Words On Words

Ready to flip? 3 books teach you how.
Tips on buying and selling real estate quickly for investment purposes.


Originally published on Monday, February 9, 2004 in The Miami Herald.

It's the latest craze, but actually it's one of the oldest forms of investing. You see the billboards all over town advertising companies that purchase less than desirable homes. You see 'em on infomercials: Carleton Sheets, Robert Allen, Robert Kiyosaki and scores of other financial gurus recommend flipping (buying and selling) low-priced properties as an investment strategy.
It seems simple enough, especially in metropolitan areas experiencing what used to be called urban renewal and gentrification. But it's not. Miami Beach resident and author Andrew Tobias recounts the ups and downs of this type of venture in his financial memoir, My Vast Fortune. He's a pretty smart guy, and an acknowledged authority in the field of personal finance, so if he can screw up, anyone can.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of advice on this subject, but rather than risk infomercials -- where the hosts, at times, are indistinguishable from the channel-adjacent televangelists -- or learn by doing, it's best to be armed with practical knowledge in a portable, convenient, user-friendly medium, a book.

Here are three.

Buy Fixer-Uppers

Make Money with Fixer-Uppers and Renovations. Gary W. Eldred. John Wiley & Sons. 300 pages. $19.95

Gary Eldred is the author of several volumes on real estate investing. All of them are solid, sane and eschew wild speculation. This one is no exception. It's very easy to understand and just about every imaginable circumstance is either illustrated with an example, an anecdote, or in some cases, a sample bit of dialogue. The latter is a nice touch and provides a bit of handholding for the timid.



Renovate to Riches: Buy, Improve and Flip Houses to Create Wealth. Mike Dulworth, Teresa Goodwin. John Wiley & Sons. 300 pages. $19.95

Buy Renovate To Riches

Dulworth and Goodman also cover the bases in a nonthreatening and very practical manner. Their focus includes a bit more detail on renovations andrepairs, and prioritizing them for maximum effect -- and return on investment. As you would expect, the authors provide examples, charts, glossaries and just about everything else you could want to get started, except specific properties and financing. There, you're on your own, though they do provide ample guidance in both areas.



The Complete Guide to Flipping Properties. Steve Berges. John Wiley & Sons. 229 pages. $19.95

Call me obtuse, but I rarely pay attention to a book's publisher. Consequently, I've just noticed that all three here come from the same house. Why would they put out multiple books on the same subject at roughly the same time?

The first two here are both good; I'd be hard pressed to recommend one over the other. But Berges' guide has a slight edge over them. His book is a little denser and more tightly packed than the other two. All three cover much the same ground, and you won't go wrong with any of them. But if you're considering wading into the pool of real estate investment with quick turnovers and maximum results, and if you already have a decent understanding of what's involved, Berges can help you bring your dreams to fruition.









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