I admit. If you walked into my house you’d see shelves lined with real estate courses and books. Not only that, I’ve had more than four mentors and have spent a small fortune on my real estate education.

And to tell you the truth, almost every penny was worth it. Yes, there was the occasional course that I bought which wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. (I’d just call and return it.) And there was one time I got a mentor and quickly realized I knew more about closing a particular type of deal than he did.

But all in all, it was money well spent. After all, I could have taken 20 years to learn this business and probably have lost a ton of money in the process. But instead, I took about two years and only made one major mistake early on – which was before I had mentors and knew what in the heck I was doing.

So, if you’re like me and want to shorten your learning curve, here’s how:

First, go to the library and check out every single real estate book. And I mean it when I say every single one. Once you have a bit of knowledge go online and find your local real estate investor association meetings and go to the next meeting.

Once you’re at the meeting ask around and find out who the successful local investors are, and find them and ask them a few questions. Even though you have limited knowledge, do they seem to know what they’re talking about, do they seem friendly?

Once you’ve established a bit of rapport, find out if they do any mentoring. If they say yes, ask about the program. Find out everything it entails and what it costs. However, don’t be cheap. You get what you pay for in life. A busy and successful investor will charge you a couple thousand dollars and it’s worth every penny if you implement what they tell you.

But before you whip out your checkbook…

You need to do a little more research on this person to make sure you don’t get ripped off. First, ask them for the names of other students they’ve mentored. If they can’t give you the names, that’s obviously a red flag. Next, ask for a few of the addresses of properties they own (about 3.) Personally, I’m a private guy and would never tell somebody every single property I own, especially because they’re in various LLC’s.

But there’s no reason an investor can’t write down a few houses, just to prove they’re an active investor in the business. Lastly, just ask other people at the REIA meeting if they’ve dealt with this person and what their thoughts are about them.

If you do these 3 simple things you’ll save yourself a lot of money from getting taken advantage of by a local real estate guru who simply preys on new investors, yet hasn’t done a deal themselves in years – if ever.

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