About Than Merrill

Than Merrill is a real estate investor and author who oversees CT Homes LLC and is the founder of FortuneBuilders, a high-priced program that teaches students everything they need to know about making real estate investment a career. He’s also a star of the HGTV series “Flip This House”.

Than’s website is ThanMerrill.com, a resource where you can learn more about him and his various business ventures (more on that in a few minutes).

Than is pretty well-known in the real-estate investment world – his company conducts seminars across the United States. In that sense, Merrill’s programs are similar to other real estate investors we’ve reviewed, including Nick Vertucci, Peter Souhleris and Dave Seymor, Tarek El Moussa and Armando Montelongo.

However, understanding a businessperson goes beyond just their business or businesses. It’s important to know things like:

  • How did they get into real estate?
  • How legitimate is their expertise?
  • What businesses or programs do they offer?

To get answers to these questions we did some research and also interviewed Than.

Who is Than Merrill?

Than was born in Fresno, Calif., and attended college at Yale University. Than was a strong safety for Yale’s football team.

Than went on to play two seasons in the NFL: one with the Chicago Bears and one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also played two seasons in Amsterdam and Barcelona with NFL Europe.

Than’s football career ended when he suffered a knee injury in 2003.

At that point, Than realized he was “just as passionate about real estate as he was about football,” his website says.

Than told us that, around the time he transitioned from football to real estate, he read a book called “The E-Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It” by Michael E. Gerber.

“The book was about designing franchise-like systems that can be replicated and utilized,” Than said.

In the context of real estate, this meant creating systems of purchasing, contracting and managing properties that could be replicated and given to others to do the same thing.

That replication of Than’s system didn’t come until later in his career. He launched his real-estate investment venture in the early 2000’s with colleagues Paul Esajian and Konrad Sopielnikow.

They named their business CT Homes LLC, a moniker that they still use today.

Over the next few years Than and his partners learned the ups and downs of real estate. They made mistakes and scored success.

Eventually, Than was able to create a systems-focused approach to the way his company handled investment properties and other areas of real estate.

Inspired by Gerber’s E-Myth book, Than launched FortuneBuilders, his avenue for sharing the systems and methodologies that brought him success at CT Homes LLC.

“My business partner and I have been in the trenches for 14 years. We took a very systematic approach to developing a business,” Than said. “Today our real estate business has 15 people working our office and 30 or more projects at one time.”

Than Merrill’s Expertise and Experience

One of the questions you should always have about a particular business personality or reality-TV star is, “How legit are they?”

FortuneBuilders in Inc.’s Top 5000

As we’ll talk about in a few minutes, FortuneBuilders is one of the companies that Than started. FortuneBuilders made two appearances in the Inc. 5000, a list of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in the United States.

In 2010, FortuneBuilders was #62 on the list. In 2011, it was #104 and in 2012 it maintained its top-500 standing at #457.

Revenue-wise, FortuneBuilders has done pretty well based on Inc.com’s rankings.

CT Real Estate, LLC

We’ll cover this business in a few minutes, but we want to take a moment here to note that FortuneBuilders isn’t Than’s only business. He also founded CT Real Estate LLC, a San Diego-based company involved in many different aspects of real estate.

Here are a few of their specialties:

  • Foreclosure avoidance
  • Solving title issues
  • First-time homebuyer programs
  • Credit repair
  • Vacant properties
  • Bank-owned properties

As Than told us, he’s been in the business and bought/sold many properties. So, based on these facts and our own research, we believe that Than Merrill is a legitimate real estate expert.

Than Merrill’s Books and Businesses

Than has either written or helped with several real estate books and has launched several real estate companies.

Than’s Books

Based on what we found at Amazon.com, Than has one book he wrote himself and a book he wrote with Michael Gerber.

Than’s title is “The Real Estate Wholesaling Bible: The Fastest, Easiest Way to Get Started in Real Estate Investing.”

According to the book’s description on its Amazon page, it will help you “learn how to make money wholesaling real estate without having to swing a hammer or deal with tenants.”

The description basically sums up wholesaling – you find a home you think you can sell quickly and, at the same time, you find a seller who wants to buy the home you’ve got your eyes on. The transaction, in theory, is quicker and more risk-free than a flip.

At the time of publishing, “The Real Estate Wholesaling Bible” had an average of 4.4 stars from more than 85 reviews.

Than also helped co-write a real estate version of Gerber’s E-Myth book called, “The E-Myth Real Estate Investor: Why Most Real Estate Investment Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It”.

The book touches on what Than mentioned earlier – creating systems and protocol that lead to a successful real estate investment business.

At the time of publishing, the book had an average of 4.3 stars from more than 50 reviews on Amazon.

Than’s Businesses

As we mentioned earlier, Than’s first business venture was CT Homes LLC. It started on the East Coast and then expanded to San Diego.

Since we’ve already mentioned that business a couple times, we’ll skip ahead to his other businesses: FortuneBuilders and Grand Coast Capital.

FortuneBuilders

FortuneBuilders is the realization of Chad’s many years in the real estate business, he told us. Along the way, he’s come up with systems and software that greatly reduce (although do not eliminate) the risk of wholesaling and rehabbing properties.

Those systems and software are at the core of FortuneBuilders, Than’s “college” of sorts for individuals interested in making a career out of real estate.

While individuals can attend two-hour or weekend-long seminars on real estate investment, they get the most in-depth information, Than told us, when they sign up for FortuneBuilders’ Mastery program.

This program is designed to make you an expert – if you’re willing to put in study time – in nine crucial aspects of real estate investment:

  • Real estate appraisal/due diligence
  • Marketing
  • Escrow
  • Financing
  • Construction management
  • Property management
  • Property disposition
  • Business management
  • People management

“I love investing and I’m an educator; that’s always been my calling,” he said. “My parents were teachers: dad was a university professor and my mom was a dance teacher.”

But, just like a college education, the FortuneBuilders Master isn’t cheap. Based on some reviews we’ve read from Highya.com and real estate investing sites, you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $15,000-$25,000 to get started.

From there, the education begins. Workshops, software and one-on-one coaching sessions groom you to be an expert in the nine areas we mentioned.

If you want to learn more about FortuneBuilders, head to our review of the program.

Grand Coast Capital Group

While FortuneBuilders is an educational program and CT Homes LLC is an all-purpose real estate company, Grand Coast is strictly an investment firm specializing in specific loans for real-estate investors:

  • Renovation loans: For house flips
  • Bridge loans: For wholesale deals
  • Construction/development loans: For builders and developers
  • Small-balance commercial loans: An alternative to bank and bridge loans

FortuneBuilders Gives

FortuneBuilders Gives is the charitable wing of Merrill’s businesses.

According to the program’s website, FortuneBuilders Gives “provides opportunities for children of all ages and backgrounds to lead active and healthy lifestyles through involvement in sports and activities.”

FortuneBuilders Gives has worked with the Equal Footing Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross and other organizations, its website says.

Future FortuneBuilders

Merrill’s Future FortuneBuilders is a literacy program designed to set kids up for success through a solid education.

“Our goal with FFB is to help our society break from the vicious cycle caused by lack of financial literacy and to provide teens with the financial knowledge and resources necessary to succeed,” the group’s website says.

Our Final Thoughts About Than Merrill

Than Merrill’s portfolio of real estate companies and charitable organizations is pretty impressive and certainly unique among the real estate investment experts we’ve reviewed on this site.

Merrill’s most famous business, FortuneBuilders, was featured in Inc.com’s top-5,000 fastest growing business in the United States three years in a row. Than’s website offers a real-estate seminar that, upon further investigation, funnels you to his FortuneBuilders program.

His original business, CT Homes LLC, has a small staff but, according to Merrill, has around 30 transactions happening at once.

We weren’t able to gather much information about Grand Coast Capital Group, but we do know via at least one source – blogger Frugal Vagabond – that Grand Coast is the group that FortuneBuilders seminar presenters say is the lending group who finances the deals FortuneBuilders students transact.

Based on our conversations with Than, this makes sense. His business is based on systems he’s built over the past few years – having an “in-house” lending group makes things much easier for his FortuneBuilder students.

FortuneBuilder’s two children’s programs are, in our opinion, what set the company apart from other competitors.

Now, the real question here is whether or not Than Merrill is someone you’d trust to go into business with. To answer that, we suggest reading your review of FortuneBuilders, as you probably won’t have a need for CT Homes or Grand Coast.

If you don’t want to take the time to read through our review, don’t worry. We’ll condense it down to a few sentences.

FortuneBuilders’ Mastery program is what you’ll need to enroll in so that you can get a comprehensive education in real estate investment. If you think you can become an expert by attending a weekend seminar, you’ll be disappointed.

The Mastery program comes at a cost, so keep that in mind. Than told us on numerous occasions that those who succeed in the program are people who enjoy routine, are comfortable with risk and are willing to dedicate themselves to daily learning about real estate investment.

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30 Consumer Reviews for Than Merrill

Average Consumer Rating: 4.5
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 24 4 star: 2 3 star: 1 2 star: 1 1 star:  2
Bottom Line: 90% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 30
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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Learn the process

    I had a blast, learned a lot, very informative. A class not to miss to do real estate investing. A step by step process, hands-on class. Very positive and very energetic. Love it.

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Life changer

    I was fortunate to attend the initial seminar which led me to get into the 3-Day Workshop, and it was there I discovered the treasures, yes! Unlike other events, this was well organized and revealed mind-blowing information that's worth millions. You will not be an average person after this experience at a FortuneBuilders workshop, if you want to do something exciting with your life, make money and have the lifestyle you desire, come see what they can teach you to get there over time!

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Awesome workshop!

    I attended the FortuneBuilders workshop in Atlanta, Georgia and I was completely blown away by all the information and valuable knowledge that was given . The workshop speaker was Lee Escobar, and he did a wonderful duty by keeping everyone engaged and giving out helpful tips and strategies about real estate investing and more. I would definitely recommend this workshop to others who are interested in real estate or are open to learning.

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    It was an event of one of a kind

    • Bronx, NY,
    • Apr 10, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I want to say a big thanks to you Than, and your entire team for this great opportunity, and for taking real estate business to greater heights. I must confess that the 3-Day Workshop was awesome.

    I gained knowledge that needed immediate action. Moreover, I was able to capture vital things that I never knew before through the systematic teachings of the main speaker, Jon. He is so vast and well loaded, teaching with much clarity and confidence, thereby feeding us with all that is needed to be a success in real estate world. It was an amazing event.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Knowledge is power

    This class was awesome. Real estate is where I want to be. When I saw the video about the 401k I was like wow, are you kidding me, they take that much money out my 401k. I also learned how to flip to get the money and then buy rental properties. Real estate investing is new to me, but this class makes me want better for my life.

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

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  • Awesome

    • Trevose, PA,
    • Apr 7, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Nate Harris was a pretty laid back speaker. After a follow-up call from James Hung, I will be signing up for the Jumpstart program. As I am an investor now, this will be a nice fit. Of course, I don't know everything. My son also attended, and we will be starting the home flipping world.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Very interesting workshop

    • Evansville, IN,
    • Apr 7, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    This was a very informative and enlightening workshop. A lot of materials were covered during the 3-day period, and the team was very helpful and friendly.

    After leaving the workshop, I felt really motivated to start making a change in my life even if it is at my own pace.

    Overall it was a great experience! I would recommend this workshop to anyone who is looking to invest in real estate!

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Than Merrill systems

    • Rochester, NY,
    • Apr 4, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    We started with FortuneBuilders a month or so ago. The education, knowledge, and just plain fun of the classes and courses have been outstanding! We are new to real estate investing, and following the system has been a great experience! We look forward to working with Than and the others often!

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

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  • Review of Fortune Builders and Immersion Weekend

    Hi Than,

    I want to say how excited my family and I are to join Fortune Builders. We are extremely impressed with the knowledge and professionalism of the Fortune Builders personnel we have been involved with so far.

    Ryan Carmody did an excellent job at the 3-day weekend seminar a few weeks ago in Baltimore. He was instrumental in our learning more about the Mastery program and all of the systems and coaching your organization provides.

    Maura and I had our first session with our coach, Bret Alford. Bret is very knowledgeable, and we are looking forward to our coaching with him, as well as calls with Field Experts.

    Bill Hook is an excellent presenter/teacher. We learned so much from Bill during Immersion Weekend in Baltimore last week. His experience, knowledge, and willingness to help others was very evident.

    Thank you to all those mentioned above as well as yourself, and the others at Fortune Builders. Glad we joined the Fortune Builders Family, and looking forward to meeting you.

    Sincerely,

    Tony Iacoboni

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Worth my time and money

    With my past experience, the three-day event started out with very little new information/value to me, since I have prior experience investing in real estate. The last two days were much different. They provided new information and have a complete package of tools, for helping me be able to easily outsource the grunt work of the business.

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

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  • 14 out 18 people found this review helpful

    $5 is still a scam

    • California,
    • Feb 15, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    This $5 neuro-linguistic negotiation makes you think it doesn't cost much, but it is still a scam. After payment and registration, they try to sell you a monthly $97 regular membership and more for the advanced access. They make you watch a 6-minute annoying video, and it says you can't close the page or you'll lose your access. At the end of video, the page got stuck so you can't get to anywhere. I am claiming $5 is annoying, and it's best to not even fall for that!

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

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