Judging from the number of student slots being filled, this appears to be a good time for real estate trainers. So, why then do they all sound so much like Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his "only thing we have to fear is fear itself" days, which, by the way, was in the darkest days of the Depression.

Scott Teerink, a real estate trainer in the Phoenix area, who expects a record turnout for a two-day simulator he’s planning in September, tells me, "Right now you have so much fear running out there. People just don’t know what to do."

Judging from the number of student slots being filled, this appears to be a good time for real estate trainers. So, why then do they all sound so much like Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his "only thing we have to fear is fear itself" days, which, by the way, was in the darkest days of the Depression?

Scott Teerink, a real estate trainer in the Phoenix area who expects a record turnout for a two-day simulator (workshop) he’s planning in September, tells me, "Right now you have so much fear running out there. People just don’t know what to do."

Meanwhile, over in California, Tim Taylor, who calls himself a real estate success coach, has experienced a huge inflow of business, yet he says, "We get paralyzed by our fears, stop, and never make a first offer on a property."

Fear, says Teerink, is overcome through education and understanding. One of the key parts of Teerink’s simulator course is getting people to understand the current market.

Taylor, whose approach to education is basically one-on-one mentoring, explains that we, as investors, need to "step through our fears, through our self-sabotaging mindset — all those fears that paralyze people from taking action and living to their full potential." He takes the unusual step in his 12-week intensive-training mentorship of avoiding any discussion of real estate in the first two weeks to talk about what he says is the science and psychology of success.

Michael Leeney, a retired Navy commander who began taking Taylor’s course in January 2008 and has already bought and sold four single-family homes for considerable profit, says, "The first lessons he taught me were setting goals in life, having a vision, having a passion to make it happen, and staying focused. It’s what he calls the ‘inner game’: getting over the fear factor."

Apparently a lot of nascent investors are trying to get over the fear factor. Teerink, a former instructor for Robert Kiyosaki’s "Rich Dad/Cash Flow" course, is putting together a two-day simulator in which students will be taken on the joyride of going "from ‘A’ to ‘Z’ in buying their first investment property."

The phrase "joyride" is an appropriate metaphor because during the course of the simulator all the students will be ushered into vans and driven to potential investment properties to get hands-on analysis experience.

Teerink and a partner conducted a four-day simulator two years ago. It attracted 12 property investor neophytes. This time, Teerink guesses his simulator will attract 20-30 students.

Sounding a little bit like former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Teerink observes, "The problem is people don’t know what they don’t know. That’s why training is crucial."

Taylor has been mentoring since 2001, but in 2007 he launched a new format where he works with 12 individuals at a time in a "teleseminar" (telephone seminar) over 15 months. That includes 12 weeks of intensive training (about 95 hours) before shifting gears to weekly training.

"I started this halfway through 2007," Taylor explains. "2008 was a very good year. And in 2009, I’m up 46 percent over the prior year. The numbers are improving because I increased my fees and came out with a new home-study course. People can get my product online instead of working with me live." …CONTINUED

I’m not going to discuss pricing, because even with Teerink’s two-day simulator, it gets complicated depending on when you buy your tickets and if you bring along other people. Suffice to say, these types of private, real estate educational programs aren’t cheap.

It’s odd — the cost of training doesn’t dismay all investment property beginners, nor does the difficult economy. Real estate trainers are tapping into a sector of the population intensely driven to buy something — almost anything — that has four walls and a bathroom. They will not be turned around.

When I asked why, in these difficult times for the real estate industry, people would want to become property investors, Taylor answered, "More people are looking to take control of their own destiny as opposed to leaving it up to an employer. That seems to be the consensus of people coming my way. There’s more fear of working in corporate America and getting laid off than in going after their own dreams and controlling their own destinies."

Or maybe people just think there are too many opportunities to ignore in this absolutely crushed real estate market. So many things are "on sale," and as Taylor notes, "Do you want to buy a suit at full price or when it goes on sale?"

Former naval commander Leeney got the property bug. The San Diegoan bought his first Southern California property in August 2008 for $138,000 and, putting no money into rehab, turned it around almost immediately for $150,000.

Then, at the beginning of 2008, he bought two more homes, invested in repairs and incentives, and then sold them with net profits of $67,000 and $30,000 on each home. He bought another Southern California home for $85,000 — that he’s renovating to the tune of $45,000 — and he has already received two offers above his list price of $199,000.

"How is it working out for you?" I asked Leeney.

"I’m pleased," he responded. "But I feel I can do more. I want to do more. I have this vision for this whole thing to take off."

I continued to probe: "Could you have done all this without the course?"

No way, Leeney said.

Finally, I asked the key question. "Did you have fear?"

"I don’t really call it fear," the former commander said assertively. "I totally believe if you don’t risk anything, you are not going to get anywhere in life. I had to get by the unknown, the uncertainty."

In the 1950s and 1960s, a talented baseball player named Jimmy Piersall played for a number of teams in the American and National leagues. Piersall hung in the game despite a well-publicized battle with bipolar disorder. He went on to write a book about his life called "Fear Strikes Out," which is also a fitting description for this column.

Steve Bergsman is a freelance writer in Arizona and author of several books, including "After the Fall: Opportunities and Strategies for Real Estate Investing in the Coming Decade."

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