A Review of the Carleton Sheets
“No Down Payment” Course

by Attorney William Bronchick

“You can buy real estate with no down payment!” You’ve seen the infomercial a hundred times on television over the years. Me too, so I decided to pick up a copy of the Carleton Sheets “No Down Payment” program just to see what my competition offers.

Generally, I don’t do reviews of other authors, since it would hardly be unbiased. Frankly, how could you take the advice of someone reviewing a product when they sell a competing product? But, since Carleton Sheets is the most prolific figure on the airways, I thought I would give my general impressions, since people ask me all the time, “what do you think of Carleton Sheets?”

First, keep in mind that I do offer information on the topic of real estate investing. My review is based on my personal experiences in real estate, both as an author/teacher and as an investor. Second, understand that given my own biases, I will try to be as fair as possible, given that I have little to gain or lose by this review.

OK, on to the review…

I purchased Carleton Sheets’ course brand new from his website. The first thing I noticed was that the price of the course was not readily apparent. It’s advertised as $9.95 on a “trial” basis. Of course, I immediately assumed it was much more, and that I need only pay $9.95 right now, and that my credit card would be charged later for the balance. I’ve sold a few of own programs on this basis, so I am familiar with how it works. The problem is, not everyone is familiar with this “pay later” program, so it would help to know NOW what the full price of the program is up front. The fact is, I wanted to pay it in full now, but the website didn’t give me any choices (or, if it did, at least it wasn’t very clear). After some poking around, I learned it was four additional monthly payments of $74.99. So, all in all, it’s about $310, plus shipping.

Let’s start with price… $310 is a lot of money to some people, just a drop in the bucket for others. Spreading out the payments into four months makes it a LOT easier to swallow for the “financially challenged,” who would rather pay $10 now and $75/month for four months than $200 or so all at once. My feeling is that if you buy the course and buy just ONE house as a result, the cost of the course is inconsequential. On the other hand, if you paid $10 for a paperback book and did nothing as a result, you’ve wasted your money. My point is that there is no “magic bullet” — you’ve got to apply some hard work to anything you learn. If you have very little extra cash and the willingness to hustle, then Carleton’s offer is a good one for you.

I received my package in less than a week, which is good customer service. The packaging is professional and well–organized. The target customer for Carleton’s course is the rank beginner, so there’s plenty of beginner information. I particularly liked the way the package is organized, including a “cheat sheet” — first do this, then do that. I’m thinking of including something similar in my materials, too. But, since I am like most people, I ignored the instructions and started reading through the manuals and listening to the audio CDs in my own way.

The manuals are audio CDs are color–coded, so you can easily cross–reference the topics. The audio CDs follow the written materials closely, but not word for word. This is a good and bad thing… if you don’t like (or don’t have time) to read, the audio CDs are very handy for your commuting time in the car. But… the audio CDs are not from “live” seminars, so it is — how do I put this politely — BORING! Carleton Sheets isn’t exactly Tony Robbins, so it’s pretty tough to stay awake while listening (very dangerous while driving). Most of the materials I offer are recorded from live seminars, which means it is more DYNAMIC and thus easier to listen to. Also, a live seminar gives you a different angle than printed material — anecdotes, differing explanations, more comments and thoughts, responses to audience questions, and so forth. These types of things add a lot to the learning process.

I like the fact that Sheets starts with some very basic tips and thoughts on real estate investing — setting goals, improving your credit, setting up shop, etc. He also adds a LOT of other topics, such as keeping a positive attitude, mobile homes and tax liens. In fact, Sheets adds so many topics to the material that I often find myself thinking, “is this just filler, or is all this stuff really necessary to buying a home with no down payment?” I’m one of those guys who would rather see LESS VOLUME, but since Carleton doesn’t use the ancillary topics as a substitute for the main ones, we’ll let him slide on this. In short, don’t let the shear volume of topics overwhelm you — go over the basic core material two or three times, then come back to the other stuff if you choose at a later time.

The core of the program is buying houses with “no down payment.” Carleton goes into dozens of techniques for buying with little or no cash down. Personally, I thought many of them were just “filler” techniques, that is, ideas that would work 1 on 100 times. All you really need is a half dozen ways that work consistently, which he did provide. But, Carleton kept saying “offer the seller a higher than market interest rate to convince him to take your owner financing offer.” I’ve got a better idea — focus your offers on more motivated sellers who would take ZERO interest on a seller carryback. There was a large section devoted to lease/options, too, and Carleton had a few points in there that even enlightened a seasoned pro like me!

So, at this point, you’re probably getting the hint that I liked Carleton Sheets’ materials. In short, I did! For $310 paid over four months, I think there’s a lot of info there for the money. If you are have already purchased a few of my courses or have been investing for a while, you won’t find much in the materials that are useful — this is a VERY BEGINNER course. So, if you’ve never been to a real estate seminar or read any books and are looking for a wide variety of information you can listen to in your car, this would be a good bet.

But, I did have a few basic problems with Sheets’ course. First, the legal forms included are not on CD. My courses all include a legal forms CD so you can edit the forms. I’m often told by my customers that the forms CD alone is worth the price of the course. Frankly, Carleton’s forms are pretty generic anyway, although I did like the fact that he included at least ONE version of seller–slanted and buyer–slanted forms — the purchase contract. In fact, I was very impressed at the way he called the PRO–buyer contract a “purchase” agreement and the PRO–seller contract a “sales” agreement to make it easier to remember. I did that in my courses several years ago because I found that people often got the forms backwards. Great minds think alike!

My second complaint is that Carleton spent too much time focusing on the techniques rather than the context of how “nothing down” concept applies in your overall investing — when it’s useful and when it’s not, and when it’s DANGEROUS.

In summary, I think Carleton Sheets is doing some very good things, which explains why he’s been in business so long. He offers a very reasonably price product that is a good start into the real estate investing business. While it doesn’t offer every detail of how to implement every technique, it will definitely set your mind in the right direction, which is JUST as important. I’ve met MANY people who got their start from Carleton Sheets, and while it doesn’t have all the details that my program does, it certainly is reasonably priced enough to get you started.

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