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Book advises novices on investing with little or no money down

Real estate investing

The notion that somebody can get rich quick and easy with real estate investing is dead wrong, says Brandon Turner. 

Success requires time, hard work, and tenacity, warns Turner, who was best-known for the popular podcast for BiggerPockets, a job he gave up in December. 

But those who think piles of money are needed to get into the game are equally wrong, he writes in The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down: Real Life Strategies for Investing in Real Estate Using Other People’s Money

Most of all, he claims, investing with little resources requires creativity, and lots of it. 

“Investing in real estate without any money is not a scam or a myth, and it’s not a secret that you need thousands of dollars to unlock,” he writes. “It’s simply the process of replacing cash needed with the creativity you have.” 

Linking success to creative problem solving

Turner points to one of the most popular publications in the personal finance arena, Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money that the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not! 

The approach in Rich Dad, Poor Dad, is the key to success. The book focuses on a mindset: those who say “I can’t afford it” shut down their minds and subsist in a scarcity mindset, while those who ask, “How can I afford it?” open up their creativity. 

Don’t have enough to put down 20 percent on a house in the suburbs? That’s okay, Turner assures the reader. It’s not necessary. Investors who find great deals and use strategies ranging from lease options to seller financing can build wealth without a lot of capital. 

As for finding those great deals, of course Turner doesn’t have any magic tricks, but he does give a number of tried-and-true strategies, including:

  • Networking at real estate conferences
  • Using direct mail
  • Setting up a website and gaming Google to rank high in web searches
  • Getting friendly with agents
  • Telling everyone you know (the plumber! friends at church! your landlord!) that you’re looking to invest

Turner also shares tales of his own real estate investing experience to inspire the reader. 

He bought a house after college and rented out rooms to his buddies, who busied themselves playing video games while he began to build his empire, letting their rent payments cover his mortgage while he fixed the place up, later selling it at a profit. (See house hacking, below.)

Later, he offers a hypothetical example of an investor acquiring a 24-unit apartment building for no money down using a lease option, also often called rent to own. He then says that if it seems too good to be true, it’s not — it’s exactly how he did it, just a few years later.

Strategies for building a real estate portfolio

Turner lays out various strategies for getting into real estate, ensuring the reader that while any one chapter may not seem applicable, it may help show some creative solutions. 

Chapters explain how to take advantage of a variety of approaches, including:

  • House hacking
  • Enlisting partners
  • Exploiting
  • Using
  • Employing
  • Seller financing

Along the way, he explains plenty of Real Estate Investing 101 stuff: the various kinds of mortgages that are out there; the ways investors can mutually beneficially work with real estate agents; how to find leads; and wholesaling, or connecting buyers and sellers for a fee.

Perhaps the book’s greatest merit is that Turner comes off as a relatable and patient teacher who genuinely wants the reader to succeed. He also urges high ethical standards, warning the reader away from scamming others. And he warns the reader about those who offer get-rich-quick schemes and expensive boot camps. 

But he also, ironically, endlessly points you to other books published by BiggerPockets, so the reader feels like they have bought a book only to have to constantly watch commercials.

A flawed book, but a useful real estate investment primer

Picky readers will find the book a bit of a slog. Early on, he asks, “To whom is this book for?” Later on, he misspells sandwich (“sandwhich!”). 

He’s addicted to calling things “a win-win for both parties involved” (which is redundant, and repetitive, and says the same thing twice). He calls a bank “Well Fargo.” 

He refers to the different colors in a black-and-white graphic that is incorporated into the book, obviously taken from a blog post and slapped on the page. 

But probably, precious few who are buying this book are all that concerned about a handful of editing lapses. These are the kinds of people looking for the type of advice that will help them scale up a real estate portfolio quickly, and build wealth, which, as Turner himself warns, is not a game for the faint of heart.

Those who want to gain a basic understanding of some of the terminology of real estate investing, and break free of the shackles of “I can’t” thinking and get into a “how can I” mindset, may find inspiration. 

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