Whether you are a novice or “old pro” real estate investor, or a real estate agent involved with residential properties, “Buy Even Lower” by Scott Frank and Andy Heller is a “must read” book. Written with easy-to-understand explanations, including many real-life examples, these successful investors reveal their three investment strategies and how to profit from each one.
Frank and Heller are full-time Atlanta corporate executives and part-time real estate investors. How they find time for work, investments and family life is amazing. They have been realty partners for many years so they obviously have a successful formula.
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That formula is to buy single-family houses at targeted below-market prices, which depend on their goal for the acquisition. There are three possibilities: buy and hold; buy and flip; or buy and lease-purchase, which is their favorite. They require a different discount from fair market value for each category.
The authors favor buying “ugly and awful” properties, no matter what their intent is for that property. They like middle-income neighborhoods and houses with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. But they avoid near-perfect houses, which they leave to the “retail buyers” who will pay full market value.
Although the authors have bought houses listed for sale with realty agents, and have purchased residences in the various phases of foreclosure, they clearly favor buying REO (real estate owned) from lenders after the foreclosure sale if there were no bidders at the auction. Their reason is there is no emotion involved with the homeowners, and REO sales are strictly business transactions.
This extremely well-organized book contains six “golden keys”: determine your minimum investor discount; know what good properties look like; find good properties; calculate maximum purchase prices; make solid offers; and negotiate like a chess master.
As a longtime realty investor, I found this book a joy to read because Frank and Heller anticipated and answered most of the questions I wanted to ask about their investment strategies.
By using many examples from their purchase experiences, they emphasize what to do and to avoid when acquiring profitable investments. Yes, they made a few mistakes, which they readily admit. The only area I wish they explained with more detail is how they finance their acquisitions.
The favorite target strategy of Frank and Heller (although they use all three methods) is to acquire houses with the goal of leasing them for up to three years and giving their tenants a locked-in, guaranteed option purchase price.
As the authors explain, this method creates six profit opportunities for them while also being fair to their tenants. But, as a longtime user of lease-options, I would have appreciated more details of their lease-purchase contracts.
A special feature of the book is a Web site for readers to access copies of a suggested purchase contract and other “goodies.” It sounds like Frank and Heller plan additional books in a series for “mom and pop” real estate investors.
Chapter topics include “Becoming a Millionaire”; “Determine Your Minimum Total Investor Discount”; “Know What Good Properties Look Like”; “Find Good Properties”; “Calculate Maximum Purchase Prices”; “Make Solid Offers”; “Negotiate Like a Chess Master”; and “Bringing All the Keys Together.”
This is one of the few real estate investment books that cannot be recommended too highly. It reveals strategies for both beginner and experienced real estate investors. While following the Golden Rule, Frank and Heller emphasize how all parties involved can benefit when investing in real estate. On my scale of one to 10, this superb book rates an off-the-chart 12.
“Buy Even Lower,” by Scott Frank and Andy Heller (Kaplan Publishing Co., Chicago), 2006, $18.95; 238 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
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