There’s so much rubbish talked about property ‘investments’ these days that it’s becoming one of my pet hates.  You’ve probably heard it a thousand times before: ‘If you tie up fifty grand with us for 3 years plus, you’ll double your money.  Provided, of course that the third world, third rate economy we’ve taken a punt on doesn’t have a war, revolution or just simply cease to exist.  Oh, and provided that our rash economic predictions actually come good (not that we understand them or anything). And one last thing sir – the whole house of cards does actually rely, strictly speaking, or someone wanting to buy/rent/holiday in your jerry-built ‘luxury’ flat on a shell-cratered street with its handy access to the local beach-cum-sewer.’

Hear it all before?  Haven’t we all.  It’s refreshing, therefore, to attend a lecture from a bunch of people who actually MAKE money from property.  Not by selling it to investors.  Not by advising other people how to buy it.  But by actually trading in bricks and mortar, the old fashioned way.  And just like Jamie Oliver, they bring a new twist to some old favorite recipes.

Lisa Orme is a well-known figure in the property-networking world. Her opinions have been widely sought on audio products and she’s run a reputable selection of conferences on investing and trading property. Personally I don’t really give a stuff for reputation – in reality people are only as good as their trading history.  But I’m happy to listen to people and see if they can earn their money where their mouth is.

Due to the high overheads of running the courses, she is not planning to run any more. But don’t panic, the training day is still going to be preserved for all time on CD and suchlike. I am a big fan of electronic training, DVDs etc, but there is still a big place for sitting down face-to-face and working through the strategy. I did suggest to Lisa that if she wanted to make more money from the course, she should just charge more.  It only costs about a hundred quid, which is pretty low compared to the competition.  Personally, I’d rather see the course carry on, even if seats were pricier.

The day was split up into sections with guest speakers to deliver the content. The course was billed as a conference rather than a formal training course.  I asked Lisa about this later and she said that the reason was that she doesn’t want the responsibility for people’s success.  As anyone that does mentoring knows, no matter how little attention people pay to what you tell them, and how little they do, they still turn round and blame you when their half-baked strategy doesn’t ring their bell at 9.30 every morning and deliver a crisp wad of fifties to get them through the day.  So Lisa doesn’t promise. She puts the information in front of the punters, and it is up to them to pick and choose, like a buffet. This isn’t a structured introduction to a specific trading strategy.

The day was titled “flipping properties” and the various strategies discussed revolved around the core theme of buying, flipping, trading, and improving. Obviously this touched on rental as an alternative to sale, but there was no focus on off-plan or on overseas investing.  The speakers stuck to the script, and seemed to be trading the methods they taught.  It’s always a benefit in my view to have speakers who walk the walk, but many courses seem to choose inexperienced loudmouths instead.

Despite it not being billed as a comprehensive training event, it is certainly very good training. My own view is that training should be a continuous process – you have to learn to take responsibility for your decisions.  In many ways, being given a shrink-wrapped business system to slavishly follow isn’t that helpful.  The strategy may work for the trainer, but will it work for you?  There isn’t a ‘right’ trading strategy, and I’m glad not to have one rammed down my throat.  As I’m relatively experienced investor, I quite enjoyed the day’s format and I found that after the basics have been covered in the morning, I came out of hibernation and learned some pretty good stuff.

The course was well attended by some well-known figures in the property investing world – Richard from A-Quick-Sale, Vanish Patel and Kim Brown.  All of these people will be familiar to regulars in the twilight netherworld of property networking.

The day had mixture of theoretical tuition (which bordered on dry at times) with a good selection of meaty examples from people’s trading history. I always like this style of training, because giving real deals and real numbers puts flesh on the bone.  It also motivates you in two ways: Firstly, it makes you realise how easy it is to structure a real deal.  Secondly it makes you feel simultaneously enthused by the speaker’s success and annoyed with yourself that you have not gone out and done the deals yourself!

There wasn’t a rigid theme to the implied advice that was given.  This is a plus in my view.  Alternative strategies such as planning upgrades were covered in brief, as well as the conventional flips. I found that this worked well as an experienced investor. I picked up several gems of information.  For example, I never thought that you could create charges on property and use that charge as a way of leveraging the property almost like an option or a sale could be used.  Very clever stuff, and very useful if you’re not a no-money-down investor.

The face-to-face conference gave the opportunity to some useful networking.   This will sadly be lost to the users of the audio products, and in my view it is one of most important parts of the day. It is certainly a shame that these conferences are going to end, as they represent very good value at £97 for a whole day. In my view there is not enough of this stuff out in the market. A big part of benefit from this style of conference is that you get to go out every couple of weekends and get new angle, a new edge, a new  piece of information on property.

I am big fan of continuous training and I intend to carry on, so its a pity that Lisa Orme’s conferences will not be a part of this in future.  I certainly recommend that people catch them on DVD or audio, and build them into a training regime. It’s not a must see course, but for anyone dealing in UK refurbs and flips it’s very useful.  I can’t really find much to criticize, except that some of the morning stuff was a bit basic and the odd speaker seemed to be there more to sell their wares rather than to contribute.  But these are small gripes.  Overall, it’s a respectable course with the usual gems that always make it worth getting out of bed to go training.

Knowledge is power – keep on learning!