When thinking about what to get my son for his upcoming graduation from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, I briefly considered the usual options: new car, Caribbean vacation, or perhaps, help with a down payment on a starter home. But because he’d previously expressed interest in following in my footsteps and being his own boss, supporting that entrepreneurial spirit seemed the better gift to give. When I asked if he had any idea what he’d specifically like to do, he didn’t hesitate: buying, renovating, and selling homes–just like me.
In fact, he already had an eye toward furthering his education and had started looking for the best real estate investing classes in Illinois. So, we sat down at the kitchen table and went through the options. Let me share what I told him about each one.
What Are the Best Illinois Real Estate Investing Classes?
Classes in real estate investing should educate students on all facets of finding a deal, adding value to the house, then selling it with a good potential margin. Understanding the buying process itself as well are knowing how to evaluate any necessary repairs and developing an exit strategy are also mission-critical skills to hone. All newly-minted real estate investors should come away with a broad, actionable knowledge base.
But learning shouldn’t end when a class does. Eventually, you’ll also need to master effective marketing techniques and how to build a winning brand if they hope to turn their education into a bonafide business. That’s why access to ongoing mentoring by an experienced and proven real estate investor is essential.
With these ground rules in mind, my son and I were able to rule out most of the classes he came across. A few local options, however, seemed worth a closer look.
Chicago Investment School.
The Chicago Investment School offers classes in real estate investment as well as a smattering of other legal areas. Taught by Derek McNeal, a CPA with a J.D., the one-day workshop covers topics such as the dos and don’ts of building a portfolio, mortgaging and refinancing, how to evict tenants, and understanding foreclosures. Priced at only $200, the class covers some reasonable introductory territory, with a heavy concentration on purchasing multi-unit buildings and understanding legislation that impacts investors–germaine subjects for those new to real estate investing.
Although Mr. McNeal’s credentials are impressive, his 20-plus year career has been built on representing real estate investors in the legal field, not actually investing in real estate. This gave me pause. Shouldn’t courses on real estate investing be taught by experienced real estate investors who’ve been there, done that? And how does a one-day workshop cover all there is to learn about real estate investing? The answer is, it can’t. For us, this and all workshops like it, were a big pass.
The Urban Rehabber Program.
The Urban Rehabber Program, founded by real estate investor Philip Elmes, provides monthly group coaching, educational materials, and several workshops throughout the year. The roster of topics, though few, are decent and affordable. Classes in budgeting, project management, and marketing, for example, each cost between $175 and $278. Additionally, a small membership fee grants you access to pre-recorded materials, discounts on seminars, and weekly “insider” emails.
Unfortunately, the Urban Rehabber website is terribly clunky to navigate and provides little information about Mr. Elmes’ investment projects, successes, and the successes of his students (save a handful of outdated pictures and testimonials). What’s more, the event calendar lists only one class or workshop each month. At that rate, it’d take forever to grasp even a basic understanding of real estate investing through their program. That’s too little info spread over too much time–something better suited for hobbyists.
The Inland Real Estate School, Inc.
The Inland Real Estate School, located in Oak Brook, Illinois, offers several programs of instruction on campus and online. All courses are open to anyone who has an interest in real estate, not just real estate agents, with two tracks specifically devoted to real estate investing. The track you take (beginner or advanced) depends on the degree of education and support you need. Classes are taught by real estate industry professionals with experience in classroom instruction, and support staff is available to those who choose home study or the online environment.
Because the real estate investment page was down on the school’s website, I contacted the school and reached the President and CEO, David McGowan, directly. He was kind enough to provide as much information as he had on the investment courses, but that did not include the length and cost of the programs. Their classes, it appears, are subcontracted to a third party. My concerns here are twofold. First, with only two individuals running the school, I question how much support they’re able to provide for any of the students–online or off. Second, I can only speculate at this point how much time and money the investment programs cost. And when it comes to my son’s education, I prefer information, not speculation.
These options, and others, appear to provide a small degree of helpful information to new real estate investors. But none offer enough instruction or inspire enough confidence for me to recommend them to my son or anyone else just getting started.
In a Class All Its Own: HomeVestors
Just as we were bringing our review of local options to a close, my son mentioned a blog post he’d recently came across on my laptop: “Best Real Estate Investor Training & Education for Beginners.” The article discusses the comprehensive week-long training program HomeVestors® provides to franchisees. HomeVestors® not only teaches new investors how to invest in real estate, but also assigns an investing mentor–even in Chicago! Knowing that I’ve been an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee for years, he asked if I’d recommend that he go the same route.
I didn’t hesitate. HomeVestors® franchisees, I explained, also get access to some of the best tools for marketing in the business and can take advantage of the widely known “We Buy Ugly Houses®” national brand. This was why my real estate investing business got up and running quickly.
So not only will my son be following in my footsteps as a HomeVestors® franchisee, he’ll soon be investing by my side. Get moving on your own family’s future today: Contact the HomeVestors® team for the best training available!
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