Few events in life make me happier than to write a favorable review of a new real estate book. Unfortunately, “How to Buy and Sell Apartment Buildings, Second Edition,” by Eugene E. Vollucci and Stephen Vollucci, is not one of those books.
This book’s first edition, 11 years ago, was not very good. Regrettably, the new second edition is also very disappointing. The authors, who presumably have vast experience investing in apartment buildings, chose to again create a dull, boring and superficial book that will be of little help to current and prospective apartment building investors.
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When I picked up the new edition, I was looking forward to reading about the authors’ latest apartment building experiences and how readers can benefit. Instead, I was disappointed by the superficial explanations, which leave the reader begging for details. I didn’t find even one actual example of their apartment acquisitions or profitable sales.
For example, in the section titled “Become a millionaire in only three moves,” readers are told they can start with just $6,000 and become a millionaire by purchasing “midsize apartment buildings” between 18 and 100 units. Then the section drifts off into “group investing” and forming a property management company. I’m still wondering how to turn $6,000 into $1 million or more in net equity.
Throughout the book, written by supposed experts, I kept anticipating examples of how the principles they explain were actually used to increase their personal wealth. There were lots of hypothetical examples. But nothing specific.
The authors seem to jump from one city to another with their apartment investments, depending on which area is “hot.” Although they recommend hiring professional property managers, most beginning and even experienced realty investors won’t profit from apartment investing in far-flung locations.
However, the authors do share some valuable insights among their many hypothetical non-specific examples. To illustrate, they say, “While seller financing indicates a ‘soft’ real estate market where buyers can make good deals, the lack of seller financing indicates a ‘hot’ market.” That’s good advice. But how can the reader turn it into a profitable investment without having to travel throughout the nation?
This is a good book to read, consider the information, but don’t take it seriously. For example, in the chapter about analyzing properties, the authors say, “Only after the property is under contract should you prepare a comprehensive analysis, as shown in this chapter. Don’t waste time and money before you legally control the apartment building.” After the buyer is legally obligated to buy the property, it seems a bit late to analyze the property.
Throughout the book, the authors emphasize, “The key figure is the internal rate of return (IRR) after taxes.” Yet, they fail to explain in detail what IRR means and why they think it is so important.
The authors never show how to calculate IRR. Most of today’s sophisticated real estate investors ignore IRR, which is totally out of touch with real-world realty investments. Can you imagine Donald Trump calculating IRR?
As I spent many hours reading what should have been a great real estate investment book, I kept thinking ‘What can I write about it that is favorable?’ All I can say is this would be a semi-interesting book to read in a dull college course about the theory of real estate investment.
Chapter titles, which are better than the contents, include “An Investment Plan to Create Wealth”; “Why Real Estate is Your Best Investment”; “The New Approach to Investing in the 21st Century”; “How to Effectively Employ Consultants”; “Buying in the Right Place and the Right Time”; “Easy Steps to Locating Good Property”; “Writing an Offer That Will be Accepted”; “How to Become an Effective Negotiator”; and “Managing Your Property Manager.”
Because this book was published by a very reputable real estate book publisher, and considering its high sales price, I expected a top-quality book. I was extremely disappointed.
So far in 2004, this is the worst real estate book I have read. It concludes with a down-beat chapter about how realty investors can avoid legal liability and even evade their creditors. On my scale of one to 10, this sad book rates only an ultra-low three. It should never have been published.
“How to Buy and Sell Apartment Buildings, Second Edition,” by Eugene E. Vollucci and Stephen Vollucci (John Wiley and Sons Inc., Hoboken, NJ), 2004, $34.95, 206 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and www.amazon.com.
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