Donald Trump has spent decades building his real estate and business empire, but is the real estate titan-turned-presidential candidate telling the truth about a very nasty lawsuit that challenges the foundation of his business and real estate experience? Today, we’ll dig into the truth about Trump, the lawsuits against him that could sink his candidacy, and the cold facts about real estate education in America. I’m Carole Ellis. This is Episode 41.
Love him or hate him, Donald Trump doesn’t appear to be disappearing, as so many on both sides of the aisle would like him to, any time soon. Another thing with Trump’s name on it that also isn’t going anywhere anytime soon is a HUGE (as the man himself would say) lawsuit against Trump University and the billionaire personally, launched on behalf of students who say that Trump’s educational institution promised them success, a FAST TRACK to it in fact, then couldn’t deliver. Ever-voracious New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman (he’s known mainly for his billions of dollars snagged for the state and allegedly the homeowners of his state, from big banks who screwed up foreclosures during the housing crisis. Where that many actually goes is another big, BIG story), anyway, Eric Schneiderman is leading the pack as might be expected, and going for the throat, alleging that Trump and his university bilked students out of a collective $40 million.
This is a pretty dicey situation for Trump who could end up in court dealing with the lawsuit smack dab in the middle of the presidential election. He’s insisted (and it’s probably true, given his financial wherewithal) that he could settle at any time, but refuses to do so because he didn’t do anything wrong and, furthermore, that people who settle lawsuits just get sued again (ask Eric Schneiderman and, oh Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Ocwen, all the banks you love to hate, whether or not that’s true and you better believe they’ll back it up!) Anyway, since Trump won’t settle, the issue won’t go away, and plenty of people on both sides of the issue are weighing in. For example, one former instructor who is an adjunct professor at a certain Ivy League college who used to teach for Trump University recently came out to say how proud he was of the trainings that he participated in recording for the institution. He then quickly back-tracked, however, noting that if he’d realize, and I quote, “They were going to change course to these…’get rich quick’ seminars, I never would have gotten involved.”
And there, ladies and gentlemen, is the kicker when it comes to real estate education. As smart, motivated real estate investors, we want education in our sector, but our educational system is designed to SNEER at any type of education that offers fast results. We’re programmed from a very young age by our own academic elite to automatically discount the idea that we could, with the proper knowledge, not work 40 hours a week, not go into an office unless that is what we CHOOSE for ourselves, and TURN PROFITS LITERALLY OVERNIGHT in some cases. Ever heard of wholesaling? Get-rich-quick is the entire premise for that, and we know plenty of people (not educators, I’m talking in the trenches investors) making it work.
So does that mean that Trump is innocent? Who knows. A lot of large-scale educational real estate systems get out of control. People, you know real estate has the potential to change your life, and so does a large portion of the rest of the population. When something is successful and grows too quickly, bad things can happen. I don’t know: maybe that’s what happened with Trump University. Maybe people did fall through the cracks. Maybe their sales tactics weren’t perfect or wholly ethical or, MAYBE, a lot of litigious people got together, saw a guy will a billion-dollar-bullseye on his back and political aspirations, and realized that if he was ever going to settle a lawsuit, now was the time.
For us, though, as “real real estate investors” as a good friend of mine likes to say, what Trump did or didn’t do isn’t the point. The point is our ability to select good education that fits OUR needs professionally, but also personally. Think about it: you can have access to the best system in the world, but if it requires 25 hours of work a week to set up and you already work three jobs, then the odds of your ever accessing that system are slim. You need something faster and simpler, maybe only an hour or two a day, and fast, because by the time you add that in, you’re going to be running on fumes. A lot of educators these days provide automated software so that once you’ve set something up once, it repeats on its own, exactly for that reason. So when you invest in your education, invest in something that fits, realistically, with your dedication and your schedule. Because nothing will make you rich if you do, well, nothing.
Another thing that you must do when evaluating educational opportunities is recognize that investments require some form of capital, whether in the form of time, money, or effort. I personally know a girl who recently bought her first house straight from having no home at all using only the free, educational resources at her local REIA. However, let me tell you, she put in a lot of TIME and EFFORT-BASED capital in order to make that happen. It wasn’t easy, and she even told me she’d probably rather pay for the education she had to scrape together for free if she had to do it again and had the funds available. So evaluate the cost-benefit of any system, free or with a price tag, and determine whether it fits your needs. Sometimes, getting everything in one place, including the tools you need to do the deals you want, is worth putting a bit of money into the system. In some cases, basic training may also come with access to a proven buyer for a certain type of deal, and that form of investment – IF THE BUYER IS PROVEN – can be invaluable. For a list of these types of offers, check out our exclusive report on GOLD STAR BUYERS in the REI Today Vault by going to http://www.rei.today/vault or texting REITODAY no spaces no periods to 33444.
So…to the heart of the matter for Trump and for every REI Today listener out there: How do we PROVE the individual doing the selling? Well, obviously, you can google him or her, but take the results with a grain of salt. Remember, whether you love or hate Trump, you can find plenty of fodder to support your position. In the same way, most educators and investors who are willing to put themselves out there and teach others will have some positive and some negative, though overwhelming positive is generally a good thing, and vice versa. You can also vet your source of information (for example, and yes this is a shameless plug) you’ll notice that REI Today only endorses people who come on the show in some form or fashion, have plenty of proven, RECENT success stories and case studies, and have a system that we’ve evaluated that WORKS when the appropriate amounts of time and effort capital are put into it. So hey, I’d say we’re a pretty good source of information, and I work hard every day to hopefully enable you to feel that confidence too.
As far as Trump University goes, well, we weren’t around when they were, so I can’t say whether or not we would have promoted them. I will say that it’s not hard to find success stories that came out of the program, such as a former Seattle resident who credits Trump’s program for providing him with the courage and financial ability to move the St. Lucia and open a restaurant. But you can also find plenty of negative stories from people who say they were pressured to buy or didn’t get to meet Trump or his adult children when promotional materials promised this.
Here’s the takeaway for today, though, folks. You know that your best investment is your own education, and we repeat that every single day because it’s just about the most important axiom for any investor, real estate or otherwise, to hear! But the addition to that is this: your education has to meet YOUR NEEDS. Trump clearly failed to meet a lot of people’s needs, and the issue in question is whether that’s his fault, theirs, or everyone involved.
Trump’s a controversial guy, and I expect that this episode stirred up some controversy of its own for you. Take a minute to visit our feature article on Donald Trump and his history in the REI Today Vault and let us know what you think. Not yet a member? No worries. You don’t want to miss this feature, so text REITODAY no spaces, no periods, to 33444 or visit www.rei.today/vault. I’ll provide you with fast, immediate access to all sorts of great trainings, news coverage, interviews, and lot more timely information that will help make your investing safer, faster, and more profitable no matter what type of real estate you become involved in.
And remember, when you do that, you’ll also be able to GROW YOUR NETWORK by interacting with me and your fellow listeners to REI Today… so stop by to ask questions, make comments and network with other investors across the country. Text REITODAY no spaces no periods to 33444 or head over to www.rei.today/vault right now.
REI Nation, thanks for listening in and always remember this:
Your best investment is your own education.
Carole Ellis is the host of Real Estate Investing Today, a popular 9-minute daily podcast focused on educating real estate investors about the important topics that will make their investing SAFER, FASTER, and MORE PROFITABLE. She's also the editor of the Bryan Ellis Investing Letter. She has more than a decade's worth of experience in and reporting on the real estate industry and, additionally, has written dozens of courses on the topic. Carole lives in Kennesaw with her husband, Bryan, and four children. She believes wholeheartedly that your best investment is always your OWN education.