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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39 Consumer Reviews for Than Merrill

Average Consumer Rating: 4.4
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 31 4 star: 2 3 star: 1 2 star: 2 1 star:  3
Bottom Line: 87% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 39
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  • So much information, so little time...

    • West Melbourne, FL,
    • May 26, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    The positive experience I had at the full immersion training is beyond words. This was the kind of training that comes complete with practical experience, a wealth of knowledge, and rare networking opportunities with some wonderful people. I give special recognition and thanks to Amy for sharing her experiences and working with us as a group. Words will never be able to express the appreciation I have for this opportunity, and I look forward to more like this in the future.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    SLC Immersion Weekend

    • Salt Lake City, UT,
    • May 26, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    It's still a little overwhelming of all the elements involved with being a Real Estate Investor. The wife and I are glad we are taking this business venture seriously (too much money to sit idle). I'm slowly ingesting all the different subjects and areas that are required to be successful in this venture. "Life Happens," and that cannot be an excuse in the time management aspect of starting and succeeding at a new business. The weekend Immersion with Mike O was a very thorough view of how to start, network and succeed as a Wholesaler, Rehabber, and sooner than later a properties owner.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Amazing business opportunity

    • Rancho Cucamonga, CA,
    • May 21, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Nothing beats a great team except when the great team is your own team. Bring a part of Fortune Builders puts us in the team with coaching and training, support and encouragement. It's the best thing to come around to accelerate a real estate investing business to best it can be.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Fabulous training!

    This was an information packed boot camp with high energy experts who shared their stories of success in real estate investing! The networking was fabulous, and I met so many fellow Mastery students who shared their experiences.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Marketing Systems Immersion

    My wife and I attended the Marketing Systems Immersion in San Diego, California on May 2nd and 3rd. It was great! Linda, our presenter, did not let the mood drop and kept us all awake the whole time with her great teaching abilities. She was on top of her game and really knew her material down pat. I am sure that it helped both her and us that she has already been using the system for a few years.

    We learned a lot of new twists and how marketing has changed recently with the social media tidal wave. My wife has an MBA in marketing, and we have managed a few business campaigns in the past. But your methodology actually can reduce marketing costs and help us to hit a whole new market segment.

    We are excited and getting set up to go full blast as quickly as possible.

    Thanks for your help. It was a pleasure meeting you. We look forward to seeing you in Austin, Texas, for the Wholesaling Bootcamp in June.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Great community, great boot camp

    I really like the boot camp classes. Although they are topics we've learned about from the online courses from FortuneBuilders and reading from other sources, getting it in person from all the different trainers/presenters is very different and powerful. I appreciate Than and all the presenters. They must have taught these materials a couple of thousand times, yet they keep it high energy, interesting, and rich with their real-world experiences and learning. That reflects their passion and integrity about this business.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Empowering

    • Minneapolis, MN,
    • May 15, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had the pleasure of attending the 3-Day Fortune Builders Workshop. It was one of the best investments of time and money I have ever been a part of. I believed there was another way of living and was missing some of the founding principles. This workshop helped fill many of those missing pieces for me and was truly a phenomenal experience!

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

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    • Jun 12, 2018

      tiyna g.

      Are there any additional fees you have to pay aside from the money that is required to enter boot camp? I was told there is an additional fee such as $15,000-$25,000 just to get started.

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  • 11 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Total rip off

    • Garden Grove, CA,
    • May 4, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Nothing new if you ever took a real estate class, or you did few loans. I spend $200 and 3 days to learn about real estate investors which will finance a deal, or contacts with wholesalers. Don't waste your money or your time. You can google wholesalers and investors in real estate and get more information. In the 3 days, for 1 and 1/2 days, they push their advance learning, which they charge $50,000. You can get a mentor for $5,000 which will teach you 1-on-1 and will get you all the information you need. Any investor in real estate will lend you 70% of the Future Value to buy and rehab a property. Unfortunately, nobody will lend you 100% of the money you need. For the remaining of the money you need, you need to get the seller of the property to come in the deal with you or find an angel to come up with the gap money, the difference between the 70% and the money you need to finish the project.

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

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  • 12 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Not getting what I paid for

    • Florida,
    • Apr 27, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I bought a weekend course to learn principles for flipping. I got a lot of good information but a lot of time was spent trying to sell a $30000 to $50000 program. So far out of two days, three to five hours spent trying to sell upgrades. I feel cheated on the deal. I feel if you want to sell upgrades to course should be done on their time, not on my time and my dime.

    I don’t think it is an ethical way to do business.

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

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  • 1 out 5 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 4 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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