Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What's in Carleton Sheets' No Down Payment Real Estate Program kit?

I ordered this trial from DealBarbie and was morbidly curious to see what's inside. The kit is actually quite pretty, with three shiny black boxes (steps 1, 2, and 3) with metallic bands. The first "step" box has some DVDs I didn't watch, and a guide that presumably goes along with the DVD, which is actually not bad. It's basically a long list of all the things you should do when you are establishing credit, looking for properties, buying properties, various kinds of lease arrangements, landlord tips, selling properties, like-kind exchanges, etc etc. One loooong checklist, but I think a lot of this stuff is probably new to a lot of people for whom this is their first exposure to buying or owning real estate. So it's a pretty good little guide. This box also has a Helpline brochure with a rather scary smiling man on it.. makes me a little nervous. Step 1's title is The First 30 Days, but presumably one is not expected to do all of these steps in the booklet in 30 days. You could probably do a lot of it, though, especially if your credit is already good and you already have money.

Box 2 is the main program, and it comes with a fat pack of audio cd's - there is a little label on the front that says "easy listening". So presumably Sheets does not berate you. He seems like a friendly enough man, although it is a little odd that the same picture of him is used over and over. It also has three manuals included.

The first seems to be primarily to teach you to think like an investor - and to see real estate as the best investment there is. It talks about setting goals, time management, creativity - and also more mundane things like your credit (again) and how to work with other people in the real estate world. It's not any worse than any other self-help book, but I can't help thinking that people who are really great at setting goals, have good time management, and are very creative and driven probably already have a business of their own. I don't think being creative is something you can nurture, unless you have been unnaturally stifled. Some people are just boring.

Manual 2 covers a lot of mundane stuff - I bet many people who bought this kit hoping to get rich quickly are going to be very disappointed that one of the important skills you need in getting rich quickly is good telephone note-taking skills. It also covers valuation, getting financing (creative financing, that is), lease options, negotiation, and legalese you need to know. This manual seems a lot more useful for people who already feel comfortable in real estate - presumably you spent your first 30 days doing this.

Manual 3 is pretty technical. It starts out by telling you how to buy "distressed properties", but is somewhat light on how to find these. There is information other places though. A small piece on like-kind exchanges, then how to actually manage the property (presumably if you are holding it long-term), buying trailers (or "mobile homes"), working out a partnership, and a big section entitled "Harnessing The Power of the Internet" which seems to me like it could have its own manual. Seriously, who's going to write the next book on how to get rich quick on real estate you've never seen? That seems like the next step. The back has a continuing education quiz, which you can send in to Sheets' Professional Education Institute, whose CE credits may or may not matter to anybody at all. I wonder if he will come and take away your title of "real estate investor" if you don't do enough continuing ed?

Last is Box 3 - which I get to keep even after the 30 day trial, as Sheets' special gift to me. This box is a combination of useful and annoying. Useful includes: a neat mortgage amortization and payment estimation slidey-chart thing and a bunch of standard real-estate forms. Annoying includes two DVDs about distressed properties and getting cash out at closing (which is usually a terrible idea for long-term holders) as well as a CD from one of his students who made a bunch of money, and some more shiny promotional stuff.

All in all, I think that this kit (at least the first two boxes) is at least as useful, or perhaps more useful than buying a book on real estate investing, but this kit comes at it from the perspective of a completely new investor, which many of the books don't. However, I'm not sure what else they can really offer you beyond this point that simply having someone in your life to bounce ideas off of wouldn't. The helpline seems like you're basically paying to rent a friend who's knowledgeable in real estate - they can't go with you to see a property, or sympathize with you when a tenant trashes your house, but I guess they could help you on some matters. (Although probably not complicated legal ones, which is where a lot of people will get tangled.) The program does encourage you to check in with bank personnel, inspectors, brokers, anybody with experience, to help you out.

I'd say that the trial kit is worth the $10, but I doubt that's how much it would actually cost to KEEP this kit. So it'll be going back - I'm not that desperate for a paid-for telephone friend. (Actually, when I cancelled, the guy was really pretty nice and very cheerful..)


The Divine Miss M said...

That's so funny that you posted the contents - I've seen the informercials countless times and have been very curious, especially when I saw the offer on DealBarbie. Thanks for satisfying my curiousity as well as yours!

Ken said...

I'm glad you were curious enough to get the kit. I'm sure you know that they charge alot for a kit like this by upselling. My brother bought his kit about 10 years ago and I think it was $2500.

In my opinion, you don't need an expensive kit to get into real estate anymore. With the internet, you can find help on many many discussion boards.

If you need help, just ask on your blog... I'm sure many readers of it are real estate investors like me.

Feel free to browse through my blog and see how I slowly did it.

D said...

I agree the kit is not necessary. Mr. Sheets released this stuff a long time ago. After Robert Allen released his Nothing Down and neglected to fill a void through tapes and kits. Carlton jumped in. Allen does all this now, I bet kicking himself for the delay. But his large income and prosperity now may ease his pain.

I think it is much better to speak with people face to face. Or at least one on one. The value of a mentor is huge.

One suggestion if you chose to move in this area of wealth creation, ignore the naysayers. You already know what can go wrong. Focus on what can go right.

I don't care what the market is doing. Property will always be a good investment. They ain't making anymore. If you make sure you get in on the right price, it will all work out. Don't look at what you can sell it for later. Stick with the here and now. If it's not good or you don't feel comfortable. Oh well, another will be along soon.

Read the books, they are good and have a lot of info for you even if you don't intend on buying investment properties. These things can help you in your personal home purchase.

prlinkbiz said...

I wish you read have taken the time to read the kit before sending it back. You picked it apart without even really reading it. I bought the series a long time ago, it was a great intro to REI. I sold the books and have the cds still (I should send them to you for free!).

I can hear your pre-conceived ideas about needing credit and money to get into REI- but it just isn't true. Thats where being creative comes in- the more tools you have, the more you can do.

I know Ken (above)- I met him through a real estate and business forum and now he is a good friend of mine (funny to see him here!). He is the real deal as far as real estate investors go. His blog is great because it chronicles his leap from career to full time and then retired real estate investor by his early thirties.

Give real estate a chance- it can be done wisely and it can take you to your goals of financial freedom more quickly than a Roth and working til 65.

Kira said...

I did in fact read the kit - but I didn't think that people would be interested in the details since much of it is stuff that you can find elsewhere, basic information.

I don't recall ever saying that I had anything against real estate, or thinking that you needed lots of money to do so. I happen to like working, and I like my job, and I just don't see it as all that attractive. If I get into something just because it is supposed to make me a lot of money, I would get bored very quickly and leave it, and probably not make any money to boot. You have to actually want to own real estate in order to make it your main source of income - you can't just want the income.

You seem to have done well for yourself but that is because it is what you want to be doing. Right now it isn't a good move for me, and I have other avenues which I am exploring. I am an entrepreneurial sort of person and will end up owning some business or other, but real estate isn't the only way to be self sufficient in this world. Please stop with YOUR pre-conceived ideas that real estate is for everyone.

prlinkbiz said...

I agree with you, not everyone is into real estate. I am not into real estate like my REI friends are- I love business. My focus is my business, investing in real estate helps me focus on my business, does that make sense? (Although my passive income is from a business right now, not real estate.) I love doing what I do. So I am investing, so I can continue to do what I love, and have a secure future.
I have friends, like K who do it well, so their friends invest with them. I have another friend who has a partner- one makes the money in business, one then invests that money in real estate. It doesn't have to be your focus to make you money .

Ken said...

"I am an entrepreneurial sort of person and will end up owning some business or other, but real estate isn't the only way to be self sufficient in this world."

This is true. But the funny thing is that when your business starts to make alot of money and you begin to look for a place to invest that money it will probably end up being real estate. :)

You don't have to own real estate to invest in it. You can lend money to people who invest, you can partner up with people who will handle the day to day stuff, you can own part of a company that invests in it.

I hope it doesn't look like we're picking on you. I happen to like real estate and I love buying houses. I buy houses like women buy shoes! LOL

I linked your blog on my blog post yesterday. I hope you don't mind. :)