With so much information, advice and resources available for free online, is it really worth spending your hard earned cash paying for investment advice?

Most property investors will freely admit to having caught the “real estate bug” – once you catch it, it’s hard to shake, and you suddenly acquire an appetite for information on all things property.

For the majority of us that means signing up to enewsletters, exploring websites and investing in some property related courses and seminars.

But is it really worth spending thousands of dollars on your property education, when there is so much information available online for free?

It depends how serious you are about your outcome. If you plan to invest in just one or two properties, then perhaps you can get by with the information you can find online.

On the other hand, if you’re serious about creating long lasting wealth through long-term property investing, then allocating some money towards your own education could pay off – particularly if it saves you from making costly mistakes.

Just ask Helen Collier-Kogtevs, director of Real Wealth Australia, whose property portfolio is now worth more than $8 million. She invested heavily into her own financial education, and she credits this as being the key to her success.

“We chose to invest in an education and mentors who were experienced property investors themselves. Most of our family and friends thought we were nuts, especially when we spent $20,000 – which we had to borrow – on educating ourselves,” she explains.

“But it was the best money we’ve ever spent. The value has been returned to us many times over; without the education we would have made even more mistakes than we did along the way.”

For Collier-Kogtevs, the money she spent on educating herself gave her the knowledge and confidence she needed to make smart investing decisions.

She selected mentors and investing seminars by researching their credentials and only seeking advice from those who she believed could “walk the walk” – that is, people who had successfully invested in property themselves.

This is a great criteria to use when evaluating potential mentors and courses. According to www.scamwatch.gov.au, you should exercise common sense when researching your options: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is, so don’t get sucked in by glossy promises of quick profits.  

“Some investment seminars may try and convince you to follow high-risk investment strategies, such as borrowing huge sums of money to buy property,” the website warns.

“Others promote investments that involve lending money on for no security – or with other risky terms. While investment advice can be legitimate and beneficial, it is important to look carefully at what an investment scheme or seminar is offering. Attending an expensive seminar or investing in the wrong kind of scheme can be costly mistakes.” 

To protect yourself from giving your hard earned cash to dodgy operators and real estate scams, www.scamwatch.gov.au suggests that you look out for the following warning signs:

  • Advertisements for seminars or real estate investment schemes that promise a ‘risk-free investment’ or that you will ‘be a millionaire in three years’
  • Promises of above-average returns at little or no risk
  • The first seminar you are invited to attend may be free, but there are very high fees to attend any further seminars
  • Offers of loans to cover the costs of both the investment and further investment seminars
  • Investment seminars that offer to teach you the ‘secret’ or ‘exclusive’ techniques for building wealth
  • All-in-one packages, where the spruiker also offers to set you up with a solicitor, real estate agent, property manager, accountant, etc. Do not let anyone pressure you into making decisions about money or investments, and always get independent financial advice