I have lost track of the number of firms offering property investment courses and investment vehicles that have gone bust in my own experience, some offering dodgy training courses or imaginative investment schemes of one sort or another, and right down to those plying outright scams.
Asset Academy Limited was a property training organisation linked to well known TV personality and “Homes Under the Hammer” presenter, Martin Roberts.
The firm, which was fronted by Roberts as their “Brand Ambassador” went to the wall recently owing creditors over £3million.
Quite how a training organisation, with little in the way of overhead should owe so much money beggars belief?
Nevertheless, the company went into administration according to Company’s House records owing that enormous sum. Roberts, through a complicated web of listed companies, and his wife Kirsty, were directors of the failed company, though they claim to have had little involvement in its running.
According to newspaper reports the company has laid off all its staff. It has left in its wake a trail complaints from would-be property investors who claim to have been cheated out of thousands of pounds in cash payments. Many claim to have been chasing the company for refunds, but sadly, now, there is little chance of them getting anything back.
Anyone with an interest in property will be familiar with the BBC celebrity Martin Roberts who hosts the popular and seemingly ubiquitous “Homes under the Hammer”, a programme which has had a very successful formula and proves to be an informative and interesting programme.
Robert’s involvement in this venture however, it would seem, has been an unfortunate segue which threatens to tarnish reputations.
Many years ago now, after having received several flyers through the mail about a “Martin Roberts” training event, I decided to go along to one, at a Manchester venue near me, to find out what this was all about. I suppose curiosity got the better of me and the prospect of listening to a TV celebrity first hand got the better of me.
However, this was not to be! I turned up at the event, joined the small audience and to my surprise, no Martin Roberts? Maybe he would be on later after the speaker who was confronting us. But no, I was to be disappointed.
Instead we were all assailed by this presenter (not a very slick one either) who was telling us how he had become a multi-millionaire property tycoon, and how we could be one too. What’s more, we wouldn’t need to put any money down to do it?
I’ve been in property for over 45 years and involved in property events for over 20, so you can imagine, I was approaching this with my cynical hat on – I had seen it all before. The presenter proceeded to explain to this quite obviously naive and inexperienced crowd that the starting point to their property investing career, their road to virtually instant riches, would be to apply for as many credit cards as possible, go away and sign up for a dozen, that would be good.
You’ve got to remember this was when property was booming and money was cheap, banks were falling over themselves to lend and people were being made redundant. I imagine that for some in the audience, it was their last roll of the dice. So, in a nutshell, the strategy was to accumulate these credit cards and max them out, to get yourself a run-down property at auction, renovate it, then mortgage it and take out a chunk of cash, before moving on to the next deal.
Well, I had no doubt that this strategy could be applied successfully by about 1 percent of the population, but certainly not by this inexperienced and seemingly desperate bunch of would-be property tycoons I was sat among. In fact, it would have frightened me to death to attempt such a risky feat!
During questions, asked of us by the presenter, my reply went down like a lead balloon. It certainly deflated his sales patter balloon, and he made it plain I wasn’t welcome. The point was I felt sorry that he was misleading people.
They come and they go…
Over these many years in property, and doing the property event circuit, I’ve seen so many of these so call property “trainers”, property “experts”, property “gurus” (guru used as it’s easier to spell than charlatan) and downright scams artists, so many in fact that I’ve lost count.
It’s hard to believe how easily they take people in with their slick brochures, presentations, websites and taster days. They take people for thousands of pounds in fees for, in the main, information that’s readily available for free. Select a decent book on Amazon, written by a bona fide property expert, with some real world experience, and you will learn more.
But people like to be led, they like reassurance and they like to be told what they want to hear. They’re often sold a dream which turns into a nightmare!
Yes, it’s certainly possible to make a lot of money in property given the right approach, but not overnight and certainly not stress free with “no money down.” There are some legitimate property educators who do a good job, without charging excessive amounts of money, but you need to do some research to find them – see below.
Research, research and research…
All property investment should start off with a good deal of research, whether that’s finding a good location and a good property to invest in, sourcing finance, finding the right book or indeed finding some help through an educator.
You don’t need to look very far with a company like Asset Academy Limited to realise its risky to invest in its training – its TrustPilot entries – https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/assetacademy.co.uk are crammed full of very negative one-star reviews, peppered with a series of 5 star reviews which tip it’s overall score, but which seem decidedly overly-glowing to me?
Martin Roberts has been described in the press as an “advanced speaker” for the firm, offering to share his knowledge of buying at auction, though when I check the Asset Academy website today, still live – https://www.assetacademyonline.com – all reference to Martin Roberts seems to have been removed.
My colleagues at LandlordZONE have written recently about the dangers of property courses offering quick routes to success and how to avoid them if you want to get help with your property investing education from reliable sources.
I would endorse this approach and suggest you follow their advice:
Investors looking for trustworthy and ethical operators should turn to the PEAS or Property Educators Accreditation Scheme.
Launched in 2021 and backed by LandlordZONE, its founder Cyril Thomas said at the time:
“PEAS will help future students looking for a property educator to discover ‘the good guys’ who have signed up to be ethical and transparent, and that it will strike a balance between cooperation and enforcement”.
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