Rodney Pike knew from the start that he loved making real estate a reality for others, thanks to his longtime association with Habitat for Humanity and experience in the construction sector. When he decided to start making his own real estate dreams reality, however, “I just didn’t have all the pieces to make it happen,” he said.

With an eye to building a portfolio of cash-flowing rental properties he had evaluated, repaired if necessary and maintained personally, Pike began filling in his educational gaps with purpose just about a year ago. He recently acquired his first rental property, and he credits his membership in the Georgia Real Estate Investors’ Association (GaREIA), in large part, with his being able to make that first purchase.

“I started this journey with the decision to become a real estate agent,” Pike said, noting that a fellow student in that class suggested he join GaREIA to take advantage of the cumulative knowledge of the membership.

Pike enrolled in the REIA’s four-day boot camp, an intensive training session designed to take new investors from amateurs to educated, prepared investors armed with contracts and hands-on experience via bus tours and educational sessions over the course of just a few grueling but intensely educational days. Soon after, he joined a number of “sub-groups” in the REIA as well, including one on landlording and another on real estate strategies dealing with creative ways to find and finance deals.

“After about six months, I began to search in earnest,” Pike said, noting that at the time he quickly became discouraged by the Atlanta market.

“I had to take one more class—a finance class also held at GaREIA—to learn the ins and outs of how to financially analyze properties the right way,” Pike noted.

While in the class, he also learned that one of the members was successfully investing “outside the Atlanta box.” In other places, Pike said, deals are far more available and have much better margins.

“I ended up quickly finding a property in North Georgia that met my business model and eventually locked it up using the specific strategies that I’d been taught at GaREIA,” Pike said. He said the deal almost fell through on two separate occasions during the due diligence process, but that access to mentors within GaREIA enabled him to negotiate effectively and eventually land the property with plenty of “wiggle room” for repairs and other unforeseen events.

That property, an attractive single-family residence—which Pike purchased for just under $10,000 under asking price, rehabbed and swiftly installed a tenant—is renting for $1,300 a month with a cap rate of 13.55 percent.

“My ROI is 24.85 percent,” Pike said, adding that he is already looking for his next deal.

“I would never have had the confidence to purchase this property, much less look for more and seriously start building my portfolio, a year ago,” he said. “Everything you need to learn to purchase real estate is right in front of you if you have access to a solid foundation through a local REIA like GaREIA.”


The Georgia Real Estate Investors’ Association (GaREIA), the longest-running REIA in the United States, began in the 1970s as a not-for-profit trade organization to support investors using real estate coach Robert Allen’s strategies. Members named themselves the RAND Group (“Robert Allen Nothing Down”).

Over the next decade, the group met monthly, eventually drawing nearly 1,000 people regularly. In the early 1980s, the group officially formed a REIA and by the 1990s had its own office space where it also hosted regular educational seminars and meetings.

GaREIA boasted one of the largest memberships in the country prior to the 2007 housing crash, and now with the Southeast sporting “hot” markets throughout the region again, membership and member support are back on the rise. The organization places heavy emphasis on members being able to learn “all they need to do a deal” within the educational offerings associated with a basic GaREIA membership. To this end, there are more than 352 hours of continuing education and investor support available as well as an intensive three-day Boot Camp and other specialized training events.

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  • Carole VanSickle Ellis

    Carole VanSickle Ellis serves as the news editor and COO of Self-Directed Investor (SDI) Society, a membership organization dedicated to the needs of self-directed investors interested in alternative investment vehicles, including real estate. Learn more at or reach Carole directly by emailing

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