Your Property Network: Book Review July 2013
I went on something of a personal journey while reading this book, which is probably bizarre because reflective journeying is not likely to have been what Mark had in mind when he wrote it. More of that later.
Mark I’Anson is well-known in UK property circles and many YPN readers might be familiar with his name. He is a deal sourcer, trader and investor, and over the past year or so has made a point of visiting a lot of property network meetings around the country. Unfortunately I missed him but hopefully will meet him next time around.
Having served 12 years in the British Army, the title of the book is a reference to a military term “used in times of conflict … Infantry soldiers take over a building to set up a base and organise patrols … [patrols] get bigger and wider and restrict enemy movement in the territory, in effect – Dominating the Ground”. Mark has approached the building of his property and trading business with military precision and this style comes across clearly in his writing, which is direct and easy to understand. The book is almost a how-to manual for sourcing leads and selling them on. I mean that in the nicest possible way, referring to the practical style, focused instruction on what to do and how to go about getting the best results. One of the things that struck me most was the sheer level of detail that he goes into; being one for detail myself, I really appreciated this.
The book is divided into two parts, with sections covering techniques and skills for sourcing and for selling; but there is other information and advice here too that weaves around the main subjects. Mark even briefly touches on what you could expect to earn from trading leads and deals in today’s market.
Who Is It For?
Clearly, this is a book for anyone who wants to source their own deals; also for those who want to go beyond that and sell on leads or deals that they do not want to keep. If you have no intention of doing your own sourcing, it is still worth reading to help you understand the process of buying direct from vendors, doing so ethically, and how deals are structured. In that respect, this book is long overdue. In fact, unless you are already an experienced sourcer, this is almost an essential read.
There is no experience restriction for this book – anyone, regardless of experience, who wants to a) source more deals, b) sell them or c) build a property network, will benefit from reading it.
Relevance beyond Subject Matter
On that note, Section 4 “Making It Your Business” contains, among other things, extensive information about property networking, which is relevant whatever your focus or strategy. I found this particularly helpful. The concepts that Mark discusses, such as targeting specific meetings, setting an outcome, measuring results and so on are appropriate for all fields of business but this is the first time I have seen them written specifically for the property world. The same is true for sales; there is a lot of information again specific to property. If you are involved in any form of selling within the property business, not just leads and deals, then this section alone is worth a read.
Will the book stand the test of time, or is it only relevant for today’s economy? A bit of both, perhaps. The majority of the information will be pertinent regardless of market fluctuations. On the other hand, marketing techniques do go in and out of fashion, but that will be a factor for many business publications, not just this one. There are a few specific details that are likely to change over time but that is unavoidable in many industry-specific books.
My only gripe is that I struggled a little with the structure and presentation of text in places, having to re-read or double-check for context where headings were not clearly marked. A few typo’s exist but I am probably being overly fussy – I can be a major PITA (look it up) when it comes to text, having laser focus on a comma that matters not a jot to anyone else!
My reflections came about partly as a result of the book’s content, and partly from recent conversations with other property people. The combination has caused me to seriously question my and The Other Half’s current approach to property, and to re-evaluate it from the perspective of an established business (as opposed to a passive portfolio).
Mark’s book fascinated me because I am not a trader, and regard those who possess such skills with a certain degree of awe. It prompts the question whether the qualities needed to succeed in trading are inbuilt or learned – the old ‘nature vs nurture’ question. That’s a philosophical debate beyond the scope of a book review, but one thing is certain: whether it is down to skill or instinct, Mark is a master of the ‘trade’.