The most unusual real estate book I have ever reviewed is “What No One Ever Tells You About Investing in Real Estate” by Robert J. Hill II. It contains 112 mini-chapters about realty investor experiences and lessons to be learned from those stories.

Many of the stories are humorous. Others are educational with a lesson to be learned. Additional stories should be sub-titled “don’t let this happen to you as a real estate investor.”

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The author, Robert J. Hill II, is a Nashville real estate attorney. He is also an active investor in Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. Apparently intrigued by the stories he heard from fellow investors at the local realty investor’s club Christmas party, perhaps after a few sips of the egg nog, he decided to collect and publish stories from fellow investors.

This unusual book is the fascinating result. As I read the 112 investor stories, I often felt “Tell me more details.” Some of the stories are far too short.

To gather the diverse investor stories, Hill sent e-mails to 500 fellow investors asking for their good and bad investment stories. The results are amazing.

Having talked with thousands of realty investors, I know we tend to focus on our worst experiences. Rarely do I hear a great real estate success story without problems. This book is similar. Most of the stories involve difficulties, often very funny, which realty investors encounter.

When I first picked up this book and looked at the cover with the photo of a “geek,” I wasn’t very impressed. Only after I got into reading the book, and studying the back cover, did I realize the author is not the geek on the cover and he is actually a very knowledgeable realty investor even though he is handicapped by being a lawyer. Just joking about the lawyer part.

The stories in this book will make you laugh and cry. One of my favorites is the story about the rental-house owner who, when his tenants won’t pay the rent on time, erects a “For Rent” sign on their front lawn. He reports the sign gets the result he wants, either immediate rent payment or the tenant moves out without an eviction.

Another story involves an investor who agreed to rent to a church-sponsored family who the landlord was assured were fine people. Two weeks later, the investor discovered about 50 people living in his two-bedroom duplex. The tenants said they were just having a family visit. After the landlord got them to move out, he discovered the huge family had been stealing water from one unit to the other.

At first, I thought this is a fun-read real estate book. But as I got deeper into the book, I discovered the 112 stories are filled with valuable lessons for realty investors. Most of the lessons involve investor mistakes not to make. But other stories show how to take advantage of profit opportunities.

For example, one story involves a landlord who charges an extra $500 fee for each pet allowed in the rental. But there is no extra monthly rent for permitting the pet. The result is the landlord receives extra income rather than letting the unit stay vacant.

Each story, told from the investor’s viewpoint, is only one or two pages. But it shares an important realty investor example.

To illustrate, I especially enjoyed the story about the Atlanta investor who bought a house that had a for sale sign on it for more than a year. But the sign was buried among the overgrown weeds. The buyer immediately “flipped” the house at a $20,000 profit to a nearby resident who drove by that house daily but never saw the for sale sign.

Chapter topics include “Landlord Woes and Victories”; “Finding Good Investment Deals”; “Financial Ideas”; “Cautionary Measures”; “Lessons in Rehabilitation”; and “Your Role as an Investor.”

The book’s last and best story, called “Confessions of a quadriplegic investor,” is guaranteed to inspire anyone. It is about a 20-year-old realty investor, injured in an auto accident at age 17, who invests with his partner who is blind and in a wheelchair. This young man has completed 12 transactions in less than a year and now owns three properties.

I hope this is just the first of many books by this savvy new author, Robert J. Hill II, who obviously well understands the real estate investment business. Perhaps in his next book he will share some of his personal investment experiences and advice. On my scale of one to 10, this unusual but very valuable real estate book rates a solid 10.

“What No One Ever Tells You About Investing in Real Estate,” by Robert J. Hill II (Dearborn-Kaplan, Chicago), 2005, $18.95, 200 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries and www.amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

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