About FortuneBuilders

FortuneBuilders is a real estate investment (REI) company who claims to use a proven system to reduce risk and maximize profit.

The company sells its courses and systems to individuals who are interested in making a part-time or full-time career out of REI.

FortuneBuilders is led by Than Merrill, a Yale University grad and former NFL safety who started his own real estate company in 2004 after his playing days were over.

He launched FortuneBuilders in 2006 and his company’s conferences attract thousands of people each year, with some choosing to sign up for the company’s “Mastery” program (more on that later).

The concept behind the FortuneBuilders is relatively simple. Find real estate through which you can turn a profit, whether it’s a run-down home in an up-and-coming neighborhood or a desolate commercial property in a booming business district.

But actually pulling off a profit requires an extensive knowledge set that spans real estate, contracting, property law, business management and risk. That’s where FortuneBuilders comes in – they claim to give you these skills.

Make no mistake about it; for those who want to make a full-time career out the FortuneBuilders REI system, you’ll need to invest tens of thousands of dollars (the website gives no specific prices).

Is FortuneBuilders another high-priced deception, or do the principles and systems the company shares actually provide individuals like you the tools you need to run an efficient REI enterprise?

To answer that question, we did some research on the FortuneBuilders website, read some consumer reviews and talked with CEO Than Merrill.

Over the next few minutes, we’ll investigate what the company offers, how you can sign up, what kind of person can succeed in this program and what other consumers are saying about their FortuneBuilders Experience.

What FortuneBuilders Offers: Real Estate Investment Training

At first glance, FortuneBuilders may seem a little mysterious. Their website doesn’t get into specific details about what you’ll learn via their two-hour seminar, weekend event or Mastery coaching and workshops.

To get more information about what you’ll learn, we talked with Than and asked what the main areas of education are within the FortuneBuilders program.

Understanding what the company teaches its students is critical to understanding what the program offers:

  • Real estate appraisal/due diligence: Properly assessing the value of a home
  • Marketing: Finding the right buyer at the right price
  • Escrow: Ins and outs of what happens after an accepted offer
  • Financing: How to secure funding for investment properties
  • Construction management: How to manage a rehab
  • Property management: Running a property you’re renting out
  • Property disposition: Marketing and selling commercial properties
  • Business management: Understanding systems, technology and software
  • People management: Finding and keeping the right people

It’s common to find people, Than says, who only want to learn the basics of one or two of these areas. While you might be able to pull off a flip or two, you’ll be missing vital information, he told us.

In order to get to the point that you can learn the FortuneBuilders system before buying your first property, you’ll have to work through the FortuneBuilders funnel.

The FortuneBuilders Funnel

The funnel works like this: seminar, weekend event and Mastery courses.

Seminars are typically a two-hour event in a city where those interested in real estate investment can come and learn a bit about FortuneBuilders.

At some point during the seminar, the person leading the event will invite attendees to sign up for a three-day weekend event that costs, based on our research of various consumer testimonials, around $200.

The weekend event shares a little bit more about the company and the systems they have in place to help you succeed in REI, but they don’t give away all the secrets.

Just like the two-hour seminar, at some point during the weekend, they’ll ask you to invest a considerable amount of money in joining FortuneBuilders and taking part in their Mastery courses, which cover the details of the nine categories we talked about.

During that time, you’ll basically get a college-level education on the entire real estate investment process. Than says the principles he learned over 14 years in the industry are condensed into the Mastery program.

How FortuneBuilders’ Mastery Education Works

We’ve mentioned the word “system” several times in this review because it’s at the core of the FortuneBuilders business model.

Over the past 14 years, Merrill has nailed down a series of critical software and workflows that make the REI process from appraisal to purchase to renovation to sale.

On top of that, he’s assembled a team of trainers who work with you to understand the FortuneBuilders REI process. These trainers have real-world experience they share with you in one-on-one sessions as you work on real estate deals.

Mastery students also get hands-on training with FortuneBuilders software that works very much like a flight simulation.

For example, Than told us, students will log onto the FortuneBuilders rehab app and be presented with a case-study home FortuneBuilders has purchased and rehabbed according to their system and database of construction materials.

The home is presented three-dimensionally to give you a comprehensive project scope. Students go room-by-room and inventory what’s there, what needs to be fixed, what needs to be bought and what, if anything, will stay.

Once all this data is recorded, students can access the FortuneBuilders database to find counters, cabinets, appliances, flooring and other products for the rehab.

At that point, your primary estimate is done and you compare it to the actual estimate that FortuneBuilders created. This comparison gives you a good look at where you can refine your process to maximize profit and provide the home’s future owner with a great house.

“After having gone through these 10 or 15 case studies with us, you’re just going to replicate the construction and décor materials we use in different rooms and apply that to your own product,” Than told us.

FortuneBuilders Workshops

The training they offer goes beyond software, though, and the Mastery program is part of a series of learning opportunities the company offers:

  • Mastery Coaching – Helps you strategically invest in real estate using a team of expert coaches, one-on-one mentoring and support, access to a community of like-minded individuals and much more.
  • Marketing & Wholesaling Bootcamp – A 4-day intensive that can help you set up your company, create a marketing plan, learn how to evaluate deals, build your buyers list and obtain financing.
  • Rehabbing Bootcamp – A 4-day intensive that teaches house locating techniques and how to build a rehab team, an onsite bus tour, how to sell your home and obtain insurance and how to set up your accounting software.​​​​​​​
  • REO & Short-sale Intensive – A 3-day intensive that claims to help you take advantage of the unlimited income potential associated with short sales using marketing techniques, insider secrets and systems that can “double your profits.”​​​​​​​
  • Online Business Bootcamp – An online-only event that focuses on “creating online funnels for your real estate business.” Topics include blogging, affiliate programs, social media marketing, joint ventures and more.​​​​​​​
  • Insiders Summit – A 3-day investor training series hosted by A&E’s “Flip this House” TV stars.​​​​​​​
  • Courses – Includes topics such as Marketing for Deals, Rehabbing and Maximizing Profits, and Wholesaling for Quick Cash.

Now, the Mastery coaching and workshops – the full-fledged leap into FortuneBuilders – don’t come cheap. While their site doesn’t list any prices, one HighYa reviewer indicated he was asked to pay between $15,000 and $34,000 for the FortuneBuilders Mastery program.

Some of these reviews have bemoaned the high price and point to it as a reason that they didn’t enter the Mastery program.

Others who did enter the program say it wasn’t worth the tens of thousands of dollars they invested in it. Still others say it’s worth the money.

These varying opinions made us wonder what type of person can succeed with FortuneBuilders.

What Kind of Person Will Succeed in FortuneBuilders?

Than told us that FortuneBuilders can work for just about anybody because the skills you need in order to succeed in the program can be taught.

However, he made it pretty clear that certain types of people will find it easier to excel in the FortuneBuilders program.

People Who Love Routine

One of the first things Than told us is that former or current members of the military tend to do well in the program because they’re accustomed to a life of routine.

This is key, Than said, because your FortuneBuilders career thrives on a disciplined approach to learning at least an hour a day.

“People with military backgrounds who come in as students are very used to routines and they’re used to being self-disciplined,” Than told us. “You’re running a business. A lot of your success is going to depend on developing those routines.”

People With an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Entrepreneurs, Than said, are people who are more comfortable with risk. Because real estate is risky no matter how experienced you are, you have to be okay with the possibility you might lose money on a deal.

“People with an entrepreneurial mindset who take calculated risks tend to succeed,” Than said. “Some people are just not suited to take on risk. Their probability of success is lower.”

While the probabilities might be lower for those who aren’t used to routine and risk, Than said it’s still possible to teach them these mindsets.

“Any of these traits can be learned; these concepts can be taught,” he said. “But, your probability of success will increase dramatically if you’ve already got those skills.”

Does FortuneBuilders Eliminate Risk?

This is a huge question for consumers because real estate requires investments than hit six digits and the FortuneBuilders program requires tens of thousands of dollars.

Than says that you can never eliminate risk from real estate – it’s a given – but learning how to think like an entrepreneur and being disciplined enough to study REI every day can reduce risk.

“We’ve bought properties and made mistakes, but the thing that I’ve learned is that an education helps you eliminate 80 to 90 percent of those errors,” Than said. “If you consistently educate yourself, you’ll avoid the major mistakes.”

This is why Than encourages people who are serious about REI to join the Mastery program. You can’t become an efficient REI business owner by giving minimal effort, which leads us to our next question.

Is FortuneBuilders a Get Rich Quick Scheme?

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of real estate “experts” who say their methods of doing things can earn you tens of thousands of dollars in a very short amount of time.

While some of these experts are legit – Than is a good example, as is Nick Vertucci – others are not. One of the key factors in differentiating the two? The promise of quick riches.

“It’s not an overnight process. There’s a lot of risk in real estate, but people try to short-change the process by going to one event or reading one book,” Than said. “The thing I always say is build that educational foundation at first. Don’t jump in there and try to do a deal with a weekend or a couple of books.”

In fact, Than said, his program isn’t interested in people who want to one-off a weekend event just so they can learn a few principles and apply them to the real estate market.

“We want people who want a long-term, sustained business,” Than said. “There’s a lot to learn in regards to systems, protocol and operating procedures. We want serious individuals who realize the work that’s entailed and who want to follow the process.”

If you’re interested in trying out REI as a career, Than says he tells his students to devote at least 15 hours a week to figure out if it’s the right career choice.

We also checked the FortuneBuilders website for any income disclaimers and found a pretty extensive page of information that leads with:

“Any income or earnings statements are estimates of income potential only, and there is no assurance that your earnings will match the figures we present. Your reliance on the figures we present is at your own risk.”

What Others Are Saying About FortuneBuilders

The most revealing series of reviews and ratings of FortuneBuilders comes from the company’s Better Business Bureau page. At the time of publishing, the company had an A+ rating.

However, the BBB indicated it confronted FortuneBuilders in July 2012 about radio ads claiming students could earn between $10,000 and $40,000 per real estate deal in their spare time.

The BBB indicated that FortuneBuilders removed the radio ad in accordance with the BBB’s wishes and added disclaimers to its other radio ads with “Earnings vary based on your effort.”

We also discovered that FortuneBuilders is required to ask for federal documents proving the real estate profits of students who are used in testimonials.

The BBB page also indicates that FortuneBuilders speakers are active real estate professionals and attend weekly conference calls with Than.

We found reviews on other sites as well, one of which is Bigger Pockets, a forum for real estate investors. The reviews on that site are mixed – some think the high price tag is worth it, while others say you can get the same education from books and meetings.

In our opinion, it’s hard to affirm that FortuneBuilders’ material is available in a couple of books and local real estate meetings, particularly because of the one-on-one coaching that takes place as well as the company’s rehab software and workshops.

FortuneBuilders also has a collection of reviews on Yelp with an average rating of, at the time of publishing, 3.3 stars. Positive comments say the workshops and seminars are helpful, while negative comments focused on the events being too salesy.

The company also has 378 reviews on Google Reviews with a 5 out of 5 star rating and 682 reviews on Facebook with a 4.7 out of 5 star rating.

Our Final Thoughts on FortuneBuilders

The FortuneBuilders program is a tricky one because it takes a big investment on the part of the student to get the information, education and experience that will help them, as Than said, reduce 80-90% of mistakes that you’d normally make in real estate investing if you didn’t have a comprehensive education.

Now, that number isn’t set in stone – mistakes are made by even the most experienced investors.

However, the principle of education Than is pushing is a pretty sound one, and, just like any formalized education system, it will cost you time and money.

Is FortuneBuilders Right for You?

If you half-heartedly want to learn about real estate, then, in our opinion, we think you might be best served by reading a few books and joining local real estate groups.

The level of time (at least 15 hours a week to start) and money (at least $15,000 for the Mastery program) is so steep that it’s not worth your time if you aren’t going to commit.

Treat FortuneBuilders like you would if you wanted to start fishing. Buy a rod, reel and some lures and figure out if you actually like it.

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42 Customer Reviews for FortuneBuilders

Average Customer Rating: 4.5
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 35 4 star: 2 3 star: 0 2 star: 1 1 star:  4
Bottom Line: 88% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 42
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  • Three-day workshop Baton Rouge, LA

    • Louisiana,
    • Jul 18, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I really was glad that I had the opportunity to attend the three-day workshop FortuneBuilders with speaker Sean McNicholas. I learned a lot of information pertaining to financial and real estate investment education. I do hope to pursue my future goals with the information I learned and also to further my education with FortuneBuilders.

    It was a lot of information to take in, but Seannie Mac and his team were awesome in making sure you understood it. They freely answered questions and related their own experiences how FortuneBuilders has changed their lives for the better.

    Thanks for a great workshop!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Knowledgeable

    • Stockbridge, GA,
    • Jul 15, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    It was a very informative and wonderful experience for both me and my guest. Time well spent! I'm working at this very moment to obtain the funds needed to join the Mastery Program; preferably the Inner Circle. I will accomplish my objective.

    My only grip is the illumination of the two screens. It was hard due to the lighting to see the very important content presented. Again enjoyed myself and I will be a member soon.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Valuable workshop

    I walked into the FortuneBuilders workshop not knowing a thing in real estate. These short three days have taught me so much. FortuneBuilders has not only given me another way to view my life but also a foundation to start building a new one. Since this class, I've been asking myself WHY I want certain things for my life. Now, because I have my "why" I've been "crushing it" ever since.

    Special thank you to the FortuneBuilders team. You gave me hope in my future. I recommend every individual take advantage of this opportunity and change your life today! 1, 2, 3, CRUSH IT!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Sharing the vision

    The FortuneBuilders weekend workshop delivers its weight in gold. Information received will change your life, and reset you on an enlightened path about finance and personal growth.

    They provide you with clear, concise, honest, no nonsense teaching/direction. This team can surely help lead you to success. They literally coach you to meet your goals! This is time well spent. If you have the opportunity, go! Open your doors of possibilities. They are attainable!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    FortuneBuilders

    I attended the FortuneBuilders seminar in Boston. Sean Katona was the facilitator, and it was a very educational weekend. Very engaging and informative. I usually switch off on these types of events, but Sean was a very good teacher and kept me engaged the whole time. I was afraid to miss anything!

    It is eye opening and full of information. It was easy to follow and understand. Great energy!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    3 Day Workshop

    • Atlanta, GA,
    • Jul 12, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    The amount of knowledge I gained in a three-day event was absolutely amazing. I wanted to start pursuing real estate investing, but I had doubt simply because of lack knowledge. The three-day event nailed everything I had questions about.

    Coming straight to the three-day event after my graveyard shift without any sleep was worth it all. At times I was fighting to stay up and stay awake simply because I didn't want to miss any valuable information. Looking back at it after the event was over, I knew that it was all worth it.

    It was fun, interactive and live. Thank you so much FortuneBuilders coaches and staff. Two words, CRUSHED IT!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Awesome event

    • Lubbock, TX,
    • Jul 10, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I really enjoyed attending the FortuneBuilders event. It was an awesome event and it was worth every dime. Before going, I had no clue on how to start but thanks to FortuneBuilders, I was able to leave with a strategy. It is so amazing how much info there is to learn in the real estate investing world. The coach, Sean McNicholas, was a super awesome presenter and made the three-day event so much fun. FortuneBuilders definitely deserves five stars. CRUSH IT!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Inspirational, motivational and educational

    Wow! FortuneBuilders's three-day insider workshop held on June 30-July 2, 2017 was worth our weekend at Sheraton Fairplex. No regrets in spending our joint birthday celebration in a venue full of investment-minded individuals who I'm sure share the same wonderful experience with me.

    Cole Hatter, you rock as a speaker-cum-mentor! I appreciate the valuable points you've brought up that are now stored in my memory bank. I want to be wealthy, too! I wish I have heard about FortuneBuilders in 2003 when I cashed out my 401K from the Los Angeles Superior Court. Sadly, that money did not last until my retirement age.

    Oh, thank you, Than Merrill, for offering a reasonably-priced insider's workshop. The wish is never too late for me to dream and fulfill. One of their coaches is motivating me to pursue my heart's desire to be involved in real estate investment. A million thanks!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Knowledge really is leverage

    On June 30th-July 2nd, I attended the Fortune Builders event in Kenner, Louisiana. The speaker Jon Steinbager was IMPRESSIVE with his presentation I was constantly in a state of AMAZEMENT! The members of Fortune Builders are truly INFORMED, EXPERIENCED, and GENUINE. The team of Fortune Builders is all impressive beyond description, and I am not an uneducated and inexperienced person in some of the areas and topics discussed. These people have a proprietary way that I perceived was just barely expressed, compared to what they REALLY know and PRACTICE! Everyone has to know trade secrets to be proficient in any field of endeavor. This is what I mean by barely expressed.

    I personally look forward to working at the level, and volume Fortune Builders excel at EVERY day and EVERY transaction. The most impressive thing I observed was their compassion for people!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    FortuneBuilders three-day workshop

    The FortuneBuilders workshop I attended this past weekend was very informational and educational. I did not know making money through real estate could be so easy with just a little-needed info. I think real estate has always been a dream of mine and now I can pursue this dream thanks to FortuneBuilders.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Talk about LIFE CHANGING!

    • Portland, OR,
    • Jul 7, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I never thought I'd learn as much as I did! So much information in a very short time, but it was delivered perfectly. I never felt overwhelmed, just hungry for more! Ryan was an awesome speaker and gave us tons of information, but he was also personable, and I could tell just how passionate he really is about FortuneBuilders and real estate investing. The atmosphere was incredible, and I really felt like all the team members were there for us and to help us with whatever we needed.

    I made some forever friends and can't wait to start the Mastery program! Thank you all so much for all you do. I will forever remember this past weekend and how it changed my life forever!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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Showing 1-11 of 42

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