Monday, August 24, 2009

Whatever Happened to Tony Hoffman and Hal Morris?

As part of a new book project on the history of creative real estate fraud and the gurus that sell worthless real estate home study courses and seminars I am trying to track down two creative real estate gurus from my past.

Tony Hoffman and Hal Morris.

The reason I say these gurus are part of my personal history is that they were the speakers at the very first real estate get-rich-quick event I ever attended back in 1983. I saw their infomercial on late night TV and attended an all-day "information workshop" (read that as eight hour sales pitch) at the Holiday Inn in Dedham, Massachusetts for the grand price of $10.

I remember both these speakers vividly. (The other speaker on the bill that day was Wayne Phillips on making money through government loans. He was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission in 1991 and then once again sued by the FTC in 1995 for $2.1 million.)

Tony Hoffman was pitching a course on lease options. Hal Morris was selling a foreclosure course. I couldn't afford either one of the twenty cassette tape home study courses they were selling at $495 so I went home.

The next day I went to the Boston Public Library and got the only real estate investment book they had on the shelf. William Nickerson's "How I Turned $1,000 into $1 Million in Real Estate in My Spare Time."

And, as they say, the rest is history.

Anyway, nearly thirty years later I'm trying to find out what happened to these guys. The Internet is not providing much of a resource. The article reprinted below describes some of the events of Tony Hoffman, leaving out his notorious stint as producer of the disgusting video by O.J. Simpson proclaiming his innocence of murder.

There is even less on guru Hal Morris.

What I do know is that he authored a number of books in the 1980s, including a decent one called Crisis Real Estate Investing in 1985. Around the same time he sponsored an informercial interview program called MONEY MONEY MONEY where he would pretend to interview various get-rich-quick real estate gurus and promoters so they could pitch their various products. The show was so campy I would tune into it just to watch the bad production values.

As part of my research for my new book I have been speaking to a number of former real estate gurus and especially the sales teams that worked for them. The stories I am hearing are beyond unbelievable. I had always known that the creative real estate world where gurus pitch home study courses and seminars preaching instant wealth was essentially organized crime.

But today, I'm learning this lunatic fringe of the real estate world is more corrupt and venal than anything I ever thought possible.

If you know whatever happened to Tony Hoffman and/or Hal Morris please email me at I really want to find out what happened to these guys.

Robert J. Abalos, Esq.

Tony Hoffman, the infamous real estate guru of the 80’s was a former (Albert) Lowry employee. Tony Hoffman founded a company “National Superstar Inc.,” Apparently, his own advice did not seem to work for him and the company was declared bankrupt in 1986.

Tony Hoffman organized seminars on the art and negotiations involved in buying and selling of property and promoted concept of “nothing down” on purchases.

Tony Hoffman harbored an ambition to become governor of California, which obviously did not work out. Thereafter he was spotted doing TV ads for household appliances.

Tony Hoffman is also the author of the much talked about book “How to Negotiate Successfully in Real Estate”

Tony Hoffman was considered unethical. He irked many people by his callous implications to real estate investors. He recommends that, as a buyer should keep his own interests uppermost and try to squeeze out the maximum. He even suggests that one retract at the lat minute when the deal is near finalization to pressurize the seller who eventually would sell in a hurry and at a low price.

Tony Hoffman also indicates the use of the “Standard Real Estate Purchase Contract”, a purchase contract draft in his book. The purchase contract of his is full or "get out clauses" for the buyer. It equips him with a safety net to enable him to back out of the purchase whenever he wishes while binding down the seller. The reality is that no fixed standard contract is prescribed and most states insist on a state-approved form.

Tony Hoffman suggests that one should never make their best offer at the first go and implies that everything is negotiable; one must know where to apply the brakes. His philosophy is an offshoot of the manipulative and calculating nature of man.

Once, in the 80s, while appearing on call in show on Financial News Network TV hordes of callers dialed in and abused Tony Hoffman vociferously.

Clearly, Tony Hoffman is not a much-adored name in the real estate industry.