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Is real-estate guru a motivated shyster?

"Just follow my advice, and you'll get rich beyond your dreams."

DEAR HARRY: About a year ago, our area near Norristown was just about flooded with ads for a "seminar" being held by one of these real-estate gurus who was going to make us all zillionaires by investing in real estate. "Just follow my advice," he said, "and you'll get rich beyond your dreams." I then read a book he recommended, and I was hooked. I searched for a property with a "motivated seller." I found two that I thought filled the bill, and I bought the less costly one for $100,000, which required me to use my line of credit for $50,000. It was in terrible shape. I started to get it rehabbed by a "motivated contractor." Of course, that put me on the bottom of his list of customers. He's only about half-finished with the job after six months. The interest cost is still there with no income, and I'm getting more disillusioned by the minute. Help!

WHAT HARRY SAYS: Real-estate brokers know when these guys appear and make their pitch. In the week following their presentations, the brokers are deluged with calls seeking motivated sellers. In my days at WCAU radio, I interviewed several of them. They were almost all shysters. One of them never bought any real estate! Another described his bribery of a banker. You have a tiger by the tail. You probably cannot sell your investment without completing the rehab. This may mean getting a new contractor to finish the job. First, try to get your investment back by newspaper ads and contacting a few brokers. If that doesn't work, finish the rehab and get out. I'll bet your guru didn't tell you of the difficulties of being a rookie landlord.