John T. Reed' views of various real-estate-investment gurus 6 Jack Miller---unknown Don"t know much about him. But from what little I have heard about him, it would not surprise me to learn that he put his childhood "Good Fairy" money in a family limited partnership with a corporate general partner who was a trustee of his pension fund which was invested in a Cayman Islands trust. He often did joint seminars with John Schaub. I got an e-mail from a reader saying, "Your comments about Jack Miller are right on the mark." See also David Martin letter. Mike and Irene Milin---I do not recommend I attended one of their free lectures. They had me going about government auctions until I asked John Beck about them. He said, "Did they tell you that you cannot get the cars you buy so cheap off the docks until you modify them at great expense to meet U.S. and California standards?" And he pointed out a bunch of other details which the Milins had omitted from their presentation and which wiped out the attractiveness of what the Milins were pushing. My own mother"”I recommend One reader of this page who was extremely unhappy with my opinion on one or more of his favorite gurus demanded to know how I rated "my own mother." When I thought about it it, I realized I had discussed getting real-estate advice from her in Chapter 5 of my Special Report How To Get Started In Real Estate Investment. You cannot get advice from my mom, however. She was a cigarette smoker and died of lung cancer in 1993. If you smoke, quit. If you don"t smoke, don"t start. My critics would have liked her. I used to send my mom a copy of my Real Estate Investor' Monthly newsletter each month. Once, when I called her just after she read it, she said, "What"re you"”the Don Rickles of real estate?" Jimmy Napier (Chipley, FL) Napier seems to be a note and mobilehome guru. I"m uncertain because I have not paid close attention to his career. My only conversation with him was not very satisfying. See John Schaub below. Napier is very popular with his seminar graduates. Although I got an email from a guy who disputes that. Another reader wrote to agree with the first. Napier sends me his newsletter, but find it hard to read because of its rambling style, lack of subheads, and one-column format. He is fascinated by the magic of compound interest. I was too the first time I heard about it"”in fifth grade (Where I heard the puzzle, "If you start with a dollar and double it every day, how many days does it take to reach a million: 21.") His information is apparently OK as far as it goes, but much of it seems to focus on stuff that I would not write about because it' too basic. Devotes much of his talks to a "Country boy Jimmy Napier outsmarts the city slickers" theme. His preoccupation with his country-boy origins is beyond my comprehension, although I must admit that many other country boys, including my late father, seem to suffer from the same rural inferiority complex. There may be a number of other "country boys" in this list of gurus. I wouldn't know. Napier is one of only two who think it' a big enough deal to tell everyone about it repeatedly (Joe Land is the other). In case anyone else thinks the population density of one' childhood neighborhoods is relevant to real estate expertise, here are mine. I spent my elementary school years in Wildwood, NJ, a seashore resort. I guess that makes me a beach boy. From sixth to ninth grade, I lived in Harrington, DE, a small farm community. Son of a gun. I, too, am a country boy! I went to high school in Collingswood, NJ, a suburb of Philadelphia. Whew, that was close! I almost became one of those city slickers. Maybe I can claim some additional country-boy status from Collingswood High School. My fellow Colls High grads include John Sterban, who is one of the Oak Ridge Boys, and Michael Landon, who starred on Bonanza and Little House on the Prairie. Napier' real estate advice is fine and
his prices are reasonable. He' a bit too basic and a bit too much of a rerun of Ma and Pa Kettle for my taste. But the interesting thing about him to me is that he has managed to acquire a bit of a cult following. I"d rate his real estate analysis about a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10. But his admirers seem to rate him a 9. I think they are unable to tell the difference between real estate expertise on the one hand and personality and showmanship on the other. Nation Wide Real Estate Discounters (190 Highway 18, East Brunswick, NJ 08816)"”I do not recommend Use my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist to evaluate this guru. Note items # 8 and 20. Nationwide Real Estate Discounters Corp. (14360 S. Tamiami Trail, Fort Myers, FL 33912)"”I do not recommend Use my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist to evaluate this guru. Note items # 8 and 20. Bill Nickerson (Aptos, CA)-I recommend Father of all real estate gurus. Author of How I Turned $1,000 into $5,000,000 in Real Estate in My Spare Time and How to Make a Fortune Today Starting From Scratch. Fabulous books on renovating apartment buildings. Since I began recommending this book, its price has risen to ridiculous levels on eBay. I recommend that you refuse to pay more than $50 for it. Al Lowry' first book is also excellent and is about Nickerson' method. It is still cheap"”or at least it was before I wrote this item. Bruce Norris (Riverside, CA)"”I do not recommend his expensive stuff; I do recommend his inexpensive materials or courses Southern California seminar guy and investor. Teaches various bargain-purchase techniques. I liked everything in his material except his discussion of mortgages in states other than CA and so stated in a 5/96 article in my newsletter. However, I have received a report that he charged $4,500 for a "boot camp." I do not recommend any multi-thousand-dollar real-estate-information products. Ron Starr tells me that he took a $200 seminar from Norris in 2001 and it was excellent. I like Norris' material, just not multi-thousand-dollar prices. George Paukert---Unknown Use my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist to evaluate this guru. Dante Perano (First Hybrid Corp dba Financial Services ofAmerica, 3983 S. McCarran #512, Reno, NV 89502)"”Unknown Use my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist to evaluate this guru Wayne Phillips-I do not recommend Phillips is a real estate guru who is best known for real estate loan advice. The Federal Trade Commission fined him $50,000 in 1991 and ordered to stop making claims he could not prove. Phillips did not pay the fine and was sued by the FTC in 1995 for $2.1 million. An FTC spokesman said Phillips exaggerated the ease with which real estate loans could be obtained. Phillips also owes Texas a $30,000 fine. Phillips used to sell some of my books. His financial guy was very angry at me because I always made them pay in advance with a cashiers check. Tony Pico"”Unknown Use my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist to evaluate this guru. Larry Pino (Orlando, FL)-I do not recommend Jane Bryant Quinn did a detailed article about Pino in the 6/8/98 issue of Newsweek and in her newspaper column. According to Quinn, Pino is an attorney who was reprimanded by the Florida Bar for misusing an investor's funds. Pino says he paid the money back. He also worked for gurus Charles Givens, Mark Haroldsen and Dave Del Dotto (which see). A reader sent me an "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance" filed in court in Davidson County, Tennessee in 1996. The barely legible docket number appears to be 96-3631-III. It is labeled State of Tennessee versus Diversified Cash Flow Institute, Inc. (Pino is "President and General Counsel" of DCFI). It says "The Division of Consumer Affairs...and the Attorney General conducted an investigation of [DCFI's] business practices. These practices include the following:...using earnings claims that are not representative of the results an average participant in the training program could expect; making potentially misleading statements about the value or cost of the training program; stating that the training program was associated with a university when it was not;...and overstating the value of certification offered by [DCFI]...the Division and the Attorney General determined that certain acts and practices of [DCFI] violated the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act of 1977. [DCFI] neither admits nor denies any wrongdoing...and gives this assurance...in order to avoid the expense of litigation." The court papers state that the DCFI training program cost $6,995. Interestingly, the "Assurance" requires DCFI to make "verifiable substantiation of...illustrations that may not reflect the average experience of a graduate...available on request." The word "illustrations" apparently refers to examples of student success or student testimonials. I am very suspicious of the testimonials provided by seemingly average persons on guru infomercials. The Assurance requires DCFI to stop saying the "cash flow" industry is unregulated when, in fact, TN law requires a brokers license for some of the activities DCFI covers. The Assurance orders DCFI to refrain from discouraging consumers from taking notes or otherwise keeping a careful record of the information [DCFI] provides during the introductory workshop. One item really bugged me. It orders DCFI to not encourage consumers to go into debt in order to take the DCFI course. They do that?! Jane' assistant Temma Ehrenfeld attended Pino' $5,995 five-day "boot camp" called The Diversified Cash Flow Institute. 33 people attended that 3/97 session. Temma called all of them 15 months later to see how they had done. One man had grossed $1,050 on two deals---a net loss of $5,995 - $1,050 = $4,945 after deducting his "boot camp" tuition, more if you include the expenses of traveling to Austin. No one else whom Temma was able to talk to had done any deals. It should be noted that Pino grossed 33 x $5,995 = $197,835 for his five days of teaching. Four of the graduates of this "boot camp" called it a waste of their time and money. I suspect the others are still in denial. Is December of 2004, a TN administrative judge ordered the State of TN to reimburse Dynetech, a Pino company, for $133,000 costs of successfully defending a cease and desist action. John Polk"”I do not recommend Sold "Inside Secrets" of wealth and falsely promised to invest in the deals brought to him by followers. Sentenced to 51 months in federal prison. U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz also fined Polk $250,000 and ordered him to pay $2 million in restitution in a mail-fraud case against Peak Performance and its successor, Success Achievement Systems. "The government has made an overwhelming showing of fraud from the inception of the whole business," Motz said. Richard Powelson"”I do not recommend A much-traveled seminar speaker. I took a Lowry-Nickerson finance seminar from him in San Francisco in 1979. It was appallingly unethical. At one break, the guy next to me commented, erroneously, "I don"t think there' an honest man in the room." The audience had repeatedly laughed at Powelson' cornucopia of tricks, like listing yourself as a vice-president on your business card so you could pose as president when a mortgage lender called to confirm your employment. Powelson himself thought the stuff was unethical. He commented all weekend. "I don"t advocate these things. I"m just telling you what some of my students have said." But almost the entire weekend consisted of such "I don't advocate..." advice. David Ramsey"”Unknown Use my Real Estate B.S. Artist Detection Checklist to evaluate this guru. Real Estate Link See Fortune 21. Marshall E. Reddick a.k.a. Real Estate Foreclosures"”I do not recommend Reportedly advocates investing in a type of property where he or an associate gets a commission for selling it to you. In general, you should not get investment advice from persons who receive a commission if you buy the investment they recommend. An investor who went on one of Reddick' buying trips said they bought only VA repos that were listed with RealtorsÂ®. Furthermore, they told the buyers to bid 15% over asking price, which is typically market value. Why bid 15% over asking price? Because they "wanted their students to be the successful bidders." Not to mention the fact that the "teachers" also wanted to be the successful salesmen who got the 6% commission on the deal"”commissions that were inflated by 15% above what they would normally get. The teachers rationalize overpaying by predicting appreciation and urging students to hold for the long term. I"ve heard that one before. Why not pay market and hold for the long term? One of Reddick's seminars is called "Profiting with fixer uppers with or without the work." I have done fixer uppers and interviewed many fixers and read virtually every fixer book. I know of no way to do it without work---either carpentry, etc. or hiring carpenters, etc."”neither of which is easy. Another of his seminars is "How to reduce your income taxes to zero." I have written 17 editions of the book Aggressive Tax Avoidance for Real Estate Investors. In general, reducing your taxes to zero is so difficult that it almost certainly is not worth the trouble. There is a point of diminishing returns in almost everything. To eliminate state income and sales tax, you would have to move to a state with neither. I believe that means New Hampshire. To eliminate taxes on interest, you would have to put all your non-real-estate money into municipal bonds and not live in the municipality in question if that town has a city income tax. There are also disadvantages to reducing your taxes to zero, like not being eligible for social security. The main way I know to reduce your taxes to zero would be to move to New Hampshire and do nothing but buy and sell principal residences for a profit every two years. Reddick is a PhD and was a professor of business and economics at California State University, Los Angeles until 1/00 when he retired. He also teaches at 22 other southern California colleges. I surmise Reddick is one of many real estate agents, lawyers, insurance agents, etc. who, to generate business, teach Saturday extension courses sponsored by colleges. The quality of such courses is generally good, but varies. He also says he is a member of the National Speakers Association and holds its "coveted" Certified Speaking Professional designation, as does Zig Ziglar. I am a former member of NSA. I quit after just one year. There are two associations for speakers. The other is the International Platform Association. IPA seemed to consist mainly of men and women of distinction"”famous news anchors, actresses, generals, and so forth"”who also make speeches. IPA members Wolf Blitzer and Colin Powell do not have the "coveted" Certified Speaking Professional designation; they have the even more coveted $75,000-a-pop speaking fees. NSA seemed to consist mainly of plain Janes whose only accomplishment was speaking. A 2001 survey of NSA' 4,000 members found that 21.7% made $25,000 or less a year; 11.8% made $101,- 150,000; 2.6% made more than $500,000. That leaves 63.9% unaccountend for. I assume they make zero from speaking. Dale Carnegie said the ability to speak in public was a "shortcut to distinction." The NSA people, for the most part, struck me as the type who could only achieve distinction by taking a shortcut. I met NSA member Og Mandino and he seemed like a sharp guy. But many other NSA members seemed shameless and desperate in their need for approval from the audience. Their icon Cavett Robert was noted for crying in every speech when I was a member around 1980. (A recent NSA member said he never saw Robert cry in the four years before Robert' death.) When I attended their convention, another speaker made a joke in his speech about Robert crying in every speech. Another guy ended every speech by asking the audience to stand up and sing God Bless America. In both cases they seemed to me to be like small children crying out for attention and approval and willing to use almost any trick to get it. At the NSA convention I went to, one woman showed a maudlin movie about herself making a parachute jump. She just signed up at a parachute school in the Yellow Pages and made one jump into the ocean, which was that school' standard landing zone. The movie included much crying and agonizing about whether to go ahead with it. Given its large size, I suspect the audience contained at least a dozen former paratroopers"”including me. It never occurred to me or my fellow paratroopers that our first jump or the training leading up to it were very interesting. None of us agonized about going through with it and no one in my large class failed to make their five jumps"”or even hesitated. NSA hero Tony Robbins has the "gift of gab" and he is as handsome as a comic-book action hero. But his only accomplishments, other than speaking, appear to be surviving being thrown out of his home at age 17 with $10 in his pocket, surviving bankruptcy at age 21, and losing the 38 pounds he put on when he went bankrupt. I could not tell from his bio if he graduated from high school. The lady whose claim to fame was the one Yellow Pages parachute jump has a more impressive list of non-speaking accomplishments. I have never heard Robbins say anything I disagreed with, but I bought one of his book-store cassettes for my oldest son and was disappointed with it. I find him a little glib, which is probably an occupational hazard of what he does for a living. But Robbins, like many other NSA members, has apparently never even tried to be a success at anything other than telling other people how to succeed. NSA had some impressive guys, but most were pathetic. I do not know which category Reddick is in. But NSA was one of two organizations I have ever joined which immediately inspired me to say, "Let me out of here!" (The other was Mensa, which I quit after two meetings because they reeked of body odor! I kid you not.) 60 Minutes did a program about the NSA on 4/16/00. It featured Zig Ziglar and Tony Robbins. Like the 60 Minutes program I appeared on (3/16/86) regarding nothing-down seminars, the correspondent was Morley Safer. Safer made fun of the speaking business. Colin Powell was also on the program. He also gets a private plane to take him to speeches. As far as I know, he is not an NSA member. I am told also that Reddick sets up a property-management contract with a real estate broker in the distant area where these properties are located. You should never use independent, fee-paid property managers. There are only three sound choices regarding real estate property management: do it yourself, hire a salaried employee to do it, or do not own the property. Someone should start an "I hired an independent property manager" horror stories Web site. It would have thousands of eager contributors, each of which would focus on one of two consistent themes: overcharges/kickbacks and neglect.