The Best Illinois Real Estate Investing Clubs: Are They Worth Your Time?
It’s tough starting out in real estate investment, right? Trust me, I know how frustrating it can be. When I quit my day job a decade ago after reading a couple of books on real estate investment, I thought the world was mine for the taking. Boy, was I wrong. The truth was, I didn’t know a thing about the industry. Those books taught me nothing. I quickly realized that if I was going to make it on my own, I needed advice from the experts.
Like most new investors, I didn’t have a Rolodex of people to call. But what I did have was a lot of time on my hands and a determination to be successful. Things started happening for me when I got involved in real estate investment clubs. They can be an excellent resource for new investors, but they aren’t without their faults. Here’s my take on the real estate investment clubs in Illinois and what I recommend new investors do in today’s market.
Why Attend an Illinois Real Estate Investor Club in the First Place?
As someone who has probably dipped their toe into the murky world of real estate education, you will know all too well that there are hundreds of people ready to take your money with the promise of industry secrets and guaranteed passive income strategies. Most inexperienced investors turn to two sources of information to try and get their new business off the ground: books and seminars.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
A quick Google search for “best real estate investment books” will reveal dozens of aspirational books that promise the world but offer very little in reality. One or two may contain some genuinely useful information, but the vast majority are filled with useless platitudes and vague direction. Worst of all, these so-called “expert” authors might not be successful investors in their own right. But, while books are usually a great resource to learn any skill, they fall woefully short when it comes to real estate investment advice.
Seminars are all talk
Once new investors realize that books fail to offer real-world value, they typically turn their attention to seminars led by a well-known, successful real estate investors. These exclusive events promise valuable advice and direction from a guru of the industry. Once you’ve finished, you’ll be ready to make your first million in real estate within the year (Or so they say). The price for these industry secrets? Only a couple of thousand dollars. And those are the cheap ones!
Like books on real estate investment, most seminars almost always fail to deliver on their promise. Attendees often leave with empty pockets and a false sense of optimism. When they start trying to run a business based on the principles taught in the seminar, reality punches them squarely in the face. The advice in these seminars often isn’t worth the paper that the guru’s notes are written on. If they really were giving out industry secrets, they wouldn’t be a very good investor, right? Real estate investing is all about being able to gain an edge on your competition. Giving away that edge to a few hundred people every week would be a very foolish investment move.
If these information sources are insufficient, how do inexperienced investors get the guidance they need to succeed? For many who are fed up with books and seminars, real estate investing clubs are the answer. These networking events are offered in practically every city across the country—Chicago and Illinois included—and can be a great way for young investors to find worthwhile advice and possibly even a mentor. Rather than one “guru” sharing his method of success, investment clubs are a collection of investors helping each other to achieve their goals. Members can meet to discuss the latest developments in their area, tactics that work or don’t work, and build a local investor network. Success won’t happen overnight, but real estate investment clubs can get you on the right track.
Five Illinois real estate investment clubs to consider
When you start looking for Illinois real estate investment clubs, you’ll quickly realize there is a lot to choose from. To save you the effort of researching every club yourself, we’ve covered what we consider to be five of the best real estate investment clubs in Illinois. A word of warning though. As you’ll see, however, while investment clubs can offer support to a new investor, they aren’t without their problems.
1) Chicago Area Real Estate Investors Association (CAREIA)
CAREIA describes itself as an ambitious group of investors located throughout the Chicagoland area. They are a not-for-profit organization and are also members of the National Real Estate Investors Association. This is a much larger, national group that runs local meetups across the country. For the annual individual membership fee of $99, the association offers all of the typical things that you would expect from a real estate investment club. There are regular networking events, a regularly updated library of real estate investment books (which may or may not be so useful), group discounts from vendors, and a monthly newsletter.
2) Chicago Creative Investors Association (CCIA)
CCIA is an education, motivational, and networking club that has been operating since 1984. Like the CAREIA, they are also a chapter of The National Real Estate Investors Association. Membership fees are comparable to CAREIA, but the CCIA offers a two–year plan for $149. For your membership fee, you’ll get access to CCIA monthly meetings and educational workshops, networking opportunities with experienced Chicagoland investors, and a host of discounts with local companies. When you join CCIA, you will automatically become a member of the National Real Estate Investors Association, which means access to their preferred vendors program for discounts with national companies such as Home Depot.
3) Chicago Real Estate Investor Association (REIA)
Chicago REIA claims to be the largest real estate investors association in the Chicagoland area. As the biggest organization, they also offer members the most benefits. As well as all of the education and networking opportunities that come part and parcel of an investment club, the Chicago REIA also offer their own set of marketing tools, called Deal Vault. Starting at $79 a month and rising to $1500 a year, the program promises to provide property deals without investors having to lift a finger. There’s even an online portal—cashflowcommunity.com—that covers everything mentioned at the CREIA meetings, which is a good thing because they offer substantially more meetups and events than the rest of the associations listed here. Naturally, these added benefits come with a bigger price tag, $199 per year, to be exact.
WCRT claims to help investors find success through education, personal growth, and the assistance of a like-minded community. With this in mind, the organization has several different membership options, one for individuals, one for couples and one for vendors. Each membership includes access to monthly meetings held on the first Thursday of every month in Elmhurst, invitations to private seminars, networking opportunities, and discounts. Regular subgroup meetings are held in various locations across the state. Individual membership is charged at $127 and the couple’s membership is offered at a discounted price of $147.
5) Lake County Property Investors Association (LCPI)
LCPI was founded in 1978 with the intent to educate and encourage investors. It is a not-for-profit organization that runs monthly programs, seminars, and newsletters to keep members informed about legislative issues and investment strategies. The Association is a member of the Illinois Rental Property Owners Association. For $129 per year, members get access to monthly LCPIA meetings, a members-only online forum, networking opportunities, invitations to educational seminars and vendor discounts.
The Problem With Real Estate Investment Clubs
There is a reason the associations listed above are successful. Real estate investment clubs can open doors that would otherwise remain closed to new investors. But they have definite shortfalls. Before you go ahead and click “join now” on a club’s website, bear in mind these issues that real estate investment clubs don’t want you to know about.
You don’t know what to expect until you pay the membership fee.
Virtually all real estate investment clubs operate behind closed doors. This makes perfect sense since they charge for the information and advice dispensed at these meetings. But it makes it hard for potential members to get a feel for what the club will be like. The attitudes of clubs and their members can vary tremendously. Certain clubs may not be a good fit for everyone. In addition, the testimonials provided on club websites can only provide so much information. After all, they aren’t going to post testimonials that shine a bad light on their club. No, the only way to find out what a club is really like is to bite the bullet and pay the membership fee upfront.
There can be a lot of newbies.
For new investors, real estate investment clubs can look like a fantastic opportunity. The promise of networking with experienced investors and tradesmen sounds fantastic. Of course, everyone has the same line of thought. That means these clubs can be overrun by new, inexperienced investors all hoping to find a mentor or get an edge over their competitors (who they just happen to be sharing a room with). If you are hoping to attend a meeting with the goal of having a private conversation with an experienced investor, expect to have to fight for their attention.
You still have to build your own network.
One of the major selling points of these clubs is the promise of networking opportunities. This is all well and good, but it still leaves you to do the hard work of establishing your own network. What happens if, as mentioned above, most of the members are new investors like yourself? Sure, there is strength in numbers, but you need to associate with experts if you want to be successful.
These issues were common when I was still attending real estate investment clubs. In fact, they are what drove me to find a different approach to networking and mentorship.
A Ready-made Network with HomeVestors®
I enjoyed success as a result of attending a real estate investment clubs in Illinois. But things really started taking off for me when I became an independently owned and operated HomeVestors® franchisee. I learned a lot from the clubs and made some great connections, but HomeVestors helped me take my business to the next level. HomeVestors provides each new franchisee with a Development Agent who offers one-to-one support throughout the entire real estate investment cycle. From helping to understand and assess opportunities to negotiating deals, my Development Agent was available to offer genuinely helpful advice. All of that is on top of the best real estate marketing tools in the industry. That’s something no real estate investment club could ever give me.
If you’re looking to leapfrog new investors trying to make it with the help of a real estate investment club, HomeVestors is the opportunity for you. By leveraging the knowledge of your Development Agent, HomeVestors’ marketing tools, and their existing network of franchisees you can successfully position yourself to achieve your business goals. Unlike real estate gurus, HomeVestors won’t promise instant success. Hard work is still required, but HomeVestors and its network of franchisees makes it that much easier. Get in touch with a representative for more information today.
Each franchise office is independently owned and operated.