I have been asked a lot lately about my experiences with local real estate clubs. These experiences may be similar to clubs you have in your area, or they may not. I got involved with a real estate lunch club that met twice a month at Denny's. The first thing I noticed was that the club President spoke badly about Carlton Sheets, Ron LeGrand, and all those "TV guru crooks."
Then, he started in on the locals--doers and shakers from other clubs that were doing a lot of deals. He informed me that if I got involved with them, I would lose money. "Do not trust any of them," he said.
I noticed this guy never had anything good to say about ANYONE. But he had access to an MLS computer, so I put up with his bull for the chance to get names and addresses of out-of-state owners.
Anyway, his club started falling apart. Sooner or later, I realized this guy wasn't doing ANY deals. And yet the very people he criticized were the ones making money and having fun. Now I listen to those people instead of Mr. Negative.
But choose carefully. I have talked to others who have a club that wants you to "pitch in" $1,000 or so for the chance to get leads or maybe partner on a deal. It almost sounds like a pyramid scheme . . .
Here is what my real estate investment club meetings are like, and this is probably typical for a club in any large city. The best ones have about 400 to 500 members, and 150 people who show up for each meeting. Bring your business cards not only for networking, but also for the door prizes (a cassette, a legal newspaper subscription, whatever is in the kitty that night).
And by the way, by paying a $100 membership a year, I get 10% discount off computer research, 40% off legal paper subscriptions, tile for $0.59 per square foot, benefits like that. Buying power of a large club can be a good thing. It still costs me $10 to get in the meeting, but it is money well spent; believe me.
The meetings usually last from 7:00pm to 10:00pm, once a month. What you get from it is very worthwhile. The President asks new people to stand and introduce themselves if they like. Summon up the courage and do it if you can. You will get a lot of business contacts that way.
I stood up and announced that I was in rehabbing and looking for contractors, hard money lenders, and deals. About five business cards were thrown at me!
Then the "old-timers" get a chance to put on a sixty-second infomercial about their business and how they can help investors. This is where I have found most of my hard money lenders, carpet and tile vendors, handymen, wholesalers, title companies, most everything I could want.
Then, there's the speaker. This fall we had Dr. Richard Powelson, Jeffrey Taylor, Ron LeGrand, etc. All great people to learn from! The club also sponsors Saturday seminars, bus trips (similar to a boot camp), and other learning opportunities. You should go to every event you can fit into your schedule.
I almost forgot the best part--the back table! This is where you put your flyers and cards if you have something to sell or are looking for something to buy.
The wholesalers have lists of properties there and a sign up sheet for their faxouts, if you want to get leads from them throughout the month. [This does NOT mean they are all "deals." You still have to do your due diligence.]
A word on local mentors. There are good ones and bad ones. If you want someone experienced to ask advice, bounce off ideas, help you with your research, great. But ask around and make sure they have terrific references.
Make sure it's clear what you are getting for your money and for how long. My friend paid a mentor $1,500, and the guy doesn't return his calls. Instead my friend calls me and asks ME to run comps for him! (Grrr).I doubt he will ever recommend that "mentor" to anyone.
On the other hand, some others I have met in the clubs are willing to let me call them daily, ask questions, "shadow" them for a day (to see how they negotiate, whatever) because they love real estate investing! These people are like my unofficial mentors, and are the people I constantly refer others to. It's more like a family, even though we do business together.
So, that is my experience with REIA and other Real Estate Clubs. Don't trust everyone straight off the bat, but ask a LOT of questions and listen to the people who are doing deals. You will hit it off with someone and learn a TON.
Here, at this site, there is a link on the index for Local Real Estate Clubs. If there is not one listed for your area, you can also call National REIA at: (888) 762-7342. Even if the club is not "official" REIA, they may know of other clubs in your area.
Anyway, I hope this has been helpful. I have learned at least as much from my local clubs as I have from this site, and the two work hand in hand for me. Good Luck!
[For more information on real estate clubs, read: Real Estate Investment Clubs: Five Tips for Newbies by William Bronchick, JD.]