Property management book gets dismal review

The best thing about “Be a Successful PropertyManager” by experienced real estate author R. Dodge Woodson is theattractive book cover with lots of supposed benefits listed for readers of thisbook. Unfortunately, the text rarely delivers on the book-cover promises.Instead, the author provides superficial, bland explanations about propertymanagement rather than getting down to specific details of what makes asuccessful manager.

Having read all of R. Dodge Woodson’s previous real estatebooks, primarily about construction, I was expecting an excellent insightfulexplanation of how I can become a successful property manager. Instead, thebook offers very general information about what property managers do. There isnot a word about how much they earn or if the work pays very well.

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Having owned and managed investment properties for almost 40years, I know a little bit about property management. Because there is alwaysmore to learn, I hoped this new book would teach me how to make propertymanagement easy and lucrative.

But I was very disappointed because, despite Woodson’s manyyears of property management experience, there were virtually zero personalexamples. Surely he has some juicy real-life management stories to tell aboutwhat he did right and wrong.

Although there are many forms and checklists included, theyare all very generalized, especially the lease and rental management forms. Thetwo-page lease example is the worst and most incomplete I have ever seen. If Ihad to evict a tenant and showed this lease form to a judge, he would laugh meout of the courtroom.

The book’s biggest glaring omission is it has absolutelynothing to say about apartment-building resident managers. Based on personalexperience, I’ve found that any residential property more than three or fourunits needs to have one of the tenants “in charge” to handle minorproblems and the renting of vacancies (unless the owner loves that drudgework). But there is not one word about the legalities of hiring and supervisingresident managers.

Determining the author’s theme or goal for this book isimpossible. I’m not sure if he was trying to tell readers what a great careerawaits property managers or if he wanted to show investment property owners howto manage their own properties. Unfortunately, he failed to reach either goalin this unfocused book.

To show how incomplete this book is, the worst chapter istitled “Taxes and Insurance.” As far as it goes, the insuranceportion lists the types of insurance a property owner needs, or at least shouldconsider. But after reading the chapter, I question the author’s knowledge ofnecessary insurance coverages. He completely failed to mention the valuablebenefits of umbrella liability insurance policies, which offer property ownersmultimillion-dollar coverage at very low cost. The taxes section of thatchapter was even less complete.

Chapter topics include “Managing Your OwnProperty”; “Managing Someone Else’s Rental Property”;”Following the Rules and Getting Maximum Profits”; “SubsidizedRental Income”; “Getting Low-Interest Loans and Grants”;”Improving a Property”; “Attracting the Best Tenants Fast”;”Tenant Strategies and Procedures”; “Collecting and RaisingRents the Right Way”; “My Top 20 Tenant Problems and How to SolveThem”; “Evicting Problem Tenants”; “Taxes andInsurance”; “Financing”; “Maintenance”; “Findingand Managing Contractors”; and “Protecting Yourself from Contractorsand Vendors.”

When I started reading this new book by a highly respectedreal estate author, I was looking forward to an enjoyable and profitable read.But after a few chapters, I began wondering. Further on, I realized this wasnot R. Dodge Woodson’s finest book. On my scale of one to 10, this verydisappointing book rates only a four.

“Be a Successful Property Manager,” by R. DodgeWoodson (McGraw-Hill, New York), 2006, $29.95, 289 pages; available in stock orby special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and

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

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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