Investors United (School of Real Estate Investing)
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|Motto||Earn while you learn.|
|Location||Baltimore, MD, USA|
|Colors||Green and Gray|
Investors United School of Real Estate Investing is an educational institution and membership association based out of Baltimore, Maryland, USA. The school offers on-campus and online courses for real estate investors, and provides a permanent structure and support system for those people who wish to remain members of the organization after they have completed the full curriculum.
Founded in 1980 by Charles Parrish, a professional real estate buyer, Investors United has expanded its operations from a single classroom with a local focus, to a multi-story structure with local, regional, and national services offered both on-site and online.
The school’s literature states that it is “America’s oldest school dedicated to teaching the techniques of proper real estate investing.” This assertion has been upheld by other organizations in the industry and by publications researching the school. In addition to its corporate name, Investors United also holds several registered trademarks including its motto: "You will succeed - Guaranteed", and slogan "Earn while you learn."
In the mid-1970s, Charles Parrish had established himself as a real estate investor in the Central Maryland region. By forming partnerships with other commercial and residential investors, he created several small, informal groups of investors that were connected to each other primarily through him.
By the late 1970s Parrish had accumulated thousands of pages of written notes and suitcases filled with recorded ideas for negotiating different types of real estate transactions. In addition, Parrish’s interaction with his group of partners had revealed that, while there were courses and seminars that adequately addressed some of the options available to real estate investors, there was no comprehensive system of education in property investment.
Since certification is not a requirement for real estate investors, most colleges and universities were disinclined to offer courses on the subject. Of the 36 colleges with campuses in the Maryland, one offers a degree program with a focus on Real Estate Investment. There were also few (if any) permanent networking structures for real estate investors. The Baltimore Investment Club (later, The Maryland Real Estate Exchange), the oldest established real estate investing club in Maryland began meeting in 1984. Parrish’s own network of contacts had led to lucrative partnerships, and his colleagues had shown him the value of learning investment strategies from real-world practitioners. Sensing a vacuum in his industry, Parrish created Investors United.
In 1980, Investors United began as a single-classroom operation led by Charles Parrish. Invited personally by Parrish, the inaugural members were all working real estate investors who were interested in both teaching new techniques and in learning them from others. Over its 30-year history, the school has expanded and updated its courses to cover trends, issues, and methods that have evolved since its founding.
In 1998, Ian Parrish became President of Investors United School of Real Estate Investing and began an initiative to increase the school's reach and capabilities. In 2001, all of Investors United’s classrooms and administrative offices were moved to a larger facility in Parkville, MD. To accommodate the school’s expansion into distance learning, the new facility’s classrooms and conference rooms were made fully interactive via the Internet.
Charles Parrish remains an active real estate investor, still teaches courses at Investors United, and is currently the school’s CEO. Ian Parrish is still the school’s President, overseeing all daily operations.
Currently, Investors United views students enrolling in its various programs according to a 3-tiered membership structure. Students are defined as those people who have enrolled in or completed one or more individual courses, but have not enrolled in the full program. Student Members are defined as those people who have enrolled in but not yet completed the full series of courses. Alumni Members are those who have completed the full curriculum, and who have remained with the organization through its Alumni Association, a dues-based membership. Paid alumni of Investors United have full access to the school’s support systems, and are allowed to audit classes both on-campus and online.
Investors United School of Real Estate Investing is not a post-secondary career school offering courses to achieve licensure or certification. Rather, the school’s program is designed to teach what Ian Parrish, the school’s President, calls, "The full anatomy of real estate investing." Individual courses deal with real estate investing concepts that investors can use to build capital then progress through techniques that examine long-term wealth building and maintenance strategies. Field training and in-class exercises involving real transactions allow students to develop experience under the guidance of instructors.
Based on the Montessori Method, the school’s curriculum is circular, allowing students to begin the learning process at any point, promoting a structure that places students of differing knowledge levels in the same classroom. The heterogeneous learning environment fostered by this classroom structure allows more advanced students to reinforce the role of the instructor, and act as guides for the less knowledgeable students.
Currently, the full curriculum of Investors United School of Real Estate Investing is 47 weeks in length and contains 11 courses, field training exercises, 2 free-form discussion sessions per week, and individual coaching sessions scheduled by appointment.
In 2001, in response to Ian Parrish’s interest in environmentally efficient building methods, Investors United began adding Green Building techniques into its curriculum. Several studies have shown that structures renovated using sustainable design methods decrease their environmental impact on the surrounding community and increase both their resale and rental values. Parrish stated in a 2008 message to his members that “Adopting these techniques now won’t just help us avoid problems later. They’ll save on materials, on water, on fuel, and on money. As investors, we call that a win-win.”
Distance learning is offered by the school using Sonic Foundry’s Mediasite system  that allows for interactive real-time communication with online instructors. The school archives classes on its server for up to 3 years, allowing Student Members to review classes and view previous versions of current and upcoming courses. The Mediasite software is activated through a portal using the Moodle open-source Learning Management System (LMS).
In 2010, Investors United entered into an agreement with CoreLogic, the custodian of First American Corporation’s U.S. database of properties, to license a software system that would allow members to gather property, neighborhood, and owner information. First American, through Corelogic, collects and distributes property ownership, geographic, and demographic information used by investors, capital markets, and government agencies. The resulting Web site, IURealist.com, was then made available to IU members at no charge, and to non-members as a paid subscription service.
The organization maintains a database of forms and reference materials on its servers for use by its members. In 2009, the school’s directors began reviewing and summarizing proposed state and federal property legislation. Each year, Investors United sends those summaries directly to its members, and makes them available to any interested party via the school’s Web site.
In early 2011, the school’s directors chose to convert student texts and instructional materials to an exclusively electronic format. For on-campus students, all such materials are currently being stored on an Amazon Kindle, which is given to new Student Members upon admission.
- Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation, Date of formation July 11, 1980, Investors United, LTD.
- http://www.invest-magazine.com/ Sept/Oct 2010 edition
- The Baltimore Business Journal March 26, 2004
- Maryland Real Estate Exchange, meeting of October 2010
- http://www.investorsunited.com/sf1.php Course Curriculum
- Loyola College of Maryland, Sellinger School of Business, Lecture series of September 15, 2010
- http://www.iurealist.com/ IURealist