Education is imperative in any endeavor. How would you feel if you were to have a heart transplant surgery and you found out that the person who was performing the surgery never studied anything about medicine, surgeries, or heart transplants? Would that give you a feeling of confidence? The answer is, probably not…..
While the situation above seems obvious, why is it that people simply assume that they are going to invest in real estate (or any commodity for that matter) with virtually ZERO study of the subject matter? For some reason, there is the idea that since there is no “formal” school for it, it can be done by simply showing up. This belief was supported for a time during the bubble of the mid-2000's as many people became “full-time” investors overnight with no education, but the lack of education eventually caught up with them as many of them became “no-time” investors after the crash.
While lack of education is a problem, an equally great problem is the abundance of “dream merchants” or “gurus” who put on spectacular shows to excite potential students. After exciting the crowd, some of these gurus tell the prospective students “You too can become an overnight millionaire, all you need to do is pay me $40,000 [or fill in the exorbitant amount here] and I will lead you to the promise land.” What? You don’t have $40,000? No problem, many of these performers will show you how to raise the limit on your credit card so that you can pay them the money and realize your “dream”. However, this dream will become a nightmare once you start having to make payments on your credit card bill with no deals to show for it.
These gurus feed on the belief in our society that the quality of something is directly proportional to the price (i.e., more expensive is better). While this may be true in some aspects of life, I have found this to be ABSOLUTELY FALSE in the world of real estate investing. I know because once took one of these expensive seminars when I was starting out and I found that the content paled in comparison to classes that were a fraction of the price.
To figure out what is a good price range, I once heard a quote that was attributed to the late and great Jack Miller, which was that a good weekend seminar should cost “all-in” (including tickets, transportation, hotel, food, etc) no more than $1,000. Mind you, this was said a number of years ago, so while inflation has increased the amount since then, you still should be able to find quality education in a weekend seminar for a price relatively close.
This begs the question, why is it that higher quality education often times is cheaper than lower quality education? I believe it is because the people who are actually making a living from investing don’t need to rely on seminar sales to fund their lifestyles, rather, their investments do that for them, so they do not need to charge such a high price. This is unlike many of the dream merchants who sell the $40,000 “boot camps” and rely primarily on the sales of classes rather than income for investing to fund their lifestyle. In addition, the real investors that I have met seem to genuinely enjoy teaching and passing on their knowledge to others and want to make it affordable for anyone to attend and learn.
So, now you may be asking, "Where can one find this good and affordable education that is needed to succeed in real estate investing?" There are amazing educational opportunities all around that are provided by wonderful people who give their students real information that they can use. I have attended seminars from a number of educators and have compiled a list below of educators that I have found to be helpful in my journey. The educators mentioned below cover a wide range of topics in investing, but all of them have a few things in common:
- They teach people how to do real deals. They are investors in the field themselves who are not teaching from theory. Since they are teaching real deals, they are teaching sound principles that I have found work in real life, rather than “Ivory Tower” techniques that may work in a classroom, but never in the real world.
- They are all approachable and look to help their their students. I have been fortunate to be able to speak at length with a number of these instructors outside the classroom regarding deals I was encountering. They have been prompt to give feedback and advice and sometimes even holding my hand through deals.
- They teach affordable classes. Most of the educators below teach weekend seminars that are in the price range of approximately $199 to $500/person. Some of the classes are more expensive, but they are also for a longer time (60 days, 1 year, etc), and these classes are still nowhere near the $40,000 mentioned above and they give amazing quality education for the price.
Keep in mind, one thing that you will not find with these educators is a lot of flash. Most of these educators do not walk around in expensive suits and do not drive the latest $100,000 car. Some of their websites are plain and don't have the "bells and whistles" that you will find on the gurus' pages. However, don't be fooled, these educators fit the profile outlined in "The Millionaire Next Door" to a "T" and you can see the value that they bring after speaking with them for 5 minutes.
Alright, without further ado, let’s get started….
1. & 2. Gary Johnston & Clyde Wilson - These two are mentioned as one as they teach classes together so often. Their class “Financial Freedom Principles” is absolutely amazing and it completely changed my life when I first took it in 2009. I have attended this class alone 4 times (as well as many other of their classes) and have picked up something new each time. This class taught me how to look at the big picture of financial freedom (which ultimately means having passive cash flow from assets that is greater than my monthly expenses) and how to work on both the income and outgo to achieve that goal. The class first introduced me to the concept of seller financing, which has allowed me to purchase a number of properties without bank financing and sometimes without cash. This class also introduced me to the financial calculator, which is an absolutely essential tool to making educated financial decisions that every investor NEEDS to know how to use. On top of the amazing class, both Gary and Clyde are outstanding people who take an interest in helping their students. For example, over the years they both have taken their time to guide me away from some bad deals that I was pursuing, and held my hand to help me close some of my more profitable deals. A bonus for those of you who live in Southern California or Central Florida, Clyde offers a fun (and free) tour called "Ride with Clyde" where he drives you around town and shows you his properties and the challenges that he faced in buying them and the creative techniques that he used. I found the "Ride with Clyde" to be an awesome experience that helped make investing much more tangible and attainable. Overall, I can’t recommend these two or their "Financial Freedom Principles" class enough, the class should be mandatory to graduate high school, it is that good!!!! For more information on Gary and Clyde and their classes, click here www.garyjohnston.com.
3. Peter Fortunato - Peter is the perhaps the smartest investor that I have ever met. Peter is absolutely brilliant with creative financing and using seller financing, mortgage notes, lease-options, trades, etc. to create deals that allow him to buy with everything except for cash. Most importantly, Pete really taught me the importance of listening to the seller and hearing their problem and making an attempt to fix that problem rather than simply throwing out an offer. By teaching others to solve the problems of the seller, Peter teaches deals that are extremely beneficial for all parties involved. An important note is that Peter’s teaching is very different for most people as he has so many creative concepts that many people have never encountred in their life. I was told the first time that I saw Pete that I would be lucky to understand 10% of what he discussed because there is so much new and creative information. Those people were right, however, within that 10% that I absorbed, I gained a concept that that helped me to close a transaction later that year, so it was well worth it. For more information on Peter and his classes, click here: www.peterfortunato.com.
4. John Schaub - John is outstanding at taking very complicated ideas and principles, and making them simple so that even the person who is brand new to investing can understand them. John emphasizes the importance of being able to achieve huge wealth by doing "little" deals, rather than the huge deals that many gurus discuss. He teaches classes on a wide range of topics, including seller finance, lease-options, property management, etc. and all of those classes are outstanding. I attended one of his classes in Orange County a few years ago, and as part of the class he made all of the students walk a neighborhood and knock on doors to look for deals, learn about the neighborhood, and get comfortable speaking with sellers. It was one of the best exercises that I have ever done in a class as it helped me to get over my fear of talking to strangers about their property and showed me what to look for when door knocking and what questions to ask in that situation. Apart from that drill, the concepts that he teaches are amazing at creating and building wealth and passive cash flow. John is also the author of a great book entitled “Building Wealth One House at a Time” which I think is a must read. To learn more about John or his classes, click here: www.johnschaub.com
5. Jimmy Napier - Jimmy is one of the masters of creative finance. He is the person who really made an impression on the importance of time value of money with regards to investing. This concept is not really touched on by many as they think it is too “elementary”, but the truth is that it is anything but elementary when you really study it, and Jimmy does an amazing job of showing its importance in any deal. Jimmy's manner of teaching is easy to understand as he teaches using a lot of stories of deals that he was involved in and where he used a creative technique to complete the transaction. I found Jimmy's method of teaching really helpful as it shows the practicality and application of his creative concepts. Additionally, Jimmy’s approach to negotiating is legendary within the investing circles and his negotiating class is one of the best out there. Finally, Jimmy wrote the book, “Invest in Debt” which is the only book that I know of which discusses in depth how to use a financial calculator to invest in mortgage notes, this book is another “must read” book for any investor. To learn more about Jimmy, click here: www.jimmynapier.com
6. Dyches Boddiford - Investing is not all about buying properties, but a huge part of the game is protecting what you already have. Dyches is an asset protection master and he gives an excellent explanation of how to protect your assets and thereby protect the net worth that you have worked so hard to accumulate. The techniques that he discusses are outstanding and not taught anywhere else. To learn more about Dyches, visit www.assets101.com
7. David Tilney - People are often focused on buying properties, and then simply assume that they will hire a property manager to manage them after the purchase. This is a major mistake as management is a huge expense that can easily turn a property with positive cash flow into a property with negative cash flow. David teaches an outstanding class on how to manage properties which really helps anyone out there learn an efficient system that helps one maximize profit while minimizing expenses and time spent. In addition, David also teaches a master leasing class, which is an amazing tool used by many people to get cash flow from properties without having to come up with cash or financing to buy the property. David is outstanding at teaching this technique to his students. If you own rental property (or one day hope to) take his class. To learn more about David and his classes, visit www.davidtilney.com.
8. Mike Cantu - Mike does not teach live seminars very often, but I have been fortunate to hear him speak a few times and also listen to some of his recorded material and his content is outstanding. Mike does it all including wholesaling, flipping, holding long term rentals and buying with creative financing. Mike takes the truly complicated elements of investing and boils them down into simple to understand parts that anyone can understand. As Mike does not speak very often, if you get the chance to hear him speak, take advantage of it. To learn more about Mike, visit www.mikecantu.com.
9. Bruce Norris - Any serious investor in California that I know listens to Bruce and what he predicts for the market. Bruce is a flipper, wholesaler, buy-and-holder, and hard money lender out of the Inland Empire of Southern California and he has been giving forecasts on the California real estate market for many years. His forecasts first became noted when he made his followers a lot of money in the late 90’s by predicting the “California Comeback” when no one could believe that California prices would go up. Then, he saved his followers a ton of money in the mid-2000's by predicting the California crash, when no one wanted to believe that prices could go down. Since then, Bruce puts out regular forecasts on the market, and what makes these forecasts unique is that Bruce, apart from using tons of data, does not make these predictions from an “Ivory Tower,” rather, Bruce is very much in the market and can see from the ground floor what is happening. If you are going to buy real estate in California, you need to listen to Bruce first. To learn more about Bruce, visit www.thenorrisgroup.com.
10. Rick Harmon - Rick, who is more commonly known as “The Probate Guy”, is the person whom everyone that I know turns to when there is a probate issue in a deal. Probate is a very tricky subject that not many people understand, but Rick knows probate inside and out due to having done tons of deals with probate properties. Rick has not taught a class in some time, but will occasionally speak at various clubs, and if you get the opportunity to hear him, do it. Another Southern California guy who is extremely well versed in creative finance. To learn more about Rick, visit ricktheprobateguy.com.
11. Dawn Rickabaugh - Dawn, aka the “Note Queen”, specializes in buying and brokering seller financed mortgage notes. For those of you who may be new, mortgage notes are a great way to get passive income with the added benefit of security. Dawn occasionally speaks at clubs around the country and while she does not have a formal seminar, she has a regular podcast where she produces outstanding content on note investing and much more. Additionally, she has an “Owner Finance Club” that one can join for guidance on notes and seller finance. I have closed a number of deals with Dawn and she has also given me a lot of advice over the years, and I have found her knowledge and ability to be outstanding. To learn more about Dawn, visit www.notequeen.com
12. Bill Tan - One of the most important devices to learn is a financial calculator and Bill teaches a class on how to use this amazing device. Bill is also brilliant with structuring creative deals that not many people can see. I have yet to attend Bill’s class, but I have heard him speak a number of times and he has advised me with creative deals that I have worked on in the past, and I found his insight to be invaluable. Bill also runs a huge investing club in Los Angeles that attracts a number of outstanding speakers. To learn more about Bill visit www.billtaninvestments.com.
13. Jack Miller - Unfortunately, Jack passed away just as I started to get into investing so I never had the privilege of meeting him. However, I have had the good fortune of being able to listen to some of his recorded material. He is considered by many of the educators that I have already listed to be one of the, if not the, best at finding and creating deals. Although he has passed away, much of his recorded material is still available at cashflowdepot.com.
14. Iris Veneracion - Iris is the Founder of the “Investclub for Women” which is a club that has amazing guests in Orange County, CA. More importantly, she created a program entitled the “60 Day Challenge” which is a program that is unlike any other that I know. She created the Challenge after seeing that the problem with many of the weekend seminars was that when Monday came around most of the people who attended lost their steam and did not do the work needed to find a deal. In response, she created the “60 Day Challenge” which is an event that takes people and turns them into “Real Estate Warriors” by teaching them methods to find properties and then forcing them to do the work needed to find and close the deals. The class has weekly meetings that covers a wide range of topics from where to find deals to what you need in a contract and there are also assignments that must be performed by the Warriors to stay in the program. The assignments include regular cold-calling, door knocking, mailing post cards, etc. This program is outstanding and I have met some of my closest friend in the investing community while taking the Challenge. If this course were offered by one of the big name “gurus” it could easily cost $100,000 (not a misprint) as the extensive amount of content and support provided is unbelievable. It is an outstanding course that is unlike any other that I have ever taken due to its combination of classroom work and action required to close a deal. Oftentimes, deals are closed by the “Real Estate Warriors” within the 60 days of the Challenge. To learn more about Iris, or the “60 Day Challenge” visit www.womensinvestclub.com.
I hope that this list helps you on your quest for good and affordable real estate investing education. Mind you, this list is not exhaustive as there are many outstanding educators out there that I may have missed. If you are new to investing and maybe you can’t get to one of these seminars, there are many outstanding investing clubs throughout the country that offer an excellent opportunity to learn about investing and network. Typically, these clubs meet one night a month and are a great introduction to investing. A few that I enjoy attending in Southern California are Iris Veneracion's "Investclub for Women" (don't worry, men are allowed too, lol), Bill Tan's LAREIA and Lisa Hoegler's LA South REIA. Additionally, if you are simply looking for good content to read to begin your education, there are many great investing blogs out there. A few blogs that I would recommend would be biggerpockets.com and coachcarson.com as they are both loaded with informative content that you can't find in many "regular" investing books.
I hope that this you find this list helpful. I would love to hear your thoughts on this list and any education that you have found helpful in your journey. Please feel free to leave your thoughts below.
PS - One final note, if you are looking for a solid educational experience and will be around Desert Hot Springs, California on May 19-21, I am fortunate to be invited to speak alongside a number of other outstanding educators at the “Millionaire Maker: The Next Generation” seminar. We are real investors who will be discussing real techniques that you can apply right away. Some topics that we will discuss include real estate investing, mortgage note investing, mobile home investing, self-directed IRA investing, how to use a financial calculator, and much more. Also, the class passes the “Jack Miller Affordability Test” as the price for all 3 days is $395, and you get an additional discount if you enter the word “Tonight” at checkout making it $225. There are only a few seats left, so don't wait if you are interested in attending. To learn more or to register, visit millionairemakersnextgen.com.