The One-Trick-Pony Apartment “Guru”

As I mentioned in my prior post, this being a newbie again is an interesting feeling. And with my brilliant powers of deduction I figured out that it’s because you don’t know what you don’t know when you first start something new. I mean, I’ve been in the same professional field for nearly 20 years, and although I have had numerous jobs with numerous different companies, it’s been largely the same with very little being new under the sun.

So the challenge with doing pretty much anything new is figuring out how deep and broad the knowledge pool is, so you can start to learn enough to get started. And it’s no different moving into the apartment building acquisition game.

At the beginning the knowledge pool seemed like it’s the size of the pacific ocean – impossible to see across and immeasurably deep. Even though I had a ton of experience with single family cash flow properties, this seemed like it would be a lot different.

So naturally I started researching this like I would anything else. Internet research. Book research. Talking to people. I did a good bit of this, which I’ll discuss in later installments, but afterward I still didn’t think that I knew enough.

So I looked into taking a seminar. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever considered taking a seminar on real estate, but if you have you’ve seen that every schmoe that ever had a brain fart about some particular area of real estate is offering not just a seminar but also some sort of high priced coaching or mentoring program. So much so that I did a search on google and found over 300,000 results.

That’s not to say, though, that they are all bad. In fact I took a seminar from a local guy a couple of years ago, and it was worth a multiple of the price and it set me on a path for success that would have taken me many, many years to accomplish had I done so on my own**. So I don’t have a problem paying for education. I’m just leery and I want to make darn sure that I get value for my time and money.

There are about a half dozen “gurus” that give seminars or otherwise sell information on buying apartment buildings. I dug deeper and narrowed the list down to two, one of which was having his next seminar within 30 days of when I was looking. I was indifferent between the two, so because I was impatient to get started, I signed up and attended his event.

I ended up being quite surprised by the content. It wasn’t complex. It wasn’t earth shattering. It wasn’t really even anything different from what I had already learned.

It was surprising because it basically just validated most of what I already knew. He did have his one “secret” technique that he uses to immediately increase the value of his buildings, but I found out pretty quickly when I returned that it wasn’t usable in Michigan, and in fact it was really only usable in his area.

The most surprising thing that I learned? That I actually had a better and more detailed excel spreadsheet than he did to analyze potential deals. And he was charging quite a bit of money for his.

Now don’t get me wrong – the seminar was a tremendous value – because it cleared up a great deal of the uncertainty that I had with respect to what I knew. And if I were in the same situation again I wouldn’t hesitate taking the same course of action, because even though I certainly still don’t know everything that I need to know, I realized that I knew more than enough to get started, and more than enough to start buying.

So fortunately, like most things, once I dug into it, it wasn’t nearly as daunting as it first seemed.


Check back in a few days for the next installment “The White Hat Broker”.

** If you’re looking for the absolute best information on doing flips in Michigan, I highly recommend Mark Ijlal at