Free Lunch!


HEY GUYZ, LOOK: A FREE LUNCH! Let’s venture in and see what is inside!

As the old adage goes: there is no such thing as a free lunch. Still, that doesn’t stop businesses from offering free lunches – nor does it stop people from attending them. Saying an event is private, exclusive, or that it has limited seating is old hat. It’s combination of Velvet Rope marketing (aka: the cool kids club) and Scarcity Marketing (which motivates people by implying there is a shortage of something which kicks in people’s FOMO – fear of missing out). If you’ve ever bought something that was a “limited time offer” or bought a “limited edition” product, you’ve been manipulated by one of these two marketing strategies.

Hilariously, I received this invitation because I work in Communications and have done business with/attended conferences at that venue. It’s the reason I ended up on the mailing list when I am obviously not the demographic they are targeting.

Man, these people have it ALL figured out: celebrity endorsement, too? So far we have three very effective marketing tools. Of course, Mr. HGTV-show-having guy in no way endorses the product, he just is there to collect a cheque by making a short speech and standing on the red carpet (velvet rope, again) with the Free Lunch Attendees to take pictures. He is also an appeal to authority because not only is he a celebrity, he’s a guy who knows a thing or two about renovations and real estate judging by the shows he has been on (none of which I have never seen but Wikipedia tells me he’s had a few popular ones). What a perfect storm of effective marketing!

Here it is! The great reveal:You, too, can be rich in real estate!

Beginner? No problem!
Experienced? No problem!
Bad credit? No problem!
Risk? No problem!
Flip properties quickly? No problem!

Low risk! No obligation! No high pressure sales pitch! No strings attached! FREE! Only for the select few!

I also forgot to mention that the 50 first people get a laptop (may not be as shown in photo!).

The caveats here are pretty amazing but in the interest of keeping things short, let’s get to the most important part of the fine print: AFTER ATTENDING THE INTRODUCTORY EVENT MOST ATTENDEES DON’T USE THE INFORMATION OR MAKE MONEY. Then of course we go from “low risk” to REAL ESTATE CARRIES A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF RISK, AND IT IS POSSIBLE TO LOSE MONEY IN REAL ESTATE. No freaking kidding, huh?

I will admit, I haven’t been caught up in the real estate hype that channels like HGTV have been pushing with their programming. I have seen a few episodes on renovating and flipping houses but it hasn’t inspired me to do it myself. Still, most of those people featured got into the real estate game early and had a certain set of skills to make their flips or rentals profitable. Still, I know a lot of people get caught up in real estate flipping and I have seen this played out in real life in my own neighbourhood. Our post-war community boasts large lots, solid houses, and a central location. Unfortunately, its location next to a booming community has doubled house prices in the last 10 years, making true deals rare. I have witnessed many misguided people buy houses in need of an upgrade, pour a ton of money into them, and then…watch them sit on the market for a long, long time. The fact is that in order to make money, you have to buy low, upgrade, and then sell high. In a neighbourhood where most houses are about $450k, buying an un-renoed house at $400k, pumping in $50k, and then trying to sell for $550K is pretty impossible. One family I know ended up having to sell their original house and move into their “income” property because it wouldn’t sell.

I am not saying real estate investing is a bad idea – it isn’t if it is done well. Like any new venture, people should do research before diving in (and there are a ton of free blogs out there with great info!). But TV shows who make it look easy are good marketing tools for the average person who is looking to get rich, quick – and that combination makes them a target for scammers. Often, these people haven’t done their research and instead have gotten swept up in the hype and they get taken for a ride.

Of course, I naturally tried to find reviews and comments on what these conferences are trying to sell, and it looks like it could be a longer course or more learning events. Since I won’t attend this FREE LUNCH, I guess I will never know. However, Moneysense magazine has an article on the the true secrets of real estate seminars which may give us an inkling of what to expect.

Caveat emptor, kids.