Questions To Ask Before Enrolling In A Real Estate Investment Education And/Or Coaching Program

If you are like me, then you have an interest in real estate investment and want to do the right thing by educating yourself so that you can obtain your first real estate investment cheque. I have spent thousands of dollars over the years trying to find the company that would help me accomplish this goal. So what did I do? I watched various infomercials on the television with amazing testimonials of real estate investment success. I quickly found that once I registered to attend, my information was sold to various marketing companies, and I was in receipt of invitations to other investment opportunities that I didn’t even know about. Okay. Now I have sifted through all the invitations and I am on my way to a one-day seminar.

For the most part, the information delivered is tantalizing and I am hungry for more knowledge and the opportunity to start working on my first deal. I also find that the information delivered in the one-day seminar is in bits – for a beginner investor, it is not enough material to be useful. But what do I hear? I now have to register for a weekend workshop to learn more. Full of excitement and determination, I pay the $1500 to $2500 cost for the workshop and off I go. Again, the information presented is titillating and at least one of the presented methods is immediately implementable. The other participants and I followed the instructions given, but no results – we could not find a property matching the given search criteria. Therefore, the audience was not taught what the next steps would have been had we done so. Still filled with hope, I took careful notes and listened intently for the remainder of the workshop. What’s this I hear? I can have advanced training if I want, a coach to work with me one-on-one, and the almost guarantee that I would make money at that level? What’s the cost? Oh, only between $10 000 to $100 000. This is where I hit the proverbial brick wall. Where was I to find all that money, and for some of the workshops, the money had to be paid the very weekend! The long and short of the model is this; one has to spend anywhere from $1500 to about $100 000 without even doing your first real estate deal! It didn’t make sense.

Wait a minute. I now found that most of the real estate investors, who were calling themselves and each other gurus, were doing a massive on-line marketing campaign during the market’s downturn, only this time downplaying the ‘guru’ title. They were all offering one-on-one coaching. Why? No one was attending the conventions and workshops as before. The personal coaching idea sounded good. I decided to check out a few of them and tried one of them. I tell you the truth, because I was a rookie, I didn’t know what to ask for or what to expect from this coaching. As you can imagine, I did not get my money’s worth. By the way, the coaching was through e-mail and sometimes instant messaging only, at a cost of USD $1000 per month. Now, I could have allowed all these disappointments to derail my vision and cause me to be bitter. I refuse. Instead, I decided to use the experience to help others in similar situations make better decisions, spend less, and actually make money in real estate investment.

The sum of it all is this: not having the right real estate investment education will cost you money and just as truly; obtaining the right real estate investment education will cost you money. However, obtaining the right education is an investment, not a liability. What should one look for in a real estate investment coach/coaching program? What questions should be asked? Here are a few to consider:

• Before any money exchange hands, an outline should be provided to the student to ensure that both parties/sides understand what will be offered.

• Costs should be clearly defined and explained.

• Discuss funding. Will the coach/organization provide funding for your real estate deals? If not, will the coach/organization provide you with information that will allow you to access funding? What type of funding can you expect? Will it be transactional funding, hard money, private money, other?

• Discuss if there will be or is there an option to partner on deals. Will the coach/organization put up the funding for the real estate deal while the student does the ‘ground’ work? If partnership is an option, discuss and agree on the split. Will it be a fifty-fifty split?

• Discuss availability of the coach: Does the student have telephone, e-mail, and/or text access? What response time might the student expect? Does the student have to pay the fees for services like Skype or is it included in the coaching fee?

• What are all the things included in the coaching fee?

• If the coach is not available, is there a mentor or someone else that will be available?

• Is this a stand-alone coach or is there a professional team available to the student? Is there a lawyer, accountant, contractor, et cetera that are a part of the team? If the coach is a one-man-band, then this might not be a good option for you.

• Is there creative financing for property acquisition?

• What are the payment options for the coaching costs? What are the financing terms?

• How will the education be delivered? Will it be delivered through webinars, CDs, mp3’s, other? For how long does the student have access to the education?

• How current are the strategies being taught? Is there proof?

• Relative to the cost, how long is the coaching? How many hours of one-on-one coaching?

• Will the student be provided with a virtual assistant?

• What peripheral costs are entailed in the program? For example, LLC, websites, 800 numbers, et cetera. What other additional costs might the student expect to pay/cover?

• What real estate investment qualifications does the coach have? If the coach is reticent to discuss this, then that might be a cue to not sign up with that particular coach/organization. Also, if the coach has a bad attitude, then you should reconsider using him/her.

• Research the coach on-line. Look at reviews. Check out Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, LinkedIn, et cetera. Also use these sources to review his/her profile. Hint: If the coach has less than five hundred contacts in their profile, then that could be proof of inexperience.

• What is the approximate turn-around time from the time the student signs up and follows all coaching instructions, to the time the student does his/her first deal?

• How many hours per day/week is the student required to invest?

• How are deals analyzed? Does the coach personally review them? How many exit strategies does the coach utilize per deal?

• What is the coach’s real estate investment specialty: wholesaling, fix and flip, buy and hold, et cetera?

• What real estate strategy are you expected to start with? Will this complement or go against your current financial situation?

• How much money is the student expected to have on hand to do his/her first real estate deal?

• If student does not make any money in say the first three months of the coaching, what is the next step? Will the current real estate investment strategy be changed or adjusted?

• What guarantees does the coach/organization provide?

• Is there a rescission period? What is it?

• Can the student do the coaching with his/her spouse or business partner at no additional cost?

With these points to consider, you should be well on your way to making the right decision as to your real estate investment education and coaching. I am sure that as you read through the points, they caused you to think of other questions that you might ask. Good.

Real Estate Investing – Books,TV Infomercials, and Seminars

Real estate investing has become popularized today because of real estate investing TV infomercials and traveling seminar circuits. But real estate investing has not always been so popular.

In the 1960s, William Nickerson wrote, “How I Turned $1000 into Three Million in Real Estate” and “How to Make a Fortune Today Starting from Scratch.” It was one of the first real estate investing books to get national attention. A little later, Al Lowry authored “How You Can Become Financially Independent by Investing in Real Estate.” Al Lowry might be called “the father of the modern-day real estate seminars,” because he was the first to hold seminars as a result of his book sales.

But it was Mark Haroldsen who carried the real estate investing book/seminar thrust to the next level. Haroldsen wrote, “How to Wake Up the Financial Genius Inside You.” If you were tuned in to real estate investing at that time, you remember the newspaper and magazine advertising showing a picture of suave and bald-headed Mark leaning against the front hood of his Mercedes. The picture appeared everywhere in full page ads of major publications. And as Mark began selling his books, he began holding real estate investing seminars. I have had lunch with Mark and Al Lowry as they swapped stories of the advertising blitzes that vaulted them into national prominence for their real estate investing prowess. Mark later wrote “The Courage To Be Rich” and “Tax Free.”

But it was Robert Allen who capitalized on the previous groundwork by Lowry and Haroldsen. Robert Allen was reportedly paid $1 million advance royalties for his best-selling book, “Nothing Down,” a compilation of 50 techniques for buying property with no money. Robert had learned these techniques from several years experience with a commercial real estate firm. He later wrote “Creating Wealth” and “Getting Started in Real Estate Investing.” The Robert Allen Real Estate Investing Seminars became a phenomenal marketing bonanza. Conventions were held in the major cities across the country, like Orlando, LA, Dallas, Chicago and Atlanta. The authors of various real estate investing techniques spoke at these seminars, but their spiel focused on selling packages of real estate investing materials that they offered for sale. Millions of dollars of real estate investing materials were sold at these 3 day conventions. The convention frenzy ushered in what has since become known as “The Nothing Down Real Estate Movement” of the early to mid-1980s.

I keep all of these books in my personal library, and you can probably still find them in your public library and book stores. There’s a lot of great information in these books that can make you very knowledgeable, even though some of the ideas are out-dated.

We are now presented a variety of ways for making money in real estate investing in TV infomercials, books and seminars. Which is best? Who can say? Real estate investing is learned through trial and error. Real estate investing skills and techniques are acquired by practice. I don’t think anyone can dogmatically recommend a technique best for another person. Every real estate investor has unique needs and is in a unique situation. Objectives of real estate investing differs.

However, if you are limited with real estate investing educational dollars and need to generate quick return on investment, I think fixing up cheap houses is an ideal beginning point. Real estate investing in makeover properties generates quick, profitable dollars with low risk.

Top 21 Real Estate Investing Terms and Formulas

Understanding the real estate investing terms and formulas is extremely helpful (if not crucial) for brokers, agents and investors who want to service or acquire real estate investment properties.

This is not always the case, though. During my thirty-year experience as an investment real estate specialist I often encountered far too many that had no idea, and it showed – both in their performance and success rate.

As a result, I felt it needful to list what I deem are the top 20 real estate investing terms and formulas worth understanding categorized as either primary or secondary. The primary terms and formulas are the very least you should know, and the secondary terms takes it a step further for those of you who are seriously planning to become more actively engaged with real estate investing.


1. Gross Scheduled Income (GSI)

The annual rental income a property would generate if 100% of all space were rented and all rents collected. GSI does not regard vacancy or credit losses, and instead, would include a reasonable market rent for those units that might be vacant at the time of a real estate analysis.

Annual Current Rental Income

+ Annual Market Rental Income for Vacant Units

= Gross Scheduled Income

2. Gross Operating Income (GOI)

This is gross scheduled income less vacancy and credit loss, plus income derived from other sources such as coin-operated laundry facilities. Consider GOI as the amount of rental income the real estate investor actually collects to service the rental property.

Gross Scheduled Income

– Vacancy and Credit Loss

+ Other Income

= Gross Operating Income

3. Operating Expenses

These include those costs associated with keeping a property operational and in service such as property taxes, insurance, utilities, and routine maintenance; but should not be mistaken to also include payments made for mortgages, capital expenditures or income taxes.

4. Net Operating Income (NOI)

This is a property’s income after being reduced by vacancy and credit loss and all operating expenses. NOI is one of the most important calculations to any real estate investment because it represents the income stream that subsequently determines the property’s market value – that is, the price a real estate investor is willing to pay for that income stream.

Gross Operating Income

– Operating Expenses

= Net Operating Income

5. Cash Flow Before Tax (CFBT)

This is the number of dollars a property generates in a given year after all cash outflows are subtracted from cash inflows but in turn still subject to the real estate investor’s income tax liability.

Net Operating Income

– Debt Service

– Capital Expenditures

= Cash Flow Before Tax

6. Gross Rent Multiplier (GRM)

A simple method used by analysts to determine a rental income property’s market value based upon its gross scheduled income. You would first calculate the GRM using the market value at which other properties sold and then apply that GRM to determine the market value for your own property.

Market Value

÷ Gross Scheduled Income

= Gross Rent Multiplier


Gross Scheduled Income

x Gross Rent Multiplier

= Market Value

7. Cap Rate

This popular return expresses the ratio between a rental property’s value and its net operating income. The cap rate formula commonly serves two useful real estate investing purposes: To calculate a property’s cap rate, or by transposing the formula, to calculate a property’s reasonable estimate of value.

Net Operating Income

÷ Value

= Cap Rate


Net Operating Income

÷ Cap Rate

= Value

8. Cash on Cash Return (CoC)

The ratio between a property’s cash flow in a given year and the amount of initial capital investment required to make the acquisition (e.g., mortgage down payment and closing costs). Most investors usually look at cash-on-cash as it relates to cash flow before taxes during the first year of ownership.

Cash Flow

÷ Initial Capital Investment

= Cash on Cash Return

9. Operating Expense Ratio

This expresses the ratio between an investment real estate’s total operating expenses dollar amount to its gross operating income dollar amount. It is expressed as a percentage.

Operating Expenses

÷ Gross Operating Income

= Operating Expense Ratio

10. Debt Coverage Ratio (DCR)

A ratio that expresses the number of times annual net operating income exceeds debt service (I.e., total loan payment, including both principal and interest).

Net Operating Income

÷ Debt Service

= Debt Coverage Ratio

DCR results,

Less than 1.0 – not enough NOI to cover the debt

Exactly 1.0 – just enough NOI to cover the debt

Greater than 1.0 – more than enough NOI to cover the debt

11. Break-Even Ratio (BER)

A ratio some lenders calculate to gauge the proportion between the money going out to the money coming so they can estimate how vulnerable a property is to defaulting on its debt if rental income declines. BER reveals the percent of income consumed by the estimated expenses.

(Operating Expense + Debt Service)

÷ Gross Operating Income

= Break-Even Ratio

BER results,

Less than 100% – less consuming expenses than income

Greater than 100% – more consuming expenses than income

12. Loan to Value (LTV)

This measures what percentage of a property’s appraised value or selling price (whichever is less) is attributable to financing. A higher LTV benefits real estate investors with greater leverage, whereas lenders regard a higher LTV as a greater financial risk.

Loan Amount

÷ Lesser of Appraised Value or Selling Price

= Loan to Value


13. Depreciation (Cost Recovery)

The amount of tax deduction investment property owners may take each year until the entire depreciable asset is written off. To calculate, you must first determine the depreciable basis by computing the portion of the asset allotted to improvements (land is not depreciable), and then amortizing that amount over the asset’s useful life as specified in the tax code: 27.5 years for residential property, and 39.0 years for nonresidential.

Property Value

x Percent Allotted to Improvements

= Depreciable Basis


Depreciable Basis

÷ Useful Life

= Depreciation Allowance (annual)

14. Mid-Month Convention

This adjusts the depreciation allowance in whatever month the asset is placed into service and whatever month it is disposed. The current tax code only allows one-half of the depreciation normally allowed for these particular months. For instance, if you buy in January, you will only get to write off 11.5 months of depreciation for that first year of ownership.

15. Taxable Income

This is the amount of revenue produced by a rental on which the owner must pay Federal income tax. Once calculated, that amount is multiplied by the investor’s marginal tax rate (I.e., state and federal combined) to arrive at the owner’s tax liability.

Net Operating Income

– Mortgage Interest

– Depreciation, Real Property

– Depreciation, Capital Additions

– Amortization, Points and Closing Costs

+ Interest Earned (e.g., property bank or mortgage escrow accounts)

= Taxable Income


Taxable Income

x Marginal Tax Rate

= Tax Liability

16. Cash Flow After Tax (CFAT)

This is the amount of spendable cash that the real estate investor makes from the investment after satisfying all required tax obligations.

Cash Flow Before Tax

– Tax Liability

= Cash Flow After Tax

17. Time Value of Money

This is the underlying assumption that money, over time, will change value. It’s an important element in real estate investing because it could suggest that the timing of receipts from the investment might be more important than the amount received.

18. Present Value (PV)

This shows what a cash flow or series of cash flows available in the future is worth in today’s dollars. PV is calculated by “discounting” future cash flows back in time using a given discount rate.

19. Future Value (FV)

This shows what a cash flow or series of cash flows will be worth at a specified time in the future. FV is calculated by “compounding” the original principal sum forward in time at a given compound rate.

20. Net Present Value (NPV)

This shows the dollar amount difference between the present value of all future cash flows using a particular discount rate – your required rate of return – and the initial cash invested to purchase those cash flows.

Present Value of all Future Cash Flows

– Initial Cash Investment

= Net Present Value

NPV results,

Negative – the required return is not met

Zero – the required return is perfectly met

Positive – the required return is met with room to spare

21. Internal Rate of Return (IRR)

This popular model creates a single discount rate whereby all future cash flows can be discounted until they equal the investor’s initial cash investment. In other words, when a series of all future cash flows is discounted at IRR that present value amount will equal the actual cash investment amount.