August 15, 2013

Be Wary of Real Estate Seminars

I used to watch Flip This House on A&E.   It was a fairly entertaining and interesting show about people who would flip houses for profit.  I think the show ended around the real estate market bust (though I'm not sure).    I assume it was a lot easier to make money flipping houses when the market was going up irrationally.     Anyway, one of the people on the Flip This House show was a guy named Armondo Montelongo.  

That brings me to this :   Forbes article Meet Armando Montelongo: The Home-Flipping Huckster Who'll Make $50M This Year

Its an interesting article for sure. I'm surprised that they can make as much as they do with such seminars.   I'm actually a little sad that so many people pay so much money for such a thing. 

The Forbes article quotes one of the seminar attendees Lori Jakubowski who said “You don’t get anything substantive.”    That quote right there is the main thing I think we should all walk away with.   Its a first hand account from someone who's paid for a seminar and described it as lacking any substance.  

After staring on the TV show Armondo got into the real estate seminar business and now makes ridiculous amounts of money teaching others how to make it rich with real estate.   Unfortunately this seminar business of theirs has few people he can point to who are a success and an F rating with the BBB     And this gem on that : "Andy Moon, Montelongo’s corporate attorney: “You know the BBB is based in Austin, which is very liberal and in the consumer protection capital of the world.”...   Wow, I've not seen such a ridiculous explanation with someone waving their hand and trying to dismiss an awful BBB rating.   And honestly its my understanding that the BBB is relatively business friendly anyway.

A TV report from KSAT12 of San Antonio warns consumers about the seminars and discusses the BBB complaints.    An Inside Edition episode talks to a couple that spent $30,000 for one of the seminars and they show video of people in some sort of costume party.   They have a nice humble quote from Mr. Montelongo saying "I am the single greatest real estate investor in this modern era".  

Another one of the stars on Flip This House was Than Merrill.   Merrill's company was advertising on the radio in my area not long ago about their seminars.   Than Merrils company is called Fortune Builders Inc.   I found an article from Better Business Bureau Warns of House-flipping Seminar Headed for Saginaw BBB warning of their seminars.   But Fortune Builders Inc however has an A+ BBB rating    Thats a confusing contradiction there to have a warning from the BBB about the seminar when their BBB rating is an A+.   

In any case I would make a blanket statement that :   You should avoid going to or paying any money for real estate seminars.   Those seminars are not teaching people anything magic and are mostly just going to make money for the people who conduct the seminar.   If you're interested in real estate investing then you can read all about it in books from the library or on the web from various free sources.  Don't waste money on seminars.    In fact, don't go to free seminars either because they are just a sales pitch for high priced seminars.

 You don't get anything substantive.


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