by the initial free seminar.

How to Really Get Started in Real Estate Investing

Pretty much every major money making and business focused publication and organization agree that there is a good way to get started in real estate, and it’s not at a seminar. It’s at your local bookstore.

According to the Washington Post, most real estate gurus who host seminars also have books, which usually go into much, if not most, of the details and information they provide at their seminars, but a cost of $10 to $20 instead of thousands of dollars. In fact, you can get all this information completely for free if you have access to a local library.

Once you have read a selection of books and begin to feel like you are ready for more intricate real estate courses, the next place you should look is a local real estate office, your local community college, and your local Home Depot or hardware store.

Local real estate offices often host their own real estate events and seminars at extremely affordable prices where the speakers are people who truly make a living in real estate, not from television shows or from selling tickets to a real estate seminar. Your local community college likely offers many different classes on real estate with coursework that is both more affordable and more in depth than a two or three day seminar, and for those who are interested in “flipping” properties, often considered the “Holy Grail” of real estate investment, your local hardware store will often offer classes in many of the skills you need for fixing up homes, like doing your own electrical work, replacing cabinetry, and much more.

The Bottom Line

It’s almost impossible to find someone who would genuinely recommend investing thousands of dollars into a real estate seminar as a good way to get the information and tools you need to truly make money in the real estate industry, especially when there are so many better and more affordable alternatives available.