Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.
The two hour preview course for Lifestyles Unlimited is free and open to the public. This LU preview is in an introduction to the Lifestyles Unlimited system. The Lifestyles Unlimited two hour course includes a sales pitch for their two day course and one year membership. But what are the pros and cons of Lifestyles Unlimited? What do they offer, and what value does it provide?
Pros of the Lifestyles Unlimited Introduction
You do get a basic overview of the Lifestyles Unlimited program at this two hour session.
The discount you receive at the end of the two hour class is worth the time; in my case, it was equal to a hundred dollars an hour.
The presentation includes actual case studies and people who made money off Lifestyles Unlimited, not just the presenters paid to do so.
After the class, you have the ability to socialize with prospective members and the current members in attendance. Many of the two hour introduction courses occur simultaneously with their regular member social hours, giving you an opportunity to talk to those who are investing in 400 unit apartment buildings.
You can attend the two hour introductory course as many times as you’d like, for free. I personally attended twice.
For someone interested in investing in real estate, this course is a good contrast to the fix it and flip it model touted on many TV shows. One presenter actually said one of the first things you should do, after cashing out your 401K, is turning off HGTV. Flipping was high risk since you could wash out financially if the house didn’t sell for the price you needed to cover the bills or simply didn’t sell fast enough while the profits from the potential sale vanish with each house payment, utility bill and tax bill.
Lifestyle Unlimited is up front about the risks of trying to buy houses by buying the liens against them. Their model is buying the house that needs to be fixed up, fixing it up, putting a tenant in it and getting the cash flow from the tenant. For some people, the cash flow from the tenant is enough to meet their objectives, though the Lifestyles Unlimited model involves selling the property later to get back the capital as well as capital gains before investing in more or bigger properties.
If you decide not to join Lifestyles Unlimited, the vendor business cards readily accessible in the venue are still useful to have.
Cons of the LU Introductory Course
The advice you receive is very limited; the main content comes at the later courses, after you’ve paid the membership fee.
Take detailed notes at the two hour seminar; they don’t give you much more than a one sheet hand out at this presentation, in contrast to the book they give you at the two day seminar.
Unlike Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU), there is no book or series of books outlining this system for those who don’t want to attend the class. Conversely, Lifestyles Unlimited does have an online version of the two day class for those who live too far from the main offices to attend in person.
Lifestyles Unlimited Levels of Membership
Preferred Investor Group
They were up front about the financial impact of cashing out a 401K or other retirement account to invest in real estate, resulting in taxes taking up to half the value of the account. However, they repeatedly suggested this as the way to get enough money to invest in several rental properties.
They bashed Dave Ramsey’s slower method of getting out of debt before building wealth through real estate and investing, despite the fact that getting out of debt improves your cash flow and the risk of investing via leverage.
Lifestyles Unlimited presented several people who had joined as basic members, moved up to multi-family investors and then, in lieu of retirement, became Lifestyles Unlimited mentors. Individuals who actually made a significant amount of money via this business plan are more credible presenters and mentors than sales people.
They state that their system can double your money in two years, if you buy the property at a low valuation, fix it up per strict standards like putting in new HVAC equipment if it is close to failing and replacing cracked counter-tops and using two tone paint but not fancy tile work or granite counter-tops. While this is possible, it is highly optimistic.
On the other hand, their system is likely to generate money if you buy low, fix it up with minimal cost and rent it out at market rates, with a good chance of strong capital gains. There is a fair chance you won’t hit their optimistic 20% and 50% returns, but you’re unlikely to lose money if you walk away from the deals that hit their cut-off criteria and red flags – most of which requires attending the Lifestyles Unlimited two day course to learn.
Tamara Wilhite (author) from Fort Worth, Texas on October 19, 2017:
Jay C OBrien When you put very little down, you're taking major risk in the form of high mortgage payments that might not get paid.
I agree about carefully vetting tenants for the ones who cannot or will not pay rent or are prone to damage property.
Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on January 23, 2015:
My mother did this, "Fix it up and rent" for about eight years in a small Texas town. She was quite successful. The key is to pay as little for the property as possible. First, find the monthly rentable amount and then "back into" the price you can pay for the house. It is also important to buy in a region which is economically expanding. It is better to "buy, fix and rent" in a small town where there are fewer city codes to worry with. Lastly, know your tenant before they move in. You do not want to have to go to court to have them thrown out.
Shasta Matova from USA on November 02, 2014:
That is awful advice to cash out on your 401K while you still have debt and do something as risky was this. Renting also has its drawbacks - you have to learn how to kick people out, and you almost always have to do repairs after each tenant leaves. And renting is a slower payback than fixing and flipping. If when the property is vacant, you still have to pay the bills - yours and the property's. And you lose the security of your retirement.