The real estate B.S. artist detection checklist 2 15. No bibliography. It is also traditional and helpful to include a bibliography in nonfiction works. In part, it is another type of acknowledgment section where the author reveals his sources. It is also very helpful to the reader who wants to read more about the subject and get other perspectives. Leigh Robinson' Landlording has 15 pages of "Sources and Resources." He' one of the non-B.S. artists. The bad gurus have no bibliographies because they did no research and are scared to death that you will discover the other books on the subject and realize what an overpriced piece of garbage you bought from them. 16. High prices. Legit real estate books cost about $20 to $80 depending on whether they sell in book stores or only by mail. Mail-only books cost more because fewer are sold, press runs are shorter, and printing costs per unit are higher. Legit real-estate seminars cost up to $400 per day. B.S. artists charge hundreds for their books and thousands for their "boot camps," seminars, and "mentoring" services. One would-be guru customer demanded that I explain to him what is wrong with the "mentor concept." I have no complaint with the "mentoring concept" or the marriage concept or the sex concept. But if you pay for any of those, something' wrong. 17. Bundling a book with cassettes. Books are good. So are cassettes. I sell both. Some people may even want both, and there' nothing wrong with giving such gluttons both. But there is no legitimate reason to force people to buy both by only selling your product in book-and-cassette form. Foreign-language courses may require both the printed word and audio cassettes, but not real-estate-investment courses. The B.S. artists bundle cassettes and books to make the product bulkier, hoping the customer will be too dumb to realize he is buying two copies of the same material. 18. Too-good-to-be-true testimonials. B.S. artists never make absurd claims like, "You will make $400,000 in six months if you buy my course." They just have Mr. and Mrs. Average go on TV and say it for them. One guru' (McCorkle) secretary testified at her guru' trial that employees, friends, actors, and actresses were hired to give their TV testimonials. There is no way a novice nothing-down investor can remotely approach those kinds of profits in such a short period of time. Few millionaire investors with a lifetime of experience could do that. In other words, the real-estate-investment testimonials you see on TV are almost certainly barefaced lies or they are leaving out pertinent facts like that they committed fraud to do the deal in question. Some have asked me why the bad gurus never sue me. I suspect it' mainly because they know I would subpoena the addresses and other details of their deals and testimonials if they did. 19. White-on-white words at beginning of their Web pages. In the Internet era, one of the things dishonest people do is put white-on-white or color-on-same-color words at the top
of their web pages to mislead search engines. I found one the other day that contained Carleton Sheets" name repeatedly, as well as words and phrases like Wade Cook, "foreclosures," "nothing down," and so forth. To find these hidden words, simply place your cursor about two inches below the top right corner of the Web page then hold the mouse button down and drag to the upper left corner of the Web page. You will see the offending words suddenly appear. Any guru who gets you to his Web site by misleading the search engine you use is not trustworthy and does not deserve your business. 20. Use of the following words. These words are dishonest because they depict a degree of ease or exclusivity or certainty or absence of risk or amount of profit which does not exist. They are fraud at worst and puffing at best. Puffing is a legal term. Black' Law Dictionary defines it as "Exaggeration by a salesperson concerning quality of goods." If the guru you are considering uses any of these words or phrases in his or her presentation, brochures or Web site, he or she is a B.S. artist. '· perfect offer '· confidential '· sure-fire '· removes doubts '· secret (if it ever was a secret, it stopped being one when he sold the first copy) '· cinch '· always '· lazy way '· anyone can make a killing '· removes risk '· easy money '· easily determine market value '· air-tight '· take the fear out '· risk-free '· judgment proof '· insider '· painless '· fool-proof '· safe '· win/win '· removes guesswork '· easy '· magic '· bulletproof '· gold mine '· complete "¢ riches '· This is not a get-rich-quick scheme '· automatic "¢ dream stealer The following words seem neutral, but for some reason they are used especially heavily by B.S. artists. Be suspicious of anyone who uses these words a lot or uses one very prominently, like in the name of their company or product. '· wealth '· nothing down '· cookie cutter '· global (unless they are in the international shipping or moving business) '· pro '· creative '· money machine '· wiz '· program '· Hawaii '· success '· quick '· offshore '· foreign '· boot camp '· course '· discount '· fortune What is the difference between a book and a "course" as the term is used by B.S. artists? Price, mainly. Also packaging. When the word is used by a B.S. artist, a "course" is merely a grossly overpriced book puffed up with blank paper and audio cassettes which duplicate the written words in the "course." Two of my three sons are currently students: one in college, one in high school (the other graduated college). They take real "courses." In those courses they read, listen to lectures, ask questions, watch demonstrations or audio-visual presentations, perform laboratory experiments, go on field trips, complete assigned exercises which are not graded, submit papers and other individual and group projects based on research, and pass oral and written tests. Here is the definition of a "course" taken from my Webster' New Universal Unabridged Dictionary: "in education, (a) a complete, progressive series of studies necessary for graduation, for a degree, etc.; (b) any of the studies; a unit of instruction in a subject made up of recitations, lectures, etc." My wife did high school by correspondence course because her father worked for the Agency for International Development and she grew up in underdeveloped countries where there were no acceptable high schools for her to attend. Those courses consisted of reading material, exercises, tests, and other graded papers. I took a bunch of real-estate courses including the Certified Commercial-Investment Member of the Realtors'® National Marketing Institute courses, Appraisal Institute courses, and Institute of Real Estate Management courses. They involved reading material, lectures, questions from the students, exercises, field trips, and written tests. I have also taken other business-related courses like the Dale Carnegie course, which involved reading material, lectures, questions, discussions, homework, and classroom exercises. There are some real "courses" in the B.S. artists" world. Only in their inflated rhetoric, a book is a "course" and a course is a "boot camp." And, as you would expect, almost all of the "boot camps" aren"t worth what they cost either. 21. Testimonials with incomplete names. Gurus I do not respect often give testimonials which give less than a full name and city and state or email link to the person. Typical B.S. artist variations are initials only or a first name and initial in place of last name. The basic idea is, does the guru give you enough to get in touch with the person and confirm the testimonial? If not, he or she is probably a B.S. artist. 22. Prohibition against recording at free seminars. Many gurus hold free seminars to encourage prospective students to sign up for their "courses," "boot camps," and "mentoring services." No information is given at those seminars. Therefore there is no legitimate reason to prohibit recording. To do so would be like Coca-Cola prohibiting the New York Times from running one of its ads in their newspaper with no charge to Coca Cola. Legit advertisers want their ads distributed as widely as possible. They normally have to pay. When someone wants to record an advertising presentation to play back for another person, a legitimate guru would say, "Great! The more the merrier." Gurus who prohibit recording of free promotional seminars are doing so only to prevent you from gathering evidence of the fraud they are perpetrating. You generally should not buy investment advice sold in TV infomercials. The same applies to the come-on speeches given in meetings. But if you insist on buying such products, make sure you tape record the entire infomercial or come-on speech before you do. Then you have legal evidence for getting your money back if the product does not live up to the advertising, which it won"t. Suing and actually getting your money back is easier said than done, even when you have evidence, but it is next to impossible if you fail to collect the evidence. 23. Repeated efforts to sell you more and more expensive products and services. Many gurus, including some whose products seem relatively inexpensive, are intending to suck you in, then pressure you to buy ever more expensive products and services. I do not object to a salesperson asking you the publishing equivalent of, "Do you want fries with that?" But a calculated program of trying to move you to significantly more expensive products and services smacks of bait and switch. Legit businesses offer you their entire product line up front and do not use high-pressure tactics. The gurus who follow this approach are using their cheap products to identify vulnerable people so they can then squeeze thousands more dollars out of them. This is akin to bait and switch, which is unethical, if not illegal. Real-estate-investment products sold by TV infomercials are not profitable per se. Those companies can only make a profit by calling you and selling you more expensive products after you buy the cheap one offered on TV. What they are really doing is offering a relatively cheap product on TV at breakeven or even below cost in order to get your name and phone number to give to their commissioned, boiler-room high-pressure salespeople. They figure if you are dumb enough to buy the TV-advertised product, you are probably enough of a chump to fall for the high-pressure tactics to follow. They also sell your name and phone number to other high-pressure investment sales operations. 24. Focusing entirely on the acquisition phase of real-estate investment. Legit gurus like William Nickerson tell you how to buy, finance, renovate, manage, and sell real estate and how to avoid paying income taxes in the process. B.S. artists only tell you how to buy and finance. 25. No profit formula. Real-estate investing is supposed to be about making money, right? So how do the B.S. artist gurus get away without ever telling their readers how to make money in real estate. All they tell you is how to buy and finance. For example, there is not a word in Robert Allen' book Nothing Down about making a profit. In his second book, Creating Wealth, he did just one example, in which he assumed 10% annual appreciation in property values for five straight years, to show how you make a profit. But he made no mention of the fact that there have hardly ever been five straight years of 10% appreciation in history. Nor did he mention how to make a profit with normal appreciation. In fact, you cannot make a profit with normal appreciation using the nothing-down approach. It only works during periods of extraordinarily high appreciation rates. Legit gurus, like Nickerson, gave their readers a profit formula. His was to buy residential rentals that were in need of renovation, renovate them economically, raise their rents, then exchange tax-free to the next property and do it over again. My books, How to Buy Real Estate for at Least 20% Below Market Value and How to Increase the Value of Real Estate contain dozens of different profit formulas and hundreds of actual case histories. If you pay attention, you will see that the B.S. artists just figure you are dumb enough to think that merely owning real estate automatically enables you to profit from it. They never explain where the profit comes from.