The Best Real Estate Investing Advice I Ever Got

Traveling is sexy, especially if you don’t do it very often. That’s why I was so excited to attend my first real estate investing seminar. I would soon learn everything I needed to know about how to get rich investing in real estate AND fly across country to do it. Okay, Phoenix to Denver isn’t exactly across country but it was still exciting nonetheless. The icing on the cake was I got to stay at a Holiday Inn – can you say free continental breakfast? Yes, I was a real jetsetter.

It was 2001. I’d just finished reading Robert Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. His message was very clear – the only way a regular guy like me could achieve financial freedom was through real estate investing.

So I did what most newbie real estate investors do. I went online and found a weekend seminar. I spent money on airfare, a hotel room, meals and ground transportation. I listened to 8 different speakers in two days. By the end I dropped $600 on a lease/option tape set and another $600 on a foreclosure course.

A year went by. I closed two deals and pocketed about $8,000. Not satisfied with my results I did what most newbie real estate investors do, again. I spent more money ($2,700) and flew further away (Atlanta) for a weekend boot camp called How to Get Lenders Fighting to Give You Money.

Now if the title of this course doesn’t make you laugh out loud then there is something wrong with you. Who would pay $2,700 for something this ridiculous? The dope writing this post, that’s who.

Here’s what I was told to do that weekend, step by step:

  1. Find a small community bank.
  2. Schedule a meeting with the community bank VP.
  3. Show up to the meeting in a suit and tie.
  4. Explain to the bank VP that I own a real estate investment business.
  5. Ask for a line of credit similar to one a furniture store or car dealership gets to purchase inventory.

That’s it. The bank VP will then immediately draw up the documents for a $500,000 line of credit to buy an inventory of houses. Believe it or not I tried this – 7 times. Nobody was fighting to give me money but I could swear a few of the VPs I met with were fighting to avoid laughter.

I stumbled around in the dark for about another year. The lease-option-foreclosure thing was going nowhere. And despite my fancy suit and charming smile the lenders weren’t lending.

Out of desperation I called William Kozub, a local real estate attorney. He had just written an article about real estate investing and I wanted to pick his brain. William gave me the best real estate investing advice I ever got. He told me that if I was serious about learning how to invest in real estate I needed to stop wasting time and money flying all over the country attending these boot camps. He said you need to learn how to invest from someone who is doing it in your own backyard.

A week later I enrolled in a short sale-foreclosure course for Realtors. I met a guy in the class who connected me with a real estate investor that was buying houses at the courthouse steps. This investor gave me a shot working for him as a bird dog. My apprenticeship lasted about a year and I learned more (and made more money) than I ever did attending boot camps.

The lesson here is pretty simple. If you want to learn about real estate investing then find someone in your area that’s doing it. Make it worth their while to help you get started. Save the money you were about to spend on the boot camp and buy something worthwhile – like a nice suit and tie. It may come in handy some day.