You've likely seen their full-page ads splashed in your local newspaper. They proclaim that the magical mystery tour is coming to your town, for one day only, and one phone call can secure your reservation, but hurry because seats are limited!
These masters of real estate secrets have a secret all right to share with you. It's called: "Buy my books, CDs and tapes." Moreover, what they're not sharing with you is if you follow their advice, you might get sued or land in jail, because more than half of them make up stuff that could get an unsuspecting follower into trouble.
You see, in the late '70s, early '80s, I regrettably represented a few of these real estate gurus as their real estate broker, many of whom are still in business today. I attended national real estate conventions to witness first-hand the activity behind the scenes. Among themselves, the promoters and speakers referred to these events as "dog and pony shows."
- Don't trust them
- Don't do business with them
- Run far, far away from them.
The truly dedicated and brainwashed followers will interpret my comments as heresy because these students / seminar attendees hang on every word their mentor tells them and, if given the chance, would rip the shirts off their backs to polish the ground in front of their worshipped god-like creature's feet. It's pathetic. I can't change those people's opinions, but I hope that my words will prod the rest of you to stay away these scam artists. Because they are charismatic, charming and quite believable until you scratch beneath the surface.
I swear, if P.T. Barnum were alive today, he would be a real estate seminar speaker.
Many Seminar Speakers are Unethical
One such speaker would set up real estate counseling sessions with hand-selected individuals in the audience, charging them a hefty fee for the session, in addition to representing them as a buyer's agent. He once confided that his goal was to "find out how much money is in my client's pocket and put it into my pocket." He wasn't joking.
Other speakers pre-screened audience members and placed colored dots on their name badges. This identified the financial situation of likely suspects by the seminar speaker's crew, as the various colored dots each represented a specific investment goal. For example, those with red dots might have $100,000 to invest; whereas those with blue dots might have less than $10,000 in the bank. The seminar company didn't want to waste time talking to those with the blue dots.
Seminar Gurus Fabricate and Stretch the Truth
At a luncheon one afternoon, I was seated next to a well known lawyer whom I used to respect. During the course of our conversation, I mentioned a specific method I discovered that encouraged tenants to buy real estate. Right after lunch I walked by this guy's seminar room and heard him sharing my idea with his class, claiming to have put together such a transaction himself, when in fact he had not. He lied. He could have easily told the truth, but apparently, as an officer of the court, little white lies didn't matter to him.
Another snake oil salesman often claimed that he owned property in 32 states. He repeated this statement over and over until he himself believed it, but the truth was he owned nothing. No real estate at all. But nobody ever questioned him. He's still selling real estate today.
Do the Money-Making Ideas Actually Work?
Yes. Some are feasible; some have never been executed; some are against the law. But can you tell the difference? Probably not. Can you do it? It's unlikely. The techniques are not geared toward the average investor regardless of the promises and hype. Want more information? John T. Reed maintains an excellent Web site that exposes seminar frauds.
At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.