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The Many Benefits of Joining A Real Estate Club | By: Steve Love

The Many Benefits of Joining A Real Estate Club

          Although there are certainly many reasons to join a Real Estate Club, aka REIA (Real Estate Investor Association), the biggest reasons are certainly for Education, Networking, Team Building and even for fun.

          The good news is that these groups of like minded folks are easy to find.  Chances are that if you live near a city of any size, there will be one or even several groups there.  Just go to your favorite search engine like Google or Yahoo or Bing and type in “real estate investment club” and your city.  You’ll find plenty.  Or simply go to

          Remember, not all clubs are equal so you should choose one that’s right for you.  Hopefully this chapter will help you. 

Different Types of Clubs

          Don’t mistake real estate clubs for REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) where you buy securities, like stocks, that invest in real estate.  While there are a few clubs that pool money to buy real estate, the vast majority do not.  Personally I would beware of pooling money without a good grasp of all the securities laws involved and a very experienced and knowledgeable promotor/general partner. It can be sticky.

          Most real estate clubs meet monthly, sometimes more often, and charge a fee for admission or an annual fee.  Some even charge both an annual fee and a monthly door charge so know what you’re getting into.  Some groups may allow you to come once before joining or paying, so you may want to check and see if that’s an option.

          That being said, there are various “types” of clubs you should be aware of.  Some clubs focus mainly on single family residences (SFR’s), others commercial properties & apartments and some both.  Some clubs cater mainly to beginners (and “wannabes”) while other prefer more experienced investors.  Some may have a philosophy of investing to hold real estate for passive income (cash flow) while others prefer to buy and sell for big checks (flipping).

          Even among those that may  focus on SFR’s you’ll find some that teach mainly creative or terms type investing while other teach buying with cash and/or bank financing.  Of course the current market cycle may affect this because in some markets like when REO (bank owned properties) or short sale properties are the predominant sources of available deals, cash may be the only option.

          Often groups will give new members a package of goodies (we call ours “Swag Bags”) that can be worth hundreds of dollars if purchased separately.   These may include a number of books, CD’s, DVD’s, reports, articles and other goodies so always inquire about them.  In some cases this benefit alone may be worth the cost of annual membership.

          It’s a good idea to always find what tangible economic membership benefits you’ll be receiving from the club such as a free admission to all meetings (some do not), admission or discounts on longer all day or weekend workshop trainings or even benefits like swag bags or discounts on selected       products either offered by the club or local retailers like Home Depot.

          You might also inquire about WHY the current founder or owner runs the club.  Many have a hidden agenda.  We’ve found in many cases the founder is a real estate loan broker who just wants to push his or her loans.   Other may have been started by a real estate broker or agent that just want to sell their listings even if listed at a retail price!  As investors, we almost always want to buy at a wholesale price or wholesale terms.

          Also,  check to see how long the group you’re looking into joining has been around.  We find that literally every week in our  state new “Meetup” groups form for real estate investors, only to quickly fold when the owner/promoter doesn’t make any money. 

          Another big thing to mention is that some are formed as Non-Profit Corporations and others are for profit.  I know good groups in both of these categories so I really don’t think it matters.   The Not-For-Profit type groups that are run by volunteers sometimes have too many folks on their board of directors so are often slow to make decisions.   I’ve seen many of such groups have personality conflicts within the board so some go off to start a competing group across town. Stay out of the politics.

          As stated earlier, the For-Profit groups are certainly as good at the Non-Profit unless the founder is just there to sell you loans or listings.  Many good groups don’t even believe in getting investor bank loans!

Membership In National Trade Association

          Many groups belong to National REIA, the national organization for REIA groups.  I know of many fine groups that are not members of National REIA, but belonging to this national association has some benefits such as discounts and/or rebates to many major retailers like Home Depot, Sherwin Williams and numerous others. Other benefits include huge national events like their Mid-Year Conference, an annual cruise, online education, discounts on insurance, car rentals, printing, etc, etc.  You should also be aware that members of this national association have committed to a set of ethics and have been thoroughly vetted by National REIA.  Their core purpose is to advance and protect the industry of real estate investing while  helping real estate investors prosper and add value to their lives and their communities.

Benefits of Joining A Club Starting With Education

          Ok, now that we’ve looked at the different types of clubs out there, let’s go back to the main reasons why to join: Education, Networking, Team Building and even Social Benefits.

          First of all, lets discuss education.  Most clubs have different keynote speakers at every meeting and these speakers and/or their topics are often the main reason people attend.  These speakers come to educate on their particular area of expertise or niche.   The different topics are almost too numerous to name (see next paragraph).  Because real estate investing is very much an industry made up of “niches”, you’ll find many, many different niches and topics of interest.

          At just our local club we’ve had talks on (and in no particular order): single family residences (SFR’s), 2-4 unit properties, apartments, condos, commercial properties, mobile homes, mobile home parks, wholesaling, retailing, REO’s (bank owned properties), negotiation, note (paper) investing, marketing, internet marketing, financing, creative (seller) financing, mindset, abandoned properties, probates, foreclosures, distressed properties or distressed owners,  tenant/property management, lease options, private money/hard money, finding motivated sellers, finding buyers or tenants, asset protection, title holding trusts, contracts, networking, special needs housing, student housing, land investing, nothing down investing, building houses or additions, judgement liens, rehabbing, tax refunds, cell towers & billboard/sign rentals, computer software, buying/selling on Ebay, real estate grants, sandwich leasing,  tax sales, how to run your office/business management, luxury properties, self storage units, personal assistants & delegation, bankruptcies and short sales.

          Whew!  And this list is by no means complete!  Some of the above topics overlap and each speaker/trainer has their own unique spin on their particular niche, but they all do work.

          Do some of the speaker/trainers sell products? Of course. Most do, some don’t.  Almost no subject can be completely taught in 90 minutes or even a whole day. That’s why many speakers offer home study systems of CD’s or DVD’s and manuals or a multiday “bootcamp”, or perhaps both.  And you may not think they’re cheap  and perhaps they’re not, but let’s look at it in perspective.

          I believe that if you buy a good trainer’s home study course or bootcamp  and apply the proper ACTION that you’re taught, you can make money. A lot of money!  In my market even a low level rehab should net you $50,000 and up.  So what if you paid a thousand or two thousand for the education?  Put it to use and just one deal will pay for itself many, many time over and then for years into the future.

          Let’s look at it another way.  The 4 year school that I graduated from now takes over $33,000 per year to attend.  And it’s a public, in-state school!  So in 4 years you’d pay over $132,000.

          If you chose to attend the local private school (which I attended for one whole day), again for in-state residents, you’d pay about twice that much!  And if you’re from out of state?  Forget about it!  And now it takes the vast majority of students 5 years to get through college anyway.

          Then when you do graduate, are you assured of a job or a career?  According to a recent study published in the Washington Post, only 27% of college grads have a job related to their major. I know when I graduated neither I or my college roommate could get jobs in our chosen fields.  And what would we be earning if we did get “good” paying jobs?  A fraction of what most successful real estate investors make.

          So in this light, paying a grand or two (or even buying many such programs)  is still chump change compared to either going to college or going to the “school of hard knocks” which can certainly be even more expensive.  I recommend you educate yourself with one of the quality trainers out there, one that is currently doing exactly what he or she preaches, but then put into ACTION what they teach.  Action is the key word here.  You won’t make anything with the program sitting in your bookcase or in your closet.

          I have noticed in recent years some groups like to brag that “we don’t sell anything”.  So my question to them is how are you going to get educated without either a home study program, a bootcamp or perhaps some 1-on-1 training (more on that 1-on-1 stuff later)?  You can’t, unless you’re back to the aforementioned hard knock school where you try to learn it on your own.  That’s usually a receipe for disaster.

          Some groups provide monthly “Market Updates” which let you know what ‘s happening in the local and national real estate markets as far as price trends, rental rates, interest rates, vacancies, etc, etc .  These updates can help you to decide where and what to buy, sell, hold, etc.

          While we’re still on the subject of Education, I should mention that many speakers give a talk for an hour or two at the clubs but then return for an all day seminar (or even two days) that are often quite reasonably priced or even free to members.  Be sure to inquire if the club you’re looking at provides these, or other extra meetings sometimes called SIG Groups (special interest groups) or Sub-Groups.  Indeed, the amount of education provided by some clubs is really remarkable.


          For some, networking is a main reason  to join or attend real estate clubs.  You can learn from others, find out what’s working now, find private lenders, joint venture partners and even good deals.

          Many clubs have some form of “Have and Wants” where one can stand up and give a quick pitch for something they have or want.  For instance you may “have” a deal you’d like to wholesale to a rehabber for a quick profit or perhaps you have a good deal under contract but “want” a private lender to put up the money.

          Networking at the clubs can often lift your spirits whenever you’re down due to losing a deal, a bad tenant or even a negative spouse.  When you hang out with positive, like-minded individuals, you usually go home in great spirits.

          Through networking you can not only learn a lot from other members, you can build helpful business & financial relationships and even find good deals.  But like with ANY deal you ever buy, do your own due diligence!  Just because you met a person at a club does not always mean that person is “above board” and honest.  Check out both the deal itself and the person you’re doing business with.  I can’t emphasize this strongly enough!

Team Building

          Most successful investors have a “team” of people they can call on to help in their business.

          These would include contractors, appraisers, escrow companies,  title companies, insurance agents, handymen (or handywomen!), loan brokers, plumbers, attorneys, decorators, stagers, painters, and on and on.  Many groups have vendor tables where you can meet and interview many of these people for your own team.

Social Activities and Fun

          Certainly some groups get into this more than others, but some have parties, picnics, get togethers to play Cash Flow or Monopoly or even baseball, dinners or lunches or breakfasts, etc.  I even know one group that had a fishing trip and another that had a salmon cooking contest.  Most groups have giveaways like drawings or door prizes at every meeting.  Some of them can be quite valuable.

         Several groups that I know  of do their own versions of Shark  Tank where a panel of potential investors called “Sharks” will bid on deals from entrepreneurs. In our own club, we’ve sponsored two multi-day cruises that not only had all the fun of a cruise, but we provided two of the best and most popular local speaker/trainers anywhere.   We all had so much fun!

          We have several people that have come to our own local group just to socialize and have the provided refreshments and food.  They don’t seem to ever buy any properties but they come every month which is fine with us.  The more the merrier.

          I even introduced two people at one such meeting who ended up getting married, having children and are living happily ever after.  You never know what will happen at these clubs!

Beware of Coaching or Mentoring

          I really do approve of one having a coach or mentor and even coached real estate investing for a few years myself.  I’ve had many coach/mentors in many aspects of my own life including real estate investing.

          What I do not approve of is the way it’s now being promoted in a segment of the real estate education industry.  Many of these so called coaches advertize on radio and TV to get you to come to a “free” meeting in some hotel somewhere.  There, or perhaps later after a smaller sale, you’ll be strong armed into buying one of their high end coaching programs that can cost $15,000, $20,000, $25,000, $50,000 and even $100,000!  In my humble opinion, no coaching or mentoring is worth this amount of money.  What you often end up with is some kid who’s never purchased a house in his life answering your questions out of a manual, never the “guru” himself.  I’ve spoken with many folks who’ve been scammed by these shysters who have found it easier and more lucrative to scam the public  rather than do legitimate real estate deals.

          Some will have you raise the credit limits on your credit cards so you can buy their coaching.  The price?  As much as your credit lines will allow!  They even take you outside the room to high pressure you into buying.   Please do not fall for it! 

          If you ever find a moderately priced already successful person who currently works your market and will work with you personally and keep you accountable and keep you from getting into trouble, then maybe ok.  Many will even help you without any charge at all as did some of my own dear mentors.   Just don’t pay any big bucks no matter what you’re promised.  You don’t have to.

My Own Story

          I accidentally (or perhaps serendipidously) ran into a man at a Jim Rohn seminar in 1994.  Jim Rohn is a business philosopher and motivational speaker.  As it turned out, this man whose name is Jack Fullerton ran a real estate investment club and invited me to come.  I did and I can say that it really changed my life.  I still remember the first speaker I heard there, Bruce Norris, talk about buying properties at 50 cents on the dollar.  I could hardly believe it!

          Jack introduced me to others who  became my trainers such as Jack Miller, Peter Fortunato, John Schaub and  Jimmy Napier.  Meanwhile Bruce introduced me to Mike Cantu who was a big part of my early investing career and Mike introduced me to Ron LeGrand. 

          Meanwhile I continued to go to Jack’s club every month and I was even introduced to another club there that was located much nearer to my home.   So I continued to attend both clubs every month and learned more & more and became more & more successful at real estate investing.

          Remember when I discussed networking above?  At Jack’s club I sat next to a guy, Chuck, and we became good friends (another club benefit, friends!).  One day Chuck called and had a deal and asked me if I wanted in.  I did.  A couple of years later I cashed a huge check for way over six figures which was my share of the profit of a deal that I had zero money in.  Go to these clubs and network!  You never know who you’re sitting next to.

          A few years later Ron LeGrand asked my wife Robyn & myself to co-found an investment group in Los Angeles.  Although I’d already been able to quit my job, as did my wife Robyn, because of our real estate investing, starting this new club again changed my life completely.  We were warned by Jack and other local club leaders that we wouldn’t get rich by running a club and that it takes much more work than it appears and as it turns out they were correct.

          Many months we actually lose money because we pay up to several thousand dollars for the seminar rooms, refreshments, food, gratuities, gift (swag) bags, etc.  Other months we make some money and we often just break even.  I can honestly say though that running a club has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  There’s nothing better than getting a call from a new investor who just bought his first house or just cashed his first check.  I’ve gotten to know and become friends with the top trainers in the business.  It’s been like a dream come true.

          Meanwhile we were asked by the founder of the other club I attended, Phyllis, if we might like to help run her club too.  So now we run the evening club meetings and all day Saturday workshop events for 2 clubs.  I not only am continually learning more about real estate investing but sometimes club members even bring us deals to joint venture  on them with.  It’s a perfect scenario.

          So now, because I started attending a real estate investment club some 20 years ago, I can afford to not only do what I want, but I also have the TIME  to live as I please.

         In my case, I go on fishing trips at least once a month and these trips may be for one day or up to a  week.  We go all over the West plus Alaska and Mexico. 

          Since I love going on cruises, I’ve been taking up to five (5!) cruises per year all over the world.  I especially enjoy the European cruises.

          Since I love rock and roll, I go with my concert buddy Jim often to concerts, most recently bands such as the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Seger and The Who.  I can take our teenage boys to see their favorite bands like Green Day, Linkin Park, Slipknot and Fallout Boy.

          We go to lots of  theater plays, professional sports (like the Angels or Clippers), movies and eat out a lot these days.  We take regular trips to places like Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, the Redwoods and the mountains. And I can argue that it all started with real estate investment clubs.


         My advice is just do it!  Join a club.  Find one near you that you like and attend monthly or more often if available. Learn all you can from the speaker/trainers and other members and put your knowledge into action.

          What, you don’t even have enough money to join?  No problem.  All clubs welcome volunteers where you can help check members in, pass out flyers, help with refreshments, etc.   By the way, one of the many reasons I love real estate is that you can be broke and still buy real estate.  It takes knowledge, not necessarily money.  Get your knowledge at the club.

          You’ve heard how real estate investor groups have truly changed my life.  Now it’s your turn.  Let one change yours too.

Steve Love


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