The best thing about “Be a Successful Property Manager” by experienced real estate author R. Dodge Woodson is the attractive book cover with lots of supposed benefits listed for readers of this book. Unfortunately, the text rarely delivers on the book-cover promises. Instead, the author provides superficial, bland explanations about property management rather than getting down to specific details of what makes a successful manager.

Having read all of R. Dodge Woodson’s previous real estate books, primarily about construction, I was expecting an excellent insightful explanation of how I can become a successful property manager. Instead, the book offers very general information about what property managers do. There is not a word about how much they earn or if the work pays very well.

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Having owned and managed investment properties for almost 40 years, I know a little bit about property management. Because there is always more to learn, I hoped this new book would teach me how to make property management easy and lucrative.

But I was very disappointed because, despite Woodson’s many years of property management experience, there were virtually zero personal examples. Surely he has some juicy real-life management stories to tell about what he did right and wrong.

Although there are many forms and checklists included, they are all very generalized, especially the lease and rental management forms. The two-page lease example is the worst and most incomplete I have ever seen. If I had to evict a tenant and showed this lease form to a judge, he would laugh me out of the courtroom.

The book’s biggest glaring omission is it has absolutely nothing to say about apartment-building resident managers. Based on personal experience, I’ve found that any residential property more than three or four units needs to have one of the tenants “in charge” to handle minor problems and the renting of vacancies (unless the owner loves that drudge work). But there is not one word about the legalities of hiring and supervising resident managers.

Determining the author’s theme or goal for this book is impossible. I’m not sure if he was trying to tell readers what a great career awaits property managers or if he wanted to show investment property owners how to manage their own properties. Unfortunately, he failed to reach either goal in this unfocused book.

To show how incomplete this book is, the worst chapter is titled “Taxes and Insurance.” As far as it goes, the insurance portion lists the types of insurance a property owner needs, or at least should consider. But after reading the chapter, I question the author’s knowledge of necessary insurance coverages. He completely failed to mention the valuable benefits of umbrella liability insurance policies, which offer property owners multimillion-dollar coverage at very low cost. The taxes section of that chapter was even less complete.

Chapter topics include “Managing Your Own Property”; “Managing Someone Else’s Rental Property”; “Following the Rules and Getting Maximum Profits”; “Subsidized Rental Income”; “Getting Low-Interest Loans and Grants”; “Improving a Property”; “Attracting the Best Tenants Fast”; “Tenant Strategies and Procedures”; “Collecting and Raising Rents the Right Way”; “My Top 20 Tenant Problems and How to Solve Them”; “Evicting Problem Tenants”; “Taxes and Insurance”; “Financing”; “Maintenance”; “Finding and Managing Contractors”; and “Protecting Yourself from Contractors and Vendors.”

When I started reading this new book by a highly respected real estate author, I was looking forward to an enjoyable and profitable read. But after a few chapters, I began wondering. Further on, I realized this was not R. Dodge Woodson’s finest book. On my scale of one to 10, this very disappointing book rates only a four.

“Be a Successful Property Manager,” by R. Dodge Woodson (McGraw-Hill, New York), 2006, $29.95, 289 pages; available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and

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


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