Your Property Network: Book Review June 2014
This is different to any other property book I have yet read. If you like learning from others’ experiences, then you will enjoy this. The author, Rob Dix, has collated stories, backgrounds and strategy details from nine UK-based investors, and analyses the findings at the end.
You might already be familiar with Rob – he is the man behind the Property Geek brand and blog, one of the two Rob’s behind The Property Hub, and a regular on some of the forums, including Property Tribes. Alongside property, he also runs a branding consultancy called Mortified Cow (fabulous name!) with his wife.
Rob is a cracking writer; not only is the book beautifully written, but well structured wonderfully typo-free too. According to the Acknowledgements, we have his editor (aka wife) to thank for that.
Being a bit of a nosey bod, I loved the insights into the worlds of people who I have come across on the property scene, whom I have met, spoken to or interacted with on a forum. Getting your story out in the public domain is a brave move for anyone, and being able to learn from people who are willing to do so is quite a privilege. In my mind, these are the real leaders – the folks that get on with it day in, day out, make it work come what may and get through adversity, coming out fighting on the other side. Hats off to you all.
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As well as Property Tribes’ book of the month for February 2014, the book is also reviewed in the June 2014 edition of Your Property Network magazine …
This month’s book is a little bit different. Beyond the Bricks is not a how-to guide, a focus on a particular market or strategy, nor even an autobiographical account of personal success. Rob Dix has written about nine property investors who have experienced the blood, sweat and tears that are not always discussed in the property industry. When you get this book, make a cup of tea then sit back, put your feet up and relax, because these people’s stories will entertain and inspire you all the way through to the end.
In some ways, the style of informal chat and interview is similar to YPN’s own style, so if you like the personal stories and profiles featured here, I think you will like this book. You might well recognise some of the people who are featured, as more than one of these names has graced YPN pages over the years and others might be familiar to you from some of the property forums.
Rob is a competent and thoroughly entertaining writer. He is one half of the Property Hub, the other half – just to confuse matters – being another Rob (Bence of RMP Property), and has written other property-related books in the past. You may also know him from his Property Geek brand, or be familiar with the Property Hub’s series of Property Podcasts.
Rob’s purpose in this book, as stated on the back cover, is to find out what it takes to be a successful property investor. As he points out, there is no one formula for success, and each of the interviewees has got to where they are today via a different route. Interestingly, there are different definitions of success, too.
Each person has a chapter of their own, at the end of which is a summary of their lessons. These lessons are a combination of what they have learned over the years and guidelines by which they run their property businesses or portfolios. There is also a smattering of case studies throughout the book.
Just as valuable as each personal contribution is Rob’s Conclusion chapter, in which he looks at some of the characteristics and patterns, similarities and differences between the individuals. He considers whether there are any common characteristics in their backgrounds, academic history, work experience, attitudes to work and life, risk profile and so on. The wonderful thing about a book that draws from research into others’ practices in this way is that it allows the author room to observe objectively from the outside.
In his comments about research methods in the introduction, Rob states that he “wanted to cover as many different strategies as possible … and to talk to people in many parts of the country with very different property and tenant profiles”, but avoided those with investment portfolios built “using methods that aren’t possible now”, or “who started with an unusually large amount of capital”. Taking that another way, if these people have succeeded and overcome the sometimes enormous challenges they have faced, then why can’t we? Just scanning through the Contents page of the book, in people who have “the kinds of tenants most other landlords wouldn’t touch” or whose “property nearly ruined her, but it saved her too”, we find real inspiration from people like us who have fought battles and won.
Who Is It For?
Beyond the Bricks s likely to appeal to anyone with an interest in property investment who likes reading about other people in the industry or who share that interest. As I mentioned earlier, if you like the profile stories in YPN, then chances are you will like this too.
If you were to ask “what did you learn from this book?” that might be harder to answer. I didn’t so much learn a great deal – apart from the occasional eye-opening ‘well I never knew that about him/her!’ – but really enjoyed reading about people I had come across previously, and finding out more about what got them to where they are now. In other words, I love a good story. And that’s what this is – a book of stories, with insights into a subject that we are all interested in. It will be an inspiring and occasionally thought-provoking addition to your property bookshelf, with a few valuable lessons thrown in for good measure.
Self-published earlier this year, the book is right up to date. The individual’s stories will obviously evolve as the months and years pass, but the message and lessons within the book will remain current for a long time.
You might well be wondering by now who these nine people are that I keep referring to. Well, that is not my story to tell! Buy the book and find out …
Included by Rob Bence of The Property Hub as one of his favourites in The Property Podcast 62: Seven Property Investment Books You Should Read.