Scams

An Internet Guru is Teaching a Real Estate Course

I just watched a Facebook Live with probably the most well-known of all the internet gurus, a guy who is always shooting videos showing his multimillion dollars houses and garage full of Ferraris.  I’m on the fence about whether this guy is actually a person who has actually made his fortune from actual internet marketing / social media success or if he is one of those “if you can’t do, teach” guys who just lies about his results, shoots videos with leased cars and rented houses,  hyping up his latest course, which apparently is going to teach you how to become rich by investing in real estate.  If I’m being totally honest here, I can’t think of a worse idea for a program, especially given the fact that I have had 15 years of experience in real estate investment, almost all of which is negative in some way.   There has not been a single time when I’ve been inclined to recommend real estate investment to a person who wants to build wealth, for a number of reasons.  Here are a few of them:

 

  • Real estate costs more than you think. Experts/ gurus are going to tell you that you can “buy real estate with minimal investment.”  That may be true, but someone’s going to have to pay for the mortgage, taxes, insurance, and maintenance at some point.  If you are the primary investor, that person is you.  Do you enjoy having a job (or taking client work) just to pay for a place where someone else lives?   No?  Then don’t try to “build wealth” using real estate investing as your vehicle.
  • “I’m in investment property for the tax benefits.” Another claim made by the internet guru, which is another thing claimed by this internet guru.  I don’t know if he’s done his taxes yet (I’m guessing the answer is no), but either he doesn’t make nearly as much money with his internet marketing business as he says, or he’s flat-out lying.  Truth:  if you make over a certain amount per year (like, over $120,000), you actually don’t get to take the tax deduction for your investment real estate until you sell it.  That can be a very long time if there is another recession.  Example:  I have been holding one particular property for almost a decade, have never gotten a tax benefit because of this stupid rule, and do not expect to make a dime of profit when I finally sell.   That is probably not a thing you’re going to hear in this “expert’s” course.   Just a wild guess.
  • “Real estate is the best way to build passive wealth.” This claim actually made me laugh out loud, because it was so obviously spoken by a person who has never owned real estate.  There is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, PASSIVE about real estate.  Passive is “set it and forget it.”  Passive is not “hey, property owner, my toilet is broken and I am not paying the rent if you don’t get it fixed right away.”  Passive income is not “I can’t pay the rent but I am not moving out.”  Passive income is not “Real estate taxes have gone up so you are now at cashflow negative, and you are still responsible for the mortgage, or the bank will foreclose on you and ruin your credit.”   Real estate should never be said to be passive, because it takes more work than you will ever anticipate or know.   More heartache has been caused by real estate than probably any other “investment” ever invented, and no one has EVER said that about a bank where you can put your money and just get a steady, truly passive monthly dividend.  DO NOT BELIEVE any person who says that real estate is a “passive income.”  This is a straight-up lie, and anyone who says this kind of thing has either never had the misfortune of holding real estate for the long term, or is selling you a lie, or both (meaning, they are losing money in real estate, and they are selling you a course to make up for the loss).  Either way, you lose.
  • “Most wealthy people have made their money from real estate.” That is a lie perpetuated by people who have never actually made money from real estate.  People like Donald Trump make money from real estate because they exploit people, dodge their taxes, declare bankruptcy, then try to teach other people that “most wealthy people have made their money from real estate.”  This is the liars’ equivalent of a snake eating its own tail.  This statement alone, to me, is the classic sign of someone who has never had any real life experience with investment property, and therefore is not to be trusted.   Do not be deceived!  People who have actually made money in real estate will tell you—it is NOT passive!  It is hard work, and is no joke!
  • The “trapped” factor. Guess what supposed gurus will never tell you about real estate?  That would be the fact that you are subject to the whims of the marketplace as to when you can actually see your money again.   Unlike an actual “investment” where you can cash it in when you need it, money that is sitting in real estate is subject to any number of ridiculous things like neighborhood fluctuations,

 

I thought this whole “buy investment real estate property to build wealth” hype was over, especially with how much money so many people lost in the recession of 2007-2008, but apparently with the current upswing, there are still people willing to sell the real estate dream to people.  I fell for it by taking a “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” course.   Don’t make the same mistake.

Let me also tell you a little (horror) story about a former friend of mine who used to be both a realtor and a real estate investor.   She took one of these courses and was so moved by it, she switched her career from being a teacher to being a realtor.  Because she lived in Los Angeles, she thought the “market would keep going up forever” (real words she actual said to me) as well as “San Diego real estate is all the diversification I need” (again, real words.  Real stupid).  She was the realtor who sold me a piece of property in San Diego.   I was very concerned that the “bubble” would eventually burst and that the house was a risky investment, but she reassured me that she held many properties and was profiting from all of them.   Less than a year later, that very house was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars less than what I had paid, she had gone bankrupt and sold all of her investment properties at a loss, and had moved out of state with her one year old daughter, basically broke and having to start over.  She actually got to start over, whereas I have been holding that same investment property for almost ten years, and am not expecting to see a profit when I sell.  Thanks, real estate expert!

Hosting

Green Geeks Review

Over the years, I have had several experiences with hosting companies that one might characterize as “problematic.”   Because I want you to benefit from my experiences, good and bad, I am going to tell you that the name of this company was: GreelGeeks.com.

I really wanted to like GreenGeeks, mostly because of their whole “we are good for the environment” pitch. I like being environmentally friendly, their pricing was competitive, and I was in desperate need of some IP diversity.

So, first of all: signing up. Not only was the signup process unnecessarily confusing and time-consuming, it actually crashed halfway through and then gave me an error message, so I used the “chat” function to talk to a representative to see what was wrong.   Usually I will not even bother with a company once I have to take it to this level, because this tends to be indicative of how ALL of your experiences are going to go (like if one of your sites gets in trouble).   That is to say, I just think if your signup process is that difficult, it means you are not organized as a company, and you’re not going to be able to help me if/ when one of my sites gets in trouble.

SO, I went against my instinct to bail out (big mistake), finished the signup process, and went so far as to set up my hosting account and add on 8 or 9 domains. My VA can do all of this very quickly, so I had the whole thing up and running in about a week.

Anyhow, ONE DAY after I completed the setup (I usually only put about 10 domains on one hosting account because I want IP diversity in my network), I got this crazy email from GreenGeeks about a possible DDOS attack on one of my sites. Bear in mind, I own / manage about 200 websites and have accounts on ALL of the major hosts (GoDaddy, BlueHost, HostGator, HostNine, to name just a few), and I have never gotten an email like that before.

When I got the email, I actually reached out AGAIN to the help desk to see what was going on.   As I mentioned, I have MANY sites that I maintain/ manage, so I was willing to do whatever they wanted to get my website (which I thought was the problem) off of their server. Just FYI, I migrated that site over to HostGator the same day I got that email, and have not had ONE PROBLEM since.

Back to GreenGeeks. I thought I solved the problem by moving that site, but the very next day, I got the same notice (DDOS attack) on ANOTHER one of the sites I had on their server. Finally I reached out to their help desk to tell them what was going on, and they replied “This is an industry-wide problem, it’s not just us. We prevented the attack on your site.” This made me think that maybe the problem was them, not my sites.   I had a brief back and forth with the help desk where they basically said “you should be thanking us” and I said “I have never had this problem before, is that because all the other hosting companies have better built-in security than you?’

Whatever the case, I decided to take GreenGeeks up on their money back guarantee, since I was clearly not going to be using them long-term.   This turned into another whole saga (of course).   As it turns out, you cannot request a refund through the live chat or even by logging a ticket through the customer service.   To get out of your contract and get some of your money back, you actually have to request the cancellation link through customer service, then fill that out and give a reason, submit that request, and wait for them to process it.   Then you wait.

During the interim time while I was waiting for them to grant me the privilege of taking my business elsewhere, I got THREE emails from customer service, trying to tell me that the DDOS attack warning emails were actually good, and that meant they were protecting my websites, and that if my other hosting services WEREN’T sending me emails like this, it meant that they were somehow not doing a great job (I kept assuring them that we would have to agree to disagree on that point).

Seven full days later, I was issued a partial refund. I say “partial” because lo and behold, GreenGeeks had actually CHARGED me for the seven days I had an account with them.   I want to state for the record that I think this goes against the true meaning of “full money back guarantee” since I was well within the 30 day window and I clearly expressed my dissatisfaction with their product.   Just for reference/ comparison purposes, I had a client want to discontinue service with BlueHost because they just thought it was way too complicated to navigate, and true to their guarantee, BlueHost gave that person a 100%, full refund.   As I mentioned, I have a BlueHost account and I like them just fine, and I thought that was actually a great thing for them to do—they know their service maybe isn’t for everyone, and they don’t nickel-and-dime you to death for just changing your mind or deciding they are not for you.

So, that’s my take on GreenGeeks. Did not like them, did not appreciate being penalized for exercising my right to have the opinion that I did not like their service and not wanting to stay with them, and now, will never consider using them again, and have already warned two people to stay away from them.

Overall, booooooooooooooooooo for GreenGeeks.    If you are looking for a recommendation, I would suggest that you run on over to HostGator and take them up on their discount for hosting deal.  Do it!