If you or someone you know wants to start investing in real estate but you aren’t sure what is involved, “Prepare to Profit” by Sheri Alford and Dr. Ahmet Ucmakli is a good beginner’s overview book. It provides an easy-to-read summary of the major benefits, and a few pitfalls, of owning realty investments.

Alford, a real estate agent, and Ucmakli, a physician, are investors who share their realty investment experiences in an organized format. Along the way, they use some of their real life examples to make the topics more interesting. The examples often emphasize mistakes not to make, such as renting to unqualified tenants who don’t pay the rent and leave the property trashed.

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Emphasis is placed on establishing a real estate investment team, such as a top realty agent, title insurance or escrow officer, property manager, CPA, bookkeeper, real estate lawyer, home inspector, appraiser and insurance agent. They even mention a “chattels appraiser,” whatever that is. The authors briefly explain attributes of people to select and individuals to avoid.

Words to best describe the book are superficial and nonspecific. Although the authors strongly criticize the get-rich-quick real estate gurus from TV infomercials and realty seminars, they don’t offer much in the way of innovative real estate finance or profit methods. The book would have been more valuable if Alford and Ucmakli shared their profit methods, other than hoping their properties appreciate in market value.

“Given all the tasks mentioned above, it is difficult to believe that some authors and gurus suggest that success is possible as a part-time real estate investor. If you only have one or two properties, then part-time is feasible. However, as the number of your properties grows, so do your responsibilities, making it much more difficult to spend time on other things, like accumulating more properties,” the authors say. Yet they appear to be part-time investors themselves.

Although the book provides a very basic summary of the benefits of real estate investing, some statements make an experienced investor cringe because the authors didn’t explain further.

For example, in the chapter about selling an investment property, the authors say: “If you reach that one-year-and-one-day milestone, certain costs can legally decrease your profit on paper, thus further reducing your tax burden.” What costs are they talking about? I would like to know.

Another example occurs when Alford and Ucmakli attempt to explain Internal Revenue Code 1031 tax-deferred exchanges. They say, “Even more recently, it has become legal to 1031 equity from a property into a tenancy-in-common.” Again, the authors forgot to explain what they mean as they lapse into using real estate lingo in a book for beginners.

Chapter topics include “Honest Advice”; “The Benefits of a Team”; “How to Avoid Getting Crabs”; “Why Real Estate?” “The Purchase Team”; “The Management Team”; “The Sales Team”; “Keeping Your Sense of Humor”; “Deflecting Naysayers and Doomsayers”; and “House of Knowledge.”

This should have been a great introductory real estate investment book. Instead, it is very basic, sometimes misleading, lacking in details, and more negative than positive. The authors clearly intended to share their real estate knowledge to inspire readers to invest in real estate, but they barely explained the basics and left out the details. On my scale of one to 10, this disappointing book rates only a five.

“Prepare to Profit: Your Guide To Creating Wealth In Any Real Estate Market,” by Sheri Alford and Dr. Ahmet Ucmakli (Tam Tam Press, Murrieta, Calif.), 2007, $15.95, 202 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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