Top 5 Real Estate Investing Books of 2013

Real Estate Investing Books for Christmas 2013Christmas is around the corner … and if you’re like me, that means you’re starting to plan your shopping lists. It also might mean you’re making lists of what you would like for Christmas. To help you, I thought I would share my picks for the best Real Estate Investing Books of 2013. That way you know what to get the real estate investors, renovators and real estate agents on your list … AND you know what to ask Santa to get you. 🙂

Oh and just so you know … these books weren’t necessarily published in 2013. In fact only two of them were. I just think they are the most important books for real estate investors to have in their library right now – especially if they are negotiating deals and raising money.

So here it is … my Top 5 Recommended Books for Real Estate Investors in 2013

#1 – More Than Cashflow: The Real Risks & Rewards of Profitable Real Estate Investing

More Than Cashflow BookYep it’s my book and I have a bias in saying it’s top of the list but I wrote the book I believe that real estate investors need to read. I didn’t write this book so you would think I am the most amazing real estate investor in the world (I probably prove that I am not when I tell you some of the stories of what we’ve done wrong). I wrote it so you can make better decisions in your life as a real estate investor. I wrote it so you can hopefully never experience what it’s like to go to court over fire code violations. I wrote it so you can find the best property managers – and avoid the ones that rob from you. I also wrote it in the hopes that you ditch the idea that there is a perfect investment market or that there is one perfect system or perfect strategy.

I also wrote it so you would question the information you’re consuming. Just because someone wrote a great book or stands on a stage in front of you doesn’t mean their advice is right for you – or even has your best interests at heart.

This is a must read real estate investing book for all new and budding real estate investors.

#2 – Secrets of the Canadian Real Estate Cycle

Too many investors let the headlines in the media direct their investing strategies. In fact, the headlines often have the same message no matter what stage of the cycle a local market is in. Getting past those headlines and understanding what strategies and tactics will make you the most money at each phase in the cycle is what this book is all about.

When you understand the cycles, you will have a much better understanding of why the real estate market reacts the way it does to certain conditions. This book is written by Canadian investors for Canadian investors – and it’s a must have book in every investor’s library.

The real estate cycle is the term Kieran Trass in his book ‘The Housing Bubble’ defines as “an irregular but recurrent and predictable succession of causes and effects that the real estate market experiences with resultant impacts on the creation and destruction of real estate wealth.”

Recurrent and predictable … or, in other words, about as close to a working crystal ball as you’ll find.

#3 – Pitch Anything

There are very few books I refer back to again and again, but this book is one of them.

In 2011 when the book launched, the publisher of the book gave me a copy and asked me to write a review. I had no expectations of what this book would be like because the books I receive from publishers for review are very hit and miss. I couldn’t believe how amazing, practical and easy to read this book was. You can use what you learn in this book to negotiate with tenants, secure better real estate deals, ask for a raise at work, and of course, raise money for your real estate investments. I have been buying copies and recommending it to just about every real estate investor I know. This isn’t just how to raise money (or how to get more money in 20 minutes as I wrote awhile ago), this is all about getting results from your conversations.

If you haven’t read this book then you MUST read it. Anybody you know in sales of any kind will be grateful for this book as a gift. Enjoy.

 #4 – From Renos to Riches

If you EVER plan to do a renovation – small or large –  (if you are a buy and hold real estate investor and you plan to hold your properties for more than 5 years … that is YOU!!) this book is going to give you the greatest return on your money ever.

I was lucky enough to be a part of this project before it went to print. Thanks to my advance copy I’ve been able to apply what I learned to several very significant renovation projects (including adding a legal suite). Applying just a few tips from the book (shopping for the things we use on every renovation in advance and buying them only on sale for example) saved us thousands of dollars on each renovation and helped me get our renos on budget and on time.

You don’t have to do everything Ian teaches to make a big impact on your renovations. We’ve heard from many of our clients that just one tip or strategy from the book saved them thousands of dollars … so I promise you’ll be glad you have this book on hand when the time comes to renovation a rental or even your own home!

Here’s a video with a few tips I learned from the book … it’s called How to Budget Your Rental Property Renovations.

Ian Szabo also teamed up with Mark Loeffler to write another book called Fix and Flip: The Canadian How-To Guide for Buying, Renovating and Selling Property for Fast Profit. For the renovator in your life, these two books will make a great gift under the Christmas tree this year.

 #5 – Invisible Influence

What you actually SAY only makes up 15% of the message you are transmitting to someone else. Even if you are an expert and you clearly communicate VERBALLY what you want in a situation, you could be making a big mess of what you’re trying to accomplish just because you aren’t aware of the basic principles around influence. Body language, voice tone, presentation, the way you word your questions, and how you groom and dress are all saying just as much as your words are … and you need to be aware of that in order to be a better communicator. Each chapter of this easy to read book is tip or key principle of influence that you can apply to your communications and business operations. Some tips are more for marketing (which, by the way, applies when you’re advertising your properties for rent, for sale or you’re promoting yourself or your business), whereas others are specifically applicable to sales situations.

I am a big fan of Kevin Hogan, and I’m very grateful to him as well. He helped me work through my book cover and book title before I released More Than Cashflow. If it weren’t for him, I think it’s so much less likely that the book would have hit #1 on Amazon because the title and cover would not have been good enough to get there!

He knows what makes an impact and has put really key points into this one book. I know everyone in business and in real estate will gain some tips that they can immediately apply to start having a more positive impact in the conversations, presentations and negotiations you engage in everyday. Again this book is on my books for real estate investors list but anybody in business will appreciate this as a gift.

That is my Top 5 list but I must mention a couple of other books that you might want to give or read. Real Estate Riches: A Canadian Investor’s Guide to Working with the Right Agent by Tahani Aburaneh is a great gift for the real estate agent in your life. How to Win Friends and Influence People is always on my recommended reading list alongside The RRSP Secret: Defend and Build Your Wealth with This Powerful Investment Strategy which is the absolute best resources you can have to help you figure out how to lend out or borrow RRSP funds for mortgages on rental property.

So there you go! Hope this helps you figure out a few gifts …


We’re going to have a special Facebook contest the first week of December for a cool gift. If you don’t already have your copy of More Than Cashflow, order one now so you’ve got it for December 1st. The contest involves pictures, Christmas theme and the book. That’s all I will say for now. 🙂

Clicking on the books and links above will take you straight to Amazon.ca. You should know that I stand to make about 30 cents from every book you buy using that link above. I promise I will use the money for good not evil. I also can assure you that I am not recommending the books above in the hopes that I will make enough money to buy one whole book of my own … because you’d have to buy a lot of books from that link to do that. 🙂

Image Credit: © Artmim | Dreamstime.com


How to Make More Cash with Real Estate

Think Buy and Hold real estate is your ticket to early retirement?

For the odd person with luck and good timing on their side, it can be. For most people, unless you’re talking early retirement in 15 – 20 years, it’s not.

Buy and hold rental property is a critical component to every real estate portfolio. I think it is THE greatest wealth creator over time, but if you want to live off your real estate without waiting to pay off the mortgages or working your butt off to buy 100 houses, then you’ll need to find a way to bring in some cash today.

Besides holding down a job to pay your bills which is a great strategy if you like what you’re doing (it will be MUCH easier to get financing for your deals if you have a job!) most real estate investors create their cash today using one of the following five strategies:

  1. Wholesaling or assignments
  2. Flipping
  3. Becoming a realtor
  4. Creating a property management business
  5. Adding a strategy like rent to own that will increase your cash flow on a monthly basis. (this is what we did when I quit my job four years ago).

So what are each of these strategies?

Wholesaling to Make More Cash with Real Estate

Wholesaling is basically where you do all the leg work to find under market deals and get them under contract. Then you assign them to someone else for a fee.

Traditional wholesale models are where an investor just wants to be assigned a profit producing property. You put in the effort to market, filter and negotiate the great deals and build a network of investors that will buy the deals off of you, and then when you have a good deal you assign it to an investor.

This model is a great way to add thousands of dollars to your pocket ever deal you do. Of course, the challenge with wholesaling is you always have to work your funnel of deals and build your investor network so you have supply and demand for the product. It is a lot of work – but it does help fill your bank account once you get your systems in place.

Flipping to Make More Cash with Real Estate

Most people think they know what it takes to flip a house thanks to all the tv shows on the subject.

Ian Szabo, a guy who knows what it takes to make $50,000 – $150,000 on a flip (he does 2 or 3 like that a year), author of From Renos to Riches, and creator of FlipSchool.ca says he flips houses in two ways:

  1. Buys a derelict house in a great area, fixes it up, and sells it for a juicy profit.
  2. Buys a house that needs work, adds a legal suite, refinances to pull out all his money and some profit, and then rents it out to make cash flow.

Flipping is a high-risk strategy, however, and even Ian doesn’t recommend anyone approach it without a back up strategy in place.

With the right strategy, the right house and the right plan, most flippers starting out can make about $30,000 on a flip, according to Szabo. And that’s about right! One of our VIP Coaching Clients just finished her first flip & made pretty close to that too.

With that kind of profit potential, you’d only need to do one or two a year to really fill in your ‘cash today’ needs.

Becoming a Realtor to Make More Cash with Real Estate

We don’t have an official survey or anything but I’d venture to say this is one of the most common ways real estate investors make their cash today. When you’re an active buyer of real estate, it doesn’t take too many deals where you see your agent make $10,000 in commission for doing minimal work, to begin to see the value in working as a realtor on your own deals. When you also consider that you can help a few of your investor friends and make a bit of commission on their deals too, it can be very appealing for you to become a realtor to satisfy your needs for cash today. Plus you’ll get access to all the MLS data for your area.

That said, it IS a distraction. No matter how little you do as a realtor it takes time and money to have your license. We’ve considered it but ruled it out because we think that it will distract us from our primary business which is buying real estate. There are some other challenges with being a realtor and an investor such as ensuring you follow disclosure and other licensed realtor rules. Further, there can be considerable ongoing brokerage and marketing costs to stay licensed as a realtor.

For many investors though it’s been the ticket to freedom. If you can stay focused on your investment business and build a successful side business as a realtor, this seems like a very popular way many real estate investors make cash today.

Creating a Property Management Business to Make More Cash with Real Estate

At one point, with property all over Canada, we were working with 6 different property management firms. When we quit our jobs and began to spend more time evaluating our cash flow, we began to spot a lot of cash leaks.

To plug some of the holes, we began bringing our property management efforts in house. With the money we saved on property management expenses each month we could afford to hire someone to help us. By doing most of our own property management, we find that we make more money every month and spend less to do it.

Many other investors come to this conclusion as well. And if they do their own property management well, their investor friends take notice and ask for help managing their properties.

But it takes a lot of work and it’s not exactly fast cash. You also should take note that some provinces require a Property Management license to manage properties that are not your own.

Rent to Own to Make More Cash with Real Estate

Rent to own is when a tenant rents your property with the option to purchase it. You set their purchase price at the beginning, they pay a fee for the option to purchase it in the future, and a portion of their rent is a credit which builds up over time towards their purchase.

It generates more cash flow because the tenants are paying a higher than market rent for their property in exchange for credits that build up towards their purchase and they are responsible for basic maintenance. You also don’t typically need property management because of the quality of tenants that move in and because they are responsible for taking care of repairs up to a certain dollar amount ($300 in our case but many other investors have their tenants handle up to $500 or even $1,000).

When I quit my job, we evaluated all of the options for cash today. Wholesaling requires constant marketing and funnel management. If you’re not constantly finding sellers and buyers you aren’t making money. Flipping is stressful and higher risk. It also requires you consistently be working on a flip or you won’t be filling your cash needs.

We felt being a realtor would reduce the focus from our own deals and since we were planning to do a deal every month or so, we knew we’d need a lot of focus for that. And property management is not something we really enjoy, so we didn’t want to create a business around it.

That left us with rent to own as the best solution for us.

By changing a few of our existing rentals to rent to own, and adding just a handful of rent to own properties to our portfolio we were able to boost our cash position with the option fees and the increased cash flow to a point where we felt comfortable financially from our real estate holdings. We also like the fact that rent to own helps good people get into home ownership. Our rent to own tenants give us big warm hugs, invite us for dinner, make us handmade thank you cards and invest in fixing up the homes.

We do have to continue to add properties in order to keep the cash flowing because rent to own deals do turn over every 12 – 24 months after purchasing them. That has largely been the reason we so aggressively added property to our portfolio in the last three years adding 10 – 12 new properties a year. But we like rent to own because if we want to take a month off from working on our deals, we still make money. We can’t say that about any of the other strategies.

And for us, our real estate business has been created so we can live the life we want. For us we wanted to maximize our freedom and minimize the amount of ongoing work that has to be done in order to generate the income we need.

Regardless of how you do it, if you want to become a full time real estate investor, you’ll need to find a cash today strategy that works for you so you don’t have to wait 10 years before you can call it quits.
Image Credit: © Sorin Alb | Dreamstime.com

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