Bikini Girls + Waterfalls + 90s Real Estate Guru = Tom Vu

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Thanks to reader Heather, I have a new favorite real estate guru: Tom Vu. I guess I was too young to know about this guy when he was in his prime. His bluntness and blatant disrespect for our intelligence is so refreshing. You simply must watch.

My Personal Favorite Quotes
“Today I’m gonna show you how to drive a sports car. First, you need a lot of money!”

“Your friends are loser!”

“What if you bought a house worth $300,000 for $200,000. Think of the profit you could make!”

“Do you think these girls like me? No, they like my money!”

Seminar Details
After some internet research, it appears that most of Mr. Vu’s tactics were very similar to the ones taught by Robert Allen. That’s is, you buy a house from a “motivated seller” at a below market price, and then find another buyer at a higher price for an easy profit. Here are some excerpts from a letter written by a seminar attendee:

Vu’s main strategy was to “control,” rather than own, real estate. So you would go out looking for distressed properties, (foreclosures and such) and offer to buy these houses at incredible discounts. He claimed to never offer more than 50% of market value, but said it would depend on whether it was a buyer’s or a seller’s market how much your discounted offer would be.

The desperate owner would be happy to just get out of the property without ruining his credit, so he takes your offer happily. In your offer, you write that the agreement is between the seller and you “or assigns”. Then you offer ten bucks as a down payment to make the contract legal (“exchange of consideration”). Your closing date is a couple of months hence. In addition, you tack on a whole pile of whim-and-fancy clauses, such as “this deal is subject to the final inspection and approval of the buyer before closing.”

During the time before closing, you find a buyer to assign your interest in the contract to. Selling the place will be easy, since after all, you got it at a huge discount in the first place. You walk away at closing with a hefty profit. Unlike the vast majority of seminar attendees, I actually tried for a long time to do this in my neck of the woods, British Columbia, Canada. I failed miserably. I encountered the following realities:

1. Even with distressed properties, offering to buy a property that far below market value was a joke (I was trying 80%). I was laughed out of most negotiations…

2. Many of these properties were over financed, and even if they weren’t, there was no desperate bank mandate to unload these non performing assets at all costs. Generally, even in foreclosure sales, the owner or later, the bank, wanted fair market value.

3. Whim-and-fancy clauses were not acceptable to anyone I dealt with.

Where Is Tom Vu Now?
After apparently being shut down by the government for his tactics, Mr. Vu can now be found in poker rooms as semi-pro player. Let’s analyze this career move:

How does a real estate guru make money?
By taking it from chumps with illusions of making lots of easy money.

How does a poker player make money?
By taking it from chumps with illusions of making lots of easy money.

You’ve got to hand it to the guy, he definitely knows what his strengths are.

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  1. awesome. just awesome. his wikipedia page’s quotes are great too:

    “Today I’m gonna show you how to drive a sports car. First, you need a lot of money!”

  2. I love real estate gurus on TV channels. The real get-rich-quick scheme is to produce these shows.

    Vu was so bad, you kept thinking it was some comedy show. Reminds me that SNL did a skit about him once. Something about a over the top Asian impression where the guy on the infomerical was calling new widows. He pretended to be Satan and that if they wanted their deceased husbands to be sent to heaven, they had to sell their homes for less than market value. “See, instant 100K profit.”

  3. Save your money on finding out those three little words: “Don’t Give Up!”

  4. Chatan Patel says

    I remember when the show ‘In Living Color’ would do a sketch based on this guy – except they called him Tommy Woo (Wu).

    The character was played by comedian Steve Park…

    “I bought this big boat; why can’t you do that?”

    Great stuff.


  5. So what were the three words? Did you ever find out?

    Control real estate? Exploit people’s stupidity? Buy distressed properties? Sell expensive seminars? Have no ethics? Love only money? Don’t be loser? Use infomercials wisely? Sell your soul?

  6. I think there was a time when buying foreclosure properties could be a very lucrative endeavor, but that was decades ago. Now everybody knows about the tactic, so those auctions drive up the prices on these properties much closer to their rightful market price. It used to be a very cool way to make money on real estate, but I think that sun is setting.
    If you want to be ruthless, find a homeowning couple that’s getting a divorce. When they’re splitting the assets, they may be in quite a rush to liquidate the house and walk away with whatever they can get. I’m sure this idea will also wax and wane as the foreclosure gig did.
    Generally speaking, there is infinitely more transparency on how much property is worth than there used to be. It’s not as easy to swindle even the most “motivated seller” anymore.

  7. People seem to be in agreement that they were “Don’t give up”.

    I love the testimonials in the 2nd video, could those people be any more obvious about reading from a script?

  8. Richard Ragon says

    Man, I went to that guys siminar years ago… He sat there and said to the group.. “Us you Credit Card to pay for my books and tapes.. When the CC comes due, use another to pay for it again, and keep doing that until you make lots of money”.

    I walked out..

    My favorite was Dave Dell Dotto. He used to call RE agents “stupid”.. and many others in the RE business too.. And his siminars were like a bad 70’s game show, complete with the bright red blazer too! Awesome.

  9. C’mon, give this guy a break. I know many like him, from minority group, speak pretty bad English, no real motivation to pursue higher education. They are stuck. For them to pull out the dump and get to live a decent life is so unlikely, some of them will have to resort in such idiotic methods. Remember, just over a century ago, lawyers and doctors weren’t as “prestigious” as nowadays. Some of them sell snake oils just like what he did.

    On top of that, what’s wrong of giving a little “motivational” speech anyhow? The only difference between his and that of Steven Covey is that his is funny.

  10. Now I’m feeling old. I’m gonna drown my sorrows with the help of my Super Bass-O-Matic.

  11. I love the fact that you can actually see one of the testemonial people accidently miss the cue card he is reading from and has to suddenly switch his face over to it and act startled

  12. This reminds me of a skit I did back in high school of a get rich quick guru teaching people how to get rich quick by operating their own get rich quick seminars.

  13. Income Trust says

    LoL These guys are hilarious… Heck every 5-10 years there seems to be a new Real Estate guru whom is going to revolutionize the business, however doesn’t ever seem to last more than uhhh 5-10 years. 😛

    Geesh how many are there now?

    1) Tom Vu
    2) Carlton Sheets (STILL CASHING IN ON HIS…)
    3) Robert G. Allen (Has some good points and lesson)
    4) Robert Kiyosaki (Simply the best! His books are awesome and his techniques are realistic.)

    *5) [Honorary Mention] Newest to the book and info Real Estate world now we get to ad the laughable Donald Trump.

    • “*5) [Honorary Mention] Newest to the book and info Real Estate world now we get to ad the laughable Donald Trump.”

      2016-Annnd he’s President.

  14. LOL
    I want to be like Tom Vu.

    I confess I looked at a real estate guru once. I even went to the seminar (free) with a 101 degree temperature when I was 18 because I didn’t want to miss out.

    What a scam. That’s really all I can say. What a scam.

  15. REALITY CHECK. I am a Real Estate Agent and I can tell you this…, there are NO get rich quick methods that work. You may as well play the Loto, no kidding! But if you are careful you can make some fairly good money in Real Estate.

    I was an auto mechanic and only became licensed after I retired at 50. The reason I retired at 50 was because I had “slowly” purchased distressed properties over time, when I was young enough to do the fix up, paint, carpet etc myself and then kept them as rentals. IT TAKES TIME, but you can make a lot of money honestly and without hype if you are willing to pay the cost of time.

    Even my sister, who is single and works part time at Safeway, has made short term quick profits with my help. It can be done, but not the TONS of money you hear about at these siminars. Just find a Realtor you trust and make sure the seller pays his/her fees. I was involved in 36 home sales in 2006 and I can tell you that going into 2007 its a Buyers Market right now.

  16. Believe In Yourself! says

    Can Anyone Come Up With Any Factual Evidence Of Wrong Doing?
    Not mere rumors or tales!

    I’ve know the man for years and I’ve never seen him do anything wrong to anyone I know, or introduced him to!
    There’s only one time we ever had a falling out, and it was over a belief on spiritual matters!

    Unlike you people I do not mind standing up for him, just as I would do for you, if I happened onto a website like this one, where people like you were tearing one of you down.
    That’s what friends are for!
    I know, it’s an uncommon thought, and old school in today?s world!

    Go look in the mirror and talk to God, or whatever or whoever you believe in; try to convince them that you do not have any faults or skeletons in your closet; and you’ve never made any mistakes! Try starting there before joining in the frenzy here!
    I do not care what information it is!
    Any factual information from the government that can be documented!!!!!

    Any at all and I’m willing to listen, or read it. I’m one who would be able to find out how factual it is, so do not just make up something convenient! Should this happen after whatever any of you can come up with and I check it out; if it’s not factual by preponderance of the truth, I and other agencies will be contacting you on fraud charges!

    So again, if you have anything “FACTUAL” I’m willing to listen, read what you have, and check it out!

    Does anyone have any valid proof that this man is a fraud? Has Tommy Voo (Vu) left anyone you know holding the bag for money and not come through for them?

    Do not go along for the ride and live on the hype of other people! If you do not have any valid, practical evidence of wrong doing then all of you here are not any better than anyone else who spreads rumors!
    Try thinking about how people have spread rumors about you in your life, and how you felt about it, when they did not come to you and get the truth first!

    Try standing on your own 2 feet, look the man in the eye, walk in his shoes where he came from and not where you were born in a war free country, suckling of your family or friends! Look at yourself in the mirror, look deep in your eyes and know that everyday you’re going out to be an individual, to make a difference in the betterment, or at least try to help the people you meet, not just yourself!

    I know that in all places like this one there are those of you who will be offended by the truth as I see it. To Bad – So Sad! None of us can make everyone happy no matter how hard we try. Stop pissing and moaning and go make a difference!

    I welcome your responses or (hate mail which comes from small minded individuals), and when I have the chance I will write! You never know, we might even find common ground!
    Just remember; everyday you can wake up and do something positive for yourself and someone else, it’s a good day!

  17. I always enjoyed Tom’s gusto. And his comment about his bikini girl models, something like “You think these girls are here because they like me? NO. They’re here because they like my money.”

    Truth in advertising.

  18. For the record, Jeffery, that skit you did in high school was actually an SNL skit…unless of course they stole it from “you?”

  19. Great post!

    Your 3 realities are so true.

    There is another guy on late night TV in the GTA area talking about buying real estate properties for hundreds of dollars, what a joke. And people will call in and buy into his system and pay more money for all his course materials and seminar.

    There is one sure way to make money in real estate, buy a property, rent it out, hold it for years while the tenant paying off your mortgage and enjoy the increase in value of the property over time = profit.

    The fantastic deals are so few and far between and when you really look at them in detail, most of them will not work, at least in Canada!

    All the Best!

  20. LOL. I got to say, out of all the “I make money pretending to show you how make money” guys out there, this guy is at least entertaining.

  21. I was in Real Estate in Hollywood, Ca. during the ‘Look at my girls, my fountain’- craze of Tom Vu. I don’t know if this was a Vu type scam or just another ‘RE Wizard’ scam, but the trick was to get the seller into escrow, terms didn’t matter. However, it had to have the clause ‘Closing subject to my wives approval’.
    The wife was never seen, but was supposedly overseas and delayed to see it. She never liked it but wanted a better price and terms. Since escrow needed both parties to sign a release of property from escrow, the property was tied up, if and until they could get it for ‘Vu kind of money’. The sham buyer’s would also threaten ‘Lis Pendens ‘ lien, and would also have the ‘and or assignee’ clause incorporated in the offer.

    Sellers checked with legal authorities and independent attorneys and found that:
    1. There was nothing ‘illegal’ with the contract, as the seller agreed to the terms (the fact that the terms were used in such a manner to ‘capture the property’ and make it unsaleable to anyone else, plus renegotiating terms during escrow due to a numerous reasons, was also not illegal at THAT time).
    2. Escrow were in their rights not to cancel escrows, as they needed both parties to sign.
    3. Upon signing a RE Purchase contract the ‘power’ of control transferred to the buyer. So the buyer has more ‘rights’ then the seller.

    R.E. contracts later changed to prevent this type of scam of tying up a property until seller squealed uncle.

    To guy who says Yom Vu didn’t do anything wrong- then why did he fold this very lucrative operation ?
    Inside Edition in 1991 did a revealing story on Tom Vu (Woo, Voo)

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