Mentoring courses and property networking

by Mark Trenfield

10:50 AM, 26th July 2012
About 6 years ago

Mentoring courses and property networking

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Mentoring courses and property networking

Mentoring courses and property networking – have I been a Plonker Rodney?

Property Networking and Mentoring Courses

What a plonka!

Are landlord mentoring courses value for money and are many of the property networking meetings we get invited to simply a sales pitch?

When I started investing in property, back in the late 1990’s, there was no such thing as buying below market value (BMV) because the housing market was absolutely booming. Even if you were prepared to pay the FULL asking price for a property – the investor was at risk of being gazumped by a more enthusiastic investor or a first time buyer (anyone remember them?) who would pay OVER the asking price to secure their dream investment/home.

Investors, back in those days, didn’t particularly worry too much about monthly rental income from property because annual capital growth was rampant and in 2002, alone, house prices in my town rose by over 23%. Capital growth of over 9% was the norm – even in the less rampant years.

Instead, we were advised to take a longer term view on a property investment (10years+) and to ensure that the BTL mortgage was covered by 125% of rent so that the overall investment “washed its face” (after costs and voids ). By investing in this way – the long term capital growth would be created at the tenants expense. Interestingly, most banks still use the 125% of rent criteria today when deciding to lend or not.

How times and property investment strategies have changed!

Capital growth is no longer king – I can’t remember the last year that any of my existing investment properties rose in value – and the latest investment strategy seems to be “how to generate passive monthly income from property” so that we can all give up work early.
Have you noticed the number of property investor clubs and property networking events that have suddenly appeared from nowhere? Isn’t it strange how these clubs are facilitated by people claiming to be property investment gurus and how attendees are berated into buying expensive mentoring courses from them (costing thousands of pounds) so that they can learn the secret of becoming a passive property millionaire RODNEY!

I went to a couple of property networking meetings last week and 60% of the presentation material delivered was on why I needed mentoring from their founders! And they charged me £20 to attend each meeting as well!

I am firmly of the belief that if you can’t do it then – you teach it. If these mentors were such successful property investors capable of making millions of pounds passively (RODNEY) then why would they want to share their secret with me and why would they want to spend their evenings non-passively trying to get me to sign up to their expensive mentoring programmes?

Then it occurred to me. Could it be that these gurus have run out of deposit money (for their next property investment) and were they trying to sell me their mentoring courses to fund their next deposit? What do you think? Do these expensive mentoring courses deliver value for money?

Of the many attendees that I met who have attended these type of courses, the consensus was “We didn’t learn anything that we didn’t really already know – but it gave us the focus, confidence and support to invest”.

Is gaining focus and confidence etc. worth thousands of pounds though? Ironically, shouldn’t membership of a property network give its members the focus, confidence and support to invest? Isn’t that the purpose of any network is?

It would seem that many property networks have been created to promote expensive mentoring packages and not, unfortunately, to support their members. I thought I might actually learn something (about investing in property) by attending my local property club – but I obviously need more mentoring – and I feel a right PLONKER now RODNEY.

What’s your experience of mentoring and Property Clubs? Are they good, bad or indifferent? Do they provide inexperienced property investors with valuable information? Have they helped you?

I would love to hear your comments.



Comments

Mark Alexander

9:41 AM, 26th July 2012
About 6 years ago

I Mark, I don’t think you’ve been a plonka at all. Regarding networking events, if you don’t go you wont know. I’ve been to plenty, made some very useful contacts and spent no more than the entrance fee and a the price of a few beers.

If there had been a property mentoring course back in 1989 that could have taught me everything I know now I’d have saved well into seven figures over the last 20+ years.

I’ve spoken to several people who have done a variety of courses with a variety of mentors. They have paid anything from zero to £50,000. These people haven’t all been plonka’s though, although there are a lot more plonka’s than people who rave about the value for money they have received. I met one guy who had spent £150,000 on property education and up-front
property sourcing fees and still didn’t own a buy to let property! Another “guru” even managed to persuade a lady that an evil spirit in her property was the reason she’d not been successful. Fortunately the guru’s partner was an exorcist then!

Very good examples of value for money are the Landlords Accreditation schemes run by NLA (National Landlords association), LLAS (London Landlords Accreditation Scheme) and MLAS (Midlands Landlord Accreditation Scheme). The ARLA courses are also considered to be very good value for money by thousands of letting agents.

I think the big question here is “how do you know who to trust before handing over any money?”

I’d suggest two things as an initial starting point.

1) If the “guru/mentor” can’t be found on Google, and isn’t being talked about by lots of people on a variety of forums and blogs, the likelihood is that they are a nobody and should be avoided.

2) If the “guru/mentor” can be found on Google, spend at least a few hours researching what other people say about them. Pay more attention to what other people are saying than what they say about themselves.

A very simple Google tip is to search the person and their company name and add the words Scam, or Complaint(s), rip off, fraud etc. Then do plenty of reading. Just because something
comes up in a search containing these words doesn’t mean that a person should be avoided. The article may relate to a different person with the same name or it could be an article they’ve written which talks about a scam. For example, if you search “Mark Alexander Scam” you will find everything from a person called Mark Alexander in America who sold a dodgy car to an article I wrote on Property118 about a scam that I exposed.

I’d be very interested to hear what other landlords think about property education and the due diligence they recommend before signing up to a course.

I will not publish name and shame comments – please see “what Property118 is not” >>> http://www.property118.com/index.php/what-property118-is-not/

10:07 AM, 26th July 2012
About 6 years ago

I think you've hit the nail on the head Mark (A) - research is key and the devil truly is in the detail!

The only thing I can add is transparency. When researching property events/'gurus'/etc I look for openness, communication, &
accountability .

This property tribes blog says it all really : http://www.propertytribes.com/blog/top-6-in-the-property-transparency-league/

Mary Latham

10:24 AM, 26th July 2012
About 6 years ago

Hahahahaha I have just Googled Mary Latham scam and the top 7 are all my posts on Property118 - Mark is this good or bad? hahahahahaha

Mary Latham

10:40 AM, 26th July 2012
About 6 years ago

The proof of the pudding is in the comments delegates put on the feed back forms. Here is a message sent via face book from a delegate who attended an MLAS seminar in Birmingham yesterday
"Today was amazing... I have gone away gaining so much knowledge today. Thank you very much... kind regards...."
This delagate paid £150 for an 8 hour foundation seminar and is now accredited by MLAS. Delegates are expected to continue to learn and gain 50 CPD points over the next five years in order to become accredited for another 5 years. CPD can be gained in a variety of ways many of which are cost free. Accreditation based on education is becoming more and more popular and I think that we will see it grow very quickly in the next few years. Landlords cannot afford to let our tenants know more than we do these days and what is known as the LAS's model of accreditation is a quick and inexpensive fix. Landlords have to sign up to a Code of Conduct and may be subjected to the complaints procedure in the event that MLAS receive a complaint. There have been just 50 complaints over the last 5 years and this Autumn MLAS will celebrate its 2000th member. These members represent thousands of tenancies and most of the 50 complaints have been cleared up very quickly - I would say that this speaks very well for MLAS landlords.

Mark Alexander

17:05 PM, 26th July 2012
About 6 years ago

I think I may have said it before Mary but the comments you get on those feedback forms are the best bit of free sales and marketing you could ever get. However, they are no good sat in a file somewhere, they need to be on the MLAS websites. Just add a tick box at the end of the form so that people can agree to using their names and comments on the MLAS website. Also, why not offer a way for course delegates to leave comments online like we are doing now?

Mary Latham

18:41 PM, 26th July 2012
About 6 years ago

I agree Mark but have you ever tried walking up a wet mirror!

Paul Shears

19:04 PM, 26th July 2012
About 6 years ago

Buyers beware folks!

Firstly I've only been to two of these property "seminars" and a few "finance" seminars.

The first was a property funding sales scam in Portsmouth some years ago from a very well-known company that stopped offering mortgages some time later.
The main, very confident and articulate speaker appeared to be flat broke and his 1960's purple "suit" was the sort of thing worn by the beetles pop group 20 years previously on the cover of Sargent Pepper’s lonely hearts club band.
It looked like it had been bought for 50 pence from a charity shop.
He also desperately needed a new set of false teeth as his own set looked like they had been intended for a different user!

He preached the doctrine of maximum leverage.

He claimed to be an ex English teacher who had made several million pounds from ridiculously high returns from his "portfolio" of flats in Brighton.

He had a very low opinion of tenants as “complainers”.

He showed us some pictures of the outside of some old flats which he said were in Brighton and he owned some of them.
I still can’t work out what that information was supposed to prove unless you just took it at face value.

I challenged him in a face to face discussion after the presentation on the returns he claimed he was making and pointed out that there was absolutely no way anyone could make half the rental returns he claimed in my own area of Winchester.
He told me that I needed to buy property in Brighton (which may well have been where he had some to sell desperately!).
I'm not sure whether he was suggesting that I sell up in Winchester and move to Brighton or use agents in Brighton but he clearly knew nothing of my personal circumstances except that I owned property before giving me this financial advice.
I deliberately looked away from this man who stood immediately in front of me for a moment as if I was distracted by something, and as expected, he took the opportunity to flee very rapidly indeed into the crowd.
I turned back, stood still, and watched him almost run around the perimeter of the room to put as much distance between the two of us as he could!
It was pathetic.

Just a few days ago I watched yet another "success story" internet video from a group called "R** & M***" about a northern chap who claimed to have about 18 properties up north worth a total of two million pounds in which he claimed to have £750,000 equity.

So an average of £111K each then.

From that he claimed he financed the £1.25 million pound debt and had £60K a year left over for him to live on in what was a part time job as a landlord.
This was all after re-mortgaging eight properties in the past year to buy another ten properties as a direct result of the education he received from R** & M***" at a cost of several thousand pounds.

You do the maths on that!
If you can't work out the simple arithmetic on this then my advice to you is don't become a landlord or even think about going on a course!

By the way, this successful landlord is now marketing himself as a mentor for others who might wish to invest through him.
I checked out his web site and since about January this year, which was when, judging from his video comments, it might well have been set up, the blog element was empty!

I also attended a property investment seminar in which one "property millionaire" presenter claimed to be the wife of a police sergeant (So you can trust her all the more for that and suspend you own critical judgement).
The lady provided no information on property investment whatsoever and just claimed to be a success.

A second presenter, a young man of about 25 years of age, who from his accent and appearance did not seem to be remotely English, claimed that he'd made five million pounds buying, renting & selling property in five years as a result of going on the training course that they were offering.
I raised my hand and asked if he had paid any capital gains tax on the sales he had made on the portfolio.
No one else up to this time had challenged anything that had been said.
He looked very nervous and replied (and remember this chap had already claimed to have gone on the training course that they were offering the audience) that he did not "understand anything about tax".
I replied that I did and he would incur considerable tax.

It was immediately after this public interaction that the organiser’s main speaker announced to the audience that it was really just a sales pitch for the property investment training course and so if anyone did not want to fork out several thousand pounds for a training course they could leave.
About 66% of the audience including myself left immediately and as we got up to leave, the presenter commented that "you just can't help some people".

I'd love to attend a seminar where the presenter knows as much as the lay man or is clearly not a crook looking for the stupid but so far this has not happened albeit in a very limited experience.

Obviously there are competent, intelligent & ethical people out there but there are also people who target idiots at minimum personal financial and non-financial cost using positive comments that simply do not stand up to the most basic analysis.
God help the poor naive investors who get sucked in with that group of sharks.

Lastly I note that these financial sales people never point out that in addition to the risks of too much leverage, which each landlord needs to ultimately assess with his or her own judgement, the landlord can find themselves swopping their previous full time job for a new one, that of managing properties with varying degrees of personal involvement.
Just what does the novice landlord do who knows nothing about a particular trade for example and can't get a reliable tradesman?
This has been my biggest problem by a mile and it almost always results in me fixing problems myself.
I heard no suggestion that this might be a problem to the people who were clearly past retirement age, or the widows that I met in the seminars that I attended.
Just the same dumbed down messages over & over again trying to brainwash the naive into handing over their money to the people they could trust because the presenters were so successful already.

I've also attended financial investment seminars in expensive venues of no intellectual merit whatsoever.
Presumably some members of the audiences did not agree with my perception or they would not be in the business.
I've had a few people comment to me after the presentation at these events how impressed they have been.
I've replied by asking the simple question "Can you give me one simple piece of concrete information that you've heard today that would cause you to invest your money with these people or some method that you propose to use to check out the validity of any of their claims?”
The reply has always been silence.
It's emotion that's driving the sucker’s behaviour and not the most basic intellectual analysis.

By the way, just to set myself up as a target, I make more monthly profit than any of the half dozen neighbours that I have that own investment property and all of us have had very little capital gain in the last few years.
Due to my reputation and personal involvement, I pay no advertising or agents fees and in the past two years although two tenants have moved out, I’ve had no void periods or loss of income.
My return on a £350K stake is £14,400 per annum less some very small overheads however I have high grade tenants and virtually nothing to do except to check my rental income each month.
It’s always paid early.

I'm preparing the next property for rental now and expect a similar return.

So get real folks or am I missing something here?

Paul Shears

20:34 PM, 26th July 2012
About 6 years ago

Buyers beware folks!

Firstly I've only been to two of these property "seminars" and a few "finance" seminars.

The first was a property funding sales scam in Portsmouth some years ago from a very well-known company that stopped offering mortgages some time later.

The main, very confident and articulate speaker appeared to be flat broke and his 1960's purple "suit" was the sort of thing worn by the beetles pop group 20 years previously on the cover of Sargent Pepper’s lonely hearts club band.
It looked like it had been bought for 50 pence from a charity shop.
He also desperately needed a new set of false teeth as his own set looked like they had been intended for a different user!
He preached the doctrine of maximum leverage.
He claimed to be an ex English teacher who had made several million pounds from ridiculously high returns from his "portfolio" of flats in Brighton.
He had a very low opinion of tenants as “complainers”.
He showed us some pictures of the outside of some old flats which he said were in Brighton and he owned some of them.
I still can’t work out what that information was supposed to prove unless you just took it at face value.

I challenged him in a face to face discussion after the presentation on the returns he claimed he was making and pointed out that there was absolutely no way anyone could make half the rental returns he claimed in my own area of Winchester.
He told me that I needed to buy property in Brighton (which may well have been where he had some to sell desperately!).
I'm not sure whether he was suggesting that I sell up in Winchester and move to Brighton or use agents in Brighton but he clearly knew nothing of my personal circumstances except that I owned property before giving me this financial advice.
I deliberately looked away from this man who stood immediately in front of me for a moment as if I was distracted by something, and as expected he took the opportunity to flee very rapidly indeed into the crowd.
I turned back, stood still and watched him almost run around the perimeter of the room to put as much distance between the two of us as he could!
It was pathetic.

Just a few days ago I watched yet another "success story" internet video from a group called "R** & M***" about a northern chap who claimed to have about 18 properties up north worth a total of two million pounds in which he claimed to have £750,000 equity.
So an average of £111K each then.
From that he claimed he financed the £1.25 million pound debt and had £60K a year left over for him to live on in what was a part time job as a landlord.
This was all after re-mortgaging eight properties in the past year to buy another ten properties as a direct result of the education he received from R** & M***" at a cost of several thousand pounds.
You do the maths on that!
If you can't work out the simple arithmetic on this then my advice to you is don't become a landlord or even think about going on a course!

By the way, this successful landlord is now marketing himself as a mentor for others who might wish to invest through him.
I checked out his web site and since about January this year, which was when, judging from his video comments, it might well have been set up, the blog element was empty!

I also attended a property investment seminar in which one "property millionaire" presenter claimed to be the wife of a police sergeant (So you can trust her all the more for that and suspend you own critical judgement).
The lady provided no information on property investment whatsoever and just claimed to be a success.

A second presenter, a young man of about 25 years of age, who from his accent and appearance did not seem to be remotely English, claimed that he'd made five million pounds buying, renting & selling property in five years as a result of going on the training course that they were offering.
I raised my hand and asked if he had paid any capital gains tax on the sales he had made on the portfolio.
He looked very nervous and replied (and remember this chap had already claimed to have gone on the training course that they were offering the audience) that he did not "understand anything about tax".
I replied that I did and he would incur considerable tax.

It was immediately after this public interaction that the organiser’s main speaker announced to the audience that it was really just a sales pitch for the property investment training course and so if anyone did not want to fork out several thousand pounds for a training course they could leave.
About 66% of the audience including myself left immediately and as we got up to leave, the presenter commented that "you just can't help some people".

I'd love to attend a seminar where the presenter knows as much as the lay man or is clearly not a crook looking for the stupid but so far this has not happened albeit in a very limited experience.

Obviously there are competent, intelligent & ethical people out there but there are also people who target idiots at minimum personal financial and non-financial cost using positive comments that simply do not stand up to the most basic analysis.
God help the poor naive investors who get sucked in with that group of sharks.

Lastly I note that these financial sales people never point out that in addition to the risks of too much leverage, which each landlord needs to ultimately assess with his or her own judgement, the landlord can find themselves swopping their previous full time job for a new one, that of managing properties with varying degrees of personal involvement.
Just what does the novice landlord do who knows nothing about a particular trade for example and can't get a reliable tradesman?
This has been my biggest problem by a mile and it almost always results in me fixing problems myself.
I heard no suggestion that this might be a problem to the people who were clearly past retirement age, or the widows that I met in the seminars that I attended.
Just the same dumbed down messages over & over again trying to brainwash the naive into handing over their money to the people they could trust because the presenters were so successful already.

I've also attended financial investment seminars in expensive venues of no intellectual merit whatsoever.
Presumably some members of the audiences did not agree with my perception or they would not be in the business.

I've had a few people comment to me after the presentation at these events how impressed they have been.
I've replied by asking the simple question "Can you give me one simple piece of concrete information that you've heard today that would cause you to invest your money with these people or some method that you propose to use to check out the validity of any of their claims?”
The reply has always been silence.
It's emotion that's driving the sucker’s behaviour and not the most basic intellectual analysis.

By the way, just to set myself up as a target, I make more monthly profit than any of the half dozen neighbours that I have that own investment property and all of us have had very little capital gain in the last few years.
Due to my reputation and involvement, I pay no advertising or agents fees and in the past two years although two tenants have moved out, I’ve had no void periods or loss of income.
My return on a £350K stake is £14,400 per annum less some very small overheads however I have high grade tenants and virtually nothing to do except to check my rental income each month.
It’s always paid early.

So get real folks or am I missing something here?

Mark Alexander

21:47 PM, 26th July 2012
About 6 years ago

Hi Paul

Thank you for your long and considered response.

I can assure you that not all presentations are like that. I retired from the finance industry in 2009 but the year before that I did 33 seminars, all at exclusive venues. They were all free, no upsell and we even provided very grand buffet lunches. Some of the seminars attracted upwards of 500 people. The property investment strategy I shared was no different

Why did we do it you might ask!

We were flying high at the time, we were 38th in The Times Profit Track 100. The seminars were nothing more than a publicity stunt to showcase our business. That business was The Money Centre (UK) Plc.

We withdrew from the market in 2009 when the true effects of the securitisation market freeze hit the UK buy to let mortgage financiers. The company now sits dormant. I wish you had been to one of those seminars.

I have been to the type of events you speak of too. I also ask the awkward questions. Fun isn't it, in a sadistic sort of way? LOL

I still pity the suckers who part with their money and hope they find us here before it's too late. Will they listen though or will they prefer to be bamboozled by the slick salesman in the shiny suit who convinces them "this time next year Rodders you will be a millionaire my son, just listen to Delboy".

Regards

Mark

11:50 AM, 27th July 2012
About 6 years ago

Hi Mark,

Most property networking meetings have a sales agenda, which makes them inauthentic in my view.

They tend to sell sizzle instead of steak. You have to pay big fees, usually upfront, to see the steak ... and then the steak is often well past its sell by date! i.e. still going on about no money down deals and buying properties for a £1 ... 🙂

If you can buy property with NMD and for £1, why would you stand in a hotel telling others how to do it. Wouldn't you be doing it yourself? And why would you sell what amounts to the six numbers to the lottery for a few grand?

Over on Property Tribes, I posted the suggestion for some kind of "Trip Advisor" site for networking and seminars, where these were ranked by delegates.

http://www.propertytribes.com/showthread.php?tid=5951

It's important to differentiate between the "wealth creation" industry and the property investment industry as they have nothing whatsoever to do with each other imho.

There are no short cuts to wealth ... but people will stars in their eyes will pay for seminars and portfolio building services because they believe a dream, not reality ... or greed takes over from common sense!!

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