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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77 Consumer Reviews for FortuneBuilders

Average Consumer Rating: 4.4
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 61 4 star: 5 3 star: 0 2 star: 3 1 star:  8
Bottom Line: 87% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 77
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  • 0 out 2 people found this review helpful

    FortuneBuilders

    • Scott, LA,
    • Nov 12, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    We are so glad we decided to make the leap of faith with FortuneBuilders. We are new to the Real Estate business. They have taken us under their wing, helping, guiding, and teaching us so much about the industry and include real-life scenarios. They are supportive and truly want you to succeed.

    The Full Immersion event is the first in-person teaching event which focuses on your first steps leading you all the way through. In the midst, the field trip experience where you are able to put tools to use hands-on with the Coach was not only fun, but also a great way to learn.

    Thanks FortuneBuilders. We look forward to the rest of our journey!

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

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  • Great hands-on learning

    • Chicago, IL,
    • Nov 11, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Let me start by saying Bill Hook is a 5-star plus presenter...direct, knowledgeable, open to sharing, interesting, committed and very informative. I learned a lot at this Full immersion, especially thru the site visits where we got to practice what we had learned.

    The further we got into the information, the more apparent it became that some people weren't "as into it" as the majority of us. And forgive me for saying this, but there were a few asking stupid and repetitive questions. Bill handled the issue with expertise, and tried to keep it to a minimum, but it left me wondering, how and why were these people even accepted into the program?

    Which takes me to my next comment regarding the size of the group. We were surprised there were so many of us...approximately 50 attendees. All of the pictures we had seen of immersion groups and what we had been told, led us to think this would be a smaller group experience. This made the site visits challenging.

    Look at our group picture...you can't see everyone.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Full Immersion

    • Charleston, SC,
    • Nov 11, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Scott was great, very knowledgeable and patient with all of us newbies. We had a great time riding around Charleston, all seven of us in that great big bus. We learned quite a bit.

    Thank you Scott.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    FortuneBuilders Full Immersion

    • Pearl City, HI,
    • Nov 10, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    The Full Immersion helped me better understand the estimator and created more confidence in me. Going out to the field and actually filling in the estimator created a clearer view of what are some of the things that we may encounter on our future prospects. Re-enforced with the discussion on site and off site, it definitely helped me see the bigger picture.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Full Immersion

    • Milwaukee, WI,
    • Nov 8, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    It was an awesome weekend. Sahar was a great teacher, very thorough and answered our questions. I have rehabbed about 10 houses and I was still able to learn more. Taking us to actual houses was a fun and educational experience, especially for my partner who is new to the business. Thank you for the great weekend. We look forward to attending a Boot Camp.

    Sahar crushed it!

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Total confidence booster!

    • Savannah, GA,
    • Nov 8, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    The full immersion experience was absolutely life-changing. It was a huge confidence booster seeing how we can so easily implement all of the strategies using the resources mastery has made available to us. The teacher was so patient and great at delivering a tremendously positive experience. Crush it!

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Full immersion

    • Milwaukee, WI,
    • Nov 7, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Awesome two days full of great knowledge. Good educational start for someone new to buying/selling real estate. I would have liked more involvement with real estate/investors who open properties for the immersion team regarding this area. I hope to meet with the real estate/investors to ask questions and gain info about the area. I expected the call in 24 hours to say, hey contact us to see how we selected those properties. I didn't expect a call to set up LLC and website prior to understanding our market. Although, we need an LLC and website. I just wanted to be more understanding of the market. I'm scheduled today for a webinar on understanding the market. Again, I'm also reaching out to local agents who opened the properties to ask questions specific to our area.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Awesome hands on experience

    • Green Bay, WI,
    • Nov 2, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    The MOST engaging experience! I went through 11 steps on how to build our teams straight to analyzing deals and evaluating proper strategies after submitting an offer. I LOVE the hands-on experience; I learn best by doing. My confidence going into the room was about a 4, but after the full immersion, it boosted up to a 10+. The process is easier than what was expected. Key point: practice makes permanent! Cost means nothing, return means everything!

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

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  • 2 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Informative but don't pay for mastery program.

    • San Antonio, TX,
    • Oct 27, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Informative, yes. Good information, yes. Two days seminar was fun.

    My advice is to attend the seminar and learn, but and don't pay. If you really wanted to go to a real estate business, enroll yourself in a community college. You are licensed, it is legit, and way more cheaper.

    Always remember there is no shortcut in success. If somebody is sharing with you how to be successful or get rich quickly, be cautious.

    Remember what Mark Cuban said " if something is so good being offered to you, that is a scam."

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Don't waste your hard earned money and time.

    • San Marco, TX,
    • Oct 24, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have been to seminar two times just to understand it more.

    Pros:

    You will be taught on how to flip a house, manage your finances, and be more knowledgeable in the real estate business.

    Cons:

    Everything can be learned right now on the internet. You can also ask a realtor for more advise. Too expensive for the knowledge.

    They are so pushy, and they will ask you how much money do you have in your bank account and how much is your credit limit. They will assess if you are beneficial for them or not. Don't fall for their sweet talk, all they need is your money.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 4 out 4 people found this review helpful

    New Real Estate Investor

    • Delaware,
    • Oct 11, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    My partner and I recently joined Fortune Builders Mastery and we are very pleased with the amount of information and training we have received in this short period of time. We look forward to learning a lot more and attending the Boot Camps. We are currently making offers on properties and hope to start our very own first rehab in the very near future. I wish I had done this sooner, but as they say, it is never too late to discover yourself and your worth.

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

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Showing 1-11 of 77

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