Reviews – Legit or Scam?

Fortune is an online education website that teaches its members the ins and outs of real estate investing.  Run by Than Merrill, Paul Esajian, and JD Esajian of A&E’s “Flip This House,” FortuneBuilders claims to have courses available to people of all levels of real estate investment experience.

Though this may seem like an odd time to become involved with real estate investment, fans of the show “Flip This House” understand that the concept behind Merrill’s investment theory is buying homes cheaply and finding ways to quickly and affordably fix them up for a solid profit return on your investment.

How Does FortuneBuilders Work?

Fortune Builders functions completely as an educational company.  Working with professionals in every aspect of the real estate industry, their course curriculum covers a wide range of real estate related topics, including but not limited to what to look for when buying an investment property, what remodeling projects offer good investment returns, how to deal with the tax implications of quickly buying and selling property, and how to successfully market and sell your property when the time comes.

Having recently been written up in Inc. magazine, FortuneBuilders is growing quickly.  Perhaps one of the best reasons why is the wide variety of ways they handle their classes.  You can take an in person seminar from one of the three owners or many faculty members referred to as a 4 Day Bootcamp seminar, which is a type of crash course to being successful in the real estate industry.

In addition to that, Merrill himself offers a brand new webinar each week on a topic relevant to investing in today’s volatile real estate market.  They also offer eBooks and online classes, in addition to a selection of DVD series on a variety of topics.

Finally, they offer the FortuneBuilders Mastery Implementation Coaching Program to a select group of members at a time. This series includes in-depth training from a variety of professionals who have been and continue to be successful in the real estate industry.

Is FortuneBuilders Right For You?

Fortune Builders claims to work with people of all different levels of experience, but what they aren’t clear about on their web page is what sort of resources you must have at your disposal to begin a career in real estate investing.

A quick glance of their DVD training series will be enough to stop many people, as the DVD training courses are priced at $1,197.00 each.  A further investigation shows that investing in many of their coaching programs often requires investments of thousands of dollars.

Though prices in the housing market as low as they’ve been in years, you’ll still need the time and money to purchase, fix up, and a market a home.  As these figures vary widely from region to region and project to project, Fortune Builders wisely makes no promises as to what is required from you for potential success.  But it does seem fairly clear that being serious about switching to a career in real estate investing will certainly require some significant investment capital.

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Customer Responses, Reviews, or Complaints

Average Rating for " Fortune Builders " is 0 out of 5 based on reviews.
  • I attended the marketing and rehab seminars back in 2009. I would say it was 50% info and 50% sales pitch in order to get you buy more of their seminar products.

    Also keep in mind especially in Real Estate the devil is in the details. FB intentionally omits the details because the course work is not specific to any one region of the country.

    I have gained much more help from my local REI club. They invite me to attend for free, but I would not waste time with another FB course.

    Myself and several other "graduates" have built successful careers in REI, in spite of (not because of) FB and we all agree education is important but best focused working with accountants, attorneys, and other professionals do not rely on pitching educational products like FB to pay their rent.

    Also very annoying I still get TEXT SPAMS from Than .. SHAMELESS !!
    • Dan, my hubby and I attended but did not buy the programs etc. Would love to talk with you for some starting pointers in our business if you are willing to chat? Would love to skype with you or something we are focusing on flipping and building our business plan now seeking a good CPA and attorney.
  • My husband and I just completed the 3 day weekend in Omaha, NE. After reading the above reviews I had to respond about my experience. To begin with, we feel that we did get our $200 worth on this weekend. Believe me we can easily spend $200 on a weekend just going out to eat, to a show or movie, and not learn a thing. For us it was worth it.

    We did not invest in the mastery program because it did not fit with our goals. There were no promises of slides to be sent later. I took about 50 pages of notes. I confess that I am a compulsive note taker, but have learned NOT to write down things that don't apply to me. Obviously there was a lot that did! We are very near retirement and are not involved in buying or selling real estate. We have one 4 unit apartment building that we have owned for 5 years. We learned a ton about how to better utilize our existing retirement savings. We found out a lot of things we have done wrong and even some we got right. The goal setting exercise was helpful in clarifying what we want and how to get it.

    I wasn't crazy about the revival/AA style of some things either. I just chalked (not caulk) it up to presentation style and got over it.

    We went into this expecting an upsale so it wasn't any surprise to us. We focused instead on what we could get from what we heard at the weekend.

    I don't understand why it is a problem to learn from Jonathan's personal story. Everyone in the room probably had one. We all know people who have experienced tragedy. What helped me was hearing how he came through it and found a way to apply it to my life. I found it sincere and honest and encouraging. If you didn't then fine, but give the guy credit for not giving in to a situation that a lot of people don't and won't overcome.
  • I want to be totally up front, as of this posting I am NOT a Fortune Builders employee, however I am a mastery student since 2010. Here has been my experience.

    I am the biggest critic of all. Prior to signing up for mastery at an event I asked every mastery student there what they thought of the program and how they have been doing. At the time the response was overwhelmingly positive. I then spent several hours googling everything I could find out about Fortune Builders, and it has been mostly positive (if it were all positive I would be more worried). After all that my dad and I decided to go for it. We plunked down a very hefty amount of money, there was no question about that. However what we have learned and the ability to surround ourselves with these types of people would have been worth that kind of money over and over and over.

    There will be sales at the seminars… if someone told you there wasn’t going to be, then that person lied. However there is also a mind numbing amount of information that will help you. Will it be EVERYTHING… NO! If it was, then they wouldn’t be around for very long… it costs money to put on events and they have to recuperate those costs somehow! So just be prepared for that, but also prepare yourself to take copious notes, and learn everything you can.

    Now… if you are already actively investing in real estate, have been doing flips, or are a real estate expert already, then Mastery is not likely for you. Can it still take your business to the next level? Absolutely, you just need to be open to the idea. My dad and myself were total noobs to real estate, we had done one deal and botched it pretty badly, so we knew we needed help and we found it. Our first two deals netted us $40,000 in profit. We have done 2 more rehabs plus several wholesale deals since that time and have netted approximately $50,000 more. So clearly whatever they teach.. .works… if you follow it. Oh yea… that was all while working my full time job!

    Is it a lot of money to outlay for knowledge? Not if you need it Will you make more than you spent? Yes! As long as you follow their program and ask lots of questions!
    • Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your experience as a novice starting the mastery program. I look forward to making my money back that I paid for the course and profits after that.
  • *Consumer Comment

    Report: Hi,

    Disclaimer: I am not in any way connected to Fortune Builders, or Ct Homes or any of their employee or students. In fact, I am not even in real estate business. I am actually, an executive in biotechnology industry and my only connection to this was my spouse wanting to start her own real estate business and my support to her when attending Fortune Builders seminars.

    I may sympathize with above rip-off report but i don't think it paints balanced picture on FB seminar.

    My spouse and I just completed 3 days seminar March 16-18 in Sacramento, CA; my spouse was interviewed and selected to enter mastery program but we did elect not to pursue at this time. Probably, due to not enough information, time or just it was all new to us and we just wanted to let it sleep before we make an informed decision. Perhaps, my spouse would decide to pursue Mastery program later on.

    Here are some of my comments:

    1. 200$ spent was worth every cents - in fact more than, what we have learned during these 3 days could potentially be a money savers for us, for example: just a few tips given at seminar on retirement could be quite beneficial etc. There were many, many other quite useful tips it is my opinion.

    2. Although tiring (seating 8 hours, 3 days in a row), coffee free (talk about cost management) and small not comfortable chairs, meeting were highly professional, motivational, positive and have also thought about life in General with quite a content and references. Great presentation from Ryan Burk and JD! Good job - Consequently, I might be using some ideas for my Team building, as well.

    3. Tuition fees for mastery students although high at first (15-40K) were not transparent prior to the Seminar. I would highly suggest to Than and his Team to consider being more transparent about prices and curriculum just like any University program would be with of course their own touch. They should not be afraid to this, at all. In fact, if my spouse (we) had more time to evaluate the program prior to the seminar, she might have made her decision during if not prior to the seminar, to consider pursuing mastery program. More importantly, it is my opinion that by being transparent that FB would be able to attract higher quality of students, which should be the goal of any quality educational program, anyways.

    All the best to FB, mastery students and all of the rest of seminar participants.

    1,2,3 Crash it!
  • I attended the event in Columbus, Ohio and was very disappointed after being told on the first day that this was not going to be a sales pitch nor would we be ask to go to the back of the room and give someone our credit card. If only that were true. Fortune Builders are on the cutting edge. The cutting edge of how to give you just enough all the while pitching an obscenely priced training/coaching program(s) ($39,997). This Three day event consisted of approximately 50% content and 50% sales pitch. However the content was provided in such a way to make the attendees feel they would need a coach to successfully pull off one of these deals. If you are selected for the Mastery program and shell out the nearly $40k, when it comes to coaching, you only get 12 months. Wow!

    Most of the staff was wonderful, however every group has that one person, and this one simply ruined the event for myself.

    If you are going to attend one of the 2 hour or 3 day events, just be honest with yourself and understand that it is a sales pitch. Nothing if free no matter how it may appear. Fortune Builders is just another traveling seminary group selling motivated people who have or have access to money big dreams for even bigger prices.
    • Very well said because what you said is all true and then some. Most people who go through these programs NEVER get a housing deal, & their mentor/coach just puts them off until their 1 year has expired. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY at these events.
  • This is Than Merrill and I am one of the owners of FortuneBuilders. I take a great deal of pride in both our real estate business and the real estate educational business and the services we provide to investors and our coaching students. I also take any concerns people have very seriously so I feel the need to respond to a few of the anonymous comments below.

    We have thousands of customers and hundreds of coaching students we have helped build very successful real estate businesses over the years.

    I know personally from working directly with our coaching students how many people’s lives we have changed for the better. To get just a small sample of what some of our amazing coaching students are doing read further.

    Below is a link to just some of the weekly case study webinars from coaching students who have completed recent real estate deals. Our coaching students volunteer do do these case studies of their deals. This is why I love coaching because you see people who previously have never done a deal grow to doing multiple real estate deals a month.

    Take a look at just a few students who are in our coaching program who have done this to see what our coaching has helped them achieve. They are investors from all over the country and all walks of life.

    With a growing business we have challenges just like any other business owner. But I will never hide from any mistake and always try and correct it to the best of my abilities.

    Like any business there are people who do business the right way and people who do it the wrong way. In the real estate education and seminar business there are both. However, for anyone who anonymously posts “scam” or that we are not real I personally invite you to come visit our office in San Diego and see all the real estate deals we have going on right now or anytime in the future.

    I will be happy to personally take you or have someone who works for me in our investment business take you on a tour of our current deals. I do not hide and will put out my personal information below for anyone who has a concern or somewhat skeptical.

    My Personal Phone: 858-255-1116

    Personal Email: [email protected]

    It is a lot better to speak directly with me than just jump to incomplete conclusions about us. Also, if you have a major problem with anything, as we do deal with a lot of people, you by all means can speak with me personally.

    People who don’t know much about us can be quick to judge and group us with some of the other real estate seminar or educators out there who they may have been turned off by.

    We are real, we are very successful investors in a relatively flat market, and am proud to say what we teach is up to date and will help you be successful in today’s market. We also have hundreds of coaching students who you can also contact and ask them about their business as well.

    Also, in response to a comment about just providing training materials, books, videos and a few hours with a personal coach.

    This isn’t even close to being accurate as to what we offer in our coaching programs. I personally created our coaching curriculum along with a team of eight programmers, an e-learning specialist and multiple real estate experts both in my business and outside of my business.

    We have everything from real estate coaching systems for wholesaling, rehabbing, rent to own, short sales & pre-foreclosure, REO investing, lending, an business building. We also help investors with legal set up, have a full time attorney and CPA on staff that we pay to help give proper advice to students.

    Not to mention the five different multi-day advanced trainings we do many of which I teach personally. We also offer websites, SEO services, and a complete CRM/Database, leads, and proven marketing materials. We also have beginner and advanced coaching calls and webinars we do 2 x 3 times a week. Many students are still using these 5 years after they have launched their business. There is a mastermind group for coaching alumni and we have even provided financing in some cases for students. Our rates are not cheap on financing since it is our money that we loan and very typical of a hard money lender 14%. That's why we also teach investors how to raise private money that is much cheaper for their rehabs.

    Obviously, I take great pride in what we have built as I consider it my life’s work. Coaching is not an inexpensive e-book, course, or a book. Just like you our time is very valuable. We have invested over a million dollars in building all of these tools, resources, and coaching for real estate investors who are serious.

    Our coaching is definitely not an e-book, or a home study course, this is a “franchise like” business model with programmers, coaches, staff, and a full support staff of very experienced investors.

    Coaching is very time intensive and we are successful at what we do with our coaching students. Our coaching is premium investment and not for everyone by any means. We also have some starter courses, but there is a reason that 98% of our student success stories come from coaching and not just our books or videos.

    I believe in coaching and have had many coaches and mentors in my life throughout the years that have helped me tremendously. It’s just like going to the gym. You can definitely read a book, create your own plan, and go to the gym by yourself.

    Or you can hire an expert trainer/nutritionist who knows what they are doing, with a system and a plan that has proven results, that will definitely get to your goal a heck of a lot faster.

    In business and in real estate it is no different.
    • Than,

      My wife and I attended FB Real Estate Insiders Summit on March 16-18, 2012 in Stockton CA. Although, we did not buy the Mastery program at this time, does not mean we won't buy it later. I would like to take you up on your offer to visit your office in San Diego sometime this year.


      Chuck & Andrea Carlton
  • After reading the reviews some have written here, I felt like I should share my personal experience in dealing with Fortune Builders. I have been a mastery student since 2008. Everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion, and so I thought I would share mine.

    It seems that some folks here have had some negative experiences, and while can't comment on their issues, I will briefly mention my personal experience. I have been a mastery student for 4 years, and have nothing but great things to say about the company. They have always gone above and beyond my expectations. Coaching isn't for everyone, but I will tell you without the knowledge I learned from Fortune Builders I would not have been able to close nearly 100 deals since starting in 2008.

    I don't share the # of deals to impress anyone, but just to let you know that I am actively investing and working successfully in the business. Like anything in life, you get out what you put in. I was willing to pay the $$ for quality coaching and bust my butt to try and make it in this biz. 4 years later, I can say without hesitation I wouldn't have made it without the guidance of coaching from FB.

    I have seen other coaching programs out there and I feel like the Fortune Builders crew is the best. They have such an infectious positive attitude that breeds success in so many students. Their company has grown leaps and bounds since we joined the mastery program. Their network of students never ceases to amaze me. I have actually done multiple deals with other mastery students in my market (Charlotte). I don't know of any other community of students that is like the one Fortune Builders has built.

    Anyway, that is my personal experience. I find that people are more likely to write about a negative experience than a positive one. So I thought I would take the time to share my experience because I don't believe the experiences expressed here are a proper representation of FB and the integrity they have. I personally know the impact the FB crew has had on other lifes, but especially the impact it's made on my own life.

    -Matt Connolly
    • Hi Matt,

      I am so glad to hear that you are not only nearby but successful. I am a few hours east of you, and I just signed on with the Mastery program. I have done some investing, but still quite green in general.

      It is good to hear that this program is legitimate. After spending the large sum of money for this program, I am a bit concerned that it will be all that they say.

      I met some great people at the 3 day meeting and I am pretty excited to get started. Could I reach out to you via phone to catch up on FB for a few minutes? I would greatly appreciate it!
  • I attended my first day here in columbus Ohio and after reading this I am very disappointed to hear the news. I guess this is why I just increased my credit limits on my cards like they ask me too do. Guess Im the dummy! I will go the next two days and try and pull info out I do not all ready know. They obviously know more than this 3 year investor and Im always up to learn more.

    Jerald is a fine speaker and I do enjoy listening to his sermon.
    • Well, it's unfortunate, but, I have to add my share to this post. Had I known this was a Carlton Sheets program, I would have never encouraged my team to tag along. I invested in the CS Program many years ago, and was totally disappointed at the lack of "support" offered. It wasn't until the $69,999.00 Inner Circle Package was presented, that I pulled out my phone and began searching the web for more information.

      Seminar attendees are encouraged to spend OPM ... And now, I understand why they keep repeating that mantra over and over. The main speaker has a way of pulling you into this world of dubious real-estate fantasy.

      So, the name FortuneBuilders, is accurate ... They are making a fortune! People, if you have $70,000. Or $30,000. To invest it for yourself ... Not for someone else! After all, they taught me that much! Quite making money for other people!
  • Hi, my name is Matt Gordon and I’m the Customer Service Manager at FortuneBuilders. I wanted to take some time to address another comment below as I feel I may have caused the issue by an oversight on my part.

    I take a lot of pride in my job and the level of support we offer at FortuneBuilders and I, personally, am always striving to make it better, since I run the department. We recently switched phone providers and I accidentally forgot to forward one of our phone numbers to our customer service line that we use in some of our marketing. I am human, after all, and make mistakes like we all do, so I thank you for letting me know.

    Once I figured out the problem, I resolved it immediately and you can always get through to reach one of our five customer service representatives. Unlike most customer service departments, we do offer the ability for our customers to leave us a message, which will be returned in 24 hours or less if we are on the phone. Over the weekend, we ask that you give up to 48 hours to return a voicemail. Our phone lines are open from 8 am to 6 pm PST, Monday through Friday and from 9 am to 3 pm PST on Saturdays.

    You can reach us directly at (619) 881-0575 with any questions or concerns or you can send us an email directly to [email protected]

    We also have a separate coaching support line for our coaching students that is answered by Molly, Pat, Than and the other coaches.

    If you contact us and do not receive a response from one of our customer service representatives, please send me an email personally at [email protected]

    Thank you for your understanding.
  • I have been a FortuneBuilders student now for a number of years and been to a lot of their events. I have met Than as well and many of the staff and really believe these guys and their company have the utmost integrity. Everything they teach is up to date and cutting edge. I had the chance to go to the Rehab bootcamp in San Diego and that event was one of their best. We went out and looked at four of their deals and they walked through every aspect of the deal

    so we could learn.

    I am happy to say since going to their events I have bought a few rentals and done a few rehabs so what they teaches definitely works. It isn't a get rich quick business by any means and it takes hard work, but if your willing to do it you can do very well. I am a testament to that.

    I also have love working with JD Esajian who is one of the coaches at

    FortuneBuilders. He helped me tremendously and can't speak highly enough

    about him.

    Mike Williams
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