Paul Esajian, owner and CFO of FortuneBuilders, was just a bartender in New York City 11 years ago, struggling to pay his $1,000 rent month to month.

For about a year, Esajian worked and enjoyed life in The Big Apple. Soon, he realized bartending wasn't going to help him achieve his goals.

"[A friend and I] went to Barnes and Noble and got a bunch of books about real estate and read through them while working." Esajian said. "We started going to seminars and that's where we started, and where we continue to learn the business of creative real estate investing."

This creative real estate investing -- an unconventional method of buying and selling real estate -- has helped Esajian and four friends strike it rich, and in 2007 even landed them a two-yearlong featured spot on A&E's hit TV show Flip this House.

The five TV stars, and additional representatives, now run FortuneBuilders, a real estate investment education company based in California.

Esajian and his troupe are sending representatives to Bryan-College Station Thursday through Saturday to conduct 90-minute "Find and Flip" seminars designed to teach the average Joe how to flip houses -- purchase run-down, dilapidated or foreclosed homes, revamp them, and sell them for big profit.

Bill McGuire, president of the Better Business Bureau in College Station, advised locals to be wary of the seminars.

"They are just baiting the hook in the first 90 minutes," McGuire said. "If someone wants to stick around it's going to cost them money."

The "Find and Flip" preliminary sessions are offered as free introductory courses, Esajian said. Interested attendees can then pay a $197 fee for a three-day training seminar two weeks after the introductory session.

Esajian said seminars of this caliber for $197 is "unheard of."

"We focus on what we do well, and that's find a property and improve it so that we can improve jobs and cause economic stimulation in the area," Esajian said. "What we teach is residential redevelopment. Neither you nor me have the money to buy a house and then sell it. We teach how to find investors and borrow money. It's a formula with a series of information."

Esajian said seminar attendees are trained in marketing, wholesaling and rehabbing.

"Just because a home is for sale doesn't mean it will match our formula," Esajian said. "We teach and train on marketing strategies on these types of properties."

A cost for further investments in the program was not immediately clear. Esajian likened money spent on the real estate education to attending college.

"How can people do this with no money or credit? The same way people go to college to learn to get a job," Esajian said. "You have to identify and find leverage money because when you start, you don't have any. You have to find investors and treat them like a bank."

Esajian made clear that "riches aren't going to be dumped in your lap" after attending the seminars. He said it takes work, and each person will essentially decide how to make the education work for them.

"I wouldn't say it's not for everyone," Esajian said. "Who am I to say that if you have a goal you can't do this? If you want to do it, do it. If you don't, don't."

McGuire, a banker for 22 years prior to his post at the Better Business Bureau, said if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

"Most of the folks [who will attend the seminars] are regular people interested in making money, and that's what their focus is," McGuire said. "But these [FortuneBuilder representatives] are going to get into their back pockets."

McGuire said he has known people in the community who can be considered house flippers.

"Part of their livelihood is buying a house that has been run down, knowing they can go in and fix it. They do the labor themselves ... and sell for more than it was worth in the dilapidated condition ... But these people know what they are doing."

McGuire said that the Better Business Bureau does not want to see people get "injured" in learning how to flip houses from the FortuneBuilders.

"You have to know what you're doing and these people are going to show up and they don't," McGuire said. "They're looking for the people who were born yesterday."

• Seminars are Thursday at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center at 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Friday at the Best Western at 1920 Austin's Colony in Bryan at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.; and Saturday at the Holiday Inn on Earl Rudder Freeway at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Interested persons are asked to register beforehand by calling 800-385-4358.

Esajian said he is available via email to answer questions at paul@fortunebuilders.com

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(16) comments

bcshome

So pleased to see the bbb expose this scam. As I hear the continual ads for this "seminar" on the radio I keep hoping people don't fall for their get rich quick scheme. Check out foreclosure rates in our area -we do not have an abundance of foreclosures. Good luck to anyone able to "identify and find leverage money".

houHomebuyerRockStar

Do research. YouTube real estate wholesaling. I've bought 15 properties and I'm 27.

As far as "if its too good to be...'' does your rule EVER have an exception?

No of course not.

[wink]

agnerd

Let me save everyone $200. To flip houses you first need to become a realtor so that you're not paying someone 6% everytime you sell a house. Next you need money and lots of it. To get this you either need perfect credit, or a rich family member. No one will lend you money if you've never flipped before. And finally, you need to be in a market in which real estate is very expensive and in which people value their time more than their money. Only then can you gain enough value in the flipping process to make any real money. Locations include NY, Boston, DC, LA, SanFran, etc. Texas and College Station do not qualify. Real estate prices and the abundance of cheap labor make new construction too affordable here.

jer

Nice post.

Rental property is a better investment in the BCS area, but be prepared to deal with the headaches, e.g. property maintenance, tenant issues, etc.

n-g

I happen to be in the San Francisco Bay Area this week, and the exact same radio advertisement is playing, saying how the local real estate market is "perfect" for their system. It's hard for me to imagine two more different real estate markets than B/CS and SFO, so how can they both be perfect? Where else do they claim to have found "perfect" real estate conditions? This does not pass the smell test Maybe they're both "perfect" because they both have gullible people who might fall for their ads.

SabrinaM

Thanks for posting. Flipping homes was a big trend for a while there, until the housing industry crashed. However, the quantity of people doing it has begun to increase. Resource for this article: why possibly not do who you are a have a preference for where you can glimpse on each of our blog?

eprocent

Rental property is a better investment in the BCS area, but be prepared to deal with the headaches, e.g. property maintenance, tenant issues, etc.
- How To Tie A Tie

houHomebuyerRockStar

COME ON GUYS!!! Wake up, get educated. Is it STATISCALLY a better market? YES. Is Texas in the top 3 markets in US? YES. And by the way for the fool down here that believes you need to be a Realtor ....HA!!!

I hate Realtors, and they hate me. I've bought TWO houses in the last 30 days. Active Investor - look me up on facebook Joseph Tomsselli CEO & Owner JV Investments, ill help you FOR FREE to dispell any of these dramatic, fear based responses below.

I digress ...

I have below a 600, its probably in the negatives honestly lol.

Guys ...all my friends are investors just like me or are BEGGING me to teach them. Don't be scared and run into a little corner. These guys that are teaching ARE PROS - Google them. There is a reason why INC magazine has named them the #1 Real Estate Education NATION WIDE.

Anywho ...like I said educate and replicate the life you see others are living.
I'm 27 I love my career (I'm up at 2am watching house flipping shows RIGHT NOW) I am member at a high class country club, shopping for a new S550, and best of all IVE EDUCATED MYSELF SO MUCH SO THAT I NOW HAVE THE POWER TO NEVER GO BACKTO CORP AMERICA AGAIN.

Ill leave you all with this final rant
"A life unexamined isn't worth living''

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