It took my old college buddy, Scott, a while to get comfortable with the idea of leaving his corporate job to start a business of his own. But, once he admitted that his passion for real estate could no longer be traded for a desk and a dental plan—no matter how close to the beach his office was—he hit the ground running. Unfortunately, not long after, he also hit a wall. He struggled to meet his financial goals and keep his business humming like a well-oiled machine.
Deciding he needed to connect with other, more experienced investors who could help him course-correct, he started looking into some of Florida’s real estate investment clubs. Then, he came to me. As a long-time Orlando-based investor, I’d been down a similar road years before. Knowing I’d been there done that, he wanted to know which Florida real estate investment clubs might be worth his time and whether he should join one at all.
Should You Join One of Florida’s Real Estate Investment Clubs?
Even if you’re not struggling with your real estate investing career in the same way that Scott is, you’ve probably wondered whether you should join an investment club at some point, too. There is always something to pick up from your peers, like how to market your investment property to certain buyer demographics. And, getting recommendations for contractors, electricians, or designers directly from those who’ve used them can prove invaluable to getting good work done at a great price. But, more than just providing opportunities to network, many clubs also offer weekly classes and weekend workshops where you can learn everything from how to better calculate rehab numbers to how to buy foreclosure auction homes. You might even find a mentor to give you personalized advice that suits your particular business goals.
While there are benefits to being a member of real estate investment clubs, they don’t necessarily outweigh the drawbacks. So, before joining one, think critically about what you hope to gain and whether a particular club will fill that need. If you’re not sure where to start, here are three from around the state that may be worth your time, along with a few pros and cons of each:
Jacksonville Real Estate Investors Association (JaxREIA)
The Jacksonville Real Estate Investors Association (JaxREIA) serves investors throughout Duval County as well as those from counties nearby. The club provides networking opportunities at five different locations every week, intermittent weekend boot camps, and single-subject classes sprinkled throughout the month. And, many of the topics covered are more relevant for today’s investor than what some other associations offer. For example, you can learn how to use your self directed IRA to buy real estate in addition to how to care for your own assets through estate planning. The club even hosts a monthly “open mic” night where you can ask for feedback about a transaction or share some insights that you’ve acquired to help reduce the learning curve of others.
Unfortunately, I have a few issues with JaxREIA. First, though the reach of this club is impressive, its members are scattered throughout Duval and neighboring counties. If your goal is to decrease your learning curve and, therefore, increase your potential returns, you might not reach it quickly if only a handful of members attend your location. And, if those members are new investors like you, finding a mentor may not happen at all.
Additionally, only the cost for the first year of membership is advertised. Even if subsequent years are cheaper than the first, you should know all of your costs upfront. But, because this information is withheld, it makes me wonder what else isn’t being disclosed. You wouldn’t invest in a house without knowing what you’re in for. You shouldn’t blindly invest your time or money into a club, either.
Central Florida Realty Investors (CFRI)
The Central Florida Realty Investors (CFRI) has chapters in six counties. So, whether you’re buying Florida investment property in Orlando, like me, or over in Tavares, there’s likely a club near you. Every chapter holds its own monthly meeting in addition to the main meeting held in Orlando each month. Additionally, classes and group discussions are added to the calendar on a regular basis. Past events have covered everything from how to fund your deals to how to choose the best tax strategy for your portfolio. There’s even a focus group specifically designed to help women who invest in real estate connect with one another and share their experiences. So, no matter who you are, there is a chance you’ll be able to build your network and your knowledge by joining CFRI.
But, as full as CFRI’s calendar seems to be, it may still be hard to fulfill all of your investing business’s needs. To take advantage of every networking and learning opportunity offered, you may have to travel all over Central Florida. That will cost you the kind of time and gas money that’s sure to take the shine off of the relatively cheap membership fee. And, that fee doesn’t include every event scheduled anyway. If you want to attend more than just your local chapter’s monthly meetings, you may have to dig deeper into your pocketbook as well as drive farther down the road. It’s not clear whether you’ll be able to find a real estate investing mentor near you by joining, either. Though, even if you do, that’s probably going to cost you extra, too.
Gulf Coast Real Estate Investors Association (GCREIA)
The Gulf Coast Real Estate Investors Association (GCREIA) is based in Pensacola but welcomes investors and other real estate professionals from all over the region to join. During their once-monthly meetings, they often feature a guest speaker who discusses their area of expertise at length. So, in addition to learning how to avoid common pitfalls that being a landlord for the first time may present, you can also learn how to correctly manage your books. The GCREIA also publishes a monthly newsletter, provides access to past investment-related articles online, and supplies an endorsed list of vendors who, in turn, offer discounts to the club’s members. For a low yearly membership fee, all that you get isn’t all that bad.
Except that, you may not get enough to propel your career forward. No additional trainings, focus groups, or workshops are offered through GCREIA. So, you’ll still have to go elsewhere to improve your existing skills or acquire new ones. And, since the group only meets once a month, you’ll be hard-pressed to quickly build a reliable network, too. When you’ve got a deal to save or business you’re trying to expand, you need a group of seasoned peers who are at the ready to help. Otherwise, it can still feel like you’re out there on your own. And, with this group, for 29 out of 30 days each month, you will be.
In the end, whether or not you join one of these Florida real estate investment clubs or one similar is up to you. Being a member certainly won’t hurt you. But, membership may not help you, either. If your goal is to learn and implement as much as you can as quickly as possible and have access to ongoing support throughout your real estate investment career path, a club may not be the right fit. It may also be the wrong way to go if you’re like Scott and have already started investing, but need to get further along in your career faster. In either case, there is another avenue for getting your needs met and growing your business.
Where to Get Better Support Faster for Your Investment Goals
Like Scott, after I’d been investing for a short while, I hit some snags that slowed me down. At the time, I had no idea what I was doing wrong, if anything. I tried a few real estate investment clubs here in Orlando, Florida, in an attempt to learn from more experienced peers and get some one-on-one advice. But, what I mostly got was frustrated. The majority of the members were less experienced than me. So, though I made some friends, I made few strides in my career.
I gave up going to investment clubs about the time I became an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee. I not only stopped wanting to go, but also as a franchisee, I didn’t need to go. Immediately after my initial week-long comprehensive training, I was paired with a seasoned Development Agent who provided the one-on-one mentoring I’d been looking for. Together, we worked out the kinks that were tripping up my career. I also gained access to the collective experience of my fellow regional franchisees—some of whom had been investing for decades. So, there was never a question that couldn’t get answered or a problem that couldn’t quickly get solved. That’s the kind of support I knew I needed to help me achieve my investment goals faster. And, it’s exactly what Scott needed to finally succeed with his goals, too.
Get better support from the team whose goal is to help you succeed. Call HomeVestors about becoming a franchisee—and, joining a support network of professional real estate investors—today!
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