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on January 22, 2007
For clarity of style and reasonableness of approach to its subject, David Crook's THE WALL STREET JOURNAL COMPLETE REAL-ESTATE INVESTING GUIDEBOOK may not have a peer in the realm of investing advice.

Crook shines an antiseptic light on the shadowy "get rich quick" hucksterism that has plagued the world of real estate investing as a byproduct of a long runup in prices, a phenomenon that has also accompanied strong bull markets in US stocks intermittently for two centuries. And he does much more: he introduces, in a genial and accessible style, the complex details of buying real property for profit, as opposed to simply watching your own home's price rise and thinking of that as "investing."

His discussion of taxes, a particularly convoluted and arcane - yet crucial - area, is logical and well organized.

The author makes no secret of the fact that real estate investing, like all other kinds, is not sorcery and requires careful research, hard work, thorough preparation, and, most important of all, close attention to detail. Given a realistic understanding of the challenge, one can partner with this book as an inexpensive but wise adviser. It won't get you rich quick on no money down, but it will help you to make cautious and fact based decisions that are crucial to successful investing in any realm.

As a hedge fund manager, I am exposed to written financial advice of one sort or another virtually every minute of the day. I haven't seen writing that is more scrupulously researched and thoughtful (yet also personable) than that in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL COMPLETE REAL-ESTATE INVESTING GUIDEBOOK. I heartily recommend it.
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on January 17, 2007
There are no cutely named house-flipping schemes here. There are no touchy-feely chapters to help you find the "courage to be rich." But for smart advice and an inspiring overview of the business of real-estate investing, this book is a must-read. Crook, editor of The Wall Street Journal Sunday, leads aspiring investors through locating, vetting and securing seed money for properties small and large. He also gives tips for managing your investment once you've made it. Surprisingly this potentially dry topic is anything but, thanks to lively writing, stories from real-life investors and witty one-liners. (On borrowing down-payment money from family members: "An 'Uncle Al' interest rate inevitably comes with Uncle Al's interest in your business.") If nothing else, read it to find out why your home does NOT count as an investment property.
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on July 29, 2007
Whether you are just starting to think about investing or if you have been researching and buying for years, you should read this book. It clearly explains all the essential steps to becoming a successful investor and reveals many of the myths of real estate success. The author, David Crook, does not try to sugar coat the process one bit and can be brutally honest about the mistakes people make and the effort that is actually required to be an investor.

Crook covers all types of investment properties from single family and multifamily homes to apartment complexes and commercial spaces. He delves into the ups and downs of each type and doesn't fail to mention all the risks involved in each. Crook also explains in great detail and through some real life examples how to use tax laws to your benefit. He advises you on how to use the properties depreciation to off set profits and how to sell a property and trade up so that you don't have to pay any capital gains. The income and investment charts are especially helpful in this portion of the book by demonstrating exactly how the tax deductions will save thousands.

The chapter on being a landlord is a very important piece of the puzzle. Crook covers everything from finding tenants, writing leases, and where to keep rent checks. Some horror stories are included here to make you realize just how hard it is to rent a space to strangers. As with the rest of the book he is not trying to discourage you, he just wants to give you the mot honest look at what you're getting yourself into.

If you decide that buying a property and trying to rent it is not for you, Crook finishes up by explaining how Real Estate Investment Trusts work. REITs are companies that invest in and manage properties and they sell their stocks on Wall Street. While buying REITs is not truly investing in real estate, it is a way for you to try reaping the benefits of someone else's investment experience.

As an experienced Realtor, I highly recommend this book to anyone thinking of investing in properties. It covers all the groundwork and will give you a real taste of what you're getting yourself into.
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VINE VOICEon October 1, 2009
It's no secret, to those close to me, that I am a huge fan of real estate investing. The book of the week was The Wall Street Journal Complete Real-Estate Investing Guidebook by David Crook. I liked this book because it was very informative on a very "real" level. It didn't boast unreal expectations like many real estate books. The methods outlined within this book can take someone with somewhat little knowledge in the field and help them really start making money with investment properties.

There was one particularly helpful chart within this book that I would like to tell you about. The chart outlined how to prepare for your starter property. It is broken into 4 categories: 1-3 months, 4-6 months, 7-9 months and 10-12 months. Each time period has tasks to be completed within it... let me show you.

1-3 months- Educate yourself (read up on real estate investing), Network, Clean up personal finances (pay off your debts and correct credit reports)

4-6 months- Get the business going (interview banks, work on getting a corporate entity established), Walk the streets (know the areas where you will be doing your search), Check out properties (get a feel for the market and crunch numbers)

7-9 months- Get liquid (make funds available for when you need them), Go shopping (make some lowball offers and get a feeling for negotiating), Get preapproved from your bank or financial source

10-12 months- Go for it, do your due diligence, get your money

I think laying out a plan is especially helpful for anyone just getting off the ground. I love to make plans. I actually have plans for myself that range from month to month and even 10 years in the future. It really helps a person get things in perspective... "what do I have to do here to get there?"

Crook also does a great job of directing a portion of his book to novice investors. In his 6th chapter, There's No Place Like Home: Smaller Residential Investment Properties, he explains how to get your cashflow generated with smaller properties. I am a big fan of starting off with a nice duplex. It helps you get a feel for the management environment on a smaller level. I feel that if you are going to have expectations of a property management company, you should understand the field. Additionally, with a duplex you can get a cheap rent (a lot of people think you'll live for free if you have the other side rented, however, when you take in to account the taxes, maintenance, utilities, and insurance you will probably just end up with a much cheaper version of rent.) You will most likely start having a positive cashflow on the second property and then from there... the sky is the limit!

Real Estate is a great investment for several reasons, but I want to clear up a misconception that a lot of people have about real estate investing. A lot of people see their personal home as a investment... however it's not. Several of my authors have explained this concept and Crook does and especially great job of making the point clear with an illustration of a the same house on two pages, one being used as a home and one being rented out. The house being used as a home has expenses just like one being rented out, however, when you use the house as your home your expenses (taxes, utilities, interest paid on mortgage, maintenance, upgrades etc.) in the long run outweigh your financial benefits from the sale down the road. People don't include the expenses of running a home into the "investment" of their home. The myth of having a home as an investment has been passed along for years, but when you see the reality you have an opportunity to change that mind set. Put more of your savings into solid investments and riches will be awaiting you.

I think this book is a really great read for anyone thinking about getting into their first few real estate deals. The Wall Street Journal books are always very well written and they come with little side modules with helpful little tidbits, which I think is a nice way to break up the book and make it more interesting. I think this book is a great, easy read for anybody, but would be especially helpful for anyone that is or aspires to manage people. I particularly love talking about real estate, so don't hesitate to ask me questions if you have any! I would be more than happy to help anyone that wants it.

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on September 22, 2007
This book has a lot of very good points and ideas, but it won't be the last book you'll need. This book does offer a very handy list of websites and other suggested readings in the appendix. Overall, a solid book, but you will need to do more research for many real estate concepts.
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on September 2, 2007
Having read a dozen or so other real-estate investment books, over the course of a few years, I have to say this well-written, direct book is hands down the best and most helpful overall guide out there in terms of how to get in and what to expect, in property investing. The book is well deserving of the Wall Street Journal branding.

Newbies to real estate investing will find the book clear and accesible; easy to read and understand - with lots of insight on where to go find more info. about any particular topic mentioned which might interest you. Those with a bit more experience in real estate, will perhaps find the read more akin to an honest conversation with a peer / expert / consultant on the subject. The style is fresh and crisp. The author is doing us all a service organizing and putting his thoughts and experiences forth so clearly. Thank you, Mr. Crook.
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on August 9, 2009
This book is a good, solid guide to real estate investing. Focused in cash-flow and rental yields, this book will appeal to real estate beginners, but more experienced investors might not find a lot of insight.
Warning: if you are not a US market real estate investor, many parts of the book will not be applicable to your needs (local laws, taxes,...)
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on May 12, 2010
I've read quite a few real estate investing books, and this is the most well grounded, and well spelled out one I've found. Rich Dad/Poor Dad style books give you lots of samples of good purchases that were made, and leave you jazzed up to give it a try yourself, but this book skipped the specific examples and instead relied on logic and basic facts to provide you with knowledge (not hype). Yet amazingly, it was still a pretty entertaining read! I very rarely give a book five stars, but this one earned. I would highly recommend it for the library of anyone starting out in real estate investing.

As an added bonus, the author of this real estate investing is named "Crook" - what more could you ask for?
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on December 27, 2008
Yeah, you have heard that before haven't you? Patience is a virtue... The entire point of this book is about proper investment strategies without going through the quick rich schemes of what has broken Wall Street. Aggressive financing, flipping, no downpayments, over leveraging yourself, etc. have caused few success stories and a lot more heart aches. Let's face it, a lot of people gambled and they loss.

This is one of the few books that I have read that I'm willing to give 5 stars to, because in all honesty, it looks to the alternative of the quick rich schemes. While it was published in 2006, it even makes more sense to read now.

One of my definite recommendations in my reviews.
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on January 19, 2007
Very intuitive - great concepts that every real estate investor must know before adding new properties to your portfolio.
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