P.T. Barnum once said, “A sucker is born every minute.” But, with the birth of reality TV, it can be argued a sucker is born every episode.
By using their “celebrity status,” reality TV personalities prey on fans trying to replicate the results they see on popular TV shows like Flip or Flop and Flip This House. Real estate investing has become an industry rife for scams.
“The fact is that several networks have made the idea of easily making money and becoming financially free wildly popular,” said Ryan Kuhlman, creator of The Flip Coach. “These shows have mislead viewers to make it look so easy, and they are unrealistic in the profits they portray.”
The reality is that the average flip generates about $25,000 to $45,000 in profit, but many stars of these popular TV shows promise much more. They have made millions by promising to share their secrets, but the fact is that most of their millions come from their $30,000-plus “mentoring programs,” versus real-estate investments.
We trust these TV stars because we invite them into our homes every week and feel like we know them. Websites exist that are dedicated to reviewing these programs and calling out these scams, but Kuhlman suggests some things you can look out for from the get-go if you truly want to learn abut real estate investing:
1. Remember the adage, “If it is too good to be true, it probably is.” Why would a millionaire real estate investor want to give you all of his secrets for free? He wouldn’t, and that’s because everything has a price. These gurus advertise their mentoring programs and get rich with “no money, no credit” gimmicks all over the Internet and radio. They tempt fans to sign up for “FREE” seminars that will allegedly equip you with all the valuable information needed to be successful in this business. That’s when you’ll find red flag number 2…
2. The upsell. The free seminar is only an opportunity for them to sell you on their boot camp, where they entice you with just enough information to sell you their boot camp.
3. More upsell. The two- to three-day boot camp is a way for reality TV celebrities to offer tidbits of information before going in with the hard sell, offering you their $30,000 to $60,000 real estate mentoring courses that promise to finally give you their secret. But here is the real secret: there are no secrets. Sadly, the chance of you ever hearing from these so-called mentors again is nearly zero.
4. No real local or specialized market knowledge. How can investing in property be the same in Kansas as it is in Los Angeles? It absolutely isn’t. You either have to have local market expertise, or learn how to find someone who does. If a program tells you that their program works in any market, it is probably a scam.
5. Worth repeating, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Reality stars who promise easy profits from their overpriced mentoring programs are little more than scam artists. While there is money to be made in real estate investing, it takes diligence, experience, teamwork and hard work.
There are many sites dedicated to reviewing these programs, so anyone interested can do the homework before investing such a large sum of money in a mentoring program. There also are other options such as Kuhlman’s Flip Coach program (yourflipcoach.com) that provide a blueprint of how to start your own real-estate investment business, while respecting the need for local market knowledge, hard work and dedication. He also is the only one in the industry to provide live online coaching. Unlike other real estate investment programs, The Flip Coach is a standalone program that does not require any additional upsold products to be effective.
“The fact is that you can be successful in real estate investing, but you have to be willing to put in the work and learn your market,” said Kuhlman, who is also the owner of Broward and Miami-Dade’s Real Estate Investors Associations and the youngest board member of the National Real Estate Investors Association.
Kuhlman warns not to allow the celebrity of reality TV lure you into investing $30,000 into celebrities rather than into real estate.
According to Google, Than Merrill is worth over $100 million, Armando Montelongo brags that he makes more than $50 million per year, and Cody Sperber owns more than $1 million in cars alone and is worth an estimated $200 million. Sperber’s website states he has closed 1,000 deals in seven years, and averages 7 to15 deals per month. If you do the math, it just doesn’t add up.
However, the real question remains: how much do these so-called celebrities earn from selling you their secret systems, and how much of their fortune is from actually flipping houses? More importantly, once they sell you their mentoring program, what is their incentive to make you successful? Once these reality stars have their team sell you their mentoring program, they leave town. You’d be lucky to have more than a few conversations over the phone or email, and you are out a very significant investment.