New book targets beginner real estate investors

The worst things about “Real Estate Investing for theUtterly Confused” by Lisa Moren are (1) the ugly book cover and (2) thebad title. But, while looking for another new real estate book at my localbookstore, I couldn’t ignore the red and yellow cover. I started browsing andwas hooked. It is a downright good book for beginner real estate investors.

Author and experienced real estate investor Lisa Moren untilrecently lived in Colorado and has since moved to California. Throughout thiswell-organized book, she shares her many realty investing experiences, as wellas those of her friends. The examples, illustrating the topics, make the bookespecially valuable and understandable.

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But the book gets off to a shaky start. I wasn’t sure if thewriter was an amateur or a real estate pro.

On page 6, Moren’s questionable statement, “Houses,however, do not appreciate in value as much as multiple units … ” raisedmy credulity since my experience has been the opposite. During the last 10years, in most cities, single-family house-appreciation rates far exceededincreased valuations of apartment buildings.

Also, I question her explanation of “propertyflipping” where she says: “You must lock in the price with theseller, but not take title to the property. The costs of that transaction willeat up your profits if your aim is to do a quick turnaround for resale.”That is contrary to my successful flipping fix-up experiences.

However, this short book gets better. Much better. By theconclusion, I was begging for more of Moren’s expert knowledge about how toprofit from investing in real estate. Contrary to her advice on page 6, most ofthe book is about how to profit from single-family rental houses. I hope thisis the first of a series of her books about how to profit from realtyinvestments.

This is one of the easiest real estate books to read. Yet itis filled with lots of practical content, presented in an easy-to-understandformat with plenty of real-life examples to illustrate the topics underdiscussion.

My only complaint, after getting past the author’s first fewmissteps, is the lack of detail and suggestions about where to find moreresources. For example, Moren admits she has never used the Section 8low-income rental program. Then she proceeds to explain the basics of thatgovernment-assisted plan. Having used Section 8 with both good and bad tenants,as a landlord I would like to know where I could obtain reliable information tohelp me decide if the latest law changes are advantageous for landlords.

Surprisingly, the book’s best section is about propertymanagement and selecting good tenants. I found especially valuable Moren’s keyquestions to ask of an applicant’s previous landlords. They are: “Wouldyou rent to these tenants again?” “What was the condition of theproperty when they vacated?” “How long did they live there?” and”Were they ever late with their rent?” I’ve always used the firstquestion, but the others are equally superb.

Moren has been investing in real estate for about 25 years.She obviously knows what she writes about. Her personal experiences areespecially valuable, such as when she invested in property tax liens, havingboth good and bad experiences. Again, the details are lacking and furtherresource information would have been valuable.

If the book has a weak section, it is the chapters aboutwriting out a business plan. Having been a realty investor for many years, andassociating with many other investors, I know none who have written investmentplans. My mortgage lenders have never requested such a plan, although it isdefinitely a good idea to have one.

Chapter topics include “Why Real Estate?””The Right Type of Property at the Right Time”; “FlippingProperties”; “Different Purchasing Choices Explained”; “Howto Find the Right Property”; “How to Negotiate the Best Deals”;”Finding Money for Your Deals”; “How to Manage YourProperties”; “Capturing Profit from Your Investments”; and”Writing a Business Plan for Real Estate Investors.”

This new book, which starts out with a few weak chapters,builds in its content and credibility. It is a superb book to recommend to aprospective new realty investor who wants to learn the basic fundamentalswithout getting bogged down in details. Despite its flaws and warts, on myrating scale of one to 10, this new book rates a 10.

“Real Estate Investing for the Utterly Confused,”by Lisa Moren (McGraw-Hill, New York), 2006, $21.95, 129 pages; Available instock by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.Amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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