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Real Estate “Get Rich” Euphoria May Be Distasteful, But Not The Root Of All Evil

The billboards and announcements proclaiming that you can get rich in real estate [1], while distasteful to many (self-included – wondering how people that attend these seminars can be so gullible, but it does make them feel good, I suppose), haven’t created much of a cynical backlash, probably based on the values of most Americans, according to a recent Gallup Poll Most Americans Do Not Have a Strong Desire to Be Rich [link expires tomorrow] [2]. In other words, over half of Americans seek more money as a personal goal but does not think badly about people already with wealth.

Of course, this is only a poll, and I wonder if the results wouldn’t have been reversed about two years ago, when real estate was a different animal.

Look at the game show phenomenon [WSJ] [3].

Recently we had “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and now there are others:

Next Tuesday, Walt Disney Co.’s ABC unveils “Show Me the Money,” a splashy series hosted by William Shatner. Contestants win money by answering trivia questions and then choosing among 13 female dancers, who carry scrolls containing secret dollar amounts.

It joins the popular game shows “Deal or No Deal” and “1 vs. 100” on General Electric Co.’s NBC. Meanwhile, News Corp.’s Fox has “The Rich List” and CBS is working to remake “Name That Tune,” a program that first aired in 1953.

Get rich seminars seem to be more about energy and optimism [1] than specific investment techniques. Here’s a seminar recap shared by someone who attended one held here in New York this year. (note: I accurately guessed what was said before they shared the substance of the event) :

Of course, there were also some specifics, primarily dealing with tax implications.

I might have missed a few choice ideas but you get the idea. Of course there are always exceptions and those who succeed are who get included in the advertising campaign. I’d be wary of anyone who teaches get rich in real estate seminars for a living. If they were so successful as real estate investors, then why are they teaching you instead of doing deals? Carlton Sheets [4] on the late night infommercials comes to mind. Here’s a great summary of all the supposed real estate gurus [1].

Trump is the exception. He made his fortune in real estate and keeps working at it and has greatly expanded his efforts, seemingly everywhere in the US these days. He provides the celebrity factor to the Learning Annex [1] efforts and gets paid a fortune for very little time committment. Its a smart investment on his part.

I sort of view these seminars like playing the lottery. The demographics of people that play the lottery on a regular basis are least likely to afford playing it.

Ok, back to the poll…

recent Gallup Panel survey asked a nationally representative sample of American adults for their attitudes about money and wealth. The poll finds that most Americans apparently do not have a strong desire to be rich, although half say making more money is a personal goal. The public tends to think that those who make a lot of money deserve it, but not to think that those who are poor deserve their lot in life. A majority also believes that anyone can get rich. Men, especially younger men, tend to desire to be rich more than women do.

Some other results…

The public does not begrudge rich people — a majority of Americans, 54%, say that those who make a lot of money deserve it. They also believe that almost anyone can get rich if they put their mind to it, by a 53% to 46% margin. At the same time, Americans strongly reject the notion that those who are poor merit their situation — only 14% agree and 85% disagree that “people who are poor deserve it.”

Some other points:

Of course, with all my cycnism about get rich seminars, I didn’t make a fortune in real estate either.