Title: "The Real Book of Real Estate: Real Experts. Real Stories. Real Life."
Author: Robert Kiyosaki
Publisher: Vanguard Press, 2009; 512 pages; $19.95 list ($13.57 on Amazon.com)
Because I casually follow him on Twitter and elsewhere, the publication of Robert Kiyosaki’s latest, "The Real Book of Real Estate," had been a blurry blip on my mental radar screen for some time, so I was interested to lay hands on it. Very quickly, it became apparent that the thick book was not, as I’d expected, a mid-career or post-bubble revisitation of his original classic, "Rich Dad, Poor Dad." Rather, it was a compilation of article/chapters by 22 other real estate personalities. I use the term personalities because, well, neither "expert" nor "charlatan" would fit all of the contributors.
What an assortment of folks! You’ve got real experts, like Garrett Sutton, who is an attorney who has both pioneered and mastered asset protection for real estate investors, and you’ve got infomercial investing pioneer Carleton Sheets, of "No Money Down" fame (or infamy, as the case may be).
There’s a sprinkling of lesser-known contributors, ranging from a credible real estate financier that does $100 million deals to Kiyosaki’s interior designer (who actually acquits herself quite admirably in a chapter on creating value in real estate investment properties via aesthetics). The bookends are chapters by Kiyosaki himself, his wife Kim (a women’s real estate guru and investor in her own right) and Kiyosaki’s frequent collaborator Donald Trump.
Once you get past the somewhat bizarre mix of authors represented, the substance of the book is somewhat hit and miss. This is not a detailed, user-friendly guide to, well, anything in particular. What it is is a collection of "expert advice" on various topics, loosely grouped into the categories:
- The Business of Real Estate
- Your Real Estate Project
- Creative Ways to Make Money in Real Estate
- Lessons Learned
Because every author has their own style and value for usability (and perhaps because they were given free reign to select their own topics?) reading the book straight through is inadvisable — it comes off as disjointed and scattershot, as the chapters often have little to no relation to their neighbors. Nevertheless, there’s some very good stuff in this book, especially in the chapters that drill down into the basics of whatever they are about, breaking their topic’s complexities into lists and points that assume no advance knowledge of real estate investing, while reminding experienced investors of the easy-to-forget essentials. …CONTINUED
Specifically, CPA Tom Wheelwright’s chapter on the Business of Real Estate, Sutton’s 10 Rules for Asset Protection (with its whimsical section subtitles, like "Rule No. 8: Segregation of Assets is Good" or "Let’s Not Put All of Our Eggs in One Basket"), and W. Scott Schermer’s real estate nerd pornography on Entitlements pull way more than their fair share of the book’s utility.
Other chapters tended to be very niche-oriented, but probably valuable to investors in those niches, while a number of chapters frankly were so devoid of useful information that trees really need not have been killed for their publication.
With that said, I did appreciate Kiyosaki’s stated aim for the book of publishing a work of real estate investing advice from folks who actually are real estate investors (vs. random financial writers and commentators who have never owned an investment property).
However, the superfluous chapters were exceedingly bad, and erred on the side of being regurgitated, self-promotional and full of outdated strategies (Kiyosaki’s chapters did not fall into this category, fortunately). On the flip side, the good stuff takes up much more space than the bad, and there are enough novel insights and tips, especially in Schermer’s Entitlements section, to make the book worthwhile for a wannabe investor or even a seasoned investor on the prowl for good nuggets. The good chapters are so meaty, though, and the bad ones so bad that I closed the book wishing Kiyosaki had just stuck with his tried-and-true strategy of letting others publish detailed how-to’s under his "Rich Dad" brand, pulling the good chapters out into their own books (something Sutton has already done, and Schermer should, pretty please.)
All in all, if you are a "Rich Dad" aficionado, you’re going to buy it, and you won’t be totally disappointed, so long as you read selectively. If you’re not a diehard fan, really spend some time with the table of contents to see if the topics pique your interest before you buy the book. If you’re a beginning investor looking for strategic advice, I’d recommend you go back to the beginning of the "Rich Dad" series and stick with the individual titles – you’ll get more value for your money.
Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Ask her a real estate question online or visit her Web site, www.rethinkrealestate.com.
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