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Do the Benefits Outweigh the Costs of Real Estate Investment Courses?

July 09, 1989|ROBERT J. BRUSS

QUESTION: Recently, I have seen ads on TV for several real estate seminars. I also saw one where a fellow advertised a set of tapes for $99 that were guaranteed to show me many ways to buy real estate for no down payment. Recently, I heard about a one-week real estate course for $5,000 that is guaranteed to set me up in business buying foreclosured properties. Do you think I should go to one of these seminars or buy the real estate tapes? Or should I just read some good books on how to make money in real estate?

ANSWER: Over the years I have attended most of the real estate seminars and listened to most of the real estate tapes commercially available. For my book review column I have to read one real estate book every other week so I have read most of the real estate books published during the last 12 years. However, I have not taken the new, very expensive courses, costing several thousand dollars, which also provide follow-up consulting service.

Thousands of people have taken the Al Lowry and Robert Allen real estate seminars. I did too and thought they were well worth the fees. However, it is too bad the sponsors didn't stick to earning real estate profits instead of going broke in the seminar business.

We all need motivation. For some people, attending seminars, listening to tapes or reading books provides that motivation. Yet, there are thousands of very successful real estate investors who never took one of these courses, never listened to a real estate tape or read any of the books, but they just went out and started investing in real estate.

If you are a highly motivated individual, you probably don't need these courses. But if you want to learn fast and will apply what you learn, then spending money on this education may be what you need. I suggest you begin by studying all the real estate books you can get at local bookstores and at the library. Then get started by investing in your first property, preferably your personal residence. Also, check out the excellent real estate courses offered at low cost from local community colleges.

Set Short Time-Limit to Acceptance Offer

Q: I am having trouble buying a lot where I want to build my home. The seller lives about 50 miles away and the listing real estate agent refuses to drive to the seller's home to present any purchase offers. She insisted on telephoning the offer to the seller. I made an offer which the listing agent explained over the phone to the seller in my presence. The seller said he wanted 30 days to consider the offer so I amended my offer to make it valid for 30 days. Now I am afraid the seller and agent are "shopping" my offer to get a better price from another buyer. What can I do as I want that lot but am very upset with the realty agent?

A: Shame, shame, shame on that lazy realty agent for presenting your offer over the telephone. I have never yet seen an offer signed over the telephone. Have you? The agent should have driven the 50 miles to the seller's home to deliver and discuss the offer. If the seller lived far away, your offer could have been sent overnight via Federal Express.

You can still revoke your offer but that won't accomplish anything other than to make the seller mad. But you might want to inform the seller you will keep your offer open for only three more days so you can consider other property. This will put pressure on the seller to either accept or counteroffer your offer.

It is very difficult to know how to handle sellers and their real estate agents, but in the future you may want to add to your offers: "This offer to be presented to seller in person only in the presence of buyer or his real estate agent."

A similar situation like yours happened to me a few years ago. Fortunately, the agent through whom I made my purchase offer insisted he and the listing agent drive together to the seller's home which was about 120 miles away. The seller was very impressed that the two agents would drive so far. The agents explained to the seller why my offer was a good one and, after a few minor changes, the seller accepted although he had earlier rejected several similar offers.

Mortgage Priority Set by Recording Date

Q: We are thinking of selling our home. It has an assumable VA first mortgage of about $74,500. If we carry back a $100,000 mortgage for the buyer, since it is larger, will it have priority over the VA mortgage if the buyer doesn't make the payments and foreclosure occurs?

A: No. Mortgage priority is determined by the recording dates, not by the amount of the mortgages. The VA mortgage will remain a first mortgage and your new loan will become a second mortgage. For further details, please consult a real estate attorney.

Don't Let Borrower Fall Behind on Bill

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