Your local real estate investor association. How to find one, and how to make the best use of your time there.
Why join a local REIA?
When I was a young man in Central Florida, I struggled with getting educational materials on real estate. I took the real estate exam and got my license, but I really wanted to build a portfolio of properties.
I was tough. Where could you get money to buy? I had a good relationship with the bank, but their rules were very tight on what they would loan on. They wanted the property in perfect shape but buying nice properties didn’t make financial sense. I made some headway, but not a lot.
Eventually I move to a larger town, and one day a friend introduced me to a real estate investor association. It really changed everything. They information that was available was overwhelming. I discovered new strategies, met investment teachers, and learned how to work with other investors and hard money lenders to get deals done. It made a huge difference in my career and made me the investor that I am today.
If you are an aspiring investor, one of the hardest things to do is to gain the contacts that you need to do business. Also, learning your local market conditions and best neighborhoods can be confusing.
Sizes of REIA’s
By seeking out and joining a local real estate group, you will be introduced to like-minded individuals. The participants range from newbies all the lay up to crusty old hard money lenders. A well-established group may have several hundred, if not thousands of members. In a well-established group depth of experience in the room is hard to duplicate in any other setting. Some groups are smaller, and some are merely Meetup groups that get together without a defined structure.
How to Find a REIA
A lot of the larger groups are members of the National Real Estate Investors Association, and this link is a good place to start looking for a group in your area. https://nationalreia.org/find-a-reia/ If that doesn’t get you anywhere, do a google search for “reia near me” or “(insert your town name) reia. Finally, is Meetup.com, it won’t be a structured group, but you will meet some people. If you are interested in starting your own real estate investor group, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll help you along.
REIA Financial Structures
There are two basic types of REIA
The Non-Profit REIA is usually set up as a 501c3 Not for profit corporation. The goal of the group is to serve the members, and members customarily rotate as elected members of the board of directors. Excess funds collected from dues or other activities are customarily used for member activities, parties, and training opportunities. Anything left over may be donated to an appropriate charity.
The For-Profit REIA
The For-Profit REIA is usually a for profit structure of some kind. The goal of the group is to create a profit for the owners, who are customarily the permanent members of the board of directors. Excess funds collected from dues or other activities are customarily distributed to the owners.
Which is Best?
You’ll have to choose that for yourself. The For-Profit REIA may possibly be more proactive with scheduling activities such as training days to create income, but you have to wonder if the Non-Profit REIA may have your best interests more in mind. The best way to find out which one your REIA is, is ask.
What to wear to a REIA meeting?
Business casual is the normal dress code. However, you will see a range of attire. A real estate attorney may show up in a tie, and a local handyman may come straight from the jobsite after work. What you wear should reflect the image you want to portray. People still make snap judgements about other people based on their initial reaction.
It’s kind of like this….
I go to the courthouse on a regular basis to make deposits, pay for auction that I win, file evictions, etc..
I normally wear dress pants and a shirt, or sometimes nice shorts. When entering the courthouse, everyone is required to empty everything from their pockets and pass through the metal detector.
If you are filing an eviction, the clerk prepares the paperwork, then hands you a receipt and tell you to go to the cashier, pay, bring back the receipt, then she will file the papers.
One morning I happened to be going to a meeting and had decided to wear a suit and tie. One the way, I ran by the courthouse to file an eviction. Upon entering the front door and approaching the security area, the deputy standing guard waved me around the metal detector and said to come on past. I walked up to him with a puzzled look on my face and asked why. It turns out that he assumed I was an attorney on my way to court. I explained that I wasn’t, we had a chuckle, and back I went to the security line.
When I arrived at the clerk’s desk, she took the papers and immediately processed and filed them. She then handed me my copies of the filed documents and a bill for the $300 fee for me to pay on the way out. She didn’t even mention that I should pay, she just assumed I would and said, “Have a nice day!”
Two entirely different experiences at the same place. The only difference was the suit.
A Word of Caution
One thing to consider when you are going to a REIA as a new investor is that not everyone in the room has good intentions. While most people that you meet will be of the highest character and more than willing to help and offer advice, there may be a few bad apples.
I once had a crusty old hard money lender give this piece of advice about going to a new REIA;
“When you go to a new group for the first time, take a note pad and a pen with you. When they ask for visitors to introduce themselves, stand up and give them your name. Tell them that you are brand new to investing, that you just came into some money and want to get your start.”
He paused for a moment, and I admit, I was a little puzzled. But then he continued.
“After the meeting, stand around by yourself. Most people won’t say much to you, maybe just “Welcome” or something like that. The ones that do come up and strike up a conversation about deals or money, you’ll want to write their names down.”
He paused again long enough for me to ask “Why?” Then replied...
“Cause they’re the sharks. If there's new blood in the water, the sharks always come and circle first. Write down their names and don’t do business with them without checking them out first.”
He had a harsh way of putting things in his slight Irish accent, but I can’t think of a better way to get the point across.
Getting the most out of it.
To get the most out of the group, you need to create relationships. Ask questions and listen. Everyone in the group has some knowledge to share, and are usually happy to do so. When someone announces to the group that they have a service to offer, be it repairs, deals, or hard money, be sure to write done their info. Then ask around about them. One note on this...when you inquire as to someone's character or value, do it with members one-on-one. If you ask in a group setting they will give you a whitewashed version of their opinion. Ask in private to get the real scoop.
If you want to make it in real estate investing, having a group of other investors to associate and draw strength and ideas off of is almost a requirement. Most of your family and friends aren't going to understand what you're doing, so any attempt to share your wins or failures with them will feel hollow. Standing in front of a group of people that understands what you've accomplished always feels best.
That's all for now. Go find or create a REIA.
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney or CPA. The content herein is merely opinion, and should in no way be considered legal or financial advice. Please seek professional legal and financial advice for your specific situation.