Although published back in 2008, The Complete Guide to Property Investing Success is the closest I have yet found to a how-to manual or handbook on the broad subject of property investing. Though we cannot get away from the fact that the property world has moved on in the intervening years, consequently dating a small proportion of the information, I cannot stress strongly enough that this book is one of the property greats.
As part of this review, I shall aim to highlight some of the topics that are no longer relevant, so please forgive the departure from standard reviewing style.
Who Should Read This Book?
This is essential reading for every property investor. Mainly targeting newcomers, it will also be helpful for those who have a small number of properties and are thinking of expanding.
Additionally, if you have bought or acquired several properties quickly, it is worth reading as not only does it tell you how to source, buy and finance, but also how to run a property portfolio as a business.
The author, Angela Bryant, is in my view one of the unsung inspirational heroes (sorry, heroines) of the property world. Occasionally popping up on a forum or two with a well-considered viewpoint, she keeps a relatively low profile. However, the wealth of knowledge that she carries is evident in this book.
Reading it is like sitting down with a mentor who gently guides you through dilemmas and pitfalls with the perspective of someone who has been there, seen it, done it and got more t-shirts than you could ever hope to wear. From a humble start, she and husband Dave have built up a formidable portfolio and business, and they offer us insights into some of the decisions they have had to make along that route, such as considering the right time to give up the day job.
What Can You Expect To Gain From Reading It?
If you read this before starting to invest, it will help you formulate a strategy. Angela discusses issues such as whether to buy locally or remotely, how to source finance, research demand for the types of tenant that you want to cater for, find properties, consider risk, manage property, manage tenants and plenty more.
For those with more experience, the value comes from expanding your perspective and discussing what you need to consider for growing your investments into a business. She covers the importance of keeping your eye on cash flow, systemising the business and suggesting where professional help is appropriate. She also, in the final chapter, reminds us that it is important to keep learning new strategies and of the self-discipline it takes to succeed.
What Has Changed?
Financing strategies and some of the rules and regulations surrounding buy-to-let property have changed since 2008. This following list suggests topics to re-examine, and may not be exhaustive.
- Controversial financing techniques that enabled investors to buy no-money-down (NMD) no longer exist.
- Sale and Rent Back (SARB) has become regulated. Only regulated organisations can now rent a property back to the vendor who wants to stay on as a tenant.
- Joint venturing with a vendor is a tricky area – make sure you are fully aware of the legal issues surrounding this.
- The concept of gearing has not changed, but our own and lenders’ attitudes may have in the current economy.
- Mortgages and interest rates are always subject to current market conditions so examples may not be relevant today.
- I got enthusiastic about the idea of splitting a freehold property into leasehold units as The Other Half and I own a freehold with five flats. On further research, this is less attractive now than it might have been for us in 2008; investigation revealed it is not worthwhile in our case, at least for the moment.
So Why … ?
… do I suggest reading a book published a little while ago?
For the simple reason that most of the content remains valid and is not subject to market fluctuations and regulations.
There is so much practical information, with chapters on “Money Matters”, “Choose Your Mortgage and Insurance” and “Choose Your Property”. There are checklists, samples and appendices with figures and plans. My particular favourites are the chapters on “Property Management” and “Managing Your Tenants”, which make it very clear what practical hands-on management involves. Excerpts from “Dave’s Diary” give you a guide on what to expect on a day-to-day basis.
Angela also directs you to consider your own personality when deciding whether to manage properties yourself or outsource. After reading this, I shall leave tenant management to The Other Half and to agents. Too soft by far, I would fall for all the sob stories.
A practical book, this is one that will remain on my desk as a reference manual. It is one that you can read from cover to cover or dip into as needed.
If you are new to property, it will form the foundation of your research into investing and provide a spring-board from which to investigate what is relevant in today’s market. If you are an experienced investor, consider it a consolidation of what you know and a challenge to expand both your mind-set and your portfolio.